The unique confluence of history, climate, natural beauty, cultural diversity, architecture and unabashed romantic appeal cloak the island of Key West in mystery. It is a mystery that captivates the human soul, stealing it away from the hassles of the modern-day world.
Residents and visitors to Key West actively participate in sightseeing, outdoor and maritime activities, and shopping by day, then yield to the transition toward evening, when flame swallowers, tightrope walkers and shopping-cart balancers strive to show up a more captivating performer - the fiery sun settling into the Gulf of Mexico.
Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost and Jimmy Buffett are just a few of the famous who discovered solace and inspiration in the island city. So too did Bahamian wreckers, commercial fishermen, spongers and Cuban cigar makers.
Key West's Bahamian and Cuban heritage is evidenced throughout the island in restaurants and cigar shops, museums and accommodations.
For intimate lodging, the island provides a bounty of bed and breakfasts with architectural qualities evoking eras past, while lavish resorts offer modern services and amenities amid grander surroundings.
Visitors to Key West can pet a shark, tour a cemetery, visit Hemingway's former home and experience the riches of a spectacular salvage expedition. Island beaches offer ample sunning and watersports opportunities, while beneath the surrounding turquoise and cobalt waters, historic shipwrecks, a living coral reef and myriad marine plants and animals entice those eager to explore.
For anglers, billfish beyond the reef and permit and tarpon on the flats are just a few of the local game fish that offer spirited and sometimes acrobatic displays of strength.
At night, the stars illuminate assorted entertainment opportunities including jazz clubs, piano bars, dance clubs, drag shows and saloons. Theatrical stagings at three area playhouses feature Broadway-quality performances November through May.