Key West was on this girl’s bucket list for a long time. What’s not to like about a place with practically perfect weather, a vibrant history, legendary nightlife, plenty of family attractions and epic people watching? Here are my 4 favorite things about Key West.
Say what? Yes, the chickens. One of the more charming aspects of Key West are the chickens roaming everywhere. Said to be the descedents of backyard chickens gone free, the ubiquitous fowl now strut the streets proudly, running from tourists, raising their chicks and providing another layer of colour to the lore of Key West. You won’t have to look far to spot the birds, and if you can’t see them you can definitely hear them!
I don’t know if it’s because I equate the plantation style of architecture with relaxing with a drink in the warm air, but I couldn’t get enough of the homes in Old Town. Over 3000 wood structures remain from the late 18th and early 19th centuries and many of them include large covered balconies running across the width of the front of the house, on both levels, homes built on stilts to take advantage of breezes and prevent flooding, plantation style shutters, tile mosaic work, Victorian touches, and gardens full of lush greenery. It’s a delight just looking at all the buildings in the area.
Of course, the beaches are a big draw! Despite being helped along by man, they are white sandy beaches with that Caribbean blue water that soothes the soul! From South beach, near the southernmost point all the way down to Smathers Beach, a series of beaches line the south side of the island with various amenities such as washrooms, volleyball nets, picnic tables. Not all beaches include these amenities and none have lifeguards. While you’re on that side of the island, you can snap a photo of the Southernmost point marker!
All the Attractions
Key West is so extremely walkable (less than 2 km from end to end), I wondered if I was going to wear out my Fitbit! With so many attractions and museums it was easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to do so start at the northwest end of Whitehead Street, behind Wall Street, at Mallory Square. The area includes many shops, theatres and museums, loads of live entertainment and it’s the hub for watching breathtaking sunsets. Each night the Sunset Celebration begins anew as people flock to the square to watch as the sun dips down below the horizon in a riot of colors. Each night, the crowds cheer as if it was the first time.
Built in the early 30s as part of a works project, the Key West Aquarium in Mallory Square is a smaller but extremely delightful facility that is a hit with kids from age 1 to 99! The ever popular touch tank includes conches, sea stars, sea urchins, giant hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs. A newer ray tank allows you to touch and feed the cow nose rays. Don’t miss out on the shark feeding during regularly scheduled tour hours; you may get a chance to touch a nurse shark tail!
Also in Mallory Square is the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum. Using actors, portraying wreck masters, as your tour guides, the museum immediately pulls you into the era when the Florida reef brought the demise of many cargo ships and the tales of the people tasked with recovering the goods. Encompassing a 65′ lookout tower, film footage, and artifacts, the museum is a unique attraction.
Looking to save some hard earned dollars? You can visit these attractions at a discount with the Key West Vacation Pass. They cost $49.00 and must be bought before you go as it is not sold in Key West but it includes many 2-For-1 passes at participating Key West businesses. It also includes discounts on water sports, food/beverage and other amenities so check it out.
Planning a holiday to the fabulous Florida Keys? For more information on accommodations, things to do, maps and attractions, check out www.fla-keys.com