Key West, located at the southernmost tip of the United States, is famous for key lime pie, hand rolled Dominican cigars, shipwrecks, and its Bohemian flare. People gather at that the colorful concrete southernmost buoy, the most southern point in the continental United States, for photo ops to commemorate their trip.
Famous writers, Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway, both made the Keys their home. President Harry Truman loved the Keys so much that he made it his winter White House. Key West sustains the highest temperatures in the United States so expect a bit of misery while enjoying one of the most fun and funkiest cruise ship ports.
The seven mile bridge links the middle Keys’ Marathon, Florida, to the lower Keys’ Little Duck Key. The historic seaport, Key West, is forty miles farther south. The mile marker zero sign, another great photo opportunity, notes the geographical status in the continental United States. If you are the lighthouse enthusiast, Key West Lighthouse dates back to 1848 and had the first woman keeper. There are only 88 stairs inside and you can for explore the belongings and photographs for a $10 admission price. Take advantage of kayaking, parasailing, snorkeling, diving, fishing, or a catamaran sail if water activities interest you.
For our excursion, we skipped the cruise line offerings and went into the downtown to rent golf carts for a drive around the town. Sloppy Joe’s, the infamous Hemingway hangout, is a fun choice for lunch or just a beer break. Hog’s Breath is another good choice, plus they have great souvenir shirts. Do some shopping on Duval Street, browse the local art, and visit Mallory Square, home of the famous Key West sunset celebrations and where the cruises dock. If you are interested in nature, try the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, or art lovers will swoon over the Key West Museum of Art and History. For an offbeat thing to do, visit the 19 acre Key West Cemetery’s quirky and hilarious headstones with inscriptions such as “I told you I was sick”, and “I’m just resting my eyes”.
FUN FACT: The historic Key West Seaport was the center of the fishing industry for 200 years. The four most important industries were the fisheries for sea turtles, shrimp, sponges, and fishing to supply local and distant markets. The Seaport is a fun place to stroll around and do not miss one of the best seafood restaurants in Key West, Half Shell Raw Bar.
FYI: Old Town Trolley Tours offers twelve stops around Key West via their hop on/hop off buses. Tours are fully narrated and packed with facts, history, as well as the guide’s blend of humor. The complete loop takes ninety minutes. Another tour option is on the Conch Tour Train, which begins at Front Street Depot, right in front of Mallory Square. Both tours feature big savings when you buy your tickets online.
TIP: If you did not bring water shoes for your cruise ship excursions, there are several stores on Duval Street that offer them for under $10. Granted, they might be lime green, but beggars cannot be choosers.
FYI: The Kapok tree is the tallest tree in Africa. The silky down from the seed pods are used for stuffing (life jackets, pillows, etc.) and the oil from the seeds is used for foods and in manufacturing soap.
KEY WEST PHOTO GALLERY:
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