Travel & Destinations

Key West: An Easy Vacation from Texas

By: Sharon Kurtz~

Closer to Cuba than Miami, Key West is Florida’s southernmost tropical Paradise with a unique mixture of history, climate, natural beauty, and romantic appeal. What was once a rollicking buccaneer’s town is now the quirky heart of the Florida Keys.

Even better? Getting there is quick and easy. A direct, low-cost flight to Key West International Airport from DFW is only 2.5 hours, which means you’ll be sipping a tropical beverage on the beach before you know it.

Here are some of the things I loved best about Key West.


Key West Sunset | Bob Krist/Florida Keys News
Key West Sunset | Bob Krist/Florida Keys News

Sunsets Worth Celebrating

“See you at Sunset” is a phrase that has embodied the spirit and history at Key West’s Mallory Square Dock.

Nightly gatherings and festivities offer everything any visitor could ever hope to stumble upon. Street performers, delicious food, and local artists combine for an incredible experience. Kick back, relax, and watch as the sun sinks into the Gulf of Mexico.

Or step aboard a classic sailing Schooner for an evening champagne sail. You’ll sail through the crystal-clear waters with a warm ocean breeze and a magnificent sunset as a backdrop. Here’s a toast the end of another perfect day in Paradise.


Hemingway Cat ©Sharon Kurtz scaled
Hemmingway six-toed cat | Photo by Sharon Kurtz

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

The Hemingway House is nearly 170 years old but is preserved to look as it did when Hemingway lived there in the 1930s.

Spanish-Colonial-style house rests amid lush green palms. Portraits of Hemmingway are shown with snippets of information about his life, his writing, and, of course, his multiple marriages.

The polydactyl cats (cats with extra toes) are a famous part of the house and are hard to miss. Sailors favored polydactyl cats, believing they were good luck, and one sailor gifted Hemingway a white polydactyl kitten named Snow White. Today, it’s possible all these Hemingway cats are related.


Old Town Architecture Key West Blue Porch Ceiling©Sharon Kurtz E
Old Town Architecture, Key West Blue Porch

Charming Old Town Architecture

The well-preserved Victorian architecture, featuring balconies and wrap-around porches, is a big part of Key West’s charm.

Look up at the porch ceilings as you pass. These light blue ceilings are a common sight in Key West, part of a tradition dating back to African descendants from the West Indies who believed that evil spirits called haints couldn’t cross water. By painting their ceilings blue, they sought to confuse the spirits and keep them from entering their homes.


KeyWestLighthouse©Rob ONealFlorida Keys News Bureau E
Key West Lighthouse, Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News

Climb the Key West Lighthouse

A white-painted brick lighthouse rises from the grounds of the Keeper’s Quarters Museum. It opened in 1848 with a woman as its keeper, nearly unheard of during the 19th century.

Visitors can climb the 88 steps to the top and venture onto the balcony for uninterrupted views over the island’s western shore out to the Gulf of Mexico.


Key West Little White House | Andy Newman/Florida Keys news

Truman Little White House

If Florida could ever lay claim to a president, its best would be Harry S. Truman. Today, Truman’s Little White House is a living museum and Florida’s only presidential site.

The Key West site once served as the functioning White House of President Harry Truman, who spent 175 days there across 11 visits. Built in 1890, the house served as a naval headquarters during the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.


Butterfly Conservatory ©Sharon Kurtz E
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

The Beauty of Butterflies

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is an oasis on Duval Street.  Enter a magical world with more than 50 butterfly species along with many types of exotic birds.

Visitors can enjoy the breathtaking experience of being surrounded — and settled upon — by dozens of its fluttering inhabitants. A charming pair of pink flamingos named Rhett and Scarlet are fun to watch as they preen in an elaborate courtship dance.


Bicycles are a favorite way to get around Key West

Getting Around Key West is Fun

At only two miles wide by four miles long, the island of Key West is tiny. My favorite way to experience Key West is by bicycle. You can rent one from any of the dozens of bike shops around the island.

You can also rent a golf cart. With seating for up to six passengers, carts are allowed on all the island roads and compact enough to wind through the tight streets of Old Town.

Key West suits a wide range of travelers, from couples to families to retirees. With plenty of museums, marine parks, and cultural attractions, it’s perfect for a relaxing, fun-filled getaway.


Sharon Kurtz

Sharon Kurtz is a freelance writer and photographer. Her passion is travel, telling stories, and tussling with her four-legged friends. As a baby boomer who loves adventure, she welcomes opportunities to share stories of people, places, food, and flavors around the corner or around the world. A regular contributor to fyi50+ Magazine, she's published 200 articles in various digital and print publications. Austin, Texas, is home with her husband and three spoiled dogs when not searching out new adventures. You can follow her travels on Instagram and Facebook.

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