Located in the Florida Keys, south of Miami – and the southernmost portion of the continental United States – Key West is a place that defies many of the norms and traditions of over major American cities. Indeed, when you walk the streets of this quirky, eclectic – and decidedly tropic – little town, you will feel as though you have been whisked away to a whole other country. Whether you choose to have your picture taken at the traditional buoy that marks the southernmost part of the United States, hang out with the crowd at sunset in Mallory Square – or choose to tour Ernest Hemingway’s beloved retreat – you will create plenty of memories during your stop in Key West.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
With the scent of key lime wafting through the warm, tropical air – and the quirky assemblage of one of a kind shops, boutiques and restaurants – Key West truly is a remarkable place. From the convivial atmosphere of Mallory Square at sunset to the sight of more than sixty cats roaming the halls of Papa Hemingway’s former abode, Key West is a place of intriguing contrasts where you will create many wonderful memories.
Whether you choose to hoof it – or if you rent a bicycle or a moped – getting around Key West is a breeze. Try to hit a few of the following main attractions in order to get the best feel for the unique personality of this eclectic town:
Ernest Hemingway’s House
Although Hemingway has been gone for several years, his intriguing persona lives on through the compelling décor and charm of his Key West retreat. You can check out the swimming pool – which was the very first in Key West – or get a closer look at the actual typewriter than he used regularly. If you are allergic to cats, though, beware: more than 60 cats – descendents of Hemingway’s original feline friends – have inherited the house.
Sunset In Mallory Square
Although the entire island of Key West is brimming with energy and fun, you can experience a highly concentrated dose of it by hitting Mallory Square at sunset. The festive atmosphere of this well known spot simply can’t be missed; performers usually appear and street vendors sell drinks, snacks and other goods. When the sun sinks below the horizon, everyone applauds.
The Southernmost Point
Key West definitely hypes up its designation for being the southernmost point in the continental United States. Be sure to stop by the official spot – located at the corner of Whitehead and South streets – and get your picture snapped by the symbolic buoy that points the way to Cuba.
The Key West Lighthouse
Exploring Key West on foot is great, but it’s impossible to get a sense for how the island is laid out without seeing it from above. That issue can be resolved by paying a visit to the Key West Lighthouse, where you can take in panoramic views of this charming town from high up.
Key West’s main drag – Duval Street – is also the place to be if you want to do a bit of shopping. If you’re looking for upscale boutiques selling fine designer duds, though, you’re in for a disappointment. However, if you’re into quirky and eclectic works of art, lovely watercolor paintings, stunning arts and crafts and a wide array of souvenir goods, then you will be more than in your element in Key West.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
Authentic key lime ingredients are great souvenirs to bring back to the ship – and home. Key lime juice, especially, will come quite in handy down the line when you want to experience a small slice of this tropical and unforgettable city at the end of the Florida Keys.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
Several high-quality, all you can eat seafood buffets can be found in Key West. If you love seafood, then make a point of splurging on one of the pricier ones as you will undoubtedly find the fresh fare simply divine. For dessert, do not even think of heading back to the ship until you’d had a slice of key lime pie, which can be found all over the island and which is heavenly.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
Most people escape to Key West during the cold winter months in more northern climates. However, if you want to beat the crowds and still enjoy stunning weather, try to visit this thrumming island during the month of November. The humidity is low, crowds are sparse and the city is at its absolute best.
Where You’re Docked
There are two locations where cruise ships dock at Key West, both of them quite convenient. One dock is at Mallory Square, in the center of downtown; the other is at the Truman Annex and requires a very brief trolley ride to ferry passengers over to the main sights.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
A large number of the major cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at Key West. A few of the most popular cruise lines that stop in Key West are Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. However, there are many other options available in terms of ships, dates, days at sea and in port when it comes to Key West.