If you're not looking for it, you just might pass it by.
Cuban Coffee Queen
Credit: Caroline Rogers

Southernmost is a state of mind. When you find yourself in Key West, and, inevitably, on the sidewalks of busy Duval Street, keep an eye out. As you're carried along by the constant bustle of the central thoroughfare, it's easy to miss: a narrow passageway lined with leafy plants, leading—where, exactly? Between Mel Fisher's Treasures at 613 Duval and Antonia's Restaurant at 615 Duval, there's a pretty alleyway, unmarked save for some subtle signage proclaiming "Wood Fire Pizza and Trattoria" and an accompanying menu.

If you hang a right and wander down that bright, beautifully landscaped alley, you'll find the restaurant indicated by the signage as well as the tucked-away nook it calls home. The spot is Key Lime Square, a cozy enclave that's no more than 50 feet away from Duval but couldn't feel more off the beaten path. For all its proximity to well-traveled thoroughfares, it's one of the best-kept secrets on the island.

You can enter Key Lime Square from the understated passage off Duval, the one that runs along the side of the pizzeria, or from the showier entrance, the one on Southard Street. There you'll find a shiny, curved placard proclaiming "Key Lime Square" in a lime-green hue. When you enter, you'll see before you the tucked-away downtown location of Cuban Coffee Queen, an open-air coffee bar at the center of the square. (The original location is on the waterfront at 284 Margaret Street). There, you'll find a killer cup of coffee and an inviting, quiet place to sit and relax awhile. Next to a slice of key lime pie on a stick, a cup from Cuban Coffee Queen is the island's number one must-order.

Next door to the coffee hub is Onlywood Pizzeria, a trattoria with a garden patio and a big menu of wine, pastas, and cheesy pizzas. They're also proud of their process, which includes an enormous brick oven that they describe as "made 100% from lavic materials coming from the Vesuvius in Napoli. It reaches 1000 degrees in temperature which are a must for Neapolitan pizza style." (In case you're wondering, the pizzas are delicious.) Also nearby is Old Town Mexican Cafe, where you can grab a table outdoors under trees wrapped in strands of glowing lights.

After you've enjoyed your coffee and a meander through the square, wander down Southard Street and stop into Vignette, a gorgeous shop with a beautifully curated selection of clothing, bags, jewelry, and gifts. You'll recognize Vignette by its white picket fence, front porch, and rocking chairs. This lovely shop is just a stone's throw from Key Lime Square, and it's a must-visit for locals and visitors alike.

WATCH: The Key To Paradise

If you find yourself in Key West, be sure to explore this tucked-away pocket of the island. Key Lime Square sits at the heart of the southernmost Florida key, and it's where you'll find the best cup of coffee in town—as well as plenty of other charming island experiences.

Are you planning a visit soon? If you've already been to Key West, let us know your favorite spots to visit on the island.