Key West is a stunning beach resort and the capital of the Florida Keys. You can get here by one of the most beautiful roads in the US, stretching straight across the ocean. But be careful, because as the locals like to tell tourists — "You have to come to Key West for 2 hours and leave right away. Otherwise, you'll stay here forever." And indeed, the resort is unlike any other city in the world. People here are so good-natured, relaxed, and really happy every day. And the beautiful climate, colorful nature, and gentle ocean with stunning coral reefs make you think seriously about staying in this paradise.
Attractions of Key West
This paradisiacal place has such an air of happiness and serenity that you just want to be here, not distracted by the architecture and monuments. Nevertheless, Key West has a lot to offer to those who are a little tired of carefree beach life, surfing, and diving.
Key West remained practically uninhabited for a long time. It was inhabited by a small number of people who lived by looting, collecting anything of value from the ships that regularly crashed on the rocks near the island.
In 1822, American businessman John Simonton purchased Key West for $2,000. Almost immediately, they built here a permanent settlement, which received the same name. As early as 1889, Key West was considered the richest and largest city in Florida. It had more than 150 cigar factories, a turtle factory, and a huge amount of sea sponges. Streetcars ran through the streets, its own opera house was built, and several banks opened.
At the beginning of the XX century, the island was connected to the mainland by road, built to replace the railroad line destroyed by the hurricane, and there was an airport for domestic flights. Key West became very popular as a resort. American presidents loved to vacation here. At different times, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy came here. From 1930-1941, Ernest Hemingway and his family lived on the island, where he wrote several of his novels. Due to the writer's love for cats, Key West got another attraction. Nowadays, numerous descendants of his six-toed kitten Snowball inhabit the island, and they all inherited this anatomic peculiarity.
In the XXI century, Key West has become one of the most popular resorts in Florida. The island has excellent infrastructure, and the comfortable climate and beautiful nature have turned it into a true paradise for vacationers.
The best time to visit Key West
The annual Ernest Hemingway Memorial Festival is held here. The festival begins a week before the July 14 Memorial Day and lasts seven days. The brightest event of the festival is the competition of writer's impersonators who come here from all over the world. In addition, the program of the festival usually includes a theatrical performance, "Bull Run," repeating one of the scenes described in the novel "The Sun Also Rises," and a competition for the best short story imitation of the author. Some of the events are held at Hemingway's favorite bar, Sloppy Joe's.
Key West is an amazing place because there is hardly another resort in the world where the same event is celebrated almost every day. It's an evening, to be exact, because we're talking about the Sunset Celebration. It takes place in Mallory Square and the adjacent pier, which offers a stunning view of the sun sinking into the ocean. Both tourists and locals, for whom it has become a good tradition, take part in this event. It is believed that the nightlife on the island, and it is no less noisy and boisterous than during the day, begins with the last rays of the sun. And if you come to Key West in the summer, when it often rains, there's a chance to admire several rainbows against the backdrop of a fiery sunset.
Things to do in Key West
- Take a sightseeing tour of the island. A fun mini-train or trolleybus ride will help you feel the carefree spirit of this resort.
- Take a walk in the city. You can easily meet celebrities on its streets, like Madonna or the Princess of Monaco.
- Go to the aquarium. Here you can look at sharks, giant turtles, and other ocean inhabitants. You can even touch some of them.
- Scuba dive. The island is surrounded by one of the largest coral reefs in the world, so diving on the island is very popular.
- Catch a shark, swordfish, or barracuda. Key West is recognized as one of the best places in the world to fish. There is even an international tournament.
- Have a seat at the Hard Rock Cafe. It's the only place of its kind that is haunted. Legend has it that it is the spirit of the former owner of the cafe.
- Visit the Ernest Hemingway House Museum. Only cats, descendants of a kitten given to Hemingway by his friend, inhabit it now.
- Visit one of the galleries. The most famous and most visited of them is Key West Gallery. It houses many works of famous artists.