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Key West

This flower-scented little city/island is a haven for famous writers, former hippies, struggling artists, sun seekers, and tourists from all over the world. They like the relaxed pace, the storybook architecture, the carnival-like street life, and they are drawn to Mallory Square every evening to applaud the incredible sunsets.

The island of Key West is just 2 miles wide by 4 miles long, and  is one of about a thousand coral islets in an archipelago that stretches 126 miles southward from Miami. It is linked to the mainland by the Overseas Highway, which ribbons its way across 34 of the islands with over 42 bridges, the largest one spanning 7 miles.

The U.S. government acquired Key West from Spain in the early 1800's. During those days, most of the isolated islanders made their living as wreckers and pirates, diving for the booty from ships that wrecked on the coral reefs offshore. Business waned in the mid-1800's: There were fewer wrecks after the government built lighthouses. So the economy turned to shrimping, fishing, sponging and cigar making with the help of Cuban dissidents who had fled their island and Spanish rule. During the Spanish-American War and World War I, major military installations were built on the island. In the 1920's much of the local economic base began to fade as the military left and the cigar industry moved northward to Tampa

Key West is really a tropical garden. As you stroll around, you'll notice palm trees shading peaceful verandas, big rubber trees and Norfolk Island pines, banyan trees with their dramatic aerial roots and red mangroves whose odd roots reach out into the ocean.

You' will find streets  with royal poinciana and fragrant from the frangipani. Fruit trees - papaya, avocado, banana and, of course, key lime - are everywhere. Rub some healing aloe on your sunburn. Check the mahogany trees to see if orchids have attached themselves.

Restaurants in Key West
Seafood is Key West's local mainstay and much of it is fresh from nearby waters. Florida lobster and stone crabs are good choices, as is conch, a chewy shellfish best served in soups or as fritters (it's deep-fried in a spicy batter).

Many of the restaurants in Key West have been influenced by Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean and serve what is known as Floribbean-style cuisine. The Best Dessert in Key West is key lime pie, which has a tart custard filling and a graham-cracker crust.

Shopping in Key West

Shopping Hours: Daily 9 am-5 pm, though some shops are open late.
The streets are full of stores selling everything from T-shirts to cat memorabilia to original artwork. Old Town is where both funky and pricey boutiques are scattered.

Key West

Discover a city where real estate titles date back to the Kings of Spain. Stroll the palm-lined streets and discover gingerbread mansions, tin-roofed conch houses, the John Audubon House and Ernest Hemingway's home.

Walk in the footsteps of famous people like Thomas Edison, Lou Gehrig, Harry Truman and Tennessee Williams. Gaze at the fabled treasure of the galleon Atocha. Discover tomorrow's fine art treasures by Key West's well-known and unknown artists.

Only in Key West would the sun shine brightest when it sets. Everyone gathers for the never planned, always varied Sunset Celebration on the Mallory Dock. Once the sun is safely tucked away by jugglers, mimes, musicians and street artists, the city moves to a different beat. A night beat.
The streets, filled with sidewalk cafes, open-air bars, legendary pubs and world-class restaurants come alive. Gourmets and gourmands alike treat their palates to island specialties. Drama, musicals and comedy flourish on our stages.
However you choose to see the town, you'll discover that old town Key West is one of America's true architectural and botanical treasures.
On even the tiniest lanes, the locals have faithfully restored old wooden homes and adorned them with lush tropical trees and flowers.
New restaurants and stores are popping up in historic Bahama Village, which was settled in the 19th Century by Bahamian immigrants. Hemingway loved coming here to mix with the hard-working locals at boxing matches and arm-wrestling contests.

 
 

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