About Key West
S. founded by shipwreck salvagers in the 19th century. Uniquely different, the town celebrates its mixed population of artists, hippies, gays, lesbians, rat-race drop-outs and fishermen. Natives call themselves ‘conchs’ (pronounced konks) after a Caribbean mollusk that lives in a big shell and goes at its own pace — describing the community that calls itself the Conch Republic. Bars and boutiques cater to tourists, six-toed cats have their own veterinarian at Ernest Hemingway’s former home, and roosters rule at the base of the town lighthouse.
Key West is a funky community at the southernmost tip of the continental U.
Cruise passengers and landside tourists congregate at the celebration of sunset called Fireball, at harborside Mallory Square. Buskers include jugglers, magicians, musicians and even a troupe of performing housecats. Rent a bike to tour or buy a ticket for one of the two on-and-off, narrated trams that stop at sites such as the home where Hemingway did some of his finest writing.
• Hemingway Home & Museum
• Duval Street
• Lighthouse Museum
• Sloppy Joe’s Bar
• Mallory Square
• Old Town district
• Truman Little White House Museum
• Mel Fisher Maritime Musuem
Key West Tourist Information
1601 North Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, U.S.
Shopping centres mostly on souvenirs, though there are local artists selling different wares. Most of what you’ll see on crowded Duval Street between the bars and frozen-margarita stands is tourist kitsch, including crude-slogan T-shirts. Better-quality goods can be found at the mercantile landmark of ‘Fast Buck Freddies’, 500 Duval. Caribbean handicrafts are in Bahama Village, between Whitehead and Fort streets.
There is no room to grow anything here, so prices are high, and seafood is the most-common entrée, though it is prepared in every possible style. The local speciality is Key Lime pie (made from the tiny citrus), it’s even sold as a frozen treat on a stick.
When to go:
Summers are long, with both temperature and humidity around 26̊C (80̊F). Winters are milder; although it is never cold. June-November is hurricane season.
2km (1.2 miles).