Quirky Attraction: Southernmost Point in the Continental USA (Key West)

southernmost point in key west

The Southernmost Point in the Continental USA
Location: Key West, Florida
When to visit: Anytime, but for shortest lines, come before 9 am
Cost: Free
Time needed: 10-60 minutes, depending on the wait
WebsiteKey West city website

Visiting the Southernmost Point in Key West

In Key West, Florida, you can find a monument that marks the southernmost point in the continental United States. This red, black and yellow concrete buoy right next to the ocean has become a huge tourist attraction. If you visit Key West, you’ll want to stop by, but chances are you’ll be waiting with dozens of other people to get your picture taken with it.

Many publications call the Southernmost Point in Key West a tourist trap. Of course it is! So what? Some scrooges also like to point out that the monument isn’t truly the most southern spot in the continental U.S. – that distinction belongs to Ballast Key, an isolated, privately-owned island 10 miles west of Key West.

But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the Key West tradition. Join in on the fun and get your picture taken next to the “90 Miles to Cuba” marker that has become a landmark since it was erected in 1983. The massive concrete buoy is one of the most popular tourist spots in Key West.

southernmost point tourists

This area has been affected by hurricanes many times, but the buoy is still standing. It was most recently damaged by Hurricane Irma, but received a new paint job and is back to normal. The monument stands 12 feet tall by 7 feet wide.

I visited the Southernmost Point at the end of a Florida Keys road trip that started back in Miami and the Everglades.

Note: The reason the southernmost point Key West is labeled as the southernmost point in the continental United States is because the southernmost point in all of America is in Naalehu, Hawaii.

When to Visit the Southernmost Point in the US Lower 48 States

For easiest access, arrive early any day of the week. That’s when you’ll find the shortest lines. When I visited a couple years ago, I got there around 9:30 am. It was rainy and it was off-peak season, so I got my photo with only a five-minute wait.

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If you come during the middle of the day during peak tourist season, you may have to wait quite a while to get your photo. Just be patient and be efficient when you get your chance so you don’t hold up the line!

Stopping by at the southernmost point is one of the best things to do in the morning in Key West. When you’ve recovered from partying all night and finally roll out of bed, head over there before lunchtime!

Make sure while you’re in Key West that you check out the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. And I strongly suggest, if you have the time and money, booking a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, where you can camp on a remote tropical island outside a Civil War fort.

And since you’re only 90 miles from Cuba, why not consider booking a future trip to that island? Check out the American’s guide to visiting Havana, and check out Cuba’s Cayo Jutias, one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to!

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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26 Comments

  1. What a strange tourist attraction! If i’m every in Key West it definitely looks like the kind of thing I’ll need to take my picture next to! Thanks for the article.
    -Gaby

  2. When you are a tourist or even if it is your home town – go for it – I had to go there by car having been there by cruise ship 10 + years before – it was a steady flow of people

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