Key West travel information
Located close to Cuba, Key West is a city with a population of thirty thousand. It is famous for the local’s tolerant and liberal attitude that has attracted a great number of gay people.
Even if it is no longer as wild as it was a decade ago Key West has the same individual spirit impossible not to notice the moment you set foot there. The pace of life here is quite different from the mainland, slow and relaxed.
The restoration process has helped the tourist industry to develop, thus the Old Town’s main street; Duval Street is hardly recognizable, full of boutiques and beachwear shops mostly aimed for tourists. But if you want to get a local feel of the city, wonder towards the side streets full of palm trees and exotic blooms. These streets might lead you to the Bahamian Quarter, a genuine part of town, home to cigar-makers' cottages, old churches and Cuban groceries.
Still if you decide to remain on Duval Street, you can get to San Carlos Opera House. Dating from 1924 and built in the Cuban baroque style of the period, it has played an important role in Cuban exile and now the history of Cuban in the US is on display. In addition you can see the operas that are staged here. As you get to the southern end of Duval Street, the most popular sign you will see is "the Southernmost" even if the southernmost part of Key west is actually at the intersection of Whitehead and South streets.
In the past Key West’s industry was based on vessels and if you are into wrecks, you can see some at the Wrecker's Museum that displays quite a number of vessels that came to these shores and the lives of the people that worked on them.
Some of the beautiful things like: diamonds, pearls, vases, daggers and an impressive emerald cross, pulled up from the wrecks are on display at Mel Fisher's Treasure Exhibit. Once run by Mel Fisher, a wreck enthusiast that discovered two Spanish wrecks in 1985.
West of the northern end of Duval Street is Mallory Square, mostly a souvenir market and showplace of numerous entertainers. Of course the prices here go over the top and it is advisable to choose a better place for shopping.
Another entertainment spot is Key West Aquarium, home to different spieces of fish and small sharks. Where you can enjoy a guided tour or just watch the fish behind glass.
But undoubtedly the top tourist attraction of Key West is the Hemingway House owned by the author for thirty years. Even if he lived here only for ten, this is where he wrote some of his most appreciated novels, including For Whom the Bell Tolls and To Have and Have Not. You can see his manuscripts at Sloppy Joe's as he moved them there before leaving with his new wife for Cuba.
Nightlife in Key West is mostly concentrated in its bars that feature regular live music till as late as 4 am. The most famous ones are packed around the northern end of Duval Street, but if you feel like staying low key, go south of the street.
Key West, with its history, attractions, extravagant landscaping, and highbrow shops, can reign as the focal point for your sojourn any time of year.