We have our own little "Caribbean" island right here in Florida
-- Key West! There's so much to do and see in Key West that you could spend a week and not do it all. You can snorkel, sail, and fish here, but that's only a beginning. You can also swim with the dolphins or take a short catamaran trip to the Dry Tortugas for the day. Land lovers can shop until they drop, then watch the sunset at Mallory Square
and party all night on Duval Street
. Lovers planning a wedding
or a honeymoon should consider Key West for both. With no shortage of restaurants and cafes, Key West offers plentiful options for indoor or outdoor dining.
Key West is bathed in the warmth of a tropical sun, cooled by ocean breezes and shaded by lush, tropical plants and trees. A truly romantic destination rich in history, culture, and natural treasures, Key West has something for everybody. No matter what you decide to do you'll never have more fun than your vacation on Key West.
Merging the lovely turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Key West is the southernmost point in the United States. The county seat of Monroe County is a mere 98 miles from the coast of Cuba, 129 miles southwest of Miami (about 160 road miles), and 106 miles north-northeast of Havana.
Things to do in Key West
Visit Duval Street
The place to be day or night in Key West is Duval Street, there is so much to do that you could spend two days here alone. Whether it's shopping
, dining, or dancing the night away this where you'll find what you're looking for. At night, Duval is a carnival that lasts until dawn, similar to Bourbon Street.
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Watch the Sunset at Mallory Square
During the famous sunset celebration every evening, just as the sun is fading from view, you'll find street vendors and performers all over the square, smell the kettle corn popping and watch the kids getting their faces painted.
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See Where Ernest Hemingway Lived
At the Ernest Hemingway Home you'll see for yourself how a great American literary icon lived. Hemingway's personal touches are still throughout the house to this day. Many of the unique furnishing are European antiques collected during their lives in Europe. The trophy mounts and skins were souvenirs of Hemingway's African safaris and hunting expeditions out west.
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Swim and Play at Smathers Beach
Smathers Beach is the longest, and one of the best-known beaches in Key West
. Everything you need to have a great day of family fun in the sun is right at hand; it has plenty of parking, restrooms, concession stands, chair rentals and picnic tables. Smathers Beach activities include tanning, volleyball and looking for shells, water sport/beach sport rentals include rafts and jet skies and you can go parasailing or windsurfing right off the beach
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Hit the Water at Key West Bight
If you come to Key West by land, you can enjoy even more of what Key West Bight has to offer in the way of water sports. You can sail on a historic schooner, book a sunset cruise or take a catamaran trip to the reef, charter a boat to go fishing, diving, or try parasailing, the view from the air is spectacular. If you prefer to stay on land you can take a walking tour of the Key West Bight Marina, Old Town Key West, Duval Street and Key West itself.
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Explore Fort Taylor
You can tour the historic Civil War Fort and enjoy lunch or a snack at the Cayo Hueso Café, or try water sports such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and fishing. You can also plan a wedding and attend all kinds of other events that take place on the grounds.
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It's All About The Water in the Florida Keys
Water lovers are thrilled to discover that the Florida Keys
are protected from the seas by the only barrier reef in North America. The reef provides divers and snorkelers with the chance to view breathtaking corals and an abundance of brilliantly colored tropical fish. Just beyond the reef runs the Gulf Stream, a powerful ocean current that is home to some of the most spectacular game fishing
you'll ever find. You can also take advantage of many sightseeing boat tours, sunset boat sailings and catamaran excursions. Here's your chance to swim with dolphins!
Fishing In Key West
Whether you bring your own boat or hire a local professional Charter Captain, you'll be fishing the same inspirational waters that Ernest Hemingway
fished. Blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, kingfish and dolphin (Mahi) are caught offshore, while tarpon, bonefish, snook, snapper and grouper are inshore catches.
Fishing in the Florida Keys »
Key West Arts
Patrons of the Arts will be kept very busy in Key West. Art galleries are plentiful in these few square miles. Key West also boasts three performing arts theaters, a symphony, and a hugely successful annual literary seminar. Several arts festivals are hosted in Key West; the Fantasy Fest held each year over the Halloween weekend is one of the most popular.
Places to Stay in Key West
Key West is a great place to kick back and soak up some old Florida at a quaint bed and breakfast or if you prefer try a new world class resort. Just three miles from Duval Street, over looking the Gulf of Mexico is the Inn At Key West, two blocks from Duval Street you'll find the Hyatt West Resort and Spa. If you're looking for a 'tropical playground' the Reach Resort is the place for you. At the LaPenione Inn B&B you get all the charm of old Key West at a place that won't break your bank. If you're looking for an adults only experience the historic guesthouse Heron House Court may be just the ticket. They also have the standards such as the Best Western Key Ambassador Resort Inn and the Crowne Plaza Concha Key West which, along with the Doubletree Grand Key Resort, has a sister hotel near Cocoa Beach
. There is truly something for every taste and budget in fabulous Key West, come and see.
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Key West History
Since its founding in 1822, Key West has been a stage for both pirates and poets. Key West has been host to New England sailors, Spanish conquistadors, Bahamian salvagers, and Cuban shipwrights. History buffs can spend countless hours learning about the island.
Both Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams once called Key West home; daily tours are offered through Hemmingway's former residence. More recently, singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett decided to make his home in Key West. The original Margaritaville Store and Restaurant is located on Key West.
Key West is a seaport destination and cruise ports
; the Key West International Airport provides airline service. A large Navy flight school is located on Key West. Historically, Key West was chosen for the Winter White House of Harry S. Truman.
The central business district is Duval Street, including much of the northwest corner of the island. Three roads -- U.S. Route 1, State Road A1A and the East Coast Greenway -- all end here. Likewise, all roads lead to Key West -- at least if you're heading south in Florida.
Considering how close Key West is to Cuba and the Caribbean, it's no wonder that both have molded its history and continue to influence its current culture.
The Conch Republic
The Citizens of Key West have done what many Americans have dared not do - secede from the Union. At noon on April 23 1982, in protest to a roadblock set up by the U.S. Border Patrol, Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlow read a proclamation of secession in Mallory Square that the Conch Republic was an independent nation separate from the U.S. Key West citizens felt that the roadblock had cut them off from the mainland -- and if the rest if America was going to desert them, who needed America? Of course, it wasn't a real secession. But that doesn't stop Key West from celebrating Conch Republic Independence Day every April 23 as part of a week-long festival for issuing souvenir passports.
The people of Key West have always followed to their own path when it comes to politics. They've even elected one of their favorite bar owners --Captain Tony Tarracino -- Mayor of Key West.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com