Key West has always been a unique place being the location of where the esoteric meets the serious and blurs the boundary between the two. Where authors like Hemingway and male cross dressers coexisted for decades creating the natural unmistakable charm that Key West claims as its own. Yet to see the main highlights it only requires a day of your time as the magic of Key West is more found in the streets than buildings.
Located at the very end of the Coastal Highway, Key West is a 3-4 hour drive from Miami and is best done during the week as opposed to the weekend to avoid traffic in the often two lane road making backup a serious issue if it does occur. The drive over is scenic enough as one is over the ocean for most of the time and can spot the various keys along the way to Key West. When you actually get to Key West, parking is slightly expensive as there is only one municipal parking lot that charges for a 24 hour period rather than by hour.
From the parking lot, it’s a rather nice and scenic walk to Duval Street, the main street in the Old Town section of Key West where one finds all the shops, galleries and bars. It is a rather long road spanning from a little beyond the Hemmingway House to the waterfront terminating on a pier. Most of the time on the island will likely be spent going up and down the streets looking at the various galleries which they are quite a lot of and the architecture of the brick laden building.
Probably the most famed building on the island is the Hemmingway house. Located on the right side of Duval Street one or two blocks over, it stands as one “must see” attractions of the island. Admission is fairly pricy for adults at $13 for and adult and children are $6 around $8. For the must see house, the tours only last about 30-45 minutes and you are ushered quickly from one room to another requiring backtracking if you found even one room mildly interesting. The grounds outside are small but nice yet does not requires much time to see. All in all, the house can be finished in less than hour and see all the highlights.
When the sun finally sets, head to the pier at the end of Duval Street to see the nightly attractions and performances that litter the boardwalk. Sword eaters, fire jugglers and escape artists dot the wooden pier competing with plentiful amount of food stands for one’s money. It is certainly a sight to see and sums up the culture of Key West as the zaniness of the performers and the sight of the setting sun intersect.
Much of the fanfare dies within minutes of the moon beginning to rise as the town shifts to a more adult ordinated playground as the bars are in full swing blaring music and scenes of men in drag capture the curious tourist. So people with children may want to find a restaurant near the pier in a quieter setting pier and enjoy the view the moonlit ocean. The author would remiss to not recommend eating a slice of Key Lime Pie that many shops bill as their best dish which they should be as the Key West is the fabled pie’s place of origin. All in all, Key West is a zany town both in the day and the night where one will find something amusing to do.
General information for visiting the Florida Keys and Key West: http://www.fla-keys.com/
907 Whitehead St. • Key West, FL 33040 • 305-294-1136
Hours-9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day