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Letting loose in Key West: Leave your worries behind; pack a bag for Florida’s most iconic island

July 29, 2016
By ANITA FORCE MARSHALL ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

ultimate island hopping destination is right around the corner in Key West, Fla. This tiny little island is filled with all of your island pleasures, dreams and desires.

If you're feeling laid back, stroll over to Old Town. If you're in the mood for excitement, dance your way down to Duvall Street. No worries about what to pack, the dress code is T-shirts and flip flops.

This memorable island at the end of the overseas highway boasts tropical weather, care-free attitudes and lots of welcoming Key West locals. Word on the street says there's a guarantee when you leave Key West, you will leave with a bigger smile than when you started.

Article Photos

Key West Harbour

Because of its compact size, you can easily walk, bike or scooter the island with ease. No matter how often you visit, the ever popular Conch Tour Train is a ride you can't pass up. For newcomers it's a great way to get acclimated with the island and its offerings. For Key West frequent riders, it's always entertaining and a memory that never gets old.

You'll be surprised how many things there are to do on Key West. Hit the main drag, Duval Street, for any style of shopping, bars, restaurants, and lots of people watching.

If you're just looking to partake of some liquid refreshments stop by The Porch is a laid back craft beer and wine bar on Duvall but set back away from the noise. Its owners host many quirky events, so there is always something fun going on. Thoughtfully connected is the more quiet, more swanky Side Bar, a Key West style clubhouse serving craft cocktails. Choose what your mood is and whichever side appeals to you.

With the array of watering holes and pubs that dot the island, you may feel the need for a bar guide to traverse the multitude of establishments. The Key West Best of the Bars was voted one of the Top Five things to do in Key West. Join the fun of the famous Duval Crawl complete with a scavenger hunt twist.

If you're feeling a hungry, this is your island. Blue Heaven Restaurant offers breakfast with the roosters, lunch in the shade and dinner under the stars.

One of Ernest Hemingway's haunts, enjoy live music here regularly; the place is known for its lobster benedict and other made-from-scratch favorites.

The Caf Sole Restaurant serves up French cuisine with a twist, using all local ingredients. Some favorites include award-winning portobello soup, conch carpaccio, and lots of fresh from-the-boat seafood.

The Half Shell Raw Bar is a restaurant on the docks paired with a fish market. It serves up good ol' cooking from boat to table and famous for the Key West pink shrimp and awards for Best Local Oysters.

Don't forget to indulge in key lime pie a slice is waiting for you at virtually every restaurant and eatery. Officially the signature dessert of the Florida Keys, don't look for that fake green color in your pie; authentic key lime pie is a pale yellow color, a unique blend of sweet and tart.

Want to get outdoors and really see the island from a different point of view? Key West is a fisherman's dream where everyone's backyard is the Gulf of Mexico.

Sting Rea Charters offers boats and captains to take you on a tour filled with fishing possibilities.

Mello Ventures Backcountry Outfitters have eco tours to observe wildlife in an off-the-beaten-path, serene atmosphere. They can show you a Key West filled with wonder and beauty.

Key West Eco Discovery Center showcases the Florida Keys and its national marine sanctuary for the environment. With live interactive exhibits, underwater cameras and lots of viewing glass, you are immersed in the ocean without getting wet.

Be sure to have your photograph taken at the Southernmost Point Marker, one of the most photographed landmarks in the Florida Keys. It marks the southernmost point in the continental U.S. and the quintessential social network check-in photo.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is another must see. Winner of both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, this legendary author lived in the Spanish Colonial villa with his second wife, Pauline. Hemingway wrote many of his best-known works in the second-story writing studio, and the grounds are still inhabited by descendants of his six-toed cat.

A former Civil War fortress, Dry Tortugas National Park is just a ferry ride away. The official ferry is the Yankee Freedom III, which takes you to the most remote national park. Accessible to the public only by boat or seaplane, it is home to rare migratory birds and a wealth of marine life. The park's awe-inspiring centerpiece is Civil War era Fort Jefferson, sometimes called the Gibraltar of the Gulf.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory was voted #1 Key West Attraction by People's Choice Awards. Feel like you're in another world as you enter its magical world of butterflies, birds, waterfalls and tropical plants from all over the world, all within a climate-controlled glass habitat.

Wow, look at the time!?You've spent the day sight-seeing and hob-knobbing. Now it's time to hit the hay for a quick nap before painting the town red. The Southernmost House was built in 1896 and after its restoration has become the choice for presidents and royalty.

Orchid Key Inn is located on Duval Street and Truman Avenue, right at the very crossroads of Historic Old Town Key West. Everything the island is famous for is just foot steps outside the gates.

The Gardens Hotel was named the "Prettiest Hotel in Key Wes"t by the New York Times. It was once a private estate that has been transformed to one of the most elegant boutique hotels on the island.

After a quick nap, you're all set for the Key West nightlife, famous for never sleeping. First, pay homage to your fabulous Key West day with a Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square.

You might see Will Soto who performs a juggling and high-wire act; he has been entertaining fans for more than 30 years.

You and your party are part of the nightly celebration in the square, with all kinds of people from all walks of life who gather for a round of applause when the sun sinks below the horizon beyond the harbor. Remember, your night is just beginning, and you are at whole new latitude and a Key West attitude.



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