About Key West

Located closer to Cuba than to Miami lies the island of Key West. Since its founding in the early 1800s, the island's year-round balmy, subtropical climate and unique "anything goes" flavor have made it an ideal visitor destination.

Over the years, the island has been seasoned by the rich American and Cuban culture of the 1800s, sweetened by the unabashed romantic appeal of its natural beauty, and energized by the world-renowned artistic talents of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost and Jimmy Buffett among others.

Residents and visitors to the island actively participate in sightseeing, touring museums, outdoor and maritime activities, and shopping by day. Later, they become part of the sunset celebration held each evening at Mallory Square, when tightrope walkers, jugglers and animal acts strive to top a more captivating performer - the fiery sun settling into the Gulf of Mexico.

The cobblestone streets of Old Town are shaded by beautiful banyan trees and lined with colorful, picturesque homes that reflect the architecture of past eras. Whether exploring these quieter streets or rocking to the vibrant beat of renowned Duval Street, visitors can savor an abundance of restaurants offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, most incorporating the Keys' fresh indigenous seafood.

Surrounding Key West are waters ranging from pastel teals to jewel-toned blues. They are home to one of the world's largest coral reefs and a bounty of shipwrecks, which make for exotic diving and snorkeling. Both novice and skilled anglers can challenge themselves to fish the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, targeting game fish like tarpon and marlin.

At night, the isolated island's sky is filled with stars that create a backdrop for entertainment options including jazz clubs, piano bars, drag shows and saloons. In addition, area playhouses feature Broadway-quality performances.

The tiny island has more than a dozen historic museums showing that the city's roots go deeper than picturesque palm trees and enchanting sunsets. One of the most popular is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which was the legendary author's home during the 1930s and is still home to his famous lineage of six-toed cats. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum houses the richest single collection of 17th-century maritime and shipwreck antiquities in the Western Hemisphere, including the treasure of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha.

Though the city is pedestrian friendly, there are two trolleys visitors can take as a method of transportation and for a tour highlighting the city's landmarks, restaurants, bars and historic sites.

Key West can be reached by flying into Miami International Airport and driving from the mainland down the magnificent Overseas Highway - featuring 42 bridges over open water and designated an All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways program - or by ferry from points on Florida's west coast.

The island is also accessible via Key West International Airport, which is serviced by American Eagle, Delta/Express Jet, United/Silver Air, US Airways and others.

Information provided by: The Monroe County Tourist Development Council