Key West is one of those places which are fun to visit. There are a lot of things to do while there. One of those things in going to the buoy which advertises it is the southern most point in the US. It isn't true as that distinction is held by the naval base, but tourists aren't allowed to go there. The first time I saw the buoy, it was in the sand. (The money is George. He was my traveling companion for my trip and was made by my daughter as a teenager)
US-1 North begins here. It is 2446 miles long.
On you way to Key West you will travel US-1 for 113 miles. That is unless you take Card Sound Road so you can stop at Alabama Jacks for food and refreshment. It's the only building in downtown Card Sound.
Mallory Square is one of those places where artists sell and entertain, but Mother Nature is the big draw. Some of the most gorgeous sunsets happen here.
Many people come to Key West just to see the sunsets. If it is your first time there, take a sunset cruise on one of the schooners. You get a great view of the ocean as the sun goes down.
Meanwhile, back at Mallory Square you have the fire juggler, the sword swallower, the bagpiper, dancers, vendors and more. It changes with the seasons. Plan on getting there at least an hour before sunset and leaving once the sun goes down to join in the night life along Duval Street.
The Duval Crawl is 12 bars with one drink at each bar you need to finish. The prize is a t-shirt.
Key West is a coral archipelago. It is only 3.977 miles long and is the southern most of the islands. There are 1700+ islands. Most are uninhabitable they are so small. It also is home to the longest coral reef which is 160 miles long.
To get to Key West, you travel the Overseas Highway which was built on the Overseas Railroad bed in 1938. The railroad was abandoned after the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane which destroyed the bridges and the train, leaving 500+ people dead in its wake. The road is 113 miles long, starting in Homestead.
Key West was originally Cayo Hueso which is Spanish for Island of Bones. The Calusa and Tequesta Indians used the island as a graveyard, so it was filled with bones, not the fountain of youth Ponce de Leon wanted to find.
Most people know Ernest Hemingway lived there, but so did Robert Frost and Tennessee Williams. President Truman, Eisenhower and JFK spent time there in the Little White House. Thomas Edison spent time there in WWI where he perfected 41 weapons in 6 months.
Key West was also the birthplace of Pan Am. Their first international flight was from Key West to Havana Cuba.
The island attracted Cubans who left Cuba and settled in Key West. It is still where you go to get true Cuban Cigars. Bahamians also came there to escape their island country. They were called conchs (Pronounced Konks) and became the name of the people to lived here. On April 23, 1982, Mayor Dennis Wardlow declared Key West independent of the US in protest of the naval blockade which was hindering tourism. It was renamed the Conch Republic and many still feel it was wrong to rejoin the US. True to the spirit of the Republic, they have their own rules as to life and fun.
Another thing about the island is how many haunted areas it has. If you go to https://www.ghostsandgravestones.com/key-west/ you can find photos of ghosts. The most haunted spots are the East Martello Museum, the Audubon house and gardens, Marrero's Guest Mansion and Ft. Zachary Taylor. You can take the ghost tours where they take you to the various places and give you the background for the ghosts who haunt the venues.
There are several ways to see the main areas of the island. One is the Conch train which gives the history as you ride the train. Another is the buses which allow you to get off and on to see the sites. You are able to rent scooters, but make sure you know how to ride them. The roads are narrow and full of traffic. Then last, but not least, it the bike taxis. They stay mostly on Duval street and a few streets on either side, but it is a fun slow way to get around when you don't want to walk.
Also, if you go, try out some of the B&Bs on the island. They are in old houses and give you a flavor of the island living. Most are only a block or two off Duval Street. There are a few hotels, but see where they are located prior to booking as they may be on the opposite side of the key.
B.A Mealer is an author and a traveler. This is a person who refuses to grow up and get old.
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