The Museum is a free attraction located in Key West’s Historic Seaport, known as the “Bight.” Exhibits include an 11-foot diameter scale model of Fort Jefferson, an interactive photo mural that explores the history of the Bight and a Junior Ranger Exploration Station that allows children to get hands-on with and learn about the natural resources of the Dry Tortugas.
Relive the time in America when railroads opened up the frontiers of an emerging nation. Railroads meant a connection to commerce, wealth, and politics in the young country. In a sense, the United States of America was built on the foundation of its railroads, and Florida was certainly no exception.
The oldest house in South Florida was built in 1829 by Captain Francis Watlington who was, among other things, a wrecker. Watlington and his wife and their seven (of nine) surviving daughters lived in the house for many decades. A beautiful example of the kind of colonial architecture found in the Caribbean, the house is now a museum that welcomes visitors from around the world. Guests see gold that was salvaged from shipwrecks, paintings, model ships and a separate kitchen. Furnishings, carpets and the house décor all reflect the era of the wreckers and their success that made Key West the richest city in America at one time. There’s also a lovely garden with benches offering a shady spot to rest and relax. Learn a little history, admire the ancient architecture and more at the Oldest House Museum.
“Today’s the day” was Mel Fisher’s mantra. Fortunately, his lifelong hunt for ancient buried treasure was realized before he died so his mantra held true. The day was July 20, 1985, when, after 17 years of searching, Mel Fisher and his crew recovered $450 million worth of buried treasure from ocean floor just offshore from Key West. The Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita, two Spanish galleon ships that sunk in 1622, carried 40 tons of gold and silver, Pieces of Eight gold coins, Columbian emeralds, over 1,000 bars of silver and other gold artifacts.
For a bit of history and a look at how Key West got to where it is today, stop in at the Key West Museum of Art and History inside the Custom House. Built in 1891, the Custom House had many uses including a post office, court house and government center. Today, after a $9 million restoration, the beautiful red brick building is as glorious as it was back in the day and is home to moving works of art that portray the colorful past of Key West and historic national events.
A place where an array of leaders, legendary inventors, dignitaries, visionaries and many prestigious visitors were drawn to throughout its history, Key West’s Harry S. Truman Little White House holds a special place in the history of America. Constructed in 1890 to serve as the naval station’s command headquarters during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, this historic site later became the second White House.
Feel the exhilaration as you climb 65 feet in the air to the top of the observation tower for panoramic views of Key West. Inside the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum, you’ll have that opportunity and more. Find out how those who made their living off shipwrecks in the 1850s watched and waited for ships sinking off the coast in Key West.
Welcome to Key West’s first attraction. Meet stingrays and pet a shark! See them eat and watch in wonder as a variety of sea creatures swim around in their natural environment. Come to the Key West Aquarium for an encounter with some of the world’s most mysterious and beautiful marine animals. Since 1934, the aquarium has been wowing guests with its variety of sea species. Listen and learn as knowledgeable guides explain the underwater world that surrounds the Florida Keys.