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Key West: Beyond the Beach

For a low-key beach vacation mixed with a dash of culture, Florida's Key West offers great museums, galleries, restaurants, and more.

Most visitors to Key West come for sunshine and daytime water activities. By night, travelers seek out the bars and music. But there's far more to the island than tanning and the beach. In broad daylight and at nighttime, you can find dozens of attractions that cater to every type of traveler.

Key West's Best Art Galleries, Museums, and More

Headed up by the Customs House exhibits, there are more than three dozen art galleries around town. Currently at the Customs House (281 Front Street, tel. 305/295-6616;, you'll see a fine exhibit of life-size and larger works by Seward Johnson that mimic masterpieces of the Impressionist period.


Connoisseurs here believe the best gallery in town is the Lucky Street Gallery (1130 Duval Street; tel. 305/293-3973; Browse here for new works by many local artists, including Rick Worth, John Martini, Roberta Marks, and more.

One of several kinky places for very modern art is "The Naked Artist" Gallery & Studio (518 Fleming Street;

The queen of jewels in Key West's artistic crown is The Studios (600 White Street; tel. 305/296-0458; Housed in the Old Armory, you can visit a wide range of exhibits, listen to lectures, and attend classes and workshops. They also host the Friends of the Library Lecture Series, featuring some of the many well-known writers who make Key West their home (at least in winter).


The Truman Little White House (111 Front Street; tel. 305/294-9911; is very popular, containing exhibits about Harry and his time spent here during his presidency. It's down near the historic center of Old Town and near the Sunset celebrations at day's end, too.

Fort Zachary Taylor ( is not only a fine place to sample the beach, but you can also take a look at the old ramparts and attend the occasional function, such as Civil War Days (Feb. 24-27).

If you must go to the beach, consider practicing yoga there. Nancy Curran of Yoga on the Beach (tel. 305/296-7352; has sessions in winter at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and year round at the Southernmost Beach.


Music & Culture in Key West

The island suffered a big blow recently when its Key West Symphony was disbanded, allegedly over personality clashes. (Yes, that happens in Paradise as well as in bigger places.) But visitors can still enjoy a vigorous chamber music series, at least three repertory theaters, and numerous concerts and performances. For info on the Impromptu concerts at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the heart of the Old Town, check out The St. Petersburg Quartet appears on March 13.

Theater in Key West


The Red Barn Theatre (314 Duval Street; tel. 305/296-9911; has a lively season running through early April with a largely local repertoire. Equally important here is the Waterfront Playhouse (310 Wall Street; tel. 305/294-5015;, which this year presents Dirty Rotten Scoundrels through late March.

Dining Out in Key West

The talk of the town when I visited was the Flaming Buoy Filet Co. (1100 Packer Street; tel. 305/295-7970;, recommended by The New York Times and several friends. Locals call it the "Flaming Boys," after the two gay owners, and clamor to get one of its 10 tables for items such as the bacon-wrapped scallops with mashed sweet potatoes ($26) or the fresh catch of the day, which comes with banana salsa ($24).


More Info

Florida Keys and Key West (tel. 800/352-5397;

Florida Keys Council of the Arts (tel. 305/295-4369;

An efficient Key West Business Guild (513 Truman Avenue; tel. 800/535-7797; represents many of the gay-owned attractions and other entities here, with its own guides and map.

Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Florida Travel Forum.