About This Place
Originally known as “Bone Key” or “Cayo Hueso” by the European mapmakers of the 17th century, the island of Key West changed hands a number of times before finally being ceded to the United States in 1819 and renamed Key West. Today, the island is a top vacation destination.
When it comes to romantic Key West tourist attractions, Danger Charter’s Wind and Wine sunset cruise sets the standard. Offering guests eight different wines, fresh fruit and an assortment of upscale hors d’oeuvres, this cruise was rated the number-two sunset cruise in North America by Coastal Living Magazine in 2007—beating out locations such as California and Mexico.
Literary types must hit the “key” Key West tourist attraction, the longtime home of Ernest Hemingway. Kept in the true spirit of the late author, Hemingway’s home is still a refuge for 40-50 six-toed cats that freely roam the grounds. The historic house is open daily for multiple 30-minute tours. No reservations are needed.
Serious rest and relaxation take place at Key West beaches, cafés and bars all day, every day. Rent a bike or scooter and pedal or zip around Old Town, or hop a bus or taxi to the New Town shops.
After a busy day of doing next to nothing, Key West visitors can prolong their leisure over dinner and entertainment. An array of local nosh is available in the form of spots like Ambrosia, where guests can sink their taste buds into sushi specialty rolls like the Key West, stuffed with avocado, stone crab and smelt roe. Try the grilled Berkshire pork chop with beer-braised cabbage and sweet potatoes at Louie’s Backyard, if a reservation is to be had. When live music suits, stop by Hot Tin Roof to take in some live jazz while overlooking the harbor and chomping on some lobster with garlic, chiles and Cuban mojo sauce.
First-class lodgings offer more lolling and pampering. The Marquesa , located in the center of old town Key West, is a prominent boutique hotel with 27 uniquely crafted rooms that smack of luxury, with amenities such as marble baths and a poolside garden.
Key West is one of a chain of U.S. islands that fan out into the Straits of Florida. For a unique day trip from Key West, set your sights on Key Largo’s Dolphin Cove. Meet dolphins face to face in the Shallow Water Encounter, where you will learn the basics about these intelligent, saltwater mammals and take a supervised ride on the back of one. For those interested in a more intimate and extended encounter with one of these gentle giants of the sea, Dolphin Cove offers enthusiasts a “Trainer for a Day” opportunity.
If you are driving home, your re-entry into mainland society can be your final day trip from Key West. The Overseas Highway delivers travelers to the main Keys, including Big Pine Key, famous for Key deer and green iguanas, and Key Largo, the largest of the Keys.