Imagine, if you will, planning a family vacation, and you decide upon the Florida Keys. Then, you realize there are several different Keys to visit, and you don’t possibly have the time to visit them all. This series will focus on a few of the most popular Keys, and some of the best things to do in them. Key West is part of the Florida archipelago and is the southernmost city in the U.S. Best known for its coral reefs, snorkeling, and diving, it has a population of approximately 26000 by the census of 2021. Dredgers Key, Fleming Key, Sunset Key, and the northernmost tip of Stock Island make up the City of Key West. It is the port of call for many passenger cruise ships. The Naval Air Station Key West is the site for year-round naval aviation training due to the tropical climate, which is also why President Harry S. Truman chose Key West for his Winter White House. The tropical climate is very like the climate in the Caribbean and culture is strongly influenced by Bahamian and Cuban cultures, mostly because it is only 95 miles north of Cuba. it is also well known for its pastel-colored conch houses. We will go over some of the most popular attractions to see and do in Key West.
There are so many things to do in Key West, it would be easy to overlook many. We hope in this article to hit some of the highlights of this beautiful island, so you can decide if you want to visit here. From the street festivals to the museums, and the restaurants, there are many places for you to see and many activities for you to do.
Duval Street is the location of local street festivals, food and spirits, entertainment, buskers such as sword swallowers and jugglers, classic houses, and landmarks to visit. One of the few places that touch two separate bodies of water, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, this 1.25-mile stretch is perfect for people-watching as well. The southernmost point of the street is also the southernmost point of the U.S. and houses a large bouy that is a well-known photo op location. The northern side of the Gulf of Mexico is visited by several vessels and cruise ship passengers. The Duval Crawl is well known, as there are over 100 bars on this street that stay well open til 4 a.m. But during the day, it is a different scene, with many Victorian Conch Homes and buildings to visit and daytime festivals year-round such as the Conch Republic Days, Hemingway Days, Songwriter’s Festival, and Poker Run.
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
Voted the Best Place To Take Kids and the Best Place to Visit in Key West, The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a wonderful place to visit to learn and experience nature. Butterflies, two flamingos, and exotic birds fly freely in their large domed glass habitat. There are 50-60 species of tropical butterflies here. Also is the Butterfly Gallery where you can see the artwork of Sam Atrophia. Acrylic shadowboxes with images of butterflies frozen in motion make the perfect vacation gift.
Tennessee Williams Theater
The area’s foremost performing arts theater is home to a civic center and a community center as well. Conferences, parties, workshops, fundraisers, and performances are all held here.
Southernmost Point Bouy
Located at the southernmost end of Duval Street, this oversized bouy sits on the land and is a popular location for photo-taking among tourists.
Harry S Truman’s Little White House
Initially built in 1890 as a waterfront residence for the 1st officer’s quarters on the naval station, President Harry S Truman stayed here 175 days for 11 visits. President William Taft was actually the first president to stay here in 1912. Truman only stayed here after exhaustion and had his doctor order him to a warm climate for a vacation in 1946. Here, in 1948, the Department of Defense was created via The Key West Agreement. in 1987. It was deeded to the state of Florida and after much renovation, in 1991, opened as a historical and cultural museum. Presidents and officials still visit here. You can visit and see where the Trumans lived and worked.
Hemingway House and Museum
At 907 Whitehead Street, Ernest Hemingway purchased a house and stayed there for 8 years. Many authors enjoyed visiting the Florida Keys. He made it into a showcase that it still is today. You may spy a six-toed cat or two or more, descendants of the original cat of Hemingway’s, Snow White, given to him by a ship’s captain. See where he loved to fish. Enjoy the gift shop, see his famed inground swimming pool and listen to the stories about it, and visit the beautiful gardens filled with the varieties that Hemingway enjoyed there such as the heavily scented gardenias.
Restaurants & Bars
La Trattoria, the winner of a People’s Choice Award for the favorite Italian restaurant, resides in Key West and offers food with a European flair. McKee’s Tiki Bar at The Capitana Key West Hotel offers sandwiches, salads, and platters. Ocean Key Resort & Spa provides a luxurious waterfront scene to enjoy your meal. Shor American Seafood Grill offers a tropical setting and fresh-caught seafood and world-class service. Sloppy Joe’s Bar is known for t-shirts and Sloppy Joe’s Island Ale, exclusively here and at Joe’s Tap Room. It is also known for its generous food portions and live entertainment. Virgilio’s Cocktail Lounge offers the finest cocktails and Italian dinners from La Trattoria. El Meson De Pepe has Cuban Conch Cuisine. And there are many, many more!
Key West is best known for its diving and snorkeling. Fishing and boating are also available through charter services locally. There is plentiful sightseeing to do on the key, as well. Diving and snorkeling are also available through local charter services. Dive the Vanderberg or the local barrier reefs. Enjoy snorkeling along the south side of the island in the Key West Marine Park. The Gen Hoyt S. Vandenberg is the second largest ship sunk to become a barrier reef. Also, areas great for diving are The Atocha, Kedge Ledge, Nine Foot Stake, The Cayman Salvor, Ten-Fathom Ledge, Joe’s Tug, and Sand Key.
So whether you want a laid-back, relaxing vacation or an activity-filled adventure, Key West may be the place for you. There are plentiful places to relax and sightsee, from museums to gardens and nature preserves, and other landmarks. For the more adventurous-minded, diving, snorkeling, fishing, and boating are also available for charter. Whether you want to dine in luxury or participate in a bar crawl on Duval Street, or simply watch the performers at night, there is always something to do in Key West. Happy Vacation!
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