Key West Quirk
Not everyone can just drop everything and move to Key West like the authors of Quit Your Job and Move to Key West did. However, anyone can take a great vacation in Key West with their insider tips.
Key West, now a well-known tropical paradise, has a long history of booms and busts. Its heritage of pirates, wreckers, spongers and cigar makers draws three million visitors each year — many who never leave. That's what happened to us, when we quit our corporate jobs and headed for the tropics more than a decade ago, penning the book Quit Your Job and Move to Key West to share our brilliant idea with the world. Living the dream, we're strong advocates of the drastic move to this day, but also love sharing our local secrets with those not quite ready to quit just yet. Let us take you on an insider's ride of Key West's sights for your perfect Key West vacation.
Don't be afraid to act like a tourist: We love our tourists! So don't be afraid to be one. Take goofy photos, ask silly questions, make the most of your tourist status but avoid the tourist traps.
Start your tourist stroll at the ➊ Southernmost Point Monument, just 90 miles from Cuba and the southernmost point in the continental United States. Then, continue down Whitehead Street for a healthy dose of our island's famous landmarks, architecture and history. The short, one-mile walk will treat you to the ➋ 1847-built Lighthouse, where an 88-step climb offers up stunning views of the city. You'll also pass the legendary ➌ Hemingway Home, ➍ Mile Marker 0, ➎ Truman's Little Whitehouse, mammoth banyan trees and excellent examples of nearly every type of architecture on the island, from eyebrow homes to shotgun shacks. Stop for a root beer barrel shot at ➏ The Green Parrot Bar and a slice of the city's iconic key lime pie dipped in chocolate and served on a stick at the lime-hued ➐ Key West Key Lime Pie Co. Stroll through the Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden and don't miss the nightly arts festival, Sunset Celebration. Then, sample the finest craft beers on the Island at ➑ The Porch, or, should you be feeling peckish, delectable tapas and white sangria at Santiago's Bodega.
Even tourists can go off the beaten path: Duval Street is overrated. Rent a bike and explore our hidden lanes.
Love Lane is a favorite photo opp, not only for its name but also for its colorful bursts of bougainvillea, roaming cats and roving roosters. A stroll down Passover Lane will take you by Key West's beautiful, ornate above ground cemetery. A fine example of Key West quirk it's peppered with unique tombs (one has a red airplane on top) and humorous epitaphs like "Devoted fan of Julio Iglesias" and "I told you I was sick." Stop by ➒ Saint Mary Star of theSea Catholic church to see the grotto that protects us from hurricanes (it sure comes in handy since Key West still gets "brushed" by a hurricane every 2.73 years) and one of the film locations from James Bond's License To Kill. Ride along the Atlantic seawall to neighboring Stock Island to sample the local delicacy, hogfish — a fish caught mainly by spear that has a light, scallop-like flavor — at the only place in town that ever seems to have it, Hogfish Bar & Grill. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, catch one yourself by hiring a local guide to take you on a spearfishing trip. Toast the sun as it sets at The Galleon Resort TikiBar with a Malibu Rum Bucket and a beer chaser, but beware, the pain may be tenfold the next morning.
Southernmost Point Monument intersection of Whitehead and South sts
Key West Lighthouse 938 Whitehead St; 305-294-0012; www.kwahs.com
Hemingway Home 907 Whitehead St; 305-294-1136; www.hemingwayhome.com
Mile Marker 0 intersection of Fleming and Whitehead sts
Truman's Little Whitehouse 111 Front St; 305-294-9911; www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com
Green Parrot Bar 601 Whitehead St; 305-294-6133; www.greenparrot.com
The Key West Key Lime Pie Factory 412 Greene St; 305- 296-9515; www.thekeywestkeylimepiefactory.com
Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden 401 Wall St; www.keywestsculpturegarden.org
Sunset Celebration Mallory Sq; www.sunsetcelebration.org
The Porch 429 Caroline St; 305-517-6358; www.theporchkw.com
Santiago's Bodega 207 Petronia St; 305-296-7691; www.santiagosbodega.com
Saint Mary Star of the Sea 1010 Windsor Ln; 305-294-1018; www.keywestcatholicparish.com
Hogfish Bar & Grill 6810 Front St, Stock Island; 305-293-4041; www.hogfishbar.com
Spearfishing with Zia Charters 305-923-1446; www.ziacharters.com
The Galleon Resort Sunset Tiki Bar 617 Front St; 305-296-7711; www.galleonresort.com