Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon may have come to the new world searching for the Fountain of Youth, but what he found were the Florida Keys.  This cluster of nearly 1700 islands stretch out from the tip of the Florida peninsula, stretching into a gentle arc towards Key West.

Since that time, Key West has been home to pirates, presidents, and literary greats, making it one of the most interesting cities in the United States, and a popular stop for cruise ships.

Combining the clear, blue water and the sunny skies of the Caribbean, with stunning architecture, and a who’s who of American history, Key West, Florida is bound to be a highlight of any cruise in the region.

From Shipwrecks to a Presidential Getaway

A fun ways to experience Key West is by booking a bus touri or an Old Town Trolley Tour.  The company has been providing what it calls “transportainement”, or a mix of transportation and entertainment, for more than 30 years.  You can explore at your own pace, hopping on and off the trolley to explore one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.

Thomas Edison lived here.  So did Lou Gehrig, Tennessee Williams, and Ernest Hemingway.  Ernest Hemingway’s house is a highlight of any Key West tour.  Legend has it that he wrote A Farewell to Arms while living there, and fell in love with deep sea fishing during his years in Key West.  The descendants of his beloved 6-toed cat “Snowball” still live on the grounds of Hemingway House.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzXJ2Phqu_U

If you’re still feeling literary after that, you can drop by Tennessee Williams home on Duncan Street, or the La Concha Hotel, where he is said to have written the first draft of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Tours will also stop by the Little White House, where President Harry S. Truman came to relax during his time in office.  Many other presidents have also stopped by here, from John F. Kennedy to Jimmy Carter.

If your tastes run more to pirates than poets, playwrights or presidents, you’re still in luck.  Key West became rich on the business of shipwrecks, since its rocky islands lay along the main trade route from New Orleans to Cuba and the Bahamas.  It’s even said that when ship-wreckers got bored of waiting, they would remove navigational markers from the shallow areas to make sure they stayed in business.  You can learn all about it on a quick tour through the Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum.

Once your tour is over, kick back at Jimmy Buffett’s original Margaritaville or the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar.  But whatever you choose to do in Key West, you have to make your way to Mallory Square to say goodnight to the sun. Every night, people in Key West gather for the traditional sunset celebration, with live entertainment and a spectacular view.

Sitting at the southernmost point in the continental United States, Key West, Florida, is a truly unique city, where history, natural beauty and an appreciation for individuality will make every visitor feel as if they’ve discovered the Fountain of Youth.

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