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Florida Guide > Days Out

Key West Adventure

Key West is situated at the southern most point in the Continental United States, only 90 miles form Cuba. It is 4 ½ miles long and only 1 ½ miles wide.

It is approximately an 8-hour drive from Orlando. We did it in one go which I would not suggest you do as it was very tiring; better to combine it with a couple of days in Miami. You can fly from Orlando or Miami but you would miss out on a lot.

The journey took us down through the Everglades which was very pretty. Driving down we were just remarking how peaceful it was when all of a sudden we were behind a car chase where a car was forced off the road almost into the swamp! We stopped to help the guy but he was ok and just wanted to carry on with his journey. Did not like to ask what it was all about….just in case!! That was not the only excitement. Later into the journey hubby said “look over there quickly” and there she was sunning herself on the side of the road - a BIG ‘gator! Needless to say we did not disturb her!

Key West itself was expensive. Many American tourists holiday here. It has a tolerant approach to the gay community and although not blatant, it is there. It attracts more couples and singles rather than families, as it is known as a bit of a party town, although it is very laid back. Ernest Hemmingway made his home here and you can still visit it today. Many writers come to Key West for inspiration. It can be very busy when the cruise liners dock, almost daily.

The southernmost point in the Continental United States is a buoy to where everyone flocks to have their picture taken. The beaches are nothing special and most are man-made. The nicest beaches are privately-owned, mainly by the hotels. We stayed in a motel on the beach and although the setting was beautiful the motel itself was a bit run down. We stayed there because all the hotels were full when we arrived, which was our first experience of this in the United States and we have travelled all over. I would recommend trying to secure a hotel room before you arrive. Hotels at the west end of the island are very expensive; the further east you stay the cheaper it is. All the usual hotel chains are there, as well as other nice B & B type places, but these can be very expensive, more than the major hotels, in some cases.

Shopping in the Keys is like shopping in any seaside town, with most of the shops aimed at the tourist market, some of them verging on tat!

I persuaded hubby to get on the Key West trolley train which takes you to the main areas.

Water sports are a popular pastime including diving, snorkelling, and fishing trips. We did a boat tour in a glass-bottomed boat, which was enjoyable. There is a lighthouse museum which is worth a visit if you are interested in things nautical.

There is every type of food imaginable, but the restaurants can be expensive. Hard Rock Café has a branch here also, although the service left a lot to be desired; not enough staff to match the customers when we visited. The Cuban influence is everywhere. The Cuban sandwiches are one of our favourites. Seafood is obviously everywhere. Of course your regular fast food chains are in abundance!

Key West is a must at least once. Just plan your trip a bit, beforehand.

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Page added on: 10 September 2004
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