Offbeat Places to Visit in Key West

Offbeat and quirky practically live on every corner, street and sidewalk in the southernmost city of Key West, Florida. With its pirate past, party present and wandering poultry population, it's hard to tally up all of the offbeat aspects of Key West in one sitting. Here are a few of our favorites to check out in the self-professed land of the Conch Republic.

Sandy Allen

Wandering Wildlife
You'll see chickens hanging out nearly everywhere you go in Key West. They like to keep to themselves and can be seen pecking in the dirt, flapping their wings and leading their chicks around town. Don't be surprised by the occasional lizard, iguana or fleeting feline.

In addition to serving the best brunch on the island (the eggs benedict is heaven on a plate), Blue Heaven will have you sharing space with some of these feathered friends. Don't worry, they just like to wander around and will sometimes roost on an umbrella. This whimsically decorated al fresco setting often has live music and has been the subject of a Jimmy Buffett song ("Blue Heaven Rendezvous"). Blue Heaven also offers indoor "rooster free" dining.

Descendants of Ernest Hemingway's six-toed cats can be seen at The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which is where Papa lived during his Key West days.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
The Mel Fisher Museum tells the story of underwater archaeology and Key West's maritime history. It also holds the treasures of the Spanish galleons Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita that sank in 1622. Discovered by Mel Fisher and his crew, these ships held emeralds, silver and many other artifacts from around the world. The museum has exhibits on shipwrecks, piracy in the Caribbean and Key West's role in the transatlantic slave trade as well as treasures from the Henrietta Marie, which was an English merchant slave ship that sank in 1700.

World's Smallest Bar
The Smallest Bar in Key West, and possibly the world, is about the size of an alley - or a jail cell as the website likes to describe it. Open-air and tropical in décor, it's about 72-square-feet in size. You might walk right on by if you aren't paying particular attention.

Sandy Allen

Mallory Square
The daily sunset celebration at Mallory Square is the very definition of offbeat and quirky. From slackline and tightrope walkers to bagpipe players, flame throwers and mermaids, you can't go to Key West without witnessing the spectacle of entertainment, hilarity and shenanigans in Mallory Square. We think the sunset is worth a look as well.

Sandy has lived in Richmond for more than 25 years. She writes on lifestyle and travel topics for AFAR and She considers Key West her second home and always looks on the offbeat side.

More from this author:
Five Haunted Tours to Take in Richmond
Five Offbeat Places to Visit in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
Five Quirky Spots to Visit in Richmond, Virginia