History of Key West

Boasting a rich and colorful history dating back to the 16th century and traversing right through the Civil War era to the 21st century, Key West seemingly hosts historic sites and attractions at every turn.

Historic Forts for Strategic Defense

Situated over 54 acres of land, the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is a National Historic Landmark which served as the U.S. Navy’s East Gulf Coast blockade squadron during the Civil War. Today you can enjoy a narrated tour of the fort and witness the largest collection of Civil War-era cannons in the United States. After your tour, stroll the scenic walking trails with their native flora, fauna and wildlife.

Historic Homes Tour

In 1946, President Harry Truman began using a former Key West military officers’ quarters as a winter retreat. This white building came to be known as Truman’s Little White House, and today visitors can tour the house — now a museum — and gardens, as well as enjoy conferences and events.

Dive deep into South Florida’s history with a visit to The Oldest House Museum and gardens on Duval Street in the heart of Key West. Reflect on this region’s unique past while viewing historical portraits, documents, and ship models that help tell the story of Old Key West.  

No visit to Key West is complete without a stop at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. See where Hemingway spent ten prolific years writing and creating American stories that have touched so many. Stroll the scenic grounds that provided inspiration to one of America’s greatest storytellers, and say hello to one of the more than 40 cats that call this place home.

Shipwrecks and Treasure, Oh My!

Imagine making a living by plundering shipwrecks off the Florida Keys. Early inhabitants of Key West did just that in the mid-1800s and were known simply as “wreckers.” Step back in time to this period of Florida history at the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum, where reenactors, film and shipwreck artifacts bring to life the people and events of the past. Climb the 65’ lookout tower and maybe you’ll discover a wreck off the dangerous reefs.

Then explore the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, which houses an extensive collection of 17th-century shipwreck artifacts, including many from the slave ship Henrietta Marie.

Journey to Key West where you’ll find a treasure trove of historical sites, landmarks, and attractions to help you better understand this special place and its role in American and Florida history.

When you stay with us at one of our three outstanding Hyatt Residence Club Key West properties — Windward Pointe, Beach House and Sunset Harbor — you’ll have Key West’s rich and diverse history on your doorstep.