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Key West.
Always a Party.

Key West is like the last stop on the subway -- the farthest you can go south in the continental United States. It’s closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. Some societal observers think that its geographical nature as the last place in the US without actually leaving the country has helped foster a sort of split personality.

Lush with tropical foliage such as blazing orange royal poincianas, the city used to be known for its laidback atmosphere. It was generally regarded as a small, seedy town. But in recent years, it has acquired a more frenetic pace. Think of a tiny New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Every day’s a party.

Developers and locals or conchs (pronounced conks) have long fought the battle of the next Starbucks. Low-key locals complain that glitz has ruined the place. Tourists and thousands of cruise ship passengers have certainly commercialized Key West. And same-sex couples walking hand-in-hand have become common. Whatever your persuasion, if you want to party, you will have a good time here. There’s all the ingredients: good restaurants, live music and a good-time attitude. At night, there’s always a carnival atmosphere on Mallory square over a simple event: the sunset. Performers swallow swords and eat fire.

But if you avoid the noise of Duval, the Bourbon Street of South Florida, you can still find quiet beaches and living coral reefs off the beaten track. Take a walk or ride your bicycle on the side streets where you’ll find small art galleries, secret gardens and breathtaking bougainvillea plants.

When visiting, you should always keep this in mind: in Key West, you can always march to the beat of your own drum.

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Key West Travel Guides
 Frommer's Key West
 Lonely Planet Key West
 Let's Go Key West
 Fodors Key West