Published: Jan./Feb. 200948 HOURS
Key West Destination Guide
Photo: Key West
St. Paul's Church hints at the quieter side of Key West.
Photo by Rod McLean/Alamy

The strange yet charming amalgam of serene wildlife preserves, outlandish street festivals, literary landmarks, wealthy retirees, and seasoned fishermen (and women) make Key West so unique it can be hard to comprehend. For some, it's an endless party. Others find a sanctuary in which to write or meditate, and many consider it to be the sportfishing capital of the world. Despite pricey real estate and flocks of tourists, the spirit of Key West remains the same. Rugged individualism is still the established religion, and the tin roofs and wraparound porches on the new housing developments evoke the past. Natives, or Conchs, live alongside artists, ecology buffs, naval airmen, and a large gay population. And they all tolerantly observe the over half a million tourists annually who spill out of cruise ships in the Seaport.

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