Key West Offers Treasure Trove of Original Art

Key West is known for its extremely vibrant arts scene. The island has been attracting artists inspired by its natural beauty, rich history, and diverse culture. Today there are dozens of Key West galleries and museums for visitors to discover, offering a vast variety of art mediums and styles from local and international artists. This week we are featuring a few of our very talented local friends! You can bring home an original piece of art or some unique hand-crafted gifts keeping a piece of paradise in your home, sharing Key West culture with others, and always keeping our unique island in your heart!

Sacred Space Key West

PHOTO: Sacred Space Key West

Barbara Sage & Lucy Hawk founded Sacred Space Gallery in August 2020. They needed an art studio and quickly realized there was room to feature artwork by others as well. They continue to seek out other local women who create unique artwork & gifts. 

They proudly highlight 25 female artists and have four working studios. They offer a variety of art classes including painting, sculpting, and many unique Keys Coastal Classes; such as:  ‘Broken But Beautiful” Seaglass Class. Participants create an original piece of seaglass art. Seaglass, pottery, shells, driftwood bits and all necessities are all provided along with detailed instruction. Everyone leaves with a one-of-a-kind framed piece.

Their carefully curated gallery offers a sense of wonder and whimsy and the magic can be found in the heart of Old Town Key West at 529 Southard Street, between Simonton & Duval Streets. They are also available by phone, 305 998-4801 and via their website.

Key West Pottery

PHOTO: Konk Life

Artists Kelly Lever and Adam Russell began their collaboration in 2009. They blend traditional production pottery (tableware and functional vessels) with their fine art pieces.  

Since its inception, they have grown their company to include multiple artisans, creatives, students and collaborators. The talented group works together to produce a modern expression of coastal life while always being authentic and not relying on cliché.

Over the years they have developed a brand of tropical modernism that is unique and diverse so it can fit into any home or collection. In addition to commissioned, bespoke pieces, they carry everything from the island’s best coffee mugs to award winning totems. Their distinctive gallery with its well-rounded program is located on iconic Duval Street at number 1203. You can also reach them by phone, 305-900-8303, and online.

Key West Collective Art Gallery


This beautifully curated local art gallery is filled with a collective of talented artists inspired by Key West. Photographer and founder, Rachel E. Ligon, a native Kentuckian, has made Key West her home for more than 20 years. 

Ligon has traveled the world capturing diverse environments and the faces living there. Ligon’s passion recently led to her opening the Key West Collective Art Gallery on Caroline Street.  

In addition to her photography, the critically curated collective features the work of some of the island’s best artists, artisans and authors. The Collective also offers regularly scheduled classes where people can gather techniques from the featured artists. The Gallery at 720 Caroline Street is open daily 10am to 5pm and can be reached by calling 305-395-1161. The artists and their works can also be seen on the Collective’s internet site.

Key West Art Center

In the mid-1930s the Great Depression had devastated the nation including the Florida Keys. The federal Works Progress Administration brought artists and writers to Key West to help revitalize the economy. Many art classes were taught at the Key West Community Art Center, believed to be the WPA’s first public art project, which eventually became the Key West Art Center. 

The Center’s HQ since 1960 is pictured above and the organization is the steward of their home in this historic wooden building dating back to the 1890s. The Art Center is the oldest artists’ nonprofit membership organization in the Keys and features the work of more than 50 Keys artists. 

Paintings in many mediums, ceramics, sculptures, prints, and even handcrafted jewelry are on display to draw guests’ attention. Artist members offer classes to share insights into various art disciplines. In addition, the center is renowned for presenting the annual open-air Key West Craft Show and Old Island Days Art Festival.  Visit them at 301 Front Street. Call them: 305-294-1241 or check them out on the Web.

Stay in Our Key West Vacation Rentals 

Find the perfect piece of art to take home with you at one of our inspiring Key West art galleries. After discovering our dynamic arts scene, return to your vacation rental with Rent Key West Vacations. Stay in one of our rentals in the historic district, and you will be within walking distance of the Old Town galleries. Plan your Key West getaway today!

The Best Snorkeling While Visiting Key West

Key West offers some of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys with a variety of shore entry snorkeling spots, reefs and shipwrecks accessible by boat.  The area’s clear, shallow waters and colorful marine life provide a great experience for snorkelers at all levels.

Key West is home to North America’s only living coral barrier reef! The Florida Reef stretches over 350 miles and is home to more than 6,000 species of marine life. Discover a magical underwater world of coral reefs, tropical fish, and shipwrecks at the best snorkeling spots around and nearby the island of Key West!

Let our team at Rent Key West Vacations help you find the perfect snorkel excursions.

Call us at 305-294-0990 to start planning your Florida Keys retreat today!

Shore-Entry Snorkeling Spots

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach

This beach is considered one of the best shoreline snorkeling places in Key West. It’s located at the end of Southard Street in the Truman Annex. There are a variety of tropical fish species and living coral that will captivate your senses. Bring your own equipment or rent there. There is a per car, pedestrian/ bike entry fee.  Parking is included and the park offers beach rentals, concessions, showers and restrooms. In addition to snorkeling, explore the nature trails and the historic civil war era fort.

Higgs Beach & Key West Marine Park

The Key West Marine Park offers easily accessible snorkeling stretching from Higgs Beach to South Beach. Bring your snorkeling gear or rent on the spot.  This beach is located along Atlantic Boulevard close to White Street Pier. It features the only shore-accessible underwater marine park in the United States. These reefs are brain coral, sea fingers, sea whips, sea fans and more. It’s an excellent spot to see an abundance of butterflyfish, angelfish, and parrotfish around the pier. This is a great place for beginner snorkelers of all ages.

Smathers Beach

This large, family-friendly public beach with convenient vendors, water sports operators, umbrella/chair rental and restroom facilities also offers snorkeling from the shore.  Although the marine life is not as lively as at the outer reefs, it is a good option for snorkel beginners.  The shallow, current-free waters make it easy to get comfortable using your gear and you can encounter fish and some other sea creatures.

Off-Shore Snorkeling Excursions

Dry Tortugas National Park – Fort Jefferson

This park is worth the extra trip just 70 miles west of Key West. It is accessible by ferry, seaplane or private charter.  Here you will find the best snorkeling at the only living coral reef in the country! Over 100 unique corals make up the reef and more than 500 species of tropical fish call it their home. There are several snorkeling spots here, from the moat wall surrounding the fort to shipwreck sites.

The most cost-effective way to get there is by taking the Yankee Freedom III ferry. They include snorkel gear, beach picnic and tour of the historic fort. The seaplane excursion offers a faster and unique experience to get there and back more quickly and provides a bird’s-eye-view of the beautiful turquoise waters and tiny islands along the way.  There are a limited number of private charters available to the National Park and they customize day, overnight and longer trips.

Cottrell Key

Cottrell Key is 9 miles northwest of Key West. It was named after a captain of a lightship that was anchored there in the early 19th century. It is known for a unique sponge garden and large coral reefs. It’s also not unlikely to see dolphins, sharks, stingrays and Goliath groupers there. Cottrell Key is suitable for kids and families.

Little Africa Reef – Loggerhead Key

Loggerhead Key is the largest island in the Dry Tortugas and home to Loggerhead Lighthouse. Since this key is not reachable via public excursions and even private boats need a permit before entering the area, very few people come to this spot, so it remains a snorkeler’s paradise!

Little Africa is the name of the untouched reef on the north side of the island where you can explore fantastic aquatic life in calm, shallow waters. This is a very beginner and kid-friendly snorkel spot with many soft corals such as sea rods and sea fans, hard corals like brain and fire corals as well as juveniles of various fish species.

Avanti Dutch Wreck

The Avanti (AKA Dutch Wreck or Windjammer) is also situated in Dry Tortugas, a mile southwest of Loggerhead Key and it rests shallow enough to offer excellent snorkeling. Actually, some parts of it are even exposed at low tide and the maximum depth is 22’/ 6.7m.

This wreck is in amazing condition.  The ship split into two parts and those parts are scattered across the seafloor with healthy corals growing on and around them attracting huge schools of fish and many sea creatures.

Marquesas Keys

Marquesas Keys is a chain of 10 uninhabited islands west of Key West that were formed by a meteorite millions of years ago. In 1622, a Spanish Treasure Fleet sank in the area; the commander of the fleet was Marquis de Cadereita and this is why the island group was named Marquesas Keys.

Today Marquesas Keys is one of the most popular diving and snorkeling sites around Key West. Expect to find untouched reefs with large coral pinnacles and coral heads, interesting caves (Only Accessible by Scuba Diving) and crystal-clear waters. The strong currents attract larger pelagic species to the area so there is a high chance of spotting jackfish and sharks there.

Sambo Reef & The Western Sambo Ecological Reserve

The Sambo Reef system offers fantastic conditions for underwater adventurers at all levels. Situated near Boca Chica Key, it includes 3 large reef structures (Eastern, Middle, and Western). The Western Sambo Ecological Reserve contains the greatest diversity of habitat in the Lower Keys. It offers the best snorkeling because of its shallow waters (between 3-30’/0.9-9m). 

While snorkeling Western Sambo you will see healthy hard and stony coral structures (branch, brain and one of the last remaining stands of living elkhorn corals in the FL Keys). Anemones, crabs, starfish, sea cucumbers, sand dollars and sea urchins live in nearshore waters.  Huge gray angelfish, hogfish and a vast variety of fish live in the shallow waters of Western Sambo.

Sand Key Lighthouse Reef & Rock Key

Just seven miles west of Key West, Sand Key Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) is marked by an old red iron lighthouse that was completed in 1853. This protected area is a favorite among snorkeling enthusiasts. Thanks to its remote location and the strict no-take policy (no fishing, spearfishing or lobstering), the Sand Key Lighthouse Reef is one of the healthiest coral gardens of Florida.

The seas are often flat and calm which creates an optimal snorkeling experience for the entire family. Sand Key provides varying depths of 1’ to 15’ surrounding the lighthouse. You will see a variety of tropical fish species, sea turtles, sharks and more!

A little east of Sand Key Reef, lies Rock Key, an under-the-radar spot to go snorkeling while visiting Key West. It is part of the Sanctuary Preservation Area and Key West National Wildlife Refuge so it is well-protected. A variety of reef fish and sea creatures can be seen around the shallow bank reefs (the depth range is 5-35ft/1.5-10.6m) while the deeper and larger crevices provide habitat for morays, groupers and octopus.  You can also encounter turtles and sharks while snorkeling at Rock Key. In addition, the area has many shipwrecks to explore.

Snorkel Tours in Key West

Tours include all necessary equipment, knowledgeable guides, professional instruction, and complimentary beverages. Here are just a few offerings:

  • Fury Key West offers early trips to North America’s only living coral reef on a 65-foot catamaran with a seated sundeck, stairway to the sea, shaded lounge area, and restrooms.
  • Danger Charters: This tour allows you to sail, snorkel, and kayak with morning and afternoon tours to Key West National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Sebago Watersports: Join a small group for an epic snorkeling tour at the Florida Keys Reef!

Our team at Rent Key West Vacations is here to help you find the best snorkeling in Key West with our concierge services. We are happy to help you personalize your stay with the best Key West activities, from dinner recommendations to water adventures. Discover our collection of over 60 Key West Vacation Rentals and find your perfect home away from home in Florida’s southernmost city! Also, after you have booked your trip, you will have access to your Guest Portal with suggestions for private charters, water and land activities, restaurants, shopping and more!

Shop Local: Key West Farmers Market Guide

During your next Key West getaway, we encourage you to support our local community by shopping locally! Find a fantastic selection of locally grown produce and handcrafted goods at the farmers markets of Key West & The Florida Keys. Whether you are looking for fresh ingredients to prepare meals in your vacation home or want to find the perfect souvenir, you can find it all at our local, open-air markets. Choose Rent Key West Vacations to host your getaway and stay close to everything our slice of paradise has to offer!

Key West Farmers Market

When: Every Thursday, 2 pm – 7 pm

Where: Truman Waterfront

The Key West Farmers Market offers something for everyone! Shop for fresh produce grown in Homestead, gorgeous orchids & native plants, artisan selection of meats and cheeses, pickles, honey, nuts & dried fruits, natural soaps and so much more. You’ll find Key West crafts, gifts and the perfect souvenir to take home.  While browsing, fuel up with something from one of the food trucks with varying weekly options, like fresh seafood, Mediterranean, Indian, smoothies, and freshly brewed coffees and teas. There is ample parking, bike racks or take the FREE Duval Loop which conveniently stops close to the market. The entire park, market area, restrooms and parking lots are wheelchair accessible.

What else is there to do at the Truman Waterfront Park?

The USCG Ingham is a self-guided maritime museum open Tuesday – Saturday 10 am to 4 pm. $10 adults/$5 kids/$5 active military.

Truman Waterfront park features a splash park, playground and lots of grass to spread out a picnic. Restrooms & shower rinse stations are available.

The Quay faces the Gulf and often cruise ships and Navy cutters on duty will be docked nearby. There’s plenty of park benches to enjoy the view (but little shade, umbrella recommended),

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach & State Park is a National Historic Landmark on 54 acres and houses a civil war fortress and the best beach on Key West. Entrance fees start at $2.50 and up.

Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center is a kid-friendly & adult interesting educational exhibit open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. Admission is FREE.

Key West Artisan Market

When: Select Sundays, November-April, 10 am – 2 pm

Where: Key West Wildlife Center parking lot across from White Street Pier & Higgs Beach

The Key West Artisan Market, celebrating its 10th season, is a unique open air bazaar filled with artists, authors, chef-made cuisine, craftspeople, performers and fresh produce representing diversity, creativity, ingenuity and locally made products. Participants must live and also create/curate in the Keys in order to qualify for booth space.

Local artisans include culinary, textile, jewelry, wood, art & crafts, curiosities, fresh produce and lots of great, fresh food. Each week is a different theme focused on island living and local charities. Guests are encouraged to go green and ride bikes. There is limited free parking and marked handicapped spots at the park. Please BYOB (bring your own bags). Find your beach reading material at the Local Authors Nook and enjoy live entertainment at the weekly variety show. 

What else is there to do at Higgs Beach?

Higgs Beach offers a Civil War Era Fort, Fort West Martello home of the Key West Garden Club that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a beachside café, the African Refugee Memorial and burial site, and an AIDS memorial. Activities available include swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, beach volleyball, tennis, pickleball, and a children’s playground. 

Higgs Beach Park also hosts the only shore-accessible underwater marine park in the United States and is the end of the Florida Overseas Heritage Trail, one of only 31 nationally designated All American Highways in the United States.

A beach concessionaire offers beach items for rent including chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and paddleboards, among others. The Key West Garden Club offers free self-guided tours at Fort West Martello and its nearly two acres of beautiful gardens. The park also hosts a large dog park with separate runs for small and large dogs.

Florida Keys Farmers Market

When: Every Sunday, Year Round, Rain or Shine, 10 am – 3 pm – 305-432-6900

Where: Islamorada Gardens Plaza parking lot, 81001 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036

Local, Fresh, Organic & Sustainable Shopping just under a two hour drive from Key West. Walk through an outdoor oasis featuring colorful artwork and murals by Miami artist DaveL @davel_art on Instagram. Each week features a rotating line up of vendors passionate about their craft. Find Artisan cheeses, select meats, fresh and local seafood, delicious baked goods, farmstand fresh juices, natural and organic produce, local art, orchids and so much more!

Bahia Honda State Park is on the drive and one of the most popular state parks in the Florida Keys. This is where you will find another icon of the Florida Keys, the Old Bahia Honda railway bridge. You can see the old bridge if you continue your drive without stopping at Bahia Honda State Park. But if you do stop at Bahia Honda State Park, you can get a classic view of the old bridge.  Bahia Honda State Park also has picnic tables so it can provide the perfect stop for a picnic with views! There are snorkel gear and kayak rentals at Bahia Honda State Park as well.

You will also drive across the iconic Seven Mile Bridge! There are parking areas on either side of the bridge for amazing views and photo opportunities.

Enjoy the Amenities at Our Key West Vacation Rentals 

Shop local at our Key West farmers markets during your Florida Keys getaway and keep money within our communities! Discover Rent Key West Vacations collection of vacation rentals complete with fully equipped kitchens, linens, and laundry facilities. Many of our properties also come with private pools, hot tubs, and tennis courts. If you need help customizing your Key West vacation, please get in touch with us at 1-800-833-7368. 

Annual Key West Festivals & Events Guide

As one of the longest-standing and most trusted vacation rental companies in Key West, we are proud to be your local experts during your Key West getaway. Rent Key West Vacations’ knowledgeable staff is here to introduce you to the best Key West festivals and events our beautiful island has to offer! Keep up to date with local happenings on our Events page and plan your Key West vacation around one of our exciting annual festivals. No matter when you decide to visit us, our beautiful Key West Vacation Rentals offer the perfect homebase to enjoy events on the island!

January: Key West Food and Wine Festival

Escape the cold this winter and dive into the warmth of our unique culinary scene during the Food and Wine Festival. This festival includes over 20 special events, including wine tastings, innovative culinary creations, and chef collaborations. 

February: 58th Old Island Art Festival

This is an artistic Key West tradition not to be missed!  Thousands of original pieces of artisan made arts and crafts will be displayed and available for purchase.  This is the perfect opportunity to bring home a piece of paradise!

March to April: Key West Spring Break

Some students, young professionals, working grown-ups and retirees recoup and rejuvenate on the beaches and around the island of Key West!  Please come take a break with us this Spring!  

April: Conch Republic Independence Celebration

Celebrate the founding of the Conch Republic and the brief secession of the FL Keys from the United States. This ten-day festival features parades, reenactments, art fairs, bar crawls, costume contests, drag (Queen) races, bed and boat races, and even more fun in the Conch Republic. 

May: Key West Songwriters Festival

This Key West Festival is the largest of its kind in the world! Experience five days of live music with over 150 performers during the Songwriters Festival.  From intimate gatherings to large concerts, there is something for every music aficionado at this annual festival.  

June: Key West Pride Week

Key West is known worldwide for being an LGBTQ+ friendly destination, and we invite you to spend pride month on our tropical island! Pride Week will be full of events like parades, pool parties, drag shows, talent shows, fun nightlife, sunset sails, and diverse entertainment! 

July: Key Lime Festival, Key West Mermaid Festival, July 4th Celebrations and Hemingway Days!

Plan your vacation around the 4th of July and join Key West’s Independence Day parties and fireworks.  The Key Key Lime & Mermaid Celebrations also happen during the long weekend holiday. Later in the month, plan your getaway around Hemingway Days and celebrate the author with look-alike contests, poetry readings, imbibing and fishing tournaments.

August: Key West Lobsterfest

Visit Key West during the opening of lobster season and join the biggest party of the summer with mouthwatering lobster dishes, live music, and refreshing drinks.  Folks from around the world will enjoy Florida spiny lobster on Duval Street, beaches, poolside and in most of Key West’s excellent dining establishments.  

September: Key West Womenfest and Key West BrewFest

This famous global event invites all women to celebrate their gender.  Lesbians, straights, trans and allies gather to socialize, soak up the sun, and dance the night away with fellow like-minded women and their friends!  Beer lovers can enjoy Key West craft beers which are celebrated during BrewFest each year with this festival celebrating all things grain, hops and fun!

October: Goombay Caribbean Festival & Key West Fantasy Fest

Fantasy Fest is the biggest annual event in Key West, attracting over 75,000 visitors each year! This ten-day festival features parades,costumes, competitions, and parties.  Come early for the pre-festival, Goombay Caribbean Festival.  It runs the weekend before the start of Fantasy Fest and is full of great food, music and culture on the streets of Bahama Village in old town Key West. 

November: Key West Film Festival and Thanksgiving on the Island of Key West

This Film Fest has become world renowned and is part of the beginning of the annual awards circuit!  Of course, there is nowhere better to be grateful during Thanksgiving than Key West, so please join us at our bountiful, island table!

December: Key West Holiday Events & New Year Celebrations!

Visit Key West for the holidays and enjoy seasonal activities, including parades, concerts, Santa visits, festivals, light displays, fun on the water, and much more!  And, nothing beats ringing in the New Year on the island of Key West.  We drop drag queens, giant conch shells, pirate wenches and have all types of parties and celebrations!

Stay in Our Key West Vacation Rentals

There is always something happening on our slice of paradise; plan your getaway around one of our Key West festivals today! Whether you are looking for a Key West vacation rental near the beach or in the historic district, Rent Key West Vacations has you covered! To customize your Key West vacation, please call our reservation specialists at 1-800-833-7368.

Where to Celebrate the 4th in Key West

Celebrate America’s Independence on Key West

The 4th of July is almost upon us! If you’re visiting Key West and aren’t sure where to go or what to do, here are some local tips on the best places to celebrate:

Higgs Beach

The fireworks are lit and launched from the White Street Pier, so Higgs Beach is just about as close as you can get to them without a boat! Bring a blanket, spread out, and enjoy the show!

VNA Hospice Picnic

Celebrate the 4th of July in Key West at the annual Hospice and Visiting Nurses Association Picnic at the luxurious Casa Marina Resort. The picnic starts at 5:00pm and includes entertainment, a picnic buffet, cold drinks, live music and a silent auction. You will be able to see the entire fireworks display from the resort.

The Key Lime Pie Festival

Key West is known for its delicious homemade key lime pie and various other treats made with this indigenous fruit. Treat your taste buds this July 4th during the Key Lime Pie Festival. It takes place on July 4th and includes the crowning of Miss Key Lime Pie and Lil’ Miss Key Lime Pie, a pie eating contest and a competition to see who makes the best key lime pie!

Fireworks With Fury Water Adventures

You don’t need a lawn chair or a blanket to enjoy the fireworks in Key West if you hop aboard Fury Water Adventure’s catamaran and see the show from the Atlantic Ocean. Fury’s 4th of July adventure includes a relaxing sail with food, soft drinks and all the beer and wine you can drink. It’s a really popular event so if you’re interested, book early.

Smather’s Beach

Another great spot for the fireworks is Smather’s Beach. This beach is located about 8 blocks from Higgs Beach and offers a different, all-encompassing view of the fireworks. Bring a blanket, your own picnic basket and relax while the sun goes down and get ready for a great show.