Key West Favorite Tips by grandmaR Top 5 Page for this destination
Key West Favorites: 122 reviews and 145 photos
slack wire jugler
Favorite thing: All the time we lived in Key West, we never went to Mallory Square of the sunset. But now it is a big thing and something that is unique to Key West. We have now been three times.
The first time there was a spectacular sunset - the golden sun reflected on the clouds. There was a tattooed lady who swallowed fire, and a man hanging upside down in a strait jacket
Most of the time the cruise ships leave before sunset so that they don't block the view from the square, but once when it was too rough to get into Grand Cayman the ship came to Key West early and we got to see the celebrations from above. We saw the man who had trained cats, and the unicycle rider who juggled fire batons.
And when my sister came down for a week in a condo we brought her down to see the celebrations there. I have to say that this last time, not only the sunset but the entertainment was all substandard. There was a sword swallower, and a juggler on a tightrope.
Fondest memory: The narratives of our trip by car in 2005 is under the Florida Keys along with photos of the Truman White House grounds, Key West street scenes, and more photos of the Oldest House.
Me in 1961
Favorite thing: Audubon House on 205 Whitehead St. was built by Capt. John Geiger in 1844. He was a wrecker. There is an admission fee of $10 for adults now.
The house was not actually Audubon's. He just stayed there for awhile when he was doing his famous bird paintings for his book.
The house has many beautiful antiques. At this time, you enter through the museum store (which is new since our day).
Fondest memory: On our first visit to Key West in 1960, I was about 4 months pregnant with our first child. We lived in a little house on Patterson St. for two months. At that time we toured Audubon House -- and my husband took my picture sitting in the garden in a white dress with a pleated skirt. We went back in the winter of 2005 and my husband took my picture again (photo 3). There are two pictures of the dining room (1961 and 2005) and one 2005 picture of the music room.
Key West houses on Truman
Favorite thing: Key West architecture was one of my interests. Key West houses were built to withstand hurricanes and deal with heat and humidity. They used hand hewn wood put together with pegs because plaster cracks and decays in high humidity and nails were scarce. The houses were very elaborate with lots of gingerbread (like photo 2 which was the residence of Antonio Diaz Carasco who was the Cuban Consul to the US from 1906 to 1915)
They took advantage of the fact that heat rises and put 'scuttles' in the roof which could be propped open to let the heat out. Nowadays they have solar panels on the roof too (fourth photo) They had shutters which hinged from the top (on the left of the photo) and overhanging rooflines (called eyebrow houses (on the right of the photo and also photo five) to keep the sun out of the windows.
Another type house was the 'shotgun house' where the rooms were in a line from the front to the back door.
Fondest memory: Key West has the largest collection (nearly 3000) of frame structures in a National Register of Historic Districts.
There are Old Island Days House and Garden Tours (usually Jan, Feb and March) when you can see inside some of the private homes. There is a fee. You can start at the individual homes, or from Mallory Square (305-294-4501).
House trailer frame and 1932 Plymouth Convertible
Favorite thing: When we rented a house in Key West, it didn't have any kind of a garage. We had two antique cars which Bob wanted to protect from the weather and salt in the air and in the water, especially the one that was a convertible. So he took something that was in abundant supply (a house trailer frame), and built a mobile garage on it to house one of the 1932 Plymouths.
Then of course he had to buy something to pull it with since neither a 1964 VW Bus nor a 1932 Plymouth could do the job. (last photo)
From a plane
Favorite thing: One of the most interesting ways to see Key West is from above.
You can climb the lighthouse (photo 2) or to the top of another tall building such as the parking garage downtown (photo 3), or East Martello tower (photo 4) or one of the taller hotels.
You can go Parasailing
You can take a sightseeing tour by plane.
I took the first and fifth pictures from the seaplane to the Dry Tortugas.
The top picture shows the White Street fishing pier, the beach and the tennis courts.
Lighthouse 2001 with inset from 1968
Favorite thing: The Key West Lighthouse was the subject of my first oil painting, and I've always had an affection for it. It was built inland (at 930 Whitehead St.) in 1847 because when it was at Whitehead Point it kept being toppled by hurricanes. .
In 2005, in spite of bad arthritis in my knees we climbed the lighthouse. I wanted to see if I could see Fort Taylor from the top because I had seen some pictures of it from the lighthouse (2nd picture). But no matter how I looked, I couldn't see it. Bob says that the trees have grown up since then (4th picture).
Fondest memory: We did find an old postcard of the lighthouse as it was before it was restored, and there was another painting of it from around that time at the East Martello Tower -- it looked just like it did in my painting. I was glad to find out I hadn't been halucinating.
For more information go to www.kwahs.com
or call 305/294-0012.
Admission $6 adults, $2 children 7-12, free for children 6 and under. Daily 9:30am5pm (last admission at 4:30pm). The admission also includes the lighthouse keeper museum which is quite interesting.
Key West still life
Favorite thing: When we lived in Key West, there was a considerable artist's colony. I had done a little bit of painting in college, but it was totally primative. One of my friends asked if I would like to join Mr. Workman's classes, and I said yes. He came down from Big Pine Key and we painted landscapes outdoors.
I did two pictures with him. One was the Key West lighthouse, which I did when I was pregnant with my third child. I passed out once while I was painting it. The second picture was the conch houses. Both of those pictures now belong to my second daughter who lives in Miami.
Then one of the other wives in my husband's squadron set up classes, and she had us indoors at night - we were upstairs in the Customs House. She had us do a series of still lifes. The first one was done in 3 colors - blue, yellow and black (and white). That one belongs to my oldest daughter. The second one was apples on a purple towel and my third daughter has that one. And the third one was a very Key West scene, a wine bottle, a sponge, a conch shell, a piece of rope and some driftwood. My son has that one.
After that, she had us doing sketching with a nude model (I don't know where those sketches are now).
Then we tried portraits, and I did one of my oldest daughter from her school picture. It was before she had braces. No one wants that portrait, so I still have it.
Fondest memory: I went on from there and took some more landscape painting in Philadelphia, and did some more portrait painting. I wish I had more time for painting now.
Garrison Bight and Navy BOQ
Favorite thing: My husband was stationed in Key West for 3 years and one of my children (the third one) was born here. At that time there was a regular base, a submarine base, a commissary (out in town), a helioport, a hospital, housing, and an air field (on Boca Chica).
Now, just about all the base facilities are connected with the Naval Air Station. The commissary has been moved to Sigsbee Park where the housing area was (and which before that was a garbage dump) Also here is a large RV park.
The submarine base is now a Coast Guard base. The regular base has been reduced to a few houses and a beach (called Truman Annex) and Fort Taylor and the cruise ship docks have replaced most of it. The overflow RVers are here too. The hospital has been torn down and is now a clinic.
This big BOQ (Bachelor Officer's Quarters) is where the old helioport was.
Fondest memory: Garrison BIght is still here, and there are still both a marina and charter fishing boats there. The picture also shows a cluster of bikes at the bottom center of the picture.
Rooster downtown 2001
Favorite thing: This is the morning swap meet on the Key West FM radio (104 FM - Route One Radio) . First you get the morning news - each morning a different segment. Monday is usually the Coast Guard (all the drug traffic they've stopped and illegal aliens intercepted), and other days are the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor, the school board etc. The rest of the morning is devoted to call in sale ads. It's a hoot and gives you a real idea of the local community outside of the tourist area.
Fondest memory: The radio and the newspapers this year are discussing the two big problems in Key West.
1) There are too many RVs and not enough parking places so RVers are parking on the street and in shopping center parking lots, thus tying up traffic even more than normal.
2) The free range roosters are crowing in the morning waking everyone up and the chickens make a lot of noise and mess. The city has actually hired a chicken catcher.
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