By Urban Traveler Lynn Jones – Every so often it takes time to gather your thoughts and come up with a story on a destination that has been visited my billions of vacationers! Key West is a well know destination and people around the world are always in the mood to visit Key West and the surrounding Islands. From cruise ships to driving down Interstate 95 or sailing on your yacht, you will find great food, fascinating people and spectacular scenery! Key West will always be considered a premier destination.
My team’s Key West destination excursion had us rolling along I-95 south headed to Key West. The view is a stretch of highway where over to your left is the big blue Atlantic Ocean, then finally you arrive at the Keys! Per Google mapping, the drive from Jacksonville, Florida via I-95 is 8 hours and 24 minutes. For an eight hour drive we packed up the van with goodies! We made sure our ride would be a fruitful expedition. Along the way my team and I were mesmerized by the view and relaxing ride. Oh and make sure you take some comfortable shoes and pillows too!
The keys are made up of five “key” islands: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and the infamous Key West! Key West is the island where many travelers look forward to visiting. The Island boasts American and African American history exhibits and most of all the Ernest Hemmingway home. According to www.hemingwayhome.com: “The Hemmingway home is located at 907 Whitehead Street and nestled in the heart of Old Town Key West, this unique property was home to one of America’s most honored and respected authors. Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than ten years. Calling Key West home, he found solace and great physical challenge in the turquoise waters that surround this tiny island.” Hemingway also had a penchant for boxing and according to true events African American Key West resident Kermit “Shine” Forbes took a jab at Hemingway and became a legend. Shine passed away at the age of 84 and was quoted as saying: “That big poke I took at Ernest Hemingway? Oh man, that was the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life, It kinda got me famous.” (see http://articles.latimes.com/2000/feb/18/news/mn-268). Key West African American Island history documents American slavery and the toll it took on America.
Next destination was the Lighthouse Court Hotel, located at 902 Whitehead St. “The Lighthouse Court hotel is located next to the historic Key West Lighthouse and Keepers Quarter. Lighthouse is comprised of ten “conch” buildings spread out on half a city block. The building dates from 1890 to the 1920s.” Lighthouse nice cozy porch was inviting and the staff full of pleasantries! For more visit www.historickeywestinns.com.
After check-in, the must see is the Old Town Trolley, where you can hop on and catch a glimpse of the historic sites throughout Key West! The next stop was the Mell Fisher Maritime Museum, an educational museum that boasts “the richest single collection” of 17th century maritime and shipwreck antiquities in the Western hemispheres – including treasures and artifacts from the Spanish Galleons Nuestra Senors de Atocha and Santa Margarita, which both sank off the Florida Keys in a 1622 storm. Touring the museum was quite a history lesson as we were now set to begin our journey as pirates and sail the seven seas!
At sunset we headed to the “Sunset celebration,” a nightly carnival at Mallory Square overlooking Key West harbor. “It features arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, food carts, physics, musicians and more! Every year crowds of visitors from around the world flock to the celebration each evening to observe and applaud the setting of the sun over the water” Wow now this was the highlight of the evening. The sunset, the street performers and the atmosphere was alluring and inviting for each and every visitor.
We continued to trek the island and explore the many sights and scenes. Cruise ships are also docked at Key West for the countless travelers to exit the ship and peruse the many shops along the bay. Another example of the many museums is The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Such a pretty sight! Butterflies everywhere! Our teammate even had butterflies on his clothes! We were amazed at the butterflies’ colorful transformation!
Sunday was a treat as we rode to Amara Cay Resort on Islamorada Island. Amara Cay Resort was recently renovated and is a popular location to eat and enjoy the outdoors. That evening we had dinner at the “Olremare”. We dined on Duck, pork chops and scallops! Wow what a way to end the evening. The food was exquisite and right on time!
When you speak to visitors on Key West Island it is apparent that the island is a destination that creates an atmosphere of a lifelong vacation! Ahhh, time to sit back and reminisce! Enjoy the photos, and wish yourself to the keys! For more info on hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and what to do in Key West visit www.fla-keys.com.