Metro Weekly

Key West: 12 “Must Dos”

9. Catch a different view

Almost immediately after the U.S. Navy established a base in Key West in 1823, there was need for a lighthouse to assure the safe arrival of vessels navigating the shallow, reef-laden waters off the Florida Keys. The current lighthouse opened in 1848 with a woman as its first Keeper, nearly unheard of during the 19th century. In 1969, the U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the Key West Lighthouse since there was no longer a need for a full-time Keeper due to technological advancements.

Photo by Troy Petenbrink

Photo: Troy Petenbrink

Today, this sentinel of the sea stands as a museum dedicated to Key West’s maritime heritage. Visitors can walk up the 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse for amazing views of the entire island as well as explore the belongings, photographs, and words of the lighthouse Keepers and their families who lived a now obsolete, yet never forgotten, way of life.

Lighthouse Tower and Keeper’s Quarters
938 Whitehead Street
(304) 294-0012

10. Flirt with butterflies

There are some 50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, along with over 20 exotic bird species, all under a climate-controlled, glass enclosed habitat at The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Gay-owned, the conservatory is open daily for tours and has an expansive gift shop.

Photo by Troy Petenbrink

Photo: Troy Petenbrink

Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory 
1316 Duval Street
(305) 296-2988

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Troy Petenbrink is Metro Weekly's contributing writer for food and travel. He can be reached at

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