The Florida Keys are a 125-mile-long chain of islands linked by a network of 42 bridges – and the Keys are actually closer to Cuba than Miami.A mere 90 miles away in fact.It i s also a popular vacation destination offering a great combination of fun and sun,in a really unique setting.
Ernest Hemingway and President Harry Truman knew the lifestyle they desired when they selected Key West as their vacation retreat, as Michael Flood reports from a recent visit.
Key West, whose tag line is ‘Come as you are’, is a really different vacation experience compared to any other part of Florida. This is a most stroll able resort – around the historic Old Town, to see examples of 19th century architecture, and there are no less than eight museums in the old town, such as the Harry S. Truman Little White House.The hop on and hop off Old Town Trolley Tours is the best way to get the feeling for this unique destination.
The restoration of this most historic property in South Florida is truly remarkable and it easy to see why it has served as the functioning White House and a Presidential retreat for six US Presidents.
From 1946 to 1952, Harry S. Truman used the house for 175 days and it was here that he enacted a Civil Rights Executive Order.He is currently rated the fifth best President of the US.
Dining out, the visitor will be spoilt for choice but here are some recommendations, starting with the best breakfast in town at Breakfast at Blue Heaven. This place has a century-old history of entertaining guests in the historic Bahama Village area.
In the past it has hosted cock-fighting, gambling and boxing matches refereed by Ernest Hemingway.
Probably the most famous restaurant in Key West is the Conch Republic Seafood Company, located on Key West’s Historic Seaport, which has been taking in the day’s catches since the 1890s. Lovers of fish will not be disappointed.
To get the flavour of Cuba, visit the Cuban Coffee Queen, where legend has it that: “One day in Cuba I met a lady who made the best coffee and Cuban toast. She told me fantastic stories and showed me how to make a real cafe con leche. I will never forget the Cuban Coffee Queen.”
One of the great traditions in Key West is the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square,here you can have a sun downer, and watch the nightly street carnival , with everything from fire eaters to acrobats.It’s the best free show on the keys.
A really enjoyable pre-diner cruise is offered by Danger Charters who operate nightly wine tasting sunset cruises.
Heading North you will find the island of Islamorada, here the newly renovated Amara Cay Hotel , with 110 suites,has to be the number one choice for an overnight stay. The Oltremare Ristorante offers traditional Italian cuisine served with a tropical fusion.
The Florida Keys are renowned for water sports and other water based activities such as the Coral reef Encounter at Florida Aquarium Encounters,this is an interactive aquarium where you can literally go swimming with many different species of marine life.
Deep sea fishing is also a popular visitor attraction with a host of options on offer daily., such as a day long shared fishing cruise with great characters such as Capt Easy.
For the ultimate dining experience in Isamorada go to for Dinner at Marker 88,owned and operated by Chef Bobby Stoky, with dinner on the beach with views and sand in your toes to woe you.
So go and get the sand in your shoes in the Florida Keys, you will want to return there time and time again.
Travel trade should have a look at www.fla-keys.co.uk and at www.fla-keys.com/keylimeacademy, which is the website for the Key Lime Academy,the agents training website where everyone that completes it gets Key Lime goodies