I spent much of my time in Key West being a tourist; albeit one who never set foot on a tour bus, a scooter or a golf cart. Call me old fashioned, but I think you get a much better feel for an area when you observe it at a walk.
I went through some museums, some outdoor activities and some retail therapy. Again, there was a lot of walking, but who minds that when it’s in the 70’s.
1) My favorite stop was the Hemingway Museum. Now I didn’t go into this being a Hemingway fanatic, but the stories were great, the furnishing authentic and you really got a feel for the man and his era. Among the tidbits I picked up:
- His fondness for cats with more than the usual allotment of toes was because he thought they brought good luck and he could use all he could get. There are now slightly fewer than 50 cats on the property truly living in cat paradise.
2) Mallory Square – I’ll include all the retail attractions, the sculpture garden and the park where everyone watches the sunset. Some of the retail was nice and the prices were surprisingly friendly for a tourist locale. The Sculpture Garden had a lot of great history – did you know Key West wasn’t really built for tourism until the Depression.
3) Duval Street – This is the street everyone talks about visitors needing to “experience.” By day, there are a lot of shops and restaurants, including Sloppy Joes (this is the name of the restaurant Hemingway frequented daily, but not the actual location – the original Sloppy Joes is now Captain Tony’s Saloon). By night, it’s a little wilder with a lot more music and you can buy adult beverages in “to go” cups.
4) Higgs Beach – A nice beach to kick back and enjoy the sun. White sandy beaches and a roped off swim area where the water is pretty shallow. Right next door is the White Street Pier, complete with fishing off the end.
5) Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park – We got a little lost trying to get to the Park. The map we were using had a lot of streets that looked like they led you to the entrance. But didn’t. Finally we found the entrance with part of the area an active military base, that you couldn’t access, and part a beach with a lot of sunbathers and a few fishers. Thankfully, the fishing and sunbathing were in different areas.