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In a 1940 Saturday Evening Post article, Thelma Strabel wrote of Key West, "There is nothing for restless people to do. It is quiet and careless and charming." Half a century later, you'll find that Key West's charm has remained, though the pace of life has picked up quite a bit. Key West has become a place where people escape from the rat race to join the race for the "free-est," the "fun-est" and the most flamboyant. Where else can you enjoy more bars per capita than anywhere in the country -- and repent the next morning in more churches per capita than anywhere else?
If it suits your style, you may vacation in near solitude in Key West, days spent dozing in a hammock between two palms, nights spent listening to the gentle hum of insects and the far-away beat of a reggae band. Or, if you're like most visitors, you'll take it easy during the day, enjoying the beach or Key West's shops and attractions, and spend your nights partying in its clubs.
Whatever your choice, you'll find Key West is an island that never stops. Sunset in Key West is more than a time of day; it's a "happening" -- a special time when hundreds of people gather on the docks at Mallory Square along with musicians, entertainers and vendors. Ernest Hemingway made his home in Key West for more than 10 years, spending much of this time "boozing" in local bars and wrestling creatures of the sea from opposite ends of a fishing pole.
The Hemingway home and guest house is surrounded by exotic plants and by scores of cats that the writer loved. About 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West, accessible by scheduled ferry service or chartered seaplane, lies the beautiful Dry Tortugas Islands and Fort Jefferson National Monument. The Dry Tortugas are a natural wonder, famous for its wildlife and variety of marine life.
Divers and nature lovers will enjoy the area for its staghorn coral, French angel fish, loggerhead turtles and rare birds. Key West, the southernmost point of the United States, embraces a fascinating mix of history, eccentricity and lush, island charm. Civil War era forts, famous writers' homes, sidewalk cafés, and outrageous folks all add to the atmosphere of life on "island time."
Photo courtesy of Stuart Newman Assoc.