Key West—There’s More than Beaches

Key West has many beautiful beaches, but it also boasts other fun activities when you need an escape from the sun.

Duval Street is a “must do” for tourists in Key West. While the street is only a mile long, walking down the street full of restaurants, bars, souvenir stores, art galleries, and boutiques is a fun way to fill an afternoon. The street houses Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the Key West Aquarium. The Hop On-Hop Off buses will take you down Duval Street as well as throughout much of the Old Town.

The sunsets at Key West are a tourist site by themselves…and free. If you wait for the big event in Mallory Square, you can be entertained by street performers. You can hear singing, see magic tricks, and watch a tightrope walker, all while waiting for the sunset. And the sunset is worth waiting for! The beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows will keep you intrigued until the last light of the sun disappears into the water.  There are many other places to watch the beautiful sunsets in this seaside town, including Fort Zach, but this tourist location is great. Another option to see the sunset is a sunset cruise. Again, you have choices of champagne and appetizer sunset cruises or party boats, and many types in between. They are all available for you to choose.

An interesting and beautiful day trip is to Dry Tortugas, which is one of the 10 least visited U.S. National Parks and for a good reason; Dry Tortugas is only accessible by seaplane or boat. Dry Tortugas is a very small island that is home to Fort Jefferson, the largest all-masonry fort in the country. Built in the 19th century, the fort is located on one of the seven islands in the park. In addition to the fort, snorkeling and diving are excellent. There are no hotels in the park and only limited camping, but a day trip is enough to see the fort, snorkel, and enjoy a few hours of solitude.

Ernest Hemingway made his home in Key West. You can visit his home and see descendants of his famous six-toed cat which was said to be a gift from a ship captain. In fact, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum now proudly boasts that it has more than 40 of these unusual animals. Six-toed cats aren’t the only animals found in Key West so be on the lookout for wild roosters that can often be seen running down the streets.

Key West offers boat tours, fishing expeditions, scuba diving, and snorkeling in addition to the sunset cruises. If you prefer to look at the water but not get in or on it, you can walk along the water and may get to see manatees looking back at you as you look for your reflection in the water.

Key West features excellent food, including key lime pie which allegedly originated there. (The origin is now being debated, but the key lime pies I tried in Key West were the best I have tasted anywhere!) Many restaurants feature seafood caught or harvested fresh that day. Restaurants, like lodging, come in many shapes and sizes so feel free to choose what fits your mood and budget. You can stop at a seaside bar such as Schooner Wharf Bar for a drink and appetizer before moving on to your next stop, or if you want to enjoy a gourmet dining experience, make a reservation at one of the many choices. (Don’t forget to try the conch, another Key West specialty.)

Last, but not least, don’t forget to snap the obligatory selfie at Southernmost Point Buoy, the southernmost point in the continental U.S., to prove to your family and friends that you really made it to Key West.


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