We weren’t sure how we would feel about Key West prior to our visit. Would we love her quirky, laid-back vibe or be turned off by her tawdry, overly done commercialism? After having visited, we give it a big two-thumbs up and decided we would love to come back for a longer visit, as a day just scratches the surface.
The city’s official motto of “One Human Family” drew me in immediately. The belief that “all people everywhere are entitled at birth to equal rights, dignity and respect; and lives that are free from prejudice, discrimination, harassment, or violence” is one that all cities would do well to embrace.
Since we arrived early to get ahead of the crowds, the first order of the day was to sample the local coffee and we found just the right spot at the Old Town Bakery, where one of the local residents rushed up to make our acquaintance.
We opted to enjoy our few hours here on foot, taking in the sights and sounds at our leisure. We wandered along the Historic Seaport Harbor Walk, where people were already lining up to take a cruise on a sailboat or catamaran. From there it was on to Mallory Square, the place to be at sunset and for the show that accompanies the sun’s final rays of the day, flame-tossing jugglers, tight-rope walkers, and sword swallowers. It is also here where you can sit, enjoy a meal, and watch the cruise ships dock.
Near Mallory Square is the Key West Art and Historical Museum, with its many life-size bronze statues scattered about and is where Terry decided to be the perfect gentleman and help an elderly lady.
With lunchtime nearing, I don’t know about you but I think it looks more like Terry is trying to steal her groceries. We’d better get this boy some food fast!
Since there is a large Cuban influence here (and we love Cuban food) we decided to wander into an Old Town residential neighborhood and check out El Siboney for lunch, the place we were told where the local Cubans dine and is the “epicenter for good Cuban food”. We were not disappointed as we dined on the best roasted garlic chicken and plantains we had ever eaten, and the homemade sangria was pretty tasty too.
Pleasantly full and recharged for the rest of our visit, we headed south to get a picture taken where everyone who visits Key West does, at the point furthest south, and the line was already growing.
I recently read that this buoy does not stand on the southernmost point of Key West but rather land west of here on the Truman Annex, where the “Winter White House” for Harry S. Truman stands, claims that right. No marker exists there as it is U.S. Navy land and cannot be accessed by civilians.
The brightest spot of our day was visiting the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. The magic begins as you enter, where hundreds of butterflies swirl around you, dancing to the relaxing music, as you stroll paths lined with flowering plants, colorful birds and gurgling waterfalls. Fifty to sixty different species of butterflies from around the world can be found here, all beautiful, all guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
A day in Key West would not be complete without a stroll down Historic Duval Street, running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, and in many ways the heartbeat of the city. Any manner of shop or eating and drinking establishment can be found here, like a continuous happy hour. I read somewhere that Key West is the place to “find yourself, lose yourself, be yourself, or re-invent yourself” and this just might be the street where those discoveries are made. At the least it is probably the hottest place in town to people-watch.
Well, it looks like the end of the road for us, at least for this day.
There is no end to the activities in Key West to delight your senses, and food and drink aplenty to dazzle your taste buds. Galleries, museums, historic buildings, and beaches await our next visit to eclectic Key West, city with an effervescent magic all her own!
Our time in the Keys has flown by and we leave dragging our feet but with fond memories we carry along. It is back to the Everglades for us, land of gators, crocodiles, exotic birds, and raw, wild beauty. Hopefully the mosquitoes will have had their fill before our arrival. We will most likely be out of cell phone and internet range for several days. Have a wonderful week! :)