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TRAVEL GUIDE - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
West, Florida (The Conch Republic) by John Pelley
Originally settled by the
Calussa Indians, the Spanish conquistadors tried to take over this prime
real estate in the Southwestern Keys. The beaches became the burial grounds
for many of the natives, thus giving the Island the name of Bone Island;
Cayo Hueso in Spanish. The English Anglicized this name to Key West.
John Simonton, and American
businessman, purchased the island from Juan Pablo Salas and developed the
island with the help of Greene, Whitehead, and Fleming. They encouraged
the Navy to open a base to combat piracy in the area.
The island prospered because
the coral reefs brought many ships to Davy Jones Locker. Many became millionaires
from salvaging the numerous shipwrecks. At one point the people of Key
West became the richest city per capita in the United States.
West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida, USA
Henry Morrison Flager, against
all odds and better judgement, built a railroad from Homestead to Key West.
The first train arrived on January 22, 1912. This connected the mainland
with Key West. From Key West, Havana Cuba was only ninety miles away. Considered
the Eighth Wonder of the Modern world, the Overseas Railroad spanned 42
stretches of sea with causeways and bridges, the longest being seven miles.
From 1912 to 1935 Key West exploded as a tourist and business center. A
major Class five hurricane destroyed much of the tracks in 1935. Once again
Key West had been cut off from the mainland.
The State of Florida purchased
the Overseas Railroad right-of way and turned it into the Overseas Highway
in 1938, using the roadbed and bridges Henry Flager built.
World War II brought new
prosperity to the island with the Naval Base. Ernest Hemmingway and Tennessee
Williams resided and visited the island. Cuban tobacco became hand rolled
In 1981 the Us Government
set up road blocks near Key Largo, cutting off the tourist trade to Key
West. Not too sure why this happened. The citizens of Key West decided
to secede. They formed the Conch (Pronounced conk) Republic. Many still
fly the flag today. They demanded billions in reparation and foreign aide.
The US Government ignored their wishes; but they did remove the roadblocks.
Today Key West thrives primarily
on tourism. Arrive by driving the 128 miles along the Overseas Highway
on the old railroad bed, or fly into Key West Airport, or take the Key
West Express ferry from Marco Island or Ft. Myers Beach. To acquaint yourself
to the island take the 1½ to 2 hour Conch Tour Train. Tickets can
be purchased at the booth at the Flager Train station or at The Old Town
ticket booth near Mallory Square. The guided tour travels just about every
street in Key West: a great orientation to the island. Other forms of transportation
on the island are electric cars, bicycles, mopeds, taxicabs, and bicycle
carriages for two. Walking the streets, perhaps, is the best way of seeing
the island, which is four miles long and one mile wide. Traffic can be
a real challenge, especially along US 1, which has its terminus at mile
Looking for action? Duval
Street is your goal. Stop and have a beer at Hemingway's watering hole,
Sloppy Joe's bar and restaurant (the original bar is ½ block away
at Capt. Tony's Saloon). If your interests lean toward Jimmy Buffet, go
to Margaritaville, only four short blocks down the street. Up and down
restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and people watching beckon everyone
to the narrow sidewalks. You might even come across one of Key West famous
chickens strolling the street.
Street, Key West, Florida, USA
Other highlights include
Hemingway's home, with guided tours running $12.00 at this time. Views
from the exterior are free. Across Whitehead Street stands the old lighthouse
and keepers quarters. The lighthouse was moved inland to protect it from
hurricanes. A couple more blocks down the street is the Truman White House.
President Truman used this resident and the many outbuildings during his
time in office. Other dignitaries also followed his lead: John F. Kennedy,
Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Colin Powell. Talking about President Truman,
not to be missed is the Margaret Truman Laundromat. Rumor has it that it
was named for Margaret Truman, the president's daughter. Its location is
at the corner of Margaret and Truman Streets. Thus its named.
Along Truman Street sits
the convent of Our Lady of the Sea. Many survivors of the hurricane of
1935 were treated there. The nuns erected a grotto next to the church in
honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. When hurricane season approaches many candles
light the grotto as a prayer to keep Key West free and safe. A marker designates
the Southernmost spot in the Continental USA. Tourists love to have their
picture taken by it.
We ate lunch at Pepe's Restaurant
on Caroline Street, near Flager Station. This eatery, established in 1909,
features American food in abundance. I had a hard time finishing my open
faced meatloaf sandwich.
A trip to Key West is taking
in the numerous water sports: parasailing, jet skis, snorkeling, riding
glass bottom boats, deep sea fishing, or just relaxing on the beaches on
the Atlantic Ocean side. A day trip to The Dry Tortugas National Park (Fort
Jefferson) leaves daily from Key West.
Above all people-watching,
the climate, and the laid back atmosphere draws people, young and old,
to the Conch Republic. It beckons you too
- Key West Hotels
|About the Author - John
Pelley is a Geriatric Gypsy. He is retired from the rat race of working.
He is a full-time RVer, who ran away from home. He began our travels on
the East Coast and, like the migrating birds, seek the warmth of the seasons
He has discovered volunteering with the National Park System. He has a
CD he has recorded of Native American flute music., A Day with Kokopelli.
For pictures, links, and more information visit http://www.jmpelley.org.
for more Key West, Fl. Hotels
WEST HOTELS, FLORIDA, USA
browsing hotels in Key West, Fl. and surrounding area
Marina Resort - Waldorf Astoria Collection Key West
The oldest and largest resort
in Key West, Fla., the Casa Marina Resort - Waldorf Astoria Collection
was built in 1920, less than 2 miles from the Ernest Hemingway Home &
Museum, Key West Lighthouse Museum and the Audubon House & Tropical
Gardens. The hotel features Sun Sun, an open-air wood pavilion overlooking
the pools and the beach, serving light lunch and dinner options under umbrella
tables. The hotel boasts the largest private beach in Key West with more
than 1,000 feet of pristine beachfront property. The resort includes two
pools and padded lawn chairs that line large sundecks. Bicycles and watercraft
equipment can be rented from the resort's pier where guests join snorkeling,
scuba diving and dolphin-viewing excursions, go deep-sea or flat fishing
and sail aboard catamarans at sunset.
Inn Key West
Comfort Inn Key West (Fla.)
sits at the northern point of the island, and is just one mile from Smathers
Beach. The Key West International Airport is within two miles of the hotel.
The Bone Island shuttle stops adjacent to the hotel, while the Conch Tour
train has a depot just two blocks away. The hotel serves complimentary
continental breakfasts and coffee each morning. Business services are available,
and wireless Internet access is complimentary. The hotel features an outdoor
pool and white-wood patio. Select guestrooms overlook the pool and sundeck.
Inn Key West
The Days Inn Key West, located
in central Key West near the beach and close to sightseeing and entertainment,
provides the perfect location for a Key West vacation. Located within walking
distance of beaches, restaurants, shopping and local attractions, and only
a mile and a half from the airport and two miles to downtown Key West,
guests will feel centrally located. At the Days Inn Key West, one is never
far from the beaches and a choice of water activities. The Key West Golf
Course is less than a mile away. The hotel's full-service concierge can
arrange for fishing charters, sightseeing trips, dive and snorkel excursions,
day trips to the Dry Tortugas, sunset cruises and anything else one could
Inn and Suites By Marriott Key West
Discover the true spirit
of the islands, as well as the area's best value, at the beautifully renovated
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Key West. Our convenientldy located
Key West Florida hotel offers signature Marriott comfort and style - just
minutes from pristine beaches and the shops, restaurants, and clubs of
world-famous Duval Street. Choose from more than 100 redesigned guest rooms
and suites, including poolside accommodations. Stretch out on a luxurious,
brand-new pillow-top mattress while you decide what amazing activities
to enjoy. Completely updated as part of an extensive, $7.5 million renovation,
our Key West hotel rooms offer exceptional service in an outstanding location.
Located across the street
from the Gulf of Mexico and a waterfront promenade, the Hotel Key West
(Fla.) is less than two miles from Key West International Airport. Public
spaces are brightly painted in red, green and pink hues with an airy lobby
decorated with historical Key West photographs. An on-site Denny's Restaurant
serves breakfast, lunch and dinner while Splash provides casual, poolside
fare and drinks. The Hotel Key West offers 1,200 square feet of meeting
space while high-speed Internet access is provided in the lobby. The hotel
features a fitness center and outdoor pool that showcases fountains. An
umbrella-flanked sundeck is surrounded by towering palm trees. Massages
are available within the fitness center and by the pool.
Key West Resort And Spa
Located within two blocks
of Duval Street and Mallory Square, the Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa offers
a great location amid the revelry of Key West, Fla. The Key West Aquarium,
Sculpture Garden and Audubon House are within three blocks. Key West International
Airport is four miles from the property. This compact, cream-colored Hyatt
is comprised of multiple four-story buildings. A highlight of the property
is its outdoor courtyard which features koi and turtle ponds, hammocks,
a splash pool and a spa tub. The area opens to a waterfront deck and the
hotel's own slice of beach. Several water sports are available at the hotel,
which provides the equipment to parasail, wave-run and scuba dive.
Inn at Key West
Located on North Roosevelt
Boulevard overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, The Inn at Key West is three
miles from historic Duvall Street and the Hemingway House in Key West,
Fla. Convenient to area shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, the
hotel is approximately three miles from Key West International Airport.
Guests enjoy seafood in the open-air café, The Café at the
Inn at Key West, for breakfast and lunch. Surrounded by tropical vegetation,
the Tiki Bar serves up icy cocktails all day. Meeting facilities, complimentary
high-speed Internet access and business services are available, should
a business need arise. Guests are surrounded by palm trees and umbrellas
at the free-form outdoor pool and spa tub.
Key Resort - a Noble House Resort Key West
The Ocean Key Resort &
Spa in Key West, Fla. is located two miles from Key West International
Airport, between lively Mallory Square and Key West Harbor. Guests may
stroll down Old Town Lane while enjoying colorful 19th century architecture
and may window shop at various quaint boutiques. Literature buffs can appreciate
a tour of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, and nightly celebrations
are a must-see at Sunset Pier. Overlooking the ocean, the resort offers
guests impressive amenities. Guests may stretch lazily by the heated pool,
or enjoy body treatments at Spa Terre. Guests experience gourmet dining
at Hot Tin Roof, where "conch fusion" cuisine is on the menu.
Suites Key West
The Sheraton Suites Key
West is located in Key West, Fla., across the street from Smathers Beach.
The Key West Lighthouse Museum and the Garrison Bight Marina are one mile
from the hotel. The Ernest Hemingway home and museum is less than two miles
away. The Sheraton Suites Key West is one-and-one-half miles from Key West
International Airport. The Sheraton Suites Key West mimics Key West's tropical
ambience. The lagoon-style pool is landscaped with palm trees and offers
shade under white umbrellas. The spa tub seats eight and is secluded behind
a waterfall. The Cabana bar offers a light menu of sandwiches and frozen
drinks and overlooks a freeform pool. The Beach Restaurant provides indoor
and outdoor dining and a menu of seafood, steak and pasta.
Reach Resort - Waldorf Astoria Collection Key West
The Reach Resort - Waldorf
Astoria Collection is a tropical playground offering the best of Key West,
Fla. With the only natural beach on the island as a backdrop, this hotel
is an ideal destination for sun and water enthusiasts. The private 450-foot
stretch of white-sandy beach provides unimpeded entry into the Atlantic
Ocean. Guests are within two miles of Duval Street, Ernest Hemingway Home
& Museum and the Key West Lighthouse. One of the hotel's top attractions
is its restaurant, The Strip House. The restaurant specializes in prime
cuts of charred meat and 24-layer chocolate cake and has an extensive wine
list. Room service is available. The hotel also has a fitness center. Resort
staff members roam the beach and pool areas, distributing frozen towels
and Popsicles to sunbathers.
Westin Key West Resort & Marina
The Westin Key West Resort
& Marina is located in Key West Florida, close to charming boutiques
and cafes. The hotel is in the heart of historic Old Town and with close
proximity to Duval Street. Designed in classic, romantic Victorian style
and overlooking the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Westin Key West
offers 19th-century atmosphere with 21st-century amenities. The resort
is within walking distance of all local attractions including The Truman
White House, Customs House Museum, The Mel Fisher Museum and numerous art
galleries, shops and Key West's famous bars. Guestrooms have balconies,
most with views of the Gulf and Key West's world-famous nightly sunset
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