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Plan a Visit to Quirky Key West
The funky, fun city of Key West...

Key West, the city is located on Key West, the island. And, what a fun city it is. Artists, writers, creatives flock to this city to live and to take part in the scene. Take a walk down Duval, the main drag, look around you and you get a sense of what this place is all about.

Its funky atmosphere draws tourists to it like flies to honey. If a dress code exists it is 'warm weather casual' and the more creative the clothing the better. Everybody is milling around, checking out the candy shops, ice cream stands, souvenir stores and Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. On every corner someone is hawking tickets to tourist attractions they feel you must see. However, you can simply sit at one of the many cafes, order a coffee, try their famous key lime pie and just take in the 'never a dull moment' scene.

Eventually, I left the main street to look for some of the city's history and I was not disappointed. At the Earnest Hemingway Home and Museum, visitors get a glimpse of the office where this larger than life man wrote his novels and they are sure to run into the many six-toed cats that roam the property.

In the gift shop. look out for the novel, 'The Paris Wife,' a novel that captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and one of his wives, Hadley Richardson. And check out the Hemingway lookalikes selling their wares in front of the house.

girl's tattoo

hemmingway impersonator


Key West lighthouse...

Cross the street to visit the Key West Lighthouse built in 1847 and tour the Light Keepers Quarters built circa 1887. Look out for information on Barbara Mabrity who took over as the official lighthouse keeper after her husband died of yellow fever. If you have the spunk and energy then climb the 88 steps that lead to the top of the lighthouse. From there you can enjoy a superb view of the island and the surrounding sea.

lighthouse


And there's still more...

The Audubon House & Tropical Gardens is located at 205 Whitehead Street. This attraction contains 28 first edition works of the famous ornithologist, John James Audubon and the gardens boast orchids, tropical foliage, and an aromatic herb garden.

Further away at 111 Front Street is the Harry S. Truman Little White House, the winter White House for President Harry S Truman that served as his headquarters for 175 days during his 11 visits. Check out the bed he slept in and the customized poker table he had built for the house. Many of his religious constituents as well as his wife, Bess disapproved of a president playing poker but Harry said it matched the mood of the city of Key West.

At least one evening in Key West should be devoted to the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square. It's a nightly street carnival enjoyed by locals and tourists alike featuring buskers, clowns, souvenir tables, jugglers and stilt walkers. I'm told the sunsets from this vantage point are spectacular.

sunset view

Alas, the night I was there the sun was a no-show as clouds hide it from view. That made it all the more reason for me to promise myself to come back the next year. This lively destination is just plain fun.


The best key lime pie...

According to Wikipedia, 'On 1 July 2006, the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate both passed legislation selecting "Key lime pie" as the official pie of the state of Florida. The Key lime pie has been traced back to the early 20th century in the Key West, Florida area and was invented by botanist Jack Simons. Its exact origins are unknown, but the first formal mention of Key lime pie as a recipe may have been made by William Curry, a ship salvager and Key West's first millionaire; his cook, "Aunt Sally", made the pie for him. If such is the case, however, it is also possible and maybe even probable that Sally adapted the recipe already created by local sponge fishermen. Sponge fishermen spent many days on their boats, and stored their food on board, including nutritional basics such as canned milk (which would not spoil without refrigeration), limes and eggs. Sponge fishermen at sea would presumably not have access to an oven, and, similarly, the original recipe for Key lime pie did not call for cooking the mixture of lime, milk, and eggs.'

Today every restaurant in Key West serves their own version of the state's famous pie. Some use whipped cream topping, some merengue and some, no topping at all. Some drizzle the pie with chocolate sauce and others caramel. On my visit I tried this famous dessert at very many diners and high end restaurants. Surprisingly not even the very best pastry chefs could surpass the wedge at a tiny coffee house and bakery located off the beaten tourist track at 713 Caroline Street.

key lime pie plates

From this writer's point-of-view, The Journeywoman Award for Best Key Lime Pie goes to The Coffee Plantation adjoining a real estate office. Give their version a try. It may be served on a lowly plastic plate with plastic fork but we vouch for it!

jounreywoman's favourite keylime pie


Need more information on planning a Florida Keyes vacation, click here.

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