Romantic Key West

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Romantic Key West
In Key West, romance can be found at every turn. If strolling along the waterfront isn't dreamy enough, try gallery-hopping, bike riding on narrow old streets, and dining in historic homes. The rhythm of island living can be intoxicating.

With additional copy by Leeann Murphy.
By GiAnna Wyatt, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of Gingerbread Square Gallery
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    Gallery-Hopping
    Key West is teeming with art of all kinds in its galleries and museums, so take a break from the sun and spend an afternoon checking out the scene. You'll find galleries all along Duval Street, clustered especially between Eaton and Angela streets and down by the South Beach. For a peek at an active (and freewheeling) art scene, head to COAST, an artspace on Stock Island, to see live music, skateboarders, welders, printmakers, and potters, and join the island enthusiasts who appreciate creative arts, beer and life at the edge of the continent.
    Photo courtesy of Gingerbread Square Gallery
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    Bike and Picnic by the Beach
    Fort Zachary Taylor is one of best beaches on the cay. Pick up ingredients in town for a picnic and ride your bike down. Paths wind throughout the park and past the historic fort. Tour the fort, wander the nature trails with an eye out for tropical birds, and when you've worked up an appetite, head to the picnic tables near the beach or spread a blanket on the sand. It's easy to find a quiet place away from the crowds with a view over the turquoise water.


    Photo by Lane Nieset
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    Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square
    First-timers shouldn't miss is the nightly sunset celebration at Mallory Square. Arrive well before the sun drops, because the party starts early. Walk down the dock browsing the stands displaying locally made jewelry, photography, and paintings. Street performers outdo each other to put on the best spectacle; expect everything, from dogs performing stunts to acts with props like knives, torches, and straight jackets. Grab a drink, sample some conch fritters, and stroll along the waterfront. With all the distractions, you may forget to notice the sunset itself.
    Photo courtesy of Bob Krist/Florida Keys News Bureau
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    Butterflies and Botanical Gardens
    Even in the midst of busy Duval Street, you can experience a calmer side of town at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Inside the glass-enclosed space, you’ll have the chance to walk among hundreds of butterflies and birds, waterfalls, flowers, and a variety of native shrubs and trees. Be sure to stop by the butterfly art gallery on your way out. The tropical gardens around the Little White House change the visitor's focus from the historic past played out inside the museum to the lush, tropical environment of right now.
    Photo courtesy of Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden
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    Romantic Wining & Dining
    Key West has a diverse dining scene that offers plenty of romantic options, whether you’re in the mood for a candlelit dinner or something more casual and al fresco. For fresh seafood and good wine, visit Little Pearl with a loved one and share a romantic meal. Other options include Spencer's by the Sea for fine dining on the beach and for pizza on a breezy patio, head to Roostica.
    Photo courtesy of Dan Forer/Cafe Marquesa
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    Dry Tortugas National Park
    Seven islands make up the Dry Tortugas, a national park 70 miles across the water from Key West. If you have time to squeeze in a day trip while you’re in the Keys, you can reach the park by ferry (two hours) or by seaplane (40 minutes).  Once you arrive, you’ll be swept away by the beaches and the area’s history (the six-sided Fort Jefferson was built to protect the Gulf of Mexico after the War of 1812 and at its height, 2000 men—and some women and children—lived here). The calm, shallow waters are full of coral and tropical fish making this a perfect spot for snorkeling.
    Photo courtesy of Key West Seaplane Adventures