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History of Key West, Florida

Key West is an island city located in the Florida Keys, a chain of islands off the southern coast of Florida. The history of Key West dates back to the early 1800s when it was discovered by the Spanish in the early exploration of the New World. However, it was not until 1822 that the United States established a naval base on the island, making it a strategic location in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next few decades, the island saw an influx of settlers and became a thriving port city, with industries ranging from fishing to sponge harvesting. In the mid-19th century, Key West became a center for cigar-making, with many Cuban immigrants settling on the island and bringing their tobacco expertise with them. This industry helped to shape the culture of the city, with its distinctive blend of American and Cuban influences. In the late 1800s, Key West also became a hub for the wrecking industry, where salvagers would retrieve valuable cargo from ships that had run aground on the surrounding reefs. In the early 20th century, Key West experienced a boom in tourism, with visitors drawn to the island’s warm weather, beautiful beaches, and unique culture. This led to the construction of numerous hotels and resorts, including the famous Casa Marina and the luxurious Reach Resort. Today, Key West is still a popular tourist destination and is known for its lively atmosphere, colorful architecture, and laid-back lifestyle.

 

Mallory Square

Things to do in Key West

The Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square: is a beloved tradition in Key West, attracting visitors and locals alike to gather and celebrate the end of another day in paradise. Held every evening at the historic Mallory Square, this festive event offers stunning views of the sunset over the water, along with live music, street performers, and vendors selling food and drinks. The celebration typically begins a few hours before sunset, with street performers and artists setting up their booths and entertaining the crowds with their talents. Visitors can watch fire-eaters, tightrope walkers, and other performers showcasing their skills, as well as browse through the colorful stalls selling handmade crafts and souvenirs. There are also numerous food vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to sweet treats, making it the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before the sunset. As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the crowds gather on the pier to watch the spectacular display of colors and light. The atmosphere is electric, with everyone cheering and applauding as the sun disappears below the water. It’s a moment that captures the spirit of Key West, with its laid-back vibe and appreciation for the natural beauty of the island. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned local, the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square is a must-see event that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

 

Key West’s historic Old Town: is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the island. This charming neighborhood features colorful homes, lush tropical gardens, and quaint streets that are perfect for a leisurely stroll. The architecture of the buildings in Old Town reflects the influence of the Spanish, Cuban, and American cultures that have shaped Key West’s history, giving it a unique character that is unlike any other place in the United States. One of the most iconic landmarks in Old Town is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. This beautiful property was once the home of the famous author and has been preserved as a museum for visitors to explore. Hemingway lived and worked in Key West for over a decade, and his legacy can still be felt throughout the island. The museum offers a fascinating look at Hemingway’s life and works, as well as the beautiful gardens and architecture of the property. Another must-visit destination in Old Town is the Key West Lighthouse. This historic landmark was built in 1825 and is still in operation today. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse for stunning views of the island and the surrounding waters. The adjacent Keeper’s Quarters Museum offers a glimpse into the lives of the lighthouse keepers who once lived and worked at the site. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful gardens, Old Town is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring Key West’s unique culture and heritage.

 

Dante’s Key West Pool Bar & Restaurant: is a popular hangout in the heart of Key West’s historic Old Town. This lively spot features a poolside bar, live music, and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that is perfect for anyone looking to let loose and have a good time. With its DJ-fueled parties and laid-back vibe, Dante’s is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a fun night out in Key West. One of the highlights of Dante’s is its poolside bar, which is the perfect spot to cool off with a refreshing cocktail or beer. The bar serves up a variety of drinks, including frozen drinks, margaritas, and local craft beers. Visitors can lounge by the pool and enjoy the music, or take a dip in the water to cool off on a hot day. In addition to its poolside bar, Dante’s also offers live music and entertainment throughout the week. Local bands and DJs take the stage to get the party started, playing a mix of classic and contemporary hits that are sure to get everyone dancing. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon by the pool or a lively night out on the town, Dante’s is the perfect spot to soak up the Key West vibe and let loose with friends.

 

Snorkeling in Key West: is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the island. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island are teeming with colorful marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional dolphin. Whether you’re a first-time snorkeler or an experienced diver, Key West offers some of the best snorkeling in the United States. One of the best places to go snorkeling in Key West is the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This protected area encompasses over 2,900 square nautical miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests, making it the perfect spot for snorkelers and divers alike. Visitors can explore the vibrant coral reefs and encounter a wide variety of marine life, from tiny seahorses to massive schools of fish. Another popular snorkeling spot in Key West is the Dry Tortugas National Park, located about 70 miles west of Key West. This remote park is only accessible by boat or seaplane and features some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world. Snorkelers can explore the crystal-clear waters around the park’s islands, including the famous Fort Jefferson, and encounter a diverse array of marine life, including sea turtles, stingrays, and even sharks. With its warm waters, diverse marine life, and stunning coral reefs, snorkeling in Key West is an experience that should not be missed.

 

Sunset cruises are a popular activity in Key West: offering visitors a chance to take in the stunning beauty of the island’s famous sunsets from the water. These cruises offer a unique and romantic way to experience the island’s natural beauty, with breathtaking views of the sky and sea as the sun sets over the horizon. There are several sunset cruise options available in Key West, ranging from intimate catamarans to larger boats with live music and open bars. One of the most popular sunset cruise options in Key West is the Fury Sunset Sail. This two-hour cruise takes passengers aboard a state-of-the-art catamaran, offering unobstructed views of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. The sail includes complimentary champagne, beer, and wine, as well as hors d’oeuvres and live music. The catamaran also features a spacious sundeck and a shaded lounge area, making it the perfect spot to relax and take in the beauty of the sunset. Another popular sunset cruise option is the Schooner Western Union, a historic sailing vessel that offers a unique and authentic sailing experience. The sunset sail takes passengers on a two-hour journey through the calm waters around Key West, with stunning views of the sunset and the island’s historic landmarks. The schooner offers complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks, as well as light snacks and hors d’oeuvres. Passengers can help raise the sails and steer the ship, making it a fun and interactive experience for all ages. With its stunning sunsets, warm waters, and beautiful scenery, a sunset cruise in Key West is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed. Whether you prefer a romantic catamaran sail or an authentic schooner adventure, there is a sunset cruise option to suit every taste and budget.

Key west

Top 5 Restaurants in Key West

  1. Blue Heaven: Located in the heart of Old Town, Blue Heaven is a must-visit restaurant in Key West. Known for its delicious Caribbean and Southern-inspired cuisine, this restaurant has been a local favorite for over 25 years. The menu features a variety of fresh seafood dishes, as well as Southern classics like fried chicken and shrimp and grits. The outdoor seating area is also a highlight, with a charming courtyard filled with cats and chickens.

  2. Santiago’s Bodega: This tapas-style restaurant is the perfect spot for a night out with friends or a romantic dinner for two. The menu features a variety of small plates inspired by Spanish, Mediterranean, and Latin American cuisine, including dishes like ceviche, empanadas, and grilled octopus. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine and cocktail list, making it a great spot for a nightcap.
  3. Louie’s Backyard: This elegant restaurant is located on the waterfront in Old Town and offers stunning views of the ocean. The menu features a variety of fresh seafood dishes, as well as American classics like steak and pork chops. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list and a variety of specialty cocktails. The outdoor seating area is also a highlight, with a romantic ambiance that is perfect for a special occasion.
  4. Firefly: Located in the heart of Old Town, Firefly is a cozy and intimate restaurant that specializes in Southern-inspired cuisine. The menu features a variety of delicious dishes, including fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and chicken and waffles. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine and cocktail list, making it a great spot for a night out with friends or a romantic dinner for two.
  5. La Creperie: This charming French bistro is located in the heart of Old Town and is the perfect spot for a casual breakfast or lunch. The menu features a variety of sweet and savory crepes, as well as quiches, salads, and sandwiches. The outdoor seating area is also a highlight, with a charming courtyard filled with greenery and a relaxing ambiance.

 

Why to visit Key West, Florida

There are many reasons why Key West should be at the top of your travel list. One of the main draws of the island is its stunning natural beauty. With crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and colorful sunsets, Key West is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, from snorkeling and diving to fishing and kayaking. Key West is also home to the only living coral reef in the continental United States, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in marine life. Another reason to visit Key West is its rich history and vibrant culture. As one of the oldest cities in Florida, Key West has a fascinating past, with influences from Spanish, Cuban, and American cultures. Visitors can explore historic landmarks such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and the Key West Lighthouse, as well as the colorful streets of Old Town. The island is also famous for its nightlife, with a lively bar and music scene that attracts both locals and tourists. Finally, Key West is known for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, making it the perfect place to unwind and escape the stresses of everyday life. Whether you want to lounge on the beach with a good book or sip a tropical cocktail at a waterfront bar, Key West offers a laid-back and welcoming environment that is sure to put you at ease. With its warm weather, beautiful scenery, and unique culture, Key West is truly a one-of-a-kind destination that should not be missed.

 

 

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