Almost immediately after the U.S. Navy established a base in Key West in 1823, the need for a lighthouse became evident. Erecting a lighthouse was essential in assuring the safe arrival of both military and commercial vessels navigating the shallow, reef-laden waters off the Florida Keys.

The current lighthouse opened in 1848 with a woman as its Keeper; nearly unheard of during the 19th century.  In the years following, the Key West Lighthouse underwent a number of upgrades including the installation of a Third Order Fresnel Lens, an extension to the tower which allowed the light to be seen from a greater distance, the addition of Keeper’s Quarters, and finally the electrification of the light.

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.  Today, this sentinel of the sea stands as a museum dedicated to Key West’s maritime heritage and to the men and women who bravely kept the light burning through the threats of war and weather.

Today, visitors can walk up the 88 steps to the top of the light 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.

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1450 Reviews

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TripAdvisor® Traveler Reviews

  • "Great views and a little insight too"

    Reviewed 22 November 2017

    My daughter and I visited this spot just across the street from the Hemingway House and a block from our lodging at The Wicker Guesthouse. Both of them ae great too. We found the climb a bit...

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  • "Breathtakingly beautiful views"

    Reviewed 19 November 2017

    The grounds, the history and the view from the top of the lighthouse are incredible. The lighthouse as you can imagine has many steps up a narrow spiral staircase up to the top but the views across...

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  • "Interesting "

    Reviewed 16 November 2017

    Well worth taking the 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse to see the fantastic views of the entire island. The lighthouse quarters and museum were really interesting and informative. Walking...

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938 Whitehead Street

Key West, FL 33040

Phone: (305) 294-0012   

Open daily from 9:30AM – 4:30PM, Closed Christmas