Key West

As the Southernmost City in the continental United States, Key West is strategically located in the Florida Straits. Only 90 miles from Cuba, Key West sits like a jewel in the middle of the ocean. Key West is separated from mainland Florida by 100 miles and 42 bridges. Its air quality is second to no other city. The average annual temperature of 77 degrees rarely varies more than 10 degrees in either direction. Always sunny, the island averages only 39 inches of rain per year. One of the island’s primary charms is its balmy subtropical climate. Summers are cooled by breezes carrying the spicy scent of saltwater.

Just offshore, the clear azure waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico offer unequaled fishing, diving, sailing, and sightseeing opportunities. There are many opportunities to get out on the water in Key West. Explore the coral reef, see the sunset from a schooner in the harbor, or go fishing in the backcountry or offshore. You can take a day fishing for sailfish, mahi-mahi, bonefish, or even tarpon. Adventure to the only living coral reef in the U.S. and spend some time marveling the beauty while snorkeling or diving.

While onshore, be sure to visit Duval Street for nightlife you’ll not soon forget! Duval Street is a favorite of visitors and is the location of such renowned establishments as “Sloppy Joe’s” and “Hog’s Breath Saloon”. The original Sloppy Joe’s, now Capt. Tony’s, was a favorite watering hole of author Ernest Hemingway when he lived in Key West. Just off Duval, each day’s setting sun is celebrated at Mallory Square where hundreds gathers for the never planned, always varied Sunset Celebration. Artisans, musicians, and street performers pack the city pier for the event. Once the sun is safely tucked away, the city comes alive. The streets are filled with sidewalk cafes, open-air bars, legendary pubs and world-class restaurants Key West host to many festivals and tournaments including the infamous Fantasy Fest and the Hemingway Days.

The Spanish name for this island is Cayo Hueso, meaning “island of bones”. This less than pleasant name was coined by Spanish explorers that found the skeletal remains of Indians when they discovered Key West. Today, Ghost Tours are an “interesting” by-product of the island history. The guides are excellent story tellers and reveal a great deal of island history along the tour as they highlight stories in front of the old morgue or behind St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and a courtyard of displaced graves. Whether you believe in spirits acting from beyond the grave or not, this tour is engaging and informative.

Key West is home to an atmosphere unlike any other place known. “Come as you like” is the preferred terminology to explain the ambiance. There are no dress codes even for the finest of restaurants. Tolerance is the rule and differences are to be celebrated.