Introduction to Key West, Florida
Key West is the name of the city and the island it's situated on. It's located at the southern tip of the Florida Keys in Monroe County and is referred to as the "Southernmost City in the Continental United States." The island is a popular destination for cruise ships. "Old Town" attracts a vast number of tourists. Key West has a tropical climate. The well known Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams resided on the island.
The Calusa Indians were the original inhabitants. In 1521 Juan Ponce de Leon was the first European to arrive on the island. Florida was initially a Spanish colony. In 1763 the British were in charge of Florida and the Spaniards and the native Indians were relocated to Havana. Spain took back control approximately twenty years later, however the Spanish government did not exercise its control of the island. In 1815 the Spanish governor, residing in Havana, deeded the island to Juan Pablo Salas, an officer in the Royal Spanish Navy Artillery. In 1821 John W. Simonton, a businessman from the United States acquired the island from Salas.
After 1830 a vast number of immigrants, called Conchs, arrived from the Bahamas. In 1860 salvaging shipwrecks made Key West the most prosperous city in the state of Florida. Although Florida was part of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the island was still controlled by the Union, due to the Union's naval base. A vast number of Cubans relocated in Key West during the 1860's and the 1870's.
- Old Town Key West.
- Heritage House Museum & Robert Frost Cottage.
- The Studios of Key West is a prominent artist community.
- The Key West Botanical Forest and Garden.
- The Shipwreck Museum provides a scenic view of the island.
- The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory includes a glass domed tropical butterfly environment.
- Southernmost Point.
- Key West Cemetery.
- The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum features treasures taken from shipwrecks from all over the world.
- Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum.
- Ernest Hemingway's home is now a museum.
- Key West Nature Preserve.
- Key West Aquarium.
- Curry Mansion Museum is a superb Victorian structure.
- Harry S. Truman Little White House.
Entertainment and Nightlife
Duval Street is a very popular location for restaurants and bars including Rick's Cafe, Captain Tony's Saloon, Rick's/Dirty Harry's Entertainment, the Bull and Whistle, Sloppy Joe's and Irish Kevin's Bar. The Sunset Festival at Mallory Square begins a few hours before sunset and can be described as a street carnival. Tourists enjoy shopping and dining at the Key West Historic Seaport. The Tennessee Williams Theatre is utilized for the performing arts and community events. The Key West Literary Seminar features well known writers. Visitors enjoy the Trails of Margaritaville Tour and also Fantasy Fest.
Swimming with dolphins for children is offered in the Key Largo/Key West Area. The popular Conch Tour Train takes passengers through the historic Old Town. Tourists enjoy glass bottom boat excursions. Excellent opportunities for diving and snorkeling are located along the reefs. The shoreline near Fort Jefferson is a popular destination. Tourists can take a ferry ride to the notable Dry Tortungas National Park. Sightseeing cruises are a great way to enjoy Key West and the beautiful clear waters. Fishing is a popular outdoor activity. Some of the best beaches are Rest Beach, Fort Zachary Taylor, South Beach and Higg's Beach.