PRINT PREVIEW
send to printer

Concierge.com

Key West in a week

Key West in a week

By
Trip Plan Tags: 
beach + island,
diving + snorkeling,
key west,
outdoors + nature
Destinations: 
Florida,
Florida Keys,
North America,
United States

A couple's trip to get the full effect of Key West

ITEMS

ALT HERE

See + Do

Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Florida

907 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida 33040
Tel: 305 294 1136
Website: www.hemingwayhome.com

Ernest Hemingway is the most famous of the freshwater Conchs (the term of endearment for a Key Wester who wasn't born on the island), and he lived in this limestone mansion from 1931 to 1940. The house itself was built by a marine architect and salvage wrecker in 1851. The rooms all contain antiques and memorabilia from Hemingway's world travels. The chandelier collection was shipped from Paris by Pauline (the second of his four wives), and Hemingway wrote some of his best-known works (A Farewell to Arms, To Have and Have Not) in the surprisingly small study dominated by a large deer head. The best way to see the interior is by taking one of the organized tours that leave from the entrance every 15 minutes. The guides are salty fun, but their embellished stories should be taken with a shaker full of it: Hemingway's onetime secretary has questioned the authenticity of the house's current furnishings, and the much-repeated tale that the troop of 50 or so six-toed cats on-site are descendants of a pack of Papa's own pets has come under scrutiny as well. The extra digit must have made them extremely good swimmers, since Hemingway's own herd lived at his home in Havana.

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.

See + Do

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas, Florida
Tel: 305 242 7700
Website: www.nps.gov/drto

These seven islands 70 miles west of Key West are a snorkeler's dream. The colorful coral reefs just a few feet offshore are populated by tropical fish and Queen conchs (there are free maps at the ranger's office). Back on land, you can tour Fort Jefferson, America's largest 19th-century coastal fortification. The fort was begun in 1846 but never completed despite three decades' worth of construction. It most famously served as a prison where John Wilkes Booth's unknowing accomplice Dr. Samuel Mudd was incarcerated (and later pardoned for his services during a yellow fever outbreak). The entire archipelago has also been designated a wildlife sanctuary to protect the nesting grounds of the sooty tern here; January is peak time for sightings.

There are two ways to reach the Dry Tortugas: by sea and by air. Taking the swoony 40-minute flight over the Gulf of Mexico is the faster but more expensive option (from $229 per person; 305-294-0709; www.seaplanesofkeywest.com). By sea, the high-speed ferry Yankee Freedom takes a couple of hours and can be choppy (bring Dramamine), but it's much better value ($159 per person including breakfast, lunch, island tour, and snorkel gear; 800-322-0013; www.yankeefreedom.com).

See + Do

Key West Cemetery, Florida

701 Passover Lane
Key West, Florida 33040
Tel: 305 292 8177

This 19-acre site jammed into the center of Old Town dates back to Key West's 19th-century heyday, when the shipwrecking industry (salvaging goods from sunken ships) made it briefly America's richest city. Estimates put the cemetery's permanent residents at up to 70,000, most in vaults aboveground because of the high water table and solid coral bedrock that prevent the standard six-feet-under. The cemetery is both a fascinating time capsule—the opulence of some of the older graves underscores the town's onetime economic prominence—and an amusing catalog of Conch eccentrics. Look for Edwina Lariz, whose stone reads "Devoted fan of singer Julio Iglesias" and B. P. Roberts, who moans eternally "I told you I was sick." Pick up a guide to the graves in Walking & Biking Guide to Historic Key West by historian Sharon Wells (www.seekeywest.com).

Open daily sunrise to 6 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.