Key West: The Keys Are Calling!

Stroll along the same streets where Thomas Edison, Harry Truman, Tennessee Williams, and Jimmy Buffet once walked.  Take a ride on the famous Conch Train.  Taste the creamiest, tangiest, and sweetest key lime pie you’ll ever put in your mouth.  From the southernmost point in the continental United States to the six- and seven-toed polydactyl cats at the Hemingway House, Key West is overflowing with sun-drenched adventures for young and old alike.  One visit to this laidback island getaway will make you second-guess your landlubber life and consider a residence on the sparkling waters surrounding this island paradise!

The minute you set foot in this tropical oasis, hop aboard the Conch Train.  This “train” is iconic to the Keys and is the perfect way to gain an overview of the island, all while allowing you to enjoy the gentle breezes and radiant sunshine that grace the Keys almost daily.  You’ll be able to hop on and hop off at prominent sights, including the southernmost point.  This stop is a must for first time visitors to capture that perfect “prove you were here” photograph to send to your friends and family back home.  With the ocean landscape directly behind you, it is a picture that is definitely worth more than a thousand words.

If classic literature is your cup of tea, be sure to tour Ernest Hemingway’s house.  Marvel at the beautiful gardens.  Stroke the back of one of the ancestors to Hemingway’s infamous polydactyl felines.  Visit the house where many of his beloved literary works were written.  Looking for more historic sights?  Key West has several top-notch museums documenting everything from treasure hunters to the artwork of James Audubon.  The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, the only fully accredited museum in the Keys, is a must-see, filled to the brim with gold bars and countless artifacts from their 1622 Fleet exhibit of Spanish galleons.  Pick up a few replica coins as a souvenir; perfect for tricking your coworkers into thinking you discovered sunken treasure!

While a visit to the Key West Key Lime Pie Co. is the ultimate choice for dessert, there are other culinary delights on this island as well.  Swing by Sloppy Joe’s Bar & Grill for one of the best Sloppy Joes you will ever sink your teeth into.  Imagine a soft sesame seed bun topped with an overflowing amount of spicy Sloppy Joe filling that has a kick to it, paired with well-seasoned fries and a slice of pickle.  It’s enough to make your mouth water just thinking about it!  Of course, Key West is the perfect place to get your conch fritter fix, one of their most popular culinary offerings.  Let’s face it, with all of the fresh seafood found in the waters of the Keys, there will nary be a seafood dish that is not succulently prepared on this island oasis.

Once you’ve satisfied your taste buds, you’ll likely want to take a stroll on the beach or just lie in a hammock, enjoying the cool breeze coming off of the water.  Once you’re ready for some more island action, strap on some diving gear and head to the open waters for some diving, deep sea fishing, or snorkeling.  Rent a yacht, ride a banana boat, paddle a kayak, or just sunbathe on the deck of a catamaran.  No matter what you choose to do, it is certain that the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico will take your breath away!

Are you ready to shop ‘till you drop?  Key West has a myriad of boutiques and shops for every budget.  From island fashion and fine jewelry to traditional souvenir t-shirts and postcards, Key West has it all.  Look for unique items made with conch shells and sponges and of course, key lime taffy and key lime soda!  You may even want to pick up a Conch Republic souvenir, commemorating the time when Key West briefly declared its independence from the U.S. in 1982.  Even if you don’t want to purchase anything, perusing through the interesting shops is definitely worth the time.  You’ll be bewildered and entertained by the wide array of items on display, so why not take a look?  You’ll be glad you did!

As the sun goes down, head down to the Sunset Party, held every night in this island getaway.  It is the perfect way to reflect on your stay in Key West.  Filled with street performers, food vendors, and other unexpected surprises, this nightcap will solidify the fact that you need to return.  Whatever you choose to do in Key West, it is certain that your stay will leave you wanting to stay forever or at least wanting to come back for more.  From the bottom of the sea to the sunshine in the sky, Key West provides a picturesque setting that seems like it was built by Hollywood.  But every palm tree and every grain of sand is real, which makes Key West the ultimate island paradise.  Close to home for Americans, yet a location that seems so far, far away.  What are you waiting for?  Pack your bags and head to Key West.  The Keys are calling!

May you always have joyful journeys!

Jennifer Campbell

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