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Pelikane im Hafen von Islamorada, Bild: Romrodphoto / shutterstock

Key West – Dream beaches and Caribbean flair in southern Florida

The writer Ernest Hemingway and US President Harry S. Truman already preferred to spend their holidays on Key West. The popularity of this barrier island of the Florida Keys has not changed: Even today, Key West attracts with picturesque nature, white tropical beaches and a relaxed atmosphere far away from the hustle and bustle. Here, at the southernmost point of the USA, the Caribbean is within reach, which is especially evident in Key West’s culinary delights. But historical sights and a variety of shopping opportunities also await guests in this jewel of South Florida.

Key West – a paradise for beach lovers

Southernmost point USA, Key West
The southernmost point of the USA, Image: Dennis Kartenkaemper / shutterstock

Average temperatures of 24° C make Key West the perfect place for a beach vacation in Florida. The warm, crystal-clear water does the rest to attract guests. Smathers Beach stretches over a total length of 3 kilometers on the south coast. With its light, extra-fine sand and lush palm trees, this beach seems to have come straight out of a postcard. Whether it’s beach volleyball, kayaking or snorkeling – active holidaymakers get their money’s worth at Smathers Beach as well as sun worshippers. No less beautiful is Fort Zachary Taylor Beach, which is located in a national park. Here, guests may be lucky enough to see turtles while dolphins frolic off the coast. For families, Higgs Beach is ideal with its playgrounds and weak current. Right next to it, the four-legged friends can really let off steam at Dog Beach.

Get out into nature on Key West

Aerial view Key West
Aerial view of Key West, Image: Stuart Monk / shutterstock

With its tropical landscape, Key West is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to experience South Florida’s nature. The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden offers a good insight into the diverse flora of the Sunshine State: Here, the dense canopy of leaves is teeming with bird species, and lizards and butterflies can also be spotted in abundance. Guests can see even more colorful butterflies at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory – even in bad weather thanks to the greenhouse. Fancy a boat trip? Then there is no better destination than the Dry Tortugas National Park, 113 kilometers to the west. The pristine coastal landscape is home to more than 300 species of birds, while colorful fish and even turtles can be admired while snorkeling. Camping on the beach is a highlight, especially for the little guests – especially because Florida’s starry sky shines in full splendour here away from the big city lights.

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History Tours on Key West

In addition to beach and natural idyll, the island of Key West also holds cultural treasures. Did you know, for example, that the writer Ernest Hemingway got his inspiration here? His house, surrounded by palm trees, is now a museum where the descendants of Hemingway’s cats still live. And the 33rd US President Harry S. Truman also loved Key West – so much so that he liked to run government business from the island.

The Truman Little White House , which is over 100 years old, impresses with its original rooms: from the bedroom to the office to the president’s poker room. Visitors travel even further back in time at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. There, a 19th-century fort is enthroned, which is particularly worth seeing thanks to its imposing guns. Spectacular sunsets can also be admired here on the west coast of the island. If you are interested in the world of marine archaeology, you will get your money’s worth at the Mel Fisher Museum: One of the most valuable exhibits on display there is the gold treasure of the sunken galleon Atocha: it would be worth a whole 400 million dollars today.

Dining and shopping

Key West is the perfect place to sample South Florida cuisine. Fresh seafood like shrimp, stone crab, and lobster are at the top of the menu — as is Key Lime Pie, a refreshing pie made with sweet condensed milk and lime juice. Caribbean influences can be seen in conch fritters, golden-brown fried sea snails from the Bahamas. And Cuban cuisine is also very popular on Key West – no wonder, as the coast of Cuba is closer than the mainland of the USA. The gastronomic heart of the island beats in Duval Street, where international restaurants, bakeries, cocktail bars and cafés are lined up. With the magnificent view of the sea, the specialties taste even better, and people in Key West also prefer to go shopping in the fresh air: for example, in Mallory Square, a charming market known for its handmade pieces of jewelry made of shells. Visitors can find a wide range of clothing in the more than 120 shops of the Key West Shopping Centre. Looking for stylish swimwear? Then it’s worth taking a detour to the Ocean Key Boutique at the northern end of Duval Street.