If you want to go to a place with interesting culture, warm weather and beaches, and are really an “away from it all” place, think Key West, Florida. It’s about 150 miles from Miami, and will take approximately 3.5 hours to drive from there. That makes it much closer to Cuba which is only 90 miles distant. But it will truly seem like you’re in a different world, as there is no place in the United States like it.
Key West is a city on the island of Key West, which is about four miles by two miles. Until 1912 it was very isolated, when the Overseas Railway extension of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) opened. The Labor Day hurricane of 1935 destroyed the railroad, and the FEC decided not to rebuild it. The U.S. government then rebuilt the route as a highway, opening it in 1938 as an extension of U.S. Highway 1.
When you get there, provided you’re a sun-lover and like the water, this will be the place for you. Here are some of the things you can opt to do:
1. Fishing. You can get a great deep-sea fishing experience, as there are several private boats in addition to party boats to use. Flats’ fishing is also very popular in the Florida Keys. It involves no special equipment of skill-set. You don’t even need a boat. Just wade out in shallow water and cast your line, and you can catch bonefish and tarpon, as well as other fish that are normally found in shallow water. You’re not going to catch any trophy fish, but there will be decent fishing in those shallow waters. Or many people choose to use a flatbed skiff.
2. Beaches. Of course there are plentiful beaches, most of them on the south side of the island. Lifeguards are not present on the beaches, so swim at your own risk. But although you will not find some of the best beaches in Florida, as they are farther up the west coast, the calm blue waters and offshore reefs make it popular for snorkeling and swimming.
3. Diving and snorkeling. The waters around Key West offer excellent diving and snorkeling experiences. There are several charters that take both snorkelers and divers, and certification courses can be scheduled in many locations.
4. Golf. Key West has an 18 hole public golf course that is set in beautiful tropical scenery. There is a driving range, pro shop, restaurant and clubhouse.
5. Cultural experience. This is what most people think sets Key West apart from other vacation places. There is a lot of history of the area, and museums to tell you about it. You can experience the city on one of the tour trains or trolleys, or cruise out to the reef to experience the island from a different perspective. Key West has always attracted artists, and there are multiple art galleries displaying local and international talent.
When you are looking for sites to see in Florida, if you are into a laid-back vacation, the keys is certainly a spot to consider. It will take you a while to drive there, but you will think your hundreds of miles from the hectic cities.