Key West, Florida: Southern Charm with Caribbean Flair

by Hey There From Here
December 8, 2021 | 5 min read

Key West, Florida: Southern Charm with Caribbean Flair

Roughly 90 miles north of Cuba, in the Florida Keys Archipelago, lies the southernmost city in the contingent United States.

Key West!

Key West is a beautiful, laid back, island nation known as the Conch Republic. The tropical turquoise waters, exotic foliage, southern charm and Caribbean flavor draw thousands of captivated visitors every year, and will absolutely leave you breathless.

Drive through the Keys

Picture driving the 4 hour, 110 mile scenic coastal highway from Miami to Key West. It’s a beautiful sunny day, your in a convertible with the top down, listening to “Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins, while the salty sea air kisses your face. Sounds amazing right?

Well, my drive was nothing like that.

We were driving the scenic coastal highway in a Honda Civic during a torrential downpour that lasted around 3 hours of the entire 4 hour drive. We did however listen to “Key Largo”, “Cocomo” and lot’s of Bob Marley.

It was still amazing.

You will drive through Homestead and then on through the Florida Everglades, this is home to some very large alligators and snakes. You may not want to break down here.

The first Key on the chain (pardon the pun) was Key Largo where we stopped for breakfast at the Key Largo Conch House.

Definitely Worth it!

After breakfast and before the torrential rain, we were back on our tropical coastal drive.

From Key Largo, the drive will take you through Tavernier, Plantation, Islamorada, Duck Key, Grassy Key, Key Colony Beach, then on to Marathon, where we stopped for a break.

Marathon is home to a dolphin research center and a sea turtle hospital and is also a big Tarpon fishing destination.

Next you will pass Big Pine Key, Little Torch Key, Ramrod Key, Summerland Key, Cudjoe Key and Sugarloaf Key.

The Seven Mile Bridge will connect you from Knight’s Key (part of the city of Marathon) to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.

That’s a lot of Keys!

Next and final stop….Key West!

It was still pouring when we arrived in Key West and I only had one umbrella so we stopped a the first little gift shop that we found. We went in bought more umbrellas and walked back outside to find a beautiful sunny sky and not a drop of rain in sight. It didn’t rain again the entire time we were there. If that was all it took to make it stop, I’m ok with it.

Key West!

The Buoy is one of the most popular attractions on the island. The concrete replica was erected in 1983 and is the most photographed tourist site in the Florida Keys.

Key West is 4.2 square miles of exquisite beauty. It is famous for it’s pastel colored conch-style houses, sunsets and coral reefs, not so much for it’s beaches.

It is although a preferred destination for snorkeling, diving, and a port of call for many cruises ships.

The warmest ocean waters anywhere on the U.S. Mainland, in the winter, are found in the Florida Keys. Sea surface temperatures average 75-77 degrees from December to February.

I definitely wouldn’t want to meet this guy in the ocean.

Duval Street

The busiest street on the island is Duval Street. This main street is 14 blocks long and crosses from the Gulf of Mexico to the Straits of Florida and the Atlantic Ocean.

It is one of the most energetic strips of bars, shops and cafes.

Have some fresh seafood, a few tropical island drinks and catch a Drag Show or live music at anyone of the many bars or clubs. So much fun!

Make sure to try the chocolate dipped Key Lime Pie on a stick! You haven’t had real key lime pie until you’ve had it in Key West!

We stayed at The Inn. It was a nice place with a beautiful outdoor pool area.
Neal made a friend by the pool! Iguanas are huge here!

Mallory Square

Head down to Mallory Square where hundreds of people gather to catch the famous Key West sunset. Enjoy the street performers, food vendors and musicians while you watch the sun disappear into the ocean creating a spectacular show.

The Architecture

The architecture in Key West includes wood framed 1-2 story structures set on foundation piers around 3 feet off the ground. You will find peaked metal roofs, horizontal wood siding with gingerbread trim, pastel shades of paint, hinged louvered shutters, covered porches and wood lattice screens covering the area elevated by the piers. Some of these beautiful, tropical buildings date back from 1886-1912.

Famous Houses

The Ernest Hemingway House

Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West from 1931-1939. The house is now a historic landmark and open for the public to explore. You will be guided through the home and the grounds and given the history of the famous writers life on the island. It was a fascinating tour to say the least. If you are lucky you will catch a glimpse of the famous “six toed” cats that call the house their home.

Posing in front of a banana tree at The Hemingway House.

Harry S. Truman Little White House

Visit the Little White House where President Harry S. Truman spent 175 days of his time in office. Tours are also available.

Key West is the best!

Visit the former home of pirates, poets and presidents, learn the history of this magnificent island and enjoy delicious island cuisine while taking in the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

You gotta love Key West!

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Any thoughts, tips or questions?

Hey there! I’m Stephanie! I’m a travel nurse with a serious travel addiction….fitting, right? You won’t find fancy writing styles here (sorry!), but you will find my stories (and lots and lots of pics). I love sharing my passion for exploring and I hope it inspires you to get out there and create some amazing memories of your own.

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