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The Florida Keys, south of Miami, are a chain of interesting islands. Of these, Key West is the largest. Cruises that dock on the island are a favourite amongst regulars, due to the unique and interesting attractions on offer in the city. From the moment you set foot on land, you’ll see why so many people enjoy cruises to Key West.
Quaint roads are dotted with pretty little cottages, historic houses and cafes with outdoor seating. There are three different small ports, and you’ll enjoy access to an abundance of independent shops selling all sorts of unusual items. The vibrant and colourful island is a wonderful place to while away the hours, and is known as much for its lively locals as it is for its features and attractions.
No matter what your interests, you’ll find things to do in Key West. The island was home to Ernest Hemingway, and his house is now a particularly interesting museum. Open daily, the museum is also home to more than 60 cats. Many of these are descendants of Hemingway’s own. The island’s lighthouse offers breathtaking views of the island, and there are tropical gardens and butterfly houses if plants and animals are your preferred sights. Some of the attractions on this Florida Keys island are ones that you won’t find anywhere else on your cruise:
Conch Tour Train: This is an easy, efficient and interesting way to see the island’s best sights. On board, you’ll be taken around the island and taught about its history and interesting residents. With various stops, you’ll be able to hop and off to explore your favourite attractions in more detail.
Key West Aquarium: Home to a wide variety of marine creatures and colourful tropical fish, the aquarium is the easiest way to experience life below the sea once you’ve made your way onto the land. Exhibits include a touch tank filled with harmless animals and plants.
Key West Cemetery: Whilst it’s unusual to visit the cemetery as a part of your cruise excursion, in Key West it’s an entertaining tourist attraction. The cemetery reflects the quirky sense of humour that the island’s inhabitants are known for, with funny grave inscriptions including ‘I told you I was sick’ and ‘At least I know where he’s sleeping tonight’. Many headstones also feature humorous song lyrics, and comical engraved pictures.
The varied shops of this unusual island could take up your entire shore excursion, leaving you no time to explore anything else. It’s easy to get distracted by the art galleries, souvenir stores and stalls selling local crafts. Some of what you’ll find is so tacky that it’s fun, though the people here also know how to tempt tourists with luxury and designer items.
At the Key Lime shops, you can enjoy Key Lime pie dipped in chocolate to send home as a souvenir. They also sell Key Lime juice, which is a refreshing beverage best mixed with lemonade or added to a cocktail. The island’s beach shops sell holiday essentials, and you’ll also notice an incredible concentration of tattoo parlours for such a small island.
No Key West shore excursion should end without a taste of real Key Lime pie. Of course, that’s not all that the island’s restaurants have to offer. Fish dishes are served almost everywhere, and there are also a number of burger bars serving high quality burgers that are full of flavour and cooked to perfection. You might want to try flavoured roast chicken, or one of the many seasonal vegetarian dishes on offer. Another island staple is the omelette, available with a variety of fillings and toppings.
As Key West is closer to Cuba than Miami, it’s clearly been influenced by Cuban cuisine. In addition there are lobster houses and seafood restaurants, pizza restaurants and tapas-style restaurants where dining is a social and shared activity. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, you’ll be able to select sandwiches and salads at most of the island’s restaurants. Whatever you have, consider washing it down with a rum runner favoured by the locals.
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