THE PERFECT KEY WEST SUNSET

Sunset Like the Locals Do

Live music, colorful history, a cultural scene bursting at the seams: Key West is known for many wonderful things, but the one thing no visitor should miss is sunset.

Tennessee Williams appreciated the finer things in life, and legend says, inspired by a particularly a resplendent sky (and the gin and tonic he favored in the evenings), he initiated the ritual of applauding the sunset at Mallory Square.

So while you don’t want to miss the Mallory Square sunset celebration, if you’re in town for a few days, try checking out a few other places where you just might discover your own version of “the best sunset in Key West.”

Photo of a sunset off Key West, showing the silhouette of Sunset Key and a sailboat

Photo of a Mallory Square sunset by gabe popa

Color photo of a beach scene, a bench in the center with a pine on the left and a palm tree on the right looking out at the ocean and blue sky

Photo of Fort Zach beach by Matt Kieffer

Fort Zachary Taylor (with a delicious twist)

Locals know one of the best spots to watch sunset is Fort Zachary Taylor. They also know to arrive early enough to nab a table and grill to set themselves up for the perfect dinner al fresco. But a sunset picnic definitely doesn’t require cooking, and with all the grab & go food options out in Key West, it can be as easy as (Key Lime) pie!

Throw your suit and a towel in a bag and pick up a traditional Cuban sandwich on your way to the beach. Wash it down with an iced con leche and your caffeine buzz will keep you going late into the night. If you’re looking for a more gourmet option, pick up a pound of peel & eat Key West pink shrimp from Fausto’s, the friendly neighborhood grocery emporium on Fleming Street. Add a side of smoked fish dip and slice up a mango or two and let the juice run down your chin. Sound a little messy? Don’t worry, head to the ocean to clean off, then float in Key West’s famously calm waters facing West and you’ll see the sun as it disappears into the sea.

The Studios of Key West

Having just opened a brand new rooftop terrace a couple of years back, The Studios offers one of the best yet-undiscovered sunset-watching secrets. An evening or two a week, the contemporary art center welcomes locals and tourists alike to their open-air rooftop terrace. Boasting gorgeous panoramic views that extend from the Gulf to the Atlantic, visitors can gaze over the rooftops of Old Town as they sip a cocktail or a cold glass of wine. Known as “Glow Hours on Hugh’s View,” the colorful happy hour gives you a chance to enjoy an evening sky that’s as pretty as a painting, a full bar, free admission, and the chance to shine…because everyone looks great in the golden twilight.

Check tskw.org for details.

Photo of a double rainbow from Hugh’s View at sunset by Wayne Dapser

Photo of a US Coast Guard ship the USCG Cutter Ingham

Photo of the USCG Ingham by Aaron Headly

Truman Waterfront Park

Life on a 2×4 mile island can get a little crowded. That’s why Key Westers often head to Truman Waterfront Park to spread out. It’s a grassy public space where people can relax, gather with friends, and enjoy a bit of nature. At sunset, you’ll find a wide cross-section of locals, from dog walkers and fisherman to retirees and kids playing at the Splash Park, plus everything in between. There’s plenty of room to jog, toss a frisbee, or just people-watch against the gorgeous sunset backdrop. Be sure to wander by the newish Truman Amphitheater, a cutting-edge, multi-million dollar outdoor concert facility named after Key West musical legend Coffee Butler. You’ll also find the impressive USCGC Ingham docked here. The most decorated ship in Coast Guard history, the ship offers weekend happy hours during the winter season. (Confirm open hours at their website).

The Studios of Key West