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Free Things To Do in Key West
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For a great view of the Key West sunset, head to Mallory Square at the northwest tip of the island. During the Sunset Celebration (a free, nightly arts festival that starts about two hours before sunset), this is one of the best spots on the island to catch the sun's last moments and revel in the end of the day. But because it's one of the best vantage points for watching a sunset, it's also extremely crowded, especially with cruise ship passengers.
Recent visitors were divided about the Sunset Celebration. While some loved the buskers, others felt the shops and eateries around the square were kitschy and overpriced. If you do go, most reviewers said you only need to go once to get the full experience. Keep in mind that if you sign up for a guided tour, Mallory Square will likely be one of the featured stops on the tour. Access to Mallory Square is free.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Key WestFree, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDFree, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located in Old Town, the Key West Cemetery has been around since 1847 and is well worth at least a walk-through. The quirkiness of the city's residents extends even to the grave. Tombstones in this 19-acre cemetery don't wear the typical inscriptions. Instead, you'll find epitaphs that reflect the island's casual lifestyle. Some of the more well-known inscriptions include "I told you I was sick" and "I'm just resting my eyes." One tombstone is actually a ship's mast. While you're here, take note that many of these burial plots actually have multiple people stacked on top of one another.
Many recent travelers compared the cemetery to those found in New Orleans, thanks to the prevalence of the above-ground graves. Reviewers also said it reflects the "eclectic" citizens of the Keys.
- #9View all PhotosfreeSmathers Beach#9 in Key WestBeaches, Free, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Free, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Key West isn't known for its beaches. However, the most bustling one on this island is Smathers Beach, which is particularly popular during spring break. Recent travelers say the beach is clean and peaceful, with plenty of shade and amenities, including bathrooms, food trucks, and chair and umbrella rentals. Visitors also say the views are great.
You'll find Smathers Beach on the southern shore of the island, about a mile from central Key West. It's close to the airport, which can be a pro if you enjoy watching the planes take off and land, or a con if you're not a fan of the noise.
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One of the most popular things to do in Key West is to snap a photo with the colorful buoy marking the southernmost point of the United States. Sitting at the intersection of Whitehead and South streets, the striped buoy is just 90 miles north of Cuba. Next to it, you'll also find a plaque dedicated to Cubans who have lost their lives trying to reach America.
Keep in mind, though, that this isn't truthfully the southernmost point – just to the west of the buoy is a patch of land that's owned by the Navy and closed to the general public. Recent travelers say this concrete buoy is a must for first-time visitors to Key West, but they also add that the crowds can make it difficult to snap a quality photo. If a stop at the buoy is on your to-do list, heed the advice of recent visitors and get up early to beat your fellow tourists, or sign up for a guided tour – many of which stop at the landmark. Access to the buoy is free 24/7.
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