Colorful Key West
Key West reopened to tourists!
Key West is delightfully quirky and culturally rich, a romantic getaway, historical gem, and tropical escape - a curious place of parties, pirates and poets. Now that Key West has reopened to tourists, even with social distancing there’s a bounty of things to see and do, whether it’s the Duval Crawl, that is, bar-hopping down famous Duval Street, or gallery-hopping the award-winning art venues. Parasail, fish, swim, or snorkel the coral reefs; check out Harbor Walk for fresh seafood and live music. Independently-owned boutiques, eclectic restaurants, historic museums, and a vibrant art scene… Key West is all this and more.
Art and Sole
USA Today named Key West one of the top ten destinations for art in the U.S., which is evident in galleries scattered throughout the island and the number of artists in residence. Playwrights, authors, and their muses have gathered here as well, including Tennessee Williams, and of course, Ernest Hemingway. Visiting his home alone is worth the trip. Key West also boasts a film society, symphony, several theatres, and the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center – host to the Moscow Ballet, River Dance, and Circ du Soleil. The Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum features artifacts found on the famous shipwreck Atocha and Santa Margarita as well as the 1715 Shipwreck Fleet.
With its balmy weather, crystal blue skies, and fish-fertile waters, it’s no surprise that Key West is where fishing legends were born. Ernest Hemingway fished the waters of the Florida Straits between Cuba and Key West for giant blue marlin. Zane Grey applied his angling skills to the inshore and backcountry of the Florida Keys, landing sailfish and giant tarpon. The island's seafaring tradition lives on at the renovated Historic Seaport district, known locally as the Key West Bight. Dozens of shrimp boats once called this harbor home. These days, the Bight is a popular place to arrange a day on the water. Boating abounds and ranges from glass-bottom boats to dinner cruises and, of course, fishing charters.
Only here does the sun shine the brightest when it sets. Everyone gathers for the famous Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square, where jugglers, mimes, musicians and street artists entertain nightly. As the golden orb slowly slips behind the horizon, the (socially-distanced) crowd breaks into applause. And that’s when the island really heats up. Duval Street comes alive with revelers and pub-crawlers as live music pulsates from open-air bars and legendary pubs such as Sloppy Joe’s and The Hog’s Breath Saloon. World-class restaurants offer palate-pleasing specialties while laid-back cafés serve up casual eats like conch fritters and cheeseburgers in paradise.
Check out the shops and restaurants in the historic Bahama Village neighborhood, which was settled in the 19th Century by Bahamian immigrants. Hemingway loved coming here to mix with the hard-working locals at boxing matches and arm-wrestling contests. The Village celebrates its ethnic roots with the annual Goombay Celebration, just one of many festivals that will return to Key West throughout the year – from Key West Yacht Race Week in January to FantasyFest in October.
Key West is a warm-hearted place where all are welcome. “One Human Family” is the official philosophy of this island community; a simple motto which serves not only as a shining example of daily life here but also as one that is openly shared with neighbors throughout the world: a “Key” reason that it’s one of the world’s most beloved destinations.
If you are driving to Key West (or even if you’re not), consider getting the audiobook, Greater Than a Tourist – 50 Tips from a Local – Key West, FL before you depart. For less than five dollars, you will learn all the insider tips for the best things to see and do while you’re there.
Fun Fact: According to Ripley’s, Duval Street in Key West is the longest in the world. Though you can walk it in 20 minutes, it stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, believe it or not!