The Florida Keys extend from the southern edge of Florida, southwest into the Gulf of Mexico. At land's end stands the island of Key West, the southern most point of the continental United States of America.
The inhabitants of this Florida enclave are an eclectic group made up of artists, entrepreneurs, retirees, writers and those who consider themselves to be living an 'alternative' or 'eccentric' lifestyle.
The local atmosphere is decidedly laid back as the biggest commitment on the island seems to be the almost subconscious daily gathering of people to watch the gorgeous sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
Key West is known for its clear blue waters, sun-filled skies, and laid-back attitude. In addition to being a great vacation spot, the city has also served as an artistic refuge, a presidential retreat, a military post, and an important port.
Vacations in Key West (be them short or long) are typically lazy, sunny days on the beach, and nights on the town that often last till dawn. The island is loaded with flashy clubs, shops and restaurants, and prices in this 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' destination can be a bit on the high side.
Some of the most popular island activities include eating a slice (or two) of 'Key Lime Pie,' strolling on Duval Street, dolphin encounters and whale watching, marlin and sailfish charters, parasailing, jet skiing, windsurfing, and scuba diving in some of the best coral reefs in all of the Caribbean Islands.
If you visit Key West, you can't help but smile!
One of many watering holes on the island of Key West.
Manicures and martini's go together in Key West.
One of the many roosters that roam wild across Key West.
A popular way to see the island is to rent a scooter. The problem is that many of the people that rent scooters have never driven one before and they instantly become an accident waiting to happen.
This group of young woman are about to tour Key West on their rented scooters. They are getting last minute instructions from their highly-trained sales guy. Please wish these girls well as skinned knees (or worse) are somewhat common, especially in busy intersections where they will mix with other vehicles as well as people. From my experience with this, be very careful and do not drive fast.
The Southernmost Hotel in the USA is a Key West beach resort in historic Old Town. There are many lodging choices on the island, and with some on-line research an affordable one that fits your budget should be easy to find.
Trinity Presbyterian Church (in the background) has a motto: "The Church in the Heart of the City with the City at Heart" and "The Friendliest Presbyterian Church This Side of Heaven." I like it!
In Key West, Florida, street people provide very levels of entertainment, and most of the time there's not a problem. As kids we all ate Sloppy Joe's, you know that mixture of hamburger and tomato sauce piled high on a bun. Well, that staple of the American diet was invented right here in Key West at Sloppy Joe's
And speaking of street people, these two were weaving hats from palm leafs, and doing a brisk business.
At the entrance to the Key West Art and History Museum, commonly known as the Old Post Office and Customs House, are a series of realistic statues; some are lifelike, while other are 20-some feet tall. This one is called "Reunion," and could be representing a crew member from the cruise ship in the background finally returning home.
Recent stats indicated that 350 cruise ships stopped in Key West in 2011. bringing about 837,000 passengers. Passengers disembark, then stroll over to Duval Street to eat, drink, take a trolley tour, visit the nearby sites and make purchases. On days when 4 ships are in port (somewhat common), the downtown area is all by overrun by visitors.