Located at the southernmost point of the Florida Keys and only 145 km from Miami, Key West is known for its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, rich cultural diversity, architecture, unabashed romantic appeal and vibrant nightlife.
A small island paradise (only 6 km long and 2 km wide), Key West has attracted a number of prominent artists, writers, and free thinkers throughout its history. Some of the most notable include Ernest Hemingway who wrote in Key West for more than a decade; the playwright Tennessee Williams was a frequent visitor and penned several plays while living on the island; former U.S. president Harry S. Truman who spent 175 days in Key West while in office; poet Robert Frost who spent several winters basking in its sunshine; and the well-known naturalist and painter John James Audubon who visited Key West for several months in 1832 to study and paint the island’s birds and other wildlife.
As with all the islands of the Keys, Key West is also a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, with the nearby coral reefs and shipwrecks providing excellent opportunities to see marine life.
Faze had a chance to explore all the amazing things Key West has to offer as a tourist destination. Here are some recommendations:
Recipient of The Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954, Ernest Hemingway was widely considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He lived in Key West for over a decade where he drew inspiration for his writing, and spent much of his free time boxing, fishing and reveling with friends. The Hemingway Experience is a 3.5-hour guided historic journey celebrating his life and retracing his steps around Old Town. You’ll visit at least five locations connected to Hemingway and enjoy four food tastings, three cocktails and explore the island through “Papa’s” eyes. Of course you’ll tour the famous Hemingway House where you’ll find direct descendants of his original polydactyl (six-toed) cat, Snow White!
Yes, he has six toes!
It’s not often we get a close-up look at one of nature’s most beautiful creations. However, at the The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, you can enjoy their beauty from mere inches away, and if you’re patient one or two of their 50—60 different species of butterflies from around the world may even flutter down onto your fingertip or nose. During your stroll through paradise you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of butterflies and birds, entertained by the resident Caribbean flamingos, Rhett & Scarlett, awed by the impressive collection of flowering plants, and soothed by waterfalls and trees that set the stage for the “flowers of the sky.”
Of course, when visiting Key West you must experience its warm, crystal blue water. We had the chance to experience one of Key West’s world famous sunsets on an 18 metre Sebago catamaran. While we were serenaded with live music, with champagne in hand, the captain perfectly positioned the boat for an optimum view of the descending sun as it touched the western horizon, setting it ablaze. If you’re looking to really jump in and enjoy yourself, the same tour company offers snorkelling, parasailing, kayaking, and an All-Day Watersport Adventure. Feel free to add them all to your must-do list!
Where To Eat:
The whimsical exterior of Blue Heaven is your first clue that an adventure awaits. As you make your way to your table past the canopy of tropical foliage, be sure to take in the eclectic art, side-step the cats, and marvel at the friendly chickens clucking about. But don’t be fooled by the fun, laid-back vibe, they’re very serious about their food. You won’t be disappointed with the menu with dinner selections like Miso Baked Eggplant, Atlantic Sea Scallops Provencale or Carrot and Curry soup. Do your best to get there for breakfast or lunch, which is when you can experience their Blue Heaven Lobster Benedict and Shrimp and Grits. Their vegan and vegetarian options, like the Vegetarian Black Bean soup and Macrobowl, will have you coming back for more. And anytime is the right time for their mile high Famous Key Lime Pie.
For many years the Conch Republic Seafood Company is where local shrimpers would unload, process and ship thousands of pounds of their fresh catch of Key West Pink Shrimp. Today in their popular waterfront restaurant you’ll see remnants of the old business in the original concrete floor, grates and salvaged wood. With over 200 years of seafood expertise to draw on, it’s no surprise they boast “the freshest seafood Key West has to offer”. Of course, while here you need to try their Conch Fritters, Cracked Conch, Conch Chowder and Conch Republic Smokehouse Burger. See their full menu here.
Over 30 years ago, Kermit Carpenter, his sister Anita, and her husband John were conceptualizing a new business venture. They decided it should have two important elements: high quality products and “Key West” in its name, and so began Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. Today they have two successful locations in Key West, where you’ll find a seemingly endless selection of products made with key limes, including cookies, candies, sauces, jams, nuts and even bath and body products. But, of course, their pièce de résistance is their Key Lime Pie, which was named a Top 10 Dessert in America by the Food Network and featured on HGTV, the Today Show, and in National Geographic’s 500 Food Journeys of a Lifetime.
This is a must-visit destination if you’re looking for an exquisite meal, with a view to match. Located at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, Bistro 245 offers a breathtaking seaside view overlooking Key West Harbour. This casual, but upscale, all-day eatery offers sure-to-please selections like Lobster Eggs Benedict for breakfast, Ahi Tuna Tacos at lunch and Surf and Turf Lobster and Filet Mignon at dinner. See their full menu here.
Where To Stay:
Winslow’s Bungalows by Kimpton Key West is a luxury boutique hotel featuring 27 charming bungalows and cottages, each with its own unique design. The hotel is located in the heart of Key West, making it an ideal starting point for exploring the city. The hotel is just a short walk from Duval Street, nicknamed “The Longest Street in the World” as it runs the entire distance from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, and is home to many of the city’s top restaurants, bars, and shops. Guests can also take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary bikes, which are available to explore the nearby beaches and parks. The hotel also offers a range of wellness services, including a fitness centre and yoga studio, making it the perfect place for you to relax and rejuvenate.
Orchid Key Inn is a charming adult only boutique hotel located in the heart of Key West. The hotel features 16 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites, each with its own unique character and style. Located at Duval Street and Truman Avenue, it is literally at the crossroads of the Key West Historic District (also known as Old Town). It is ideally situated one block from the Hemingway House, Historic Light House, and just a short walk to water sports, art galleries, theatres, bars, wonderful restaurants, and sandy beaches.
For more ideas on how to make your Key West adventure unforgettable visit fla-keys.com.