Key West celebrates its 200th anniversary with a heritage festival, parades, drone show, and more.


Aerial view of the cruise ship pier, adjacent marina and shopping center with the city of Key West, Florida in the background

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The island destination of Key West, Florida celebrates its bicentennial this spring with historic exhibits, movie nights, festivals and more. The destination invites visitors to join in the fun and discover why Key West is known for its daily sunset celebrations, relaxing island vibes, and community resilience throughout its 200-year history.

March 25, 2022 officially marks the bicentennial of the first permanent settlement founded in Key West, but the festivities begin much earlier. On January 21, the Key West 200 Exhibition will officially open, inviting visitors to experience the island’s unique history as the southernmost point in the United States

Street in Key West, Florida, USA, circa 1900. Wooden buildings and an unpaved road.

Street in Key West, Florida, USA, circa 1900. Wooden buildings and an unpaved road.

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Presented by the Key West Art & Historical Society, the exhibition will be organized by decade moving visitors through time and history, focusing on the stories of people, industries, migration, culture and of architecture that have made Key West what it is today. . Some of the artifacts visitors can expect to see include cigar rolling tools (after all, Key West is closer to Cuba than Miami); 19th century household items, clothing, newspapers and photographs; Overseas Railway Souvenirs; Ernest Hemingway’s boxing gloves; and tools used by indigenous communities.

“When developing this exhibit, it was important that we not just focus on dates, events and people that most of us already know,” said Cori Convertito, Key West exhibit curator. 200. Travel + Leisure. “Museum visitors who imagine that Key West has always been a tourist destination will be delighted to discover that tourism is only a tiny part of the story. The true breadth, depth and diversity of this island is so much more. – a remarkably captivating story to celebrate.”

The Key West 200 exhibition will be open until December 11, 2022. Other festivities celebrating Key West’s bicentennial includes a variety of movie nights throughout the year, featuring productions written by Tennessee Williams, who lived in Key West for more than 30 years until his death. The main events – including a time capsule dedication ceremony, a heritage parade and festival and a drone show – will of course take place during the week leading up to March 25, the official anniversary date.

To complete a history-steeped visit to Key West, travelers can check into one of the island’s many historic properties like Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria hotel. Built over 100 years ago, the plans for Casa Marina were first conceived by Henry Flagler, the railroad magnate who built the Overseas Railway linking Key West to the American mainland. Although Flagler died before the property was built, many other big names frequented the hotel. , including Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams.

Typical Key West style wooden houses.

Typical Key West style wooden houses.

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Today, Casa Marina guests can take advantage of the resort’s location on Key West’s largest private beach and even take a historic jet-ski tour around the island from the resort’s beach. Casa Marina’s concierge can also arrange private tours of the Tennessee Williams Museum, Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters, and other historic sites.

For the full schedule of Key West Bicentennial festivities, click here, and to book your stay at Casa Marina, go to official site.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always looking for the next adventure. Besides travelling, she enjoys cooking, talking to strangers and taking long walks on the beach. Follow his adventures on instagram.


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