Discover Gay Florida - Key West

by Sheri Elfman
Thursday Sep 15, 2011

Key West has a ton to offer - numerous gay guesthouses and bars, FantasyFest, a huge Pridefest, Duval Street, and of course, Key Lime Pie, but there's a lot more to the Southernmost City in the continental U.S. It has a very laidback reputation, but out of all of The Florida Keys, it has the most hustle and bustle. You're probably familiar with the above mentioned gay guesthouses and bars, but there's a lot more to check out. This liberal city has a lot to explore and you can learn more about it on these following tours and unique places.

Gay & Lesbian Historic Trolley Tour

Departing every Saturday at 11 a.m. from the City Hall Parking Lot, on the corner of Angela and Simonton, you can tour of Key West and learn about its amazing GLBT history. Tickets are $25.

Mallory Square's Sunset Celebration

Mallory Square's Sunset Celebration is an arts festival held on the dock every single night of the week! Come down two hours before sunset, join the crowd and be entertained by street performers, psychics, and tons of arts and crafts distributor. You can also grab a bite from a food cart and watch the sunset.

The Southernmost Point

You've seen pictures of your friends posing with the giant buoy that marks the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States, but now it's your chance to see it! Located at the corner of South Street and Whitehead Street, this spot is only 90 miles from Cuba. The monument was erected in 1983.

Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

Check out the home that legendary writer Ernest Hemingway inhabited for 10 years. Located at 907 Whitehead Street, is open daily 365 days a year. Tours are offered and worth taking -- the stories about Hemingway and his wife at the time, Pauline, are fascinating. It is also the home of several six and seven-toed cats known as "Hemingway Cats."

Ghosts & Legends of Key West

This scary 90-minute tour is offered at 7 and 9 p.m. every night. Tours start at the Porter Mansion on the corner of Duval and Caroline streets and you will be taken through the town and shown all of it's spookiest places. The tour is very popular and has been featured on The Learning Channel, HGTV and CNN.

Key West Oldest House & Garden

Mallory Square’s Sunset Celebration is an arts festival held on the dock every single night of the week! Come down two hours before sunset, join the crowd and be entertained by street performers.

Located at 322 Duval Street, history buffs and nature lovers alike will enjoy touring this home and garden. It's free to tour this beautiful place. The garden is often rented out for commitment ceremonies and receptions.

The Other Keys

The other Keys - Big Pine Key, Islamorada, Marathon and Key Largo - are all beautiful places that offer lots of fun things to do, especially for those who like water sports like scuba diving and fishing.

The Florida Keys, which is 120-miles long, is home to the continental United States' only living-coral barrier reef. This makes the area especially exciting for scuba divers. The area also has a large variety of fish and is indeed an underwater adventureland. There are several scuba diving resorts and centers to please those who enjoy this hobby.

Here is what you will find in the OTHER Keys:

There's a lot to see in Key Largo for diving enthusiasts. In 1960, the first undersea preserve, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was created and the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary was built in 1975. An unusual thing to check out in the area is the Statue of Christ of the Abyss, a giant underwater bronze statue that can be seen by snorkelers and divers.

Islamorada is known as "The Sport Fishing Capital of the World." It also is the home of the History of Diving Museum and The Theater of the Sea Marine Mammal Park where you can swim with dolphins! Islamorada is also the home of Long Key State Park, which offers gorgeous nature trails.

Marathon - located smack in the middle of The Keys - is 10 miles long and is perfect for those who are looking for an old-school Keys town. It is the perfect place to getaway and relax and enjoy one of their numerous seafood festivals. It's also the home for Spirit Snorkeling, which offers the unusual sunset Ananda yoga cruise!

The Lower Keys begin after the Seven Mile Bridge. It has small resorts and untamed wilderness and is the place to see the National Key Deer Refuge, a large area of undeveloped pine lands where the adorable and tiny Key Deer live. Big Pine Key has a cute shopping area, but a lot of quiet roads with several inns that are perfect for romantic getaways.

The Florida Keys also offer a lot for art and theater lovers. In addition to several arts and crafts festivals - Pigeon Key Art Festival, Key West Craft Show and Key Largo's Florida Keys Art Guild Shows and Islamorada's Purple Isles Art Guild Shows - there are several art galleries up and down The Keys that have great items to add to your collection and also amazing unique gifts. There's also a variety of theaters and community theater groups for those who love the stage like the Marathon Community Theater, The Key Players Community Theater and more.

Whatever town in the Florida Keys you choose to visit, you shouldn't be disappointed. There is a lot to see and experience in this beautiful, unique area!

Is it possible that President Barrack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. read my recent article in Hotspots Magazine on why same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry?

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