Essential KW, Key West
I like to go somewhere that's really different from where I live, and Key West fits that bill! It's a fun place to visit and I'd love to go back.
Fondest memory: The busy-ness of the place...there is always something going on, but if you want to relax, you can do that too. Sitting by our pool was fine with me!
The Key West Lighthouse was the subject of my first oil painting, and I've always had an affection for it. It was built inland (at 930 Whitehead St.) in 1847 because when it was at Whitehead Point it kept being toppled by hurricanes. .
In 2005, in spite of bad arthritis in my knees we climbed the lighthouse. I wanted to see if I could see Fort Taylor from the top because I had seen some pictures of it from the lighthouse (2nd picture). But no matter how I looked, I couldn't see it. Bob says that the trees have grown up since then (4th picture).
Fondest memory: We did find an old postcard of the lighthouse as it was before it was restored, and there was another painting of it from around that time at the East Martello Tower -- it looked just like it did in my painting. I was glad to find out I hadn't been halucinating.
For more information go to www.kwahs.com
or call 305/294-0012.
Admission $6 adults, $2 children 7-12, free for children 6 and under. Daily 9:30am5pm (last admission at 4:30pm). The admission also includes the lighthouse keeper museum which is quite interesting.
One of the most interesting ways to see Key West is from above.
You can climb the lighthouse (photo 2) or to the top of another tall building such as the parking garage downtown (photo 3), or East Martello tower (photo 4) or one of the taller hotels.
You can go Parasailing
You can take a sightseeing tour by plane.
I took the first and fifth pictures from the seaplane to the Dry Tortugas.
The top picture shows the White Street fishing pier, the beach and the tennis courts.
My husband was stationed in Key West for 3 years and one of my children (the third one) was born here. At that time there was a regular base, a submarine base, a commissary (out in town), a helioport, a hospital, housing, and an air field (on Boca Chica).
Now, just about all the base facilities are connected with the Naval Air Station. The commissary has been moved to Sigsbee Park where the housing area was (and which before that was a garbage dump) Also here is a large RV park.
The submarine base is now a Coast Guard base. The regular base has been reduced to a few houses and a beach (called Truman Annex) and Fort Taylor and the cruise ship docks have replaced most of it. The overflow RVers are here too. The hospital has been torn down and is now a clinic.
This big BOQ (Bachelor Officer's Quarters) is where the old helioport was.
Fondest memory: Garrison BIght is still here, and there are still both a marina and charter fishing boats there. The picture also shows a cluster of bikes at the bottom center of the picture.
The weather, of course, is a major enticement, but I think the people and the lifestyle of the locals is what stands out as my favorite thing. As far as sites to see, I would recommend getting off of Duval St. and into the heart of the island. Check out the Bahamian Village area. Have the bartender named Vicki serve you a beer at the Green Parrot and tell her I said "Hi". But, most importantly, get to know some of the people who actually live there.
Fondest memory: So many memories, so little space. My fondest memories would include, but are not limited to...
My first drive down through The Keys in a convertible. My first sunset at Mallory. Sharing Key West with my friends, Vince and Linda. Meeting Capt. Tony. Oysters and beer for dinner at Schooner Wharf. A grouper sandwich at BO's Fishwagon. And probably, the nicest memory of all is proposing to my fiance, Casey, at sunset on Mallory Pier. (she said, "Yes"...)
Just take a walk through Old Town. Once you get off Duval you find this is a great little village full of mystical experiences. Breakfast at Blue Heaven was my favorite thing to do. Just watch out for the chickens!
Fondest memory: Oh, that turquoise water! I loved taking my boat out and then swim naked in that clear warm sea. It made me think maybe I had been a porpoise in another life.
Seek out the locals . . . Tour the city cemetery . . . Rent a bike . . . Experience the sunset celebration at Mallory Square . . . Get up early at least one morning and have breakfast at Croissants de France on Duval Street . . . Leave your car where you parked it when you arrived! . . . Parking is a problem everywhere . . . Spend the money for cabs . . . It is well worth it
Fondest memory: Watching the sunset from the pier adjacent to the Pier House with the one you love
Take a ride with a glass bottom boat out to the reefs. Enjoy the beautiful underwater scenary through big glass windows on the bottom of the boat. Colorful fishes of all sizes. If you are lucky maybe even a barracuda or a shark.
Fondest memory: A sunset at Mallory Square is something you will always remember. Every evening people go to the pier and stare to the point where the Gulf and the horizon touch. The sun goes down as a red ball of fire.
Favorite thing: Little jewels like this water garden are hidden everywhere. This one if I remember correctly is behind a pie and confectionary shop. I know - next time I travel, taking notes or keeping a journal wouldn't hurt LOL
Additional sites you might enjoy: The Little White House was Truman's home away from home for quite some time and offers tours for a small fee. It is set on the grounds of the old naval base, which by the way still has a very small presence there (although the majority of the ships we saw were of foreign nationality LOL).
There is also a maritime salvage museum that has VERY cool Spanish galleon artifacts and tells the story about how every government agency under the sun has tried to lay claim to the loot and yank it from its finder.
You may also be interested in seeing such things as Ernest Hemingway's house and the marker for the southern most point on the US.
Fondest memory: Make sure you don't miss Mallory Square! The shops and the display of ... ummm.... 'interesting' people should not be missed LOL
The people watching in Key West at Spring Break is wonderful. Add to that the warm tropical evenings - almost perfect weather in March - the sound of reggae music..
Fondest memory: Going down to Duval Street Wharf to watch the sunset and hang around Duval Street in the evening for people watching.
Fondest memory: The memory I take with me of Key West is the incredible feeling of complete freedom. This is the kind of town where one can get lost and it's feels perfectly fine. In fact it's better that way! There are so many beautiful houses and old shops that it would be a mistake not explore areas other than Duval St.
Though Key West is a prime destination for most visitors to the Keys, it certainly not the only reason to explore these shores. In fact, many would say that Key West is rapidly losing its charms. Having lived there in the early nineties, I must count myself in that group. Over development and skyrocketing rents are making it a cookie cutter tourist resort with the ubiquitous Hard Rock Café and now even Taco Bell right on the once timelessly funky Duval Street. Don’t get me wrong, Key West is still a fun place to spend some time, but to rush down there and miss the rest of the Keys would do the area great disservice. Certainly make a stop at Bahia Honda State Park and perhaps do some diving at John Pennekamp. If you’re smart, spend a night en route so you can slurp down a few rumrunners and catch a sunset.
Fondest memory: Having lived in Key West and still having a good friend down there, I have seen my share of Fantasy Fests. The once a year event celebrating the outrageous coincides with Halloween and culminates with a parade where most of the town walks in drag or half naked down crowded sweaty Duval St. The term anything goes takes on new meaning as spray paint artists set up booths and emblazon women’s breasts and everyone’s faces with decorative flair. A gender bender town anyway, on this night, cross-dressing seems almost the norm. And fortunately, I have left such photos safely tucked in Ft. Lauderdale. Hey, maybe next year. Sorry. ;-)
On a more wholesome note, I finally followed my own advice a few years ago when taking the trip with Ina, a German girl I’d met in Nepal. It was her first trip to the States and after picking her up at the airport, we whisked down the Florida Turnpike to the Everglades and then a few days later, made our way down the Over Seas Highway, camping overnight at John Pennekamp State Park to do a snorkel trip and again at Bahia Honda to enjoy the serenity of the undeveloped Key that I’d rate as most beautiful. One day while exploring out by the old abandoned bridge that was a cornerstone of initial and now defunct train travel to Key West, we sat to relax and soak up some sun and mild tropical breezes. A small lizard happened upon us, and with Ina unaccustomed to the common South Florida sight, I found myself paying more attention than I normally would. It was just a small chameleon after all, but through her eyes I could appreciate it, as I hadn’t since my first trip to Florida so many years before. And as chance would have it, another one appeared on the scene and what came next was right out of one of those wildlife programs you’ve undoubtedly seen countless times. It became obvious immediately that the two were ready to mate, as the male put on a show by pushing out a red appendage from his throat, in rhythmic thrusts to attract the cautious though intrigued female. Ever closer they became, but never rushing. It seemed to take ages, but we never grew bored, as the male made his way first behind and then on top, of the waiting though seemingly reluctant female. The actual pairing was comparatively short lived, though not anticlimactic. It was over in a matter of minutes with the two scurrying their individual ways. Elated at what we’d just witnessed, it was in ways the highlight of the whole trip. Sometimes the best things are unexpected and right beneath your nose if you care to look. As in life, often the roads we take are more interesting than the final destinations. It’s good to look ahead when there’s somewhere you want to go, but don’t forget to stop sometimes to take a look off to the sides. You might smile at the things you find.
Favorite thing: Key West is one of the most beautiful place that i have ever visited. It is really a Caribbean island in South Florida. There are many bridges linking many islands to each other. It takes about 3 hour and half to reach Key West from Miami Beach.
Go to Mallory Square and view the sunset and see the acts. Snorkel the reef. Visit reeferleaf.org and do the 'Duval Crawl' where you go from bar to bar having one drink at each.
Fondest memory: Rolling at night at the Hilton area on the water and we hear this loud ass music, well I didn't think twice about it but it got louder and louder so we looked back, right; and some black dude comes riding around the corner on some bike with a boom-box™ blairing from a basket in the front of the bike. I mean this was LOUD and a nice stereo too. We just laughed and motioned him over. He was hesitant but eventually claimed a seat in the corner and obliged us with the music. Then, some security A-hole comes out and runs him off, much to our protests.It was mighty funny and ironic while taking place right overlooking the water in Key West Harbour. It was great... ^_^