Travel

Key West- Florida’s Hidden Paradise

Key West is the grand finale to the beautiful state of Florida. This island promises warm tropical weather all year long, with beautiful landscaping of lush hibiscus, bougainvilleas bushes, and tall coconut palm trees. When winter visit the rest of the states Key West is a great time of year to head south.  With such fabulous weather you can leave your coat at home and trade it in for a swimsuit, flip flops, hat, sunscreen, camera and most importantly the ability to relax; remember you are on island time!!

Key West is the most populated island of the Florida Keys and host to a bevy of attractions for the entire family. The island is only 7 miles long but don’t let the small size fool you because it is action packed. There are several ways to reach Key West either via plane, boat or driving. I decided to drive to Key West which was a 2 hour journey along Highway 1 through an array of islands leading me to Mile Marker 0.

These are some of my favorite sports In Key West that I think you will also enjoy!

Many people may not realize that Key West is the southernmost city in the United States with Cuba being a mere 90 miles south by boat. Since the island is relatively small I was able to visit all my desired spots in two days.  Most people get around the island by bicycle or foot. I walked to the majority of the key attractions, if you decide to walk make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes and a hat because it will be hot. I also always carried a bottle of water with me to keep myself hydrated.Key West is famous for its glorious sunsets, and everyone should participate in this activity at Mallory Square.

 

I made sure I arrived there 45 minutes before the sunset to ensure I had a spot along the sea wall because Mallory Square gets crowded as sunset approaches. To pass the time I enjoyed a delicious coconut drink, that’s served in a real coconut! It was so good I had two!

Mallory Square is also filled with a variety of festive activities, street performers, souvenir shops, vendors with unique trinkets, and artist everywhere displaying their unique paintings.

Depending on the day of the week there might be a cruise ship docked, meaning the island will be a lot more crowded around the Historic District. Therefore you might want to plan visiting popular sights before the cruise ship arrives at the port.

Near Mallory Square is the old Custom House a main focal point on the island with its bright red brick exterior, which now houses fine art and history exhibits. The Custom House is also surrounded by an array of contemporary outdoor sculptures.

Duvall Street is one of the most popular streets in Key West. It resembles Bourbon Street with a beach vibe. It’s lined with several restaurants, bars, art galleries, cigar shops, museums, drag queen shows and quaint shops. It’s never a dull moment on Duvall Street day or night.

The Southernmost Point is a landmark I had to take my picture in front. If you walk the length of Duvall Street, and take a right on South Street you will end up at the historical landmark. It was an awesome feeling standing on one of the farthest corners of the United States.  Since the majority of visitors make it a point to take their picture at the landmark be prepared to wait in line for a photo opportunity.

While on the island I found parking to be a problem and is very limited near Mallory Square and Duvall Street. Fortunately there was a parking garage near the Ferry terminal (Grimmel and James Street) that is convenient to Mallory Square and Duvall Street.  Another perk of parking near the marina I was able to explore another area of the island by strolling along the Harbor Walk. The Harbor Walk also has several restaurants, and shops.  Another bonus of walking along the boardwalk; was being able to enjoy looking at all the pretty yachts docked at the Historic Seaport.

Old Town or commonly referred as the Historic District is where the majority of the attractions and business are located on the island. While in the Historic District, I took a tour Ernest Hemingway’s house. This charming house is where the famous writer resided for many years and wrote many of his well known books and the movie “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. His house was simple but tranquil and I quickly understood how he was able to relax and write freely. A special treat on the premises are all the six toe cats that live there. I even had a cat pose for me and put its paw out so I could take a picture of its six toes. I believe others had taken its picture too!

Across the street from Hemingway’s House is the Key West Lighthouse and Museum. After viewing the lighthouse museum I quickly climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse. When I reached the top I enjoyed a spectacular panorama view of Key West.

 

Another interesting site is the Harry S. Truman Little White House. This was a former vacation home to Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy during their terms.

An unusual site to visit in Old Town is the Key West Cemetery established in 1847. I know it seems weird for someone to tell you to go visit a cemetery but it’s not your ordinary graveyard. It is filled with several quirky headstones such as “I told you I was sick” or “He loved Bacon”.

Not far from the cemetery is the Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea. It’s a lovely church for an island especially when all the exterior bay windows are opened. The church grotto and gardens are also beautiful and peaceful and worth exploring.

If the crowds of the Historic District become overwhelming than you might want to head to Higgs Beach. Higgs Beach is located on the south shore with plenty of white sand to soak up some sun-rays. Also at this beach is a large AIDS memorial.   Parking for the beach is free and there is also a playground for the children and a pickle ball court. White Street Pier is also located here where you can take a leisurely walk and enjoy the scenery or try your luck at fishing.

A trip to Key West wouldn’t be complete without a eating a slice of key lime pie, I prefer the Key Lime Pie Company.  Another meal I can’t go without on the island is lobster! I like the restaurant; Two Friends Patio located on Front Street, it’s away from the crowds and the lobster meals are very reasonably priced.

I am grateful; to Henry Flagler who constructed the overseas railroad and linked the mainland of Florida to Key West, without his dedication to creating this route a trip by car may not have been possible. When you visit Key West you can be assured of tropical weather so come with a laid back attitude and remember its Happy Hour all day every day! Safe Travels!

 

 

Bridget Jackson
<p>Hi my name is Bridget, as you can tell I enjoy traveling. My love of traveling began when I was a small child as we vacationed to new destinations each year. When I visit a new place I always try to stay away from tourist traps and see the area as the locals do. In my blogs I try to provide travel tips to make your vacation enjoyable. Always follow your dreams, travel as much as possible and feed your mind by exploring the world!</p>
http://www.snippetsbybridget.com
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