Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach park
County-owned Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach Park is located on the Atlantic Ocean in Key West and comprises approximately 16.5 acres of oceanfront vista. The park includes the 400-foot Reynolds Street Pier.
From its clear turquoise waters to its beautiful sandy beaches and its tropical vegetation, Higgs Beach offers a Civil War Era Fort, Fort West Martello home of the Key West Garden Club that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a beachside café, the African Refugee Memorial and burial site, and an AIDS memorial. Activities available include swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, beach volleyball, tennis, pickleball, and a children's playground.
Higgs Beach Park also hosts the only shore-accessible underwater marine park in the United States and is the end of the Florida Overseas Heritage Trail, one of only 31 nationally designated All American Highways in the United States.
A beach concessionaire offers beach items for rent including chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and paddleboards, among others. The Key West Garden Club offers free self-guided tours at Fort West Martello of the almost two acres of beautiful gardens. The park hosts a large dog park with separate runs for small and large dogs.
Park Improvements and Revitalization
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved a Master Plan renovation for the Park in January 2012. (See plans below). The non-profit group, Friends of Higgs Beach, Architect Bill Horn, and county staff worked tirelessly on public input, surveys, and funding sources over the past six years to produce a plan that distinguishes the future of the park as a gem of the county.
The objective of this Master Plan is to have an overall sense and organization for the Park’s long-term renovation.
A couple of interesting facts in the Master Plan:
- An increase in green space and beach area
- A decrease of more than 1 acre of “paving” (road, parking, sidewalks)
- Less than 0.11 acres in new buildings
- A .12-acre decrease in existing building structures
- A .10-acre increase in amenities (pickleball courts, etc.)
Phase I and II: Complete
Beachside Playground, completed in 2012, and a ten-station Athletic Trail, thanks to the Friends of Higgs Beach, on the north side of the park was completed in 2016.
Park Access Road Realignment
This project was approved by the Board of County Commissioners as part of the 2014 capital improvements plan. It is being funded by the one-cent infrastructure tax.
A company has been hired for professional services in the relocation of the Higgs Beach Park access roadway. In March 2015, the Board of County Commissioners voted to extend their services in order to address impacts to other park resources that will be affected by the roadway realignment including the existing racquetball court, the existing dog park, and connections to the West Martello Tower. The amendment will also provide for permitting and construction oversight of sand replenishment efforts on the beach. The sand replenishment is being funded through a Tourist Development (TDC) grant.
The county staff is currently working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the National Park Service to complete the final approvals necessary to begin construction.
You can rent the Higgs Beach pavilions for birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, and family outings.