I would like to open the last section of our road trip “Key West attractions” with a quote:
“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”
Ernest Hemmingway from “A Moveable Feast”.
This quote from the great writer fits here for three reasons:
- This is our general credo. As a couple we discover the world together and know how lucky it is to enjoy a sunset together somewhere on the other side of the globe. You do not forget that for the rest of your life.
- Hemingway describes in the book his Parisian years. Our Paris experiences can specifically confirm this statement fully.
- From 1928 Hemingway lived in Key West for a few years, which is also the last stop of our road trip from New York to the most southern point in Florida.
Key West filled us with a strange mixture. On the one hand, sadness that our three-week road trip is almost over. On the other hand, a charisma that was so completely different (no better or worse, just different) than those in New York where our journey began.
We have discovered the entire east coast by car and up close to everything.
Now looking back, you can see the differences in the big and little. Be it the weather, the culture, the landscape, just everything. It is hard to believe that all this belongs to just one country and that’s just the East Coast.
Anyway. Key West and that’s what it’s all about today, fascinated us with a wonderful mix of picturesque South Sea, Cuban flair, pure lust for life and the most spectacular sunset we have ever seen.
From Miami, the trip took about 4 hours with stopovers and here our motto was clear: The way is the goal.
It’s really unbelievable how nearly the entire track presents itself, passing numerous surfer paradises like Key Largo as a single eyasm (yes, an eye orgasm is meant).
The Key West attractions include not only the town itself, but the entire narrow coastal strip on the southern tip of Florida.
The history of the Keys
Probably the most entertaining anecdote in the history of Key West dates from 1982. In the course of larger illegal drug transports, the authorities carried out more road checks during this time. As a result, the Florida Keys declared their independence from the US.
After 60 seconds, however, the unconditional surrender was combined with a reparation payment to the United States for compensation of one billion US dollars.
The end of the song was that the controls came to an end.
Well, if it worked, it probably was worth it.
The general history of Key West is quite young. In 1819 it became official part of the USA. Nearly 100 years later, in 1912, Key West also got the important connection to the railway network. For almost all US cities this was very important in that period.
Key West was already blessed with tremendous wealth at that time.
The highest per capita income in Florida was achieved through the exploitation of shipwrecks! Likewise a considerable cigar production, as well as the trade with sponges played an important role.
Hurricanes destroyed railways over time and it was not until the 1962 Cuba crisis that the Navy’s commitment led to a restoration.
Since then, tourism has been the main source of income to this day. Well, here we are…
12 interesting facts about Key West
Because of the variety of exciting facts and information about the Keys let us continue in bullet form…
- famous people of the city are e.g. Ernest Hemingway (writer), Truman Capote (writer), Tennessee Williams (writer), Fats Navarro (jazz musician), Frank Mouris (director)
- Key West has an excellent nightlife. More than 25 bars and nightclubs provide perfect entertainment. Duval Street is the place for it.
- It has never been colder than 5 degrees here. Key West has never seen frost.
- There is only one highway to Key West, Highway No. 1
- The total population of Key West is approximately 25,000 inhabitants. Yes, Key West is relatively small.
- The name Key West was derived from Spanish, “Cayo Hueso”, which means bone island due to the bones of the Calusa Indians. English-speaking settlers quickly made Cayo Hueso to Key West.
- Key West is only 7.7 square miles in size.
- More than 100 million cigars are produced each year in Key West. This makes the city the largest cigar producer in the USA.
- The city is known for its legendary and extremely spectacular sunsets. More on that later in our Key West attractions.
- The looting of shipwrecks brought the city to enormous wealth.
- There is no Walmart in Key West. This is so special because the supermarket giant in the US is essential and can be found in virtually every city. Not so in Key West.
- In total, there are over 800 keys with a total length of about 180 miles.
Hemmingway & Key West
One or the other probably knows “The old man and the sea“, THE work of Ernest Hemingway. Well, the ingenious and original writer was certainly a food lover and enjoyed life to the fullest.
So it is no wonder that he settled in Key West from 1928 for a few years. And still, the spirit of this great man and Nobel laureate is felt everywhere. The most intense in his former home, which today is one of the tourist magnets of the place. Whether a visit is really worth it, everyone has to decide for themselves, the opinions in various travel tips portals go apart in that case.
The fact is, the entrance fee is currently $ 14, there are sometimes long queues and the expectations are probably a bit too high.
Well, maybe it’s enough to know where Hemingway did his “business”, namely here:
Key West attractions
We mentioned the Hemingway House, but of course that’s not all Key West has to offer.
That’s why there are a few more hotspots that are definitely worth a visit.
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
This museum is a treasure chest in the truest sense of the word.
Numerous treasures from shipwrecks of the past centuries can be admired here. There is plenty to see for big and small pirates. Before you can admire the pirate booty, an entrance fee of $ 15 robs one or the other probably already a hole in your own treasure chest.
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum
A former warship in the harbor off Key West. It was already in World War II in use and the visit is worthwhile, if you are interested in history, navy, war history or even complex technology. An entrance fee of $ 10 is unlikely to lead to military conflicts.
Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum
The lighthouse, as it is its purpose – visible from afar.
And of course, great for taking some great snapshots from up there. Directly opposite the Hemingway House you climb the narrow 88 stairs with your own muscle power. Sometimes it can be tight in oncoming traffic ever. What’s really surprising is how green Key West looks from the top. Usually you do not spend more than 10-15 minutes up there.
You take your pictures and then you go down.
An entrance fee of $ 10 is an investment in the long run.
Key West Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Trolley Tour
For those who like to be comfortable and can not or do not want to explore the city on foot, there are of course tours. One of the most common is a guided hop-on hop-off tour. Pricing and availability you can check in advance here.
The chickens of Key West
Actually not a real sight in the true sense. What strikes you when you visit Key West, is the amount of chickens. Whole families can be seen in the city and are simply part of the cityscape.
The sunset at Mallory Square
Well, what is there to write about a sunset? Right, not very much. That’s why we let a few pictures speak here.
Only one thing should be mentioned. The sunset in Key West, more specifically on Mallory Square is legendary!
Visitors come from far away only because of that! And with an entrance fee of $ 0, the sun even goes to your heart.
Hundreds of people gather each evening to see this natural wonder.
Then it’s party time, dancing and having fun and you feel every fiber in you say: Life is wonderful!
Our Key West attractions were more than a worthy end to our 3-week road trip from New York to Key West. Geographically closer to Cuba than to Miami, this corner of the earth radiates a charm of its own. Key West seems like time has stopped here, the only question is when.
A little surrealism resonates everywhere. Key West is a bit of a waking dream. Too beautiful and clichéd to be true.
Miami is big, loud, flashy, cool, beautiful, rich and pretentious.
Key West is quieter, more a dream, more heavenly, somehow not of this world. We were fascinated and the farewell really made it even harder. An evening of life in this town, 10 grandchildren playing in the garden and the view of sapphire blue water while smoking a good cigar sitting in a rocking chair. Who knows, Key West – maybe we’ll meet again someday…
These, dear travel friends were our impressions of the road trip on the east coast of the USA. A really incredibly intense trip with a total of about 2.500 miles.
Here you will find all the photos from Key West again. We will see each other again with impressions from the winterish Liechtenstein in good old Europe.
See you on the road – yours, Hendrik
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Thank you sincerely, Birdie & Hendrik.