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A Key West City Guide - tropical island paradise boasts cool arts culture and inspiring historic heritage

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Perched right at the tip of the Florida Keys, Key West's streets hide no shortage of whimsical wonders, from the 19th century architecture of Old Town to the laid-back beaches of New Town. Food lovers can treat themselves to an array of fresh-caught seafood and Cuban-inspired cuisine. Discover Civil War-era battlements, magical maritime museums, and dozens of independent art galleries in the island that edgy, avant-garde writers and US Presidents alike have called home.
What to see & do

 

 

Fort Zachary Taylor is a must-see for lovers of American history. The fort stands on the coast, surrounded by grassy banks and palm-shaded sands. The fort dates back to 1866, and its strong stone walls withstood both the Civil and Spanish-American wars. Inside, marvel at the collection of perfectly-preserved war cannons. Culture fiends should stop by the Ernest Hemingway House, a beautiful timber-framed building where the famous writer wrote some of his enduring works. After, step away from the bustling city streets and into a lush, tropical eden at the Key West Botanical Gardens.

 

Where to eat

 

 

Although Key West’s cuisine culture has a strong seafood base thanks to its constant supply of fresh, local fish and shellfish, a number of other cultural influences ensure you'll never have samey suppers. As a rule of thumb, Old Town is home to some of the most supreme Key West seafood restaurants - serving up thick slabs of fried swordfish and buttery crab claws - and Midtown showcases a spread of inexpensive, local favorites with a Cuban influence. At night, don’t forget to sample some of the fast-food delights from the food trucks at Mallory Square.

 

Where to stay

 

 

While Key West has its share of flashy spa-style retreats on the coast, with their own sections of fine unblemished sands, there's plenty of 3-star inns, condos, and hotels that blend in with the local setting. Staying in Old Town puts you in the heart of Key West’s cultural and historic centre, while New Town has an array of shops and restaurants to while the hours away in. For immediate access to sweeping gold sands, stay around the Smathers Beach area.

 

Travel Tips

 

 

Driving around the city can be difficult, with a number of pedestrianized areas and a shortage of inexpensive places to park. It’s wise to either explore on foot, or rent a bike - there are a number of affordable rentals in Old Town. Alternatively, a bus system covers most of the island. Key West benefits from a semi-tropical climate, with year-round balmy temperatures and warm sunlight,