EXPLORE KEY WEST
KEY WEST holds the distinction of being the southern-most location in the continental US as well as the end and/or the beginning of our favorite scenic highway, A1A. Key West’s history is as notorious as some of its most famous inhabitants. Presidents, pirates, politicians, poets and playwrights have all contributed to the mystique and allure of the island’s reputation and for those willing to embrace the free-spirited, bohemian lifestyle that prevails, there is perhaps nothing quite as exhilarating as a trip to Key West.
Play on the beach, snorkel, dive or indulge in any of the dozens of other watersports, rent an electric car or bicycle and explore the island, immerse yourself in any number of eco-excursions or do absolutely nothing at all, you’ll find Key West ready to accept you just as you are.
Rather be on land? You’ll find no shortage of things to do here either. Explore the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, go shopping on Duval Street or in Mallory Square or visit fantastic galleries and antique shops. Not sure where to start? There’s a list below of USA Today’s list of the Top 10 Things to Do. Need some budget friendly ideas? Here’s also a list of the 10 Best Local Experts’ list of Free Things to Do.
With an ever growing calendar of annual events, you’re bound to find something to excite and entertain you while you’re here. Whether you choose to celebrate the evening’s sunset with a few or with many, it’s an event not to be missed here and when the sun sets, get ready for some of the most energetic nightlife anywhere. From piano bars to neighborhood taverns, there are hundreds of places for you to quench your thirst and will stay open until you’re no longer thirsty (or 4 a.m. whichever comes first); there’s a list below of some of the most famous.
Don’t forget to eat! While fresh, local seafood tops the dining charts here, you’ll also find nearly every other dining option available as well, and of course you’ll never have to look very far to find incredible key lime pie. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, bakeries, brunch or fine dining, below is a lists of ideas to get your taste buds thinking.
And at the end of the day whether you choose a Hotel, Motel, or Resort, Gay Friendly Accommodation, B&B, Inn or Guest House, Vacation Rental, Pet Friendly or RV/Campground property to call home during your stay, you’ll discover why visitors from around the corner and around the globe agree there’s nothing on the planet quite like Key West. If you’re interested in reading more about the recent happenings, here’s a link to our Key West Journal (blog) page.
Don’t Miss This…
HISTORIC STRAND THEATRE: Opening in the 1920s, the historic Strand Theatre in Key West (now a drug store) is a Duval Street institution. It holds the distinction of being a movie theatre, then being used as a movie theatre when it was no longer a movie theatre in the 1993 film “Matinee” a comedy where a film promoter releases a horror film in the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although its current interior may not have the charm it once held, the exterior is as romantic as ever and if you decide to check it out while you’re here, the address is 527 Duval Street, 33040.
SOUTHERNMOST POINT BUOY: Arguably the most photographed spot in Key West, this is a pic of the iconic Southernmost Point buoy. The location sprung up as a tourist attraction in the 1960s where visitors could purchase shells and sponges and decades ago, there was a large wooden sign here that read “The Southernmost Point of the Southernmost City Key West, FLA” which as one might imagine, became the subject of frequent thefts. We found two online sources (neither was Wikipedia) that allege the concrete buoy that became the permanent marker here in 1983, is actually a concrete sewer junction discovered during road work and painted to look like a buoy; we couldn’t get a confirmation (or denial) on that part of the story so it may or may not be true. Either way if you want to take a pic at this hot spot, make your way to the corner of South and Whitehead Streets or use 398 South Street, 33040 for your GPS.
SMATHERS BEACH: From multiple sources we learned adventurer Ponce de Leon and his crew sailed toward Florida in search of the elusive Fountain of Youth; they never found the Fountain but in 1513 they did find the Florida Keys. There is no record that anyone from their ship came ashore on that trip however as his expedition sailed past the southernmost islands, his sailors saw the twisted, thick mangroves along the shores and named the islands Los Martires or “The Martyrs” because seen from a distance, the rocks appeared like men who were suffering. About a century later, the island we now know as Key West began to appear on European maps as Cayo Hueso which literally translates to “Island of Bones”. Here, it’s alleged the beaches were discovered to have been littered with sun-bleached human remains (bones) from prior battles or perhaps a burial ground. There is no authentic record of the origin of the name “Key West” however it’s generally accepted to be a corruption of the Spanish word Hueso (pronounced Way-so) that morphed into the word “West”. This pic was shot on Key West’s spectacular Smathers Beach and while it’s unlikely you’ll find any human remains here today, if you’re looking for a spot to experience the somewhat less photographed yet equally spectacular Key West sunRISE, make your way near 2601 S Roosevelt Blvd., 33040.
WILLIE T’s: From FloridaMemory.com we learned that Virginia born William Pope DuVal became Florida’s first civilian chief executive serving as a territorial judge before being appointed governor of the Florida territory in 1822 by President James Monroe. DuVal’s administration was noted for its peaceful relations with Florida’s Indians and for the establishment of Tallahassee as the territorial capital. DuVal’s name is commemorated in a number of places around the state (usually without the capital “V”). Streets carrying the name Duval can be found in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Key West, Pensacola, and many other towns and cities; Duval County was named for the governor in 1822. We shot this pic at the world famous Willie T’s Restaurant & Bar located in Key West on perhaps the most well-known and festive of the namesake streets where it’s estimated between 35 and 40,000 pieces of US currency decorate the interior. If you decide to come here and explore, make your way to 525 Duval St., 33040.
Because our fear of clowns extends pretty much to dolls of any kind, our final October haunt comes from AtlasObscura.com and it’s about a doll named Robert. Something many agree to be true about Robert the Doll is that he’s terrifying; other things many believe to be true – the doll is haunted and has caused car accidents, broken bones, job loss, divorce and a host of other misfortunes. Robert is over 100 years old and now lives at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West. Before that, Robert was the property of Robert Eugene Otto (the boy answered to the name “Gene”) and was a childhood birthday gift from Gene’s grandfather. According to legend, Gene began to blame mishaps on the doll. While this could have been laughed off as childish storytelling, adults also started noticing odd occurrences, especially as Gene grew older. In 1974 at the age of 73, Gene died and the doll had a new caretaker who said Robert would move around the house on his own, after twenty years of antics, she donated the doll to the museum in 1994 and since Robert arrived, visitors have flocked to the museum to get a look at the mischievous toy. He has appeared on TV shows, he has had his aura photographed, he is a stop on a ghost tour, and he’s inspired a horror movie. We shot this pic at sunrise on Roosevelt Blvd. about a mile away from the museum and if you want to go meet Robert face-to-face, make your way to 3501 S Roosevelt Blvd., 33040.
Following are few links you made find helpful (we certainly have). If you use the links, you’ll be leaving this website and will be redirected to another. Although we’ve found the links quite useful, we’re not making endorsements or claims about the accuracy or content of the information you’ll find there. Close to Perfect, Far From Normal (Video); The Travel Channel (Video); USA Today’s Top 10; Local Experts’ Top 10; Best Bars; and Restaurants too.