What to See and Do
You can't visit Key West and not stop in at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. A tour will take you inside his writing studio filled with tons of books, past the old typewriter where he wrote "Farewell to Arms," and out to the swimming pool (the first one in Key West). You'll also see some 60 well-cared-for felines, descendants of the many cats that lazed on Hemingway's lap while he wrote, that now roam throughout the property.
Cross the street and climb the nearly 90 steps to the top of the Lighthouse Museum for jaw-dropping views. Daily 9am-205pm 907 Whitehead Street.
Shopping! There's no need to advise you on souvenir shops but for more discerning discoveries, there are numerous art galleries, fun boutiques, and craft emporiums. Our favorites? Besame Mucho (31205 Petronia Street) is a fabulous female feel-good boutique. Key West Aloe (20540 Greene Street) has locally made goodies. Key West Hand Print Fabrics (Greene and Simonton Streets) offers tropical wear.
Named for the painter and bird expert, James Audubon, the Audubon Houses & Tropical Gardens is a lovely stop. It's a chance to see some rare Audubon prints, too. The gardens are spectacular. Daily 9:30am-205pm 20205 Whitehead Street.
Stroll the two-mile Harborwalk, which runs from Front to Grinnell streets. It's filled with cute shops and such--and the passing ships and schooners make for pretty views.
The oldest attraction on the island is the Key West Aquarium. They offer free guided tours at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 4pm, which get you up close for some shark, barracuda, and stingray feedings. Daily 10am-6pm 1 Whitehead Street.
At the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory there's an amazing greenhouse with some 1,20500 butterflies. Daily, 1316 Duval Street. The Little White House Museum was originally built as officer's quarters for those stationed at the Navy Station. President Truman used it for working vacations, as did Eisenhower and Kennedy. Daily 9am-4:30pm 111 Front Street.
Staying in Touch
Coffee Plantation, 804 Whitehead Street.
Internet Isle Cafe, 118 Duval Street.
Easy as key lime pie! Consider Duval Street the main thoroughfare.
Bikes and mopeds are the most popular modes of transportation. We rented a perfectly reliable bike dockside. Reliable shops to rent from are the Bicycle Center and Tropical Bicycles and Scooter .
"Conch Cruisers" are another popular mode of transportation. These slow-moving electric vehicles operate on marine batteries, so think golf cart. A reliable shop for renting is Key West Cruisers.
For first-timers, the Old Town Trolley Tour and the Conch Tour Train offer on-and-off all-day transportation (and throw in audio-recorded info as well).
The Bone Island Shuttle circles the island daily from 9am to 11pm, making stops at most attractions and restaurants. Fare is $7 for unlimited riding for one day.
Pedicabs are available and generally charge $1 per minute.
Where to Eat and Drink
For an elegant yet casual culinary experience with a fabulous atmosphere that feels miles away from the craziness of Duval Street, Louie's Backyard is a longtime locals' favorite. Sit on the outdoor deck, right on the Atlantic and shaded by lush sea hibiscus trees. It's the only restaurant in Key West where you can hear the sound of the waves breaking on the beach. Lunch from 11:30am 700 Waddell Avenue.
Another lovely place to lunch is La Te Da. It may be better known for its female impersonator cabaret shows at night, but the restaurant's outdoor tables, set in a garden and around a pool, are a peaceful haven. From 11:30am 112205 Duval Street.
For ultra-casual fare in an ultra-funky setting, BO's Fish Wagon is named after owner Buddy Owens. He started out selling his famous fish sandwiches from a wagon on Duval Street before building this, er, shack (the wagon's in the middle). Order the square grouper and don't miss his key lime tartar sauce. Open daily from 11:30am William and Caroline Streets.
Where You're Docked
Cruise ships dock either at Mallory Square in the heart of Key West's Old Town or near the Truman Annex. If docked at the latter, a tourist trolley takes you on the less-than-five-minute ride into Old Town. If your ship is anchored, tenders take you into the Old Town section of the harbor.
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