Clarence Higgs Beach Park


Clarence Higgs Beach Park
[1000-1198] Atlantic Blvd
Key West, FL 33040

Clarence Higgs Memorial Beach is an over 16 acre beach park located in Monroe County at the end of the Florida Overseas Heritage Trail.  It is just west of Smathers Beach and adjacent to the Key West Wildlife Center in downtown Key West. This beach is more than just a gorgeous place to spend the day under the South Florida sun, it is also a historical site with significant features that date back to the post-Civil War era. Take a break in your recreation to learn about refugee African slaves buried here or wander through the picturesque garden within the old Fort Martello.

The nearby Key West Wildlife Center inside of the eight acre Sonny McCoy Indigenous Park at 1801 White Street features a trail surrounded by native flora and fauna as well as 2 aviaries.  The Center is open daily from 9 to 5. Learn about their care and treatment for sick and injured local wildlife or just stroll thru the park.  The White Street Pier is what separates this area from Clarence Higgs Beach Park.  To be lucky at this pier with fishing, check out local tides and water conditions.  If it's too murky or shallow you may want to try elsewhere.  

The Civil War Era Fort (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), known as the West Martello Tower, is now filled with almost 2 acres of ocean front gardens run by the Key West Garden Club.  For about 50 years the Joe Allen Garden Center has been open to the public (check hours, free) for visitors to enjoy. The fort was built after the Civil War to protect the waters from pirates but never saw any real action.  The Navy used it for target practice.  Around the same time, slaveships were captured but unfortunately many onboard were deceased or died shortly thereafter. The refugees were buried in shallow graves at this site and are memorialized at the Historic African Refugee Cemetary which has a memorial marker.

Recreation at the park includes volleyball, swimming, snorkeling, tennis, a playground and a pickleball area. Pavilions onsite may be used if available or reserved through the county. Bring your four-legged friend and enjoy the very popular Dog Park for pups of all sizes and ages. Rent chairs, paddle-boards and other beach-side equipment from Tropical Water Sports located within the park. You can also enjoy a Caribbean/Italian dining experience at the shore from Salute! On the Beach. Grab your sunblock, a towel and come out with an empty stomach to enjoy all that Higgs Beach Park has to offer!