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Source: Paradise Adventures YouTube
The Best of Key West If the island of Key West was a bar, it would be called the “Ends of the Earth” bar and rightly so. There is only one road leading into Key West and it is 113 miles from the mainland of Florida to the city limits. It’s a 4 hour drive from Miami, 3.5 hours by ferry from Ft Myers and just 50 minutes to fly from Miami. But no matter how you get here, you will soon see it is unlike any place else within the continental USA. It never freezes here nor does it really ever get cold here. Even in January, the average temperature is 69 degrees and usually in the mid 70s. That makes this a year around destination however the summer is the most active time period with lots to do. We will show you some the most popular activities available to visitors. The most popular things to do all revolve around water.
For divers, the Great Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. It extends up to 4 miles out from the shore and extends from Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas, a length of 170 miles. There are several sunken ships to dive on as well. Fishing is a huge draw to Key West. You can charter a boat to take you where the fish are plentiful. You can stay within short distance of the island or you can head for the deep waters where the big fish live. Playing IN the water is available for all ages. There are both private and public beaches scattered around the island.
The largest beach open to the public is Smathers Beach. It is over half a mile in length and is on the south side of the island right next to Roosevelt Blvd, the perimeter road around the island. Higgs Beach is a little further down the road, (Roosevelt turns into Atlantic Blvd). The beach surrounds the Key West Garden Club, one of the island’s last remaining free tourist attractions If you would rather see the water from above, parasailing is the way to do it. Key West looks different when you are floating 300 feet in the air. It is pretty quiet up there too.
There are several providers to choose from. For those who prefer who wish to stay land based, there is still plenty to do. While there are plenty of places to stay on the island, you are required to visit Duval street, the narrow mile long main drag. The famous as well as those of us not so famous have walked this street and spent time in the bars and eateries that line the street. Start at the south end where you can dip a toe into the Straits of Florida (part of the Atlantic Ocean).
Walk a little over a mile north and you can dip a toe in the Gulf of Mexico. Arrive at the Gulf side near dusk and you can wander over to Mallory Square where watching the sunset has become a nightly ritual. More on Mallory Square later. While you are in this part of town, catch a ride on the conch train. They will show you all kinds of interesting locations on the island including Hemingway’s house, Audubon House and Gardens, Key West Lighthouse Museum, Harry S. Truman Little White House, Key West Aquarium, and the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum. You can always come back to these places on your own at a later time now that you know where they are located.
Key West is a great destination to visit and truly has something for everyone. The locals are friendly and laid back. Visiting here is almost like visiting another country but you are still on U S soil. It will take several days to do everything but no matter what you do and where you go, the evenings belong to Mallory Square. While the sun setting into the ocean is a draw all of its own, the spectacle of the square stands alone in its uniqueness. The crowd is festive and there are multiple performers scattered around the square. Whether it is balloon art, juggling acts, music or sword swallowing, you can find this and much more here at Mallory Square.
The Worst of Key West
While our little Key at the end of a 100 mile strip of keys is a wonderful place to visit, there are some things that blur the picture of the perfect getaway. Just getting here can be more of a challenge than desired.
There is only one way in (and out) by car and that is along the 113 mile highway between the mainland and Key West. The current 4 lane road is a big improvement over the 2 lane road that served the Keys up through the first part of the 70’s but it still takes 4 hours to get here from the mainland. There is a ferry from the Ft Myers area that also takes nearly 4 hours. Or you can fly in – 50 minutes from Miami. Try to enjoy the journey.
The weather can be a deciding factor on time of year you want to visit. Hurricane season can have its challenges. The season officially runs from June 1 to the end of November but the peak time for storms generally occur in September.