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Key West Attractions - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Key West is the southernmost city in the continental USA and one of the most distinctive. As you drive to Key West from Miami which takes approximately 3 hours 15 minutes, 161 miles, passing through Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada, Long Key, Curry Hammock, Marathon, 7mile bridge, Big Pine key, Summerland key, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf key, Boca Chica key and finally Key West.

Easily walkable, the city is full of tree-lined streets and 19th century homes, many of them open to public. Some of them function as small museums displaying mementoes of Key West’s past. Audubon House is one of these house attractions. This residence was built by a ship’s carpenter for a leading Key West citizen, Captain John Geiger, a salvager and harbour pilot. In 1832 John James Aubudon visited Key West while compiling the wildlife studies that eventually earned him fame as the Birds of America series. They gave his name to the residence and many Aubudon prints line the wall. Curry Mansion Inn is another residence owned in 1855 by William Curry, he was a Mayor of Key West who made a fortune by supplying salvagers with hardware. The mansion’s wood panelled rooms are packed with antiques including glasswork by Louis Tiffany. There is also a piano which was owned by novelist Henry James and numerous Audubon ornithological prints.

Key West folklore suggests that the first famous Key lime pie was made here in 1895 originated in the Bahamas.

The famous Ernest Hemingway a giant of American literature was describing Key West as “the St Tropez of the poor”. He lived in Key West and regularly drank at Sloppy Joe’s Bar one of the most famous in Key West. Hemingway House is a Spanish colonial house that was built for a wealthy Key West merchant in the 1850’s. Ernest Hemingway and his second wife Pauline owned the house for over 30 years although the writer moved out in 1940 when the marriage ended but leaving many of his possessions there. Each July Key West celebrates the 'Hemingway Day' with a festival that commemorates the writer and his Key West links.

Another part of the city that retains a rustic appearance is the Bahamas Village, originally settled by Bahamians and still occupied by people of Caribbean origin. The atmosphere is informal and has a Caribbean atmosphere.

Eco discovery Center is an attraction featuring over 6, 000 square feet of interactive and dynamic exhibits including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory. You can explore exhibits discovering the habitats of the Keys, from the upland pinelands through the hardwood hammock and beach dune. From there, you’ll travel down to the mangrove shoreline, where you can enter the sea to learn about the sea grass flats, hard bottom, coral reef, and deep-shelf communities. Stop at the Center’s theater to catch “Reflections of the Florida Keys, ” a short film on the diverse ecosystem of the Florida Keys by renowned filmmaker Bob Talbot. Be sure to check out the Mote Marine Laboratory Living Reef exhibit, which includes a 2, 500 gallon reef tank with living corals and tropical fish, a live Reef Cam, and other displays that highlight the coral reef environment. A walk through the Aquarius exhibit offers glimpses of the beautiful marine life at the reef and shows how scientists live beneath the sea during research expeditions.

Among the most photographed features is the Southernmost Point, at the foot of Whitehead Street a large red, yellow and black buoy marks the southernmost point of USA, just 90 miles from Cuba.

Key West has a million annual visitors all over the world every year. Whether they follow the steps of Ernest Hemingway or simply visit the open side bars (the most famous are Captain Tony’s saloon and Sloppy Joes which are always crowded) or simply relax in on one of the beaches there is a great atmosphere. If you enjoy fishing the opportunities are endless and if water sports are your thing then you can always join a group on a jet ski exploring the Gulf and Atlantic coast.

"Margaritaville Cafe" is a lively place to visit as it is owned by singer/song writer and long time resident Jimmy Buffet and named after one of his biggest hits. Good live music and frozen margaritas.

Finally Mallory Square here clowns, jugglers, unicyclists and busking musicians are all likely to be found for the nightly Sunset Festival. What began in Key West pre-tourist days as a hippy ritual has now evolved into a major celebration that attracts every tourist in town. The fun and the sunset are genuinely spectacular.

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