Some places just cannot be fully experienced or appreciated from the window of your car or tour bus. Key West, Florida is one of those places. Here culture, history, and architecture combine to form one of the most memorizing and unique vacation destinations to be found anywhere in Florida. From the pastel cottages to the waving palms to the long, sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets, Key West is a place that is only truly experienced by really getting intimate with the island and breathing in all that is Key West.
One of the best ways to explore Key West is by foot. Only while walking through this amazing island can one fully appreciate the culture that is unique to the Key West locals and truly memorizes the attractions to be found in all of their exquisite and vivid detail. That is why a leisurely vacation in Key West that includes exploring the island by foot makes a perfect vacation getaway for one, two, or the whole family.
The local culture of Key West and its locals are unique. Here the people live a harmonious life where they are free to express themselves any way they wish. From clothing to hairstyles to lifestyles and body piercing, the Key West locals dance to the rhythm of their own drum. This way of looking at life creates a laid-back and friendly atmosphere, which usually means that it does not take long for one to be attracted to the Key West lifestyle.
The Key West lifestyle is very subdued, simple, and laid back. Although there are a few grand homes to be found, many locals live in small homes or cottages, which feature steep-pitched tin roofs, louvered wooden shutters, and inviting front porches. One of the favorite pastimes of the Key West natives is lounging on these picture-perfect porches while reading, playing games, or just simply enjoying the temperate weather.
Rich and ornate architecture and landscaping is another way that the Key West locals fully express themselves. Key West is full of inspirational and exquisite architecture. In fact, one of the most enjoyed activities of tourists to Key West is touring the National Historic District in Oldtown, which includes almost 3,000 structures, public homes, and museums. This is where the best architecture of Key West is to be found.
Here are just a few of the main architectural and tourist attractions to be found in the National Historic District, Key West:
The San Carlos Institute, located on Duval Street, is a monument to Cuban patriotic activity. This Spanish-styled building was originally built in 1924 and was later restored and opened as a museum, library, school, theater, and conference center in 1992. Featuring high ceilings and ornate mosaic tile, the San Carlos Institute is a must-see for anyone visiting Key West. Both guided tours and films, which highlight the history of this imposing structure, are offered year-round in Spanish and English.
Just a few steps away on Whitehead Street are the John James Audubon House. This Bahamian-style white clapboard house is one of the oldest homes in Key West. The home was built in the 1830s by ship carpenters using mahogany, cypress, and heart pine. A museum is on-site highlighting many of Audubon’s original engravings of bird species of Key West. There is also a tropical garden that features rare fruit trees and white orchids.
Also on Whitehead Street is the home where Ernest Hemingway lived during the years of 1931 to 1940. It was in this home that Hemingway penned some of his greatest works including To Have and Have Not Death in the Afternoon, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The Spanish Colonial stone mansion features many of Hemingway’s earliest manuscripts, a second-floor studio used by Hemingway, and some of Hemingway’s original furnishings.
So, if you are looking for a vacation experience like no other, perhaps you should consider touring Key West on foot. After a few days of taking one of the many walking tours mapped throughout the city and mingling with the natives, you may never want to come home.