Key West; Florida’s Southernmost Gem

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The sunshine state is full of wonderful attractions as most people know. Disney World in Orlando being perhaps the biggest and best known but certainly not the only one.

If an easy tropical island experience is your game, Key West, in the Florida Keys might be the answer. The keys stretch from Key Large to Key West along state highway 1 from Miami. Also accessible by cruise ship.

A party at Mallory Square

Sunset party at Mallory Square

We visited Key West on a cruise sailing from Miami, on Royal Carribbean’s, Majesty of the Seas. A 4-day cruise from Miami to Nassau, Key West, and back to Miami. We’ve found shorter cruises have their own unique advantages, they leave room for more adventures with the vacation, as this one did. More on that later.

Upon docking at Key West, we walked the boardwalk at Mallory Square, known for its evening sunset celebrations.The sunsets are spectacular from the southernmost point in the continental U.S. During the evening, locals perform their talents for the tourists and locals as well. It’s quite the festive evening.

Sunset at Mallory Square

Sunset at Mallory Square

If shopping is your thing, there’s plenty of booths for that perfect souvenir. Some items authentic and some, not so much, you can decide.

The sunset alone is worth a visit to Mallory Square, magical.

From the pier, it was an easy walk along tropical streets to many interesting downtown sites, Duvall Street, the Shipwreck Museum, and a Trolley stop.

Red Trolley Train at Key West

Red Conch Train, many seniors aboard

For our shore excursion, we chose this adorable red conch  train. The driver drove around the small island on the tropical streets, laden with palm trees and other equator-type vegetation, as our driver narrated the scenic trip. Beautiful, very picturesque.

We saw numerous large, perfectly maintained, older homes on the island. Many of the homes and business displayed flags on their porches and windows. No doubt each flag told its own unique story due to the interesting varieties and colors.

Being a writer, one of my personal joys on this tour was seeing the home of the now deceased Earnest Hemingway, who lived there from 1931-1939. Now a National Historical landmark open for tours, both home and museum. Disappointed, the day did not allow a  tour of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author’s home.

Ernest Hemingway's house- Key West, FL

Ernest Hemingway’s house

The trolley tour driver drove us by the southernmost point buoy  of the continental U.S.  We saw numerous stores selling conch shells on Duvall Street and Jimmy Buffets, Margaritaville.

It would have been a crime to be in Key West and not delight in a slice of authentic, Key Lime Pie. After the Conch Train, we stopped at a small shop that advertised the real McCoy, Key Lime Pie Shop, home-made. Made with Key West limes. It was simply fantastic, tart, and sweet, to die for.

There are a variety of trolleys and buses ready for tours. Any of which are an excellent way for an overview of the island, then explore at your leisure, the highlights that peaked your interest.

Conch Shell

Conch Shell

For us, Key West is a tropical island getaway we will definitely visit again, given the opportunity. The friendly people, tropical vegetation, warm gulf breezes, and picturesque landscape and buildings made for a fun, memorable day in the tropics.

After our cruise ended in Miami, we had three days left on our vacation. After driving up the state to Orlando…

Walt Disney World Resort entrance

We enjoyed two fun-filled days at Walt Disney World.

Cinderalla's Castle, Magic kingdom

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom

On the first day we visited Magic Kingdom.

Epot Ball, Walt Disney World

Epcot ball and the monorail. Inside the ball, a spectacular ride called Spaceship Earth

On the second day of fun, we visited Epot.

This was a fun, memorable vacation we’ll never forget. Our cruise on the Majesty of the Seas, the day in Key West, followed by two magical days at Disney World. Amazing and unforgettable.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland

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