In Pre-Columbian times Key West was inhabited by the Calusa people. The first European to visit was Juan Ponce de León in 1521. As Florida became a Spanish colony, a fishing and salvage village with a small garrison was established here.
The island was used by fishermen from Cuba and from the British Bahamas, who were later joined by others from the United States after the latter nation's independence. While claimed by Spain, no nation exercised de facto control over the community there for some time. The island was considered the "Gibraltar of the West" because of its strategic location on the 90-mile (140 km)–wide deep shipping lane, the Straits of Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. On March 25, 1822, Matthew C. Perry sailed the schooner Shark to Key West and planted the U.S. flag, physically claiming the Keys as United States property.
Key West was relatively isolated until 1912, when it was connected to the Florida mainland via the Overseas Railway extension of Henry M. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 destroyed much of the railroad and killed hundreds of residents. The FEC could not afford to restore the railroad. The U.S. government then rebuilt the rail route as an automobile highway, completed in 1938, which became an extension of United States Highway 1. The portion of U.S. 1 through the Keys is called the Overseas Highway.
Check the weather forecast for Key West from NOAA.
Key West claims to be the only city in the lower 48 states never to have had a frost. Because of the proximity of the Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida, about 12 miles (19 km) south and southeast, and the tempering effects of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and north, Key West has a notably mild, tropical climate.
Precipitation is characterized by dry and wet seasons. The period of November through April receives abundant sunshine and slightly less than 25 percent of the annual rainfall. This rainfall usually occurs in advance of cold fronts in a few heavy or light showers. May through October is normally the wet season, receiving approximately 53 percent of the yearly total in numerous showers and thunderstorms. Rain falls on most days of the wet season. Early morning is the favored time for these showers, which is different from mainland Florida, where showers and thunderstorms usually occur in the afternoon. Easterly (tropical) waves during this season occasionally bring excessive rainfall, while infrequent hurricanes may be accompanied by unusually heavy amounts. At any rate, Key West is the driest city in Florida.
Key West Lighthouse
Key West International Airport (IATA: EYW) (ICAO: KEYW), 3491 South Roosevelt Blvd., (305) 296-7223, . Served by several airlines, though a short runway prevents big jets from landing. Direct flights are available from Atlanta, most major cities in Florida, and also some flights to the Bahamas. Fares tend to be quite high. A popular route to fly in is via Miami International Airport.
If you plan to rent a car be aware that both Enterprise and Alamo desks are not located at the airport. You have to call the shuttle bus and wait for 12 minutes to catch a ride to the Truman Av. location.
Greyhound Lines, 1-800-231-2222 or 305-296-9072. Makes numerous scheduled stops between Miami International Airport and the Keys, including Key Largo.
Keys Shuttle, (305) 289-9997 or 1 (888) 765-9997. The company provides door-to-door service between the Keys and the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airports.
Amtrak takes you as far south as Fort Lauderdale. There, you can transfer to the Keys Shuttle bus discussed above. Amtrak: 1-800-USARAIL.
Key West Express This company operates high-speed passenger ferries from Ft. Myers Beach, Marco Island and Miami. The ferries dock at the Key West Bight Ferry Terminal in the heart of the Historic Seaport District with its many fine restaurants, bars and shops. Passengers can walk to Duval Street, the heart of old town Key West, in about 15 minutes. The ferry ride takes approximately 3.5 hours.
Private Boaters Experienced boaters can navigate to Key West along the Atlantic side of the Keys or by traveling on the Gulf of Mexico side. The first part of the trip takes you through the specially-marked Intracoastal Waterway. After Long Key, however, international markers apply. Consult the appropriate Coast Pilot and Light List manuals. Numerous marinas are waiting to entertain you, but you should make reservations ahead.
Greyhound buses serve Key West with three departures per day to Miami and beyond, stopping at various points along the Keys en route. Non concession fares are $35 one way. Journey time is around four and a half hours.
The Overseas Highway terminates in Key West, and links all the towns in the Keys with mainland Florida, which provides links into the US Interstate network, so driving to Key West is straightforward, though driving around town can be difficult and long-term parking may be expensive.
From Miami International Airport: Take LeJeune Road south to 836 West. Follow the Florida Turnpike south toward Key West. The Turnpike ends at US 1 in Florida City. Follow U.S. 1 south as far as it goes and you will be in Key West.
From Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: Exit the airport and follow the signs for 595 West. Take 595 to the Florida Turnpike and follow the signs for the Florida Keys and Key WEST.
From the north: take the Florida Turnpike south and follow the signs for Homestead and Key West. The Florida Turnpike ends at US 1 in Florida City.Follow U.S. 1 south into the Florida Keys.
From Florida's West Coast: take 1-75 Alligator Alley east to the Miami exit, and south to the Turnpike Extension.
Driving around Key West is difficult and parking is expensive. Many visitors choose to rent motor scooters, bicycles, golf carts or explore on foot.  When renting a golf cart keep in mind that you have to find parking for this vehicles as well. Scooters and bikes can normally be parked on the sidewalk right outside your destination. However, really consider insuring anything you rent.
The main street in Key West is Duval street.
There is a fairly comprehensive bus system with color-coded lines . Unlimited travel tickets are available for periods between a day and a month and are good value.
Fares: (Discounts are available for senior cititzens, students etc.)
Single Trip: $1.00
1-Day $3.00/Unlimited Use (purchased from bus driver)
3-Day $6.00/Unlimited Use (purchased from bus driver)
7-Day $12.00/Unlimited Use
If you plan to rent a car be aware that both Enterprise and Alamo desks are not located at the airport. You have to call the shuttle bus and wait for 12 minutes to catch a ride to the Truman Ave location.
Key West AIDS Memorial, White Street and Atlantic Boulevard on the beach. The City of Key West has lost more than a thousand of its citizens to the AIDS epidemic. Some of their names are inscribed on a memorial near the White Street Pier. The memorial is embedded in the sidewalk near the ocean, and made of flat smooth granite. The memorial was dedicated on World AIDS Day in 1997, and funded entirely through private sources. At the time of dedication, there were 730 names engraved on the memorial. There are spaces for 1,500 names, and each year more are added and dedicated in a ceremony, also on World AIDS Day in December. A group called Friends of the Key West AIDS Memorial takes care of the memorial.
Key West City Cemetery In Key West burial customs reflect combinations of African, Hispanic, Anglo and other mixed heritages. Due to the water table of the Keys, most burials are in above ground tombs. Grave makers with unusual inscriptions like "I told you I was sick.", are not unusual.
Wildlife Rescue of the Florida Keys, Atlantic Boulevard and White Streets.
McCoy Indigenous Park is the setting for this rescue operation in Key West that has released more than 2,000 healed animals into the wild since 1993. They take care of any animal that needs attention, from sea birds to raccoons, and at any given time you might see up to 100 creatures healing at the center. They come from all over, from the Seven Mile bridge to the Dry Tortugas. You can visit the patients any day from 9am to 5pm, and the park is open sunup to sundown. It's free, but they like donations and volunteers.
Southernmost Point, Corner of Whitehead and South Streets. The southernmost point in the continental USA.
A Key Encounter is a non-profit museum that is locating on the upper level of Clinton Square Market Mall. The admission is free. A Key Encounter features "Nature Theater", a 3 screen movie theater showing God's creation of animals and everything He made. It also features "The Jungle Walk" that has live animals and animatronic animals including a 22.5 foot stuffed skin of an Anaconda that ate a woman down in Brazil years ago. And "The George M. Kretschmar, Jr. Planetarium".
Shipwreck Museum, 1 Whitehead St., (305) 292-8990 (Fax: (305) 292-1617), . Offers a panoramic view of the island from its observation tower.
Key West Lighthouse, 938 Whitehead Street, . Open daily from 9:30AM-4:30PM. With a panoramic view of the island. Adults $10, Students/Seniors $9, Children $5, under 6 free.
Key West is a great place for the family. There is plenty to during the day...for those that are awake. Enjoy an early night and prepare for the next days adventure. However, if you are traveling with young ones stay in a hotel off the main streets. For those who stay out all night you may not get to do these things but you should try.
Key West Nature Preserve Two entrances on Atlantic Blvd., Ocean front property that has been turned into an accessible natural area. Enjoy seeing local Key West wildlife such as lizard butterflies and may be even a snake.
Astro City Atlantic Blvd. A popular stop for families on their way to and from the beach. Located directly across the street from Higgs beach.
Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center,  Truman Annex Waterfront. With its touch screens, stunning photos, and roomy theater, this educational center has become a hit with families. It's a fun way to learn about reef and mangrove habitats before or after an excursion. Free admission and parking on-site.
Ghosts and Legends of Key West, 90 minute walking tour of Old Key West.  "Old Town Key West" Area. The most informative and historically correct versions of Key West ghostlore.
Sebago Watersports, Waterfront Area, . Reef snorkeling, sunset sails and much more. All things water. Sebago trips are always full of fun and a wonderful crew that will take good care of you. Sunset sails, parasailing, all day adventures from the tame Island Ting to the active Power Adventure. The parasailing tends to be a bit brief (13 minutes), but the crew friendly.
Swim With Dolphins, for ages 5 and older.  Key Largo / Key West Area.
Conch Tour Train, 201 Front Street, 305-294-5161, . The World Famous Conch Train sightseeing tour of Key West focuses on the historic Old Town area of the island. Highlights include the Hemingway House, Mallory Square, Duval Street and the Historic Seaport. Stops in Mallory Square and the Historic Seaport.
Glass Bottom Boat, Snorkel, and Dolphin watch, For ages 5 and older. Key West/ Key West Area.
Diving in Key West, . Offering Daily Dive trips to the reefs near Key West.
Snorkeling in Key West, . The clear waters of Key West are great for snorkeling and swimming alike. Be sure to visit the waters surrounding Fort Jefferson.
Sunset Watercraft, . Key West offers a host of sightseeing opportunities, including romantic sunset cruises. At Cow Key Marina on Stock Island. Reasonable prices for the 28 mile round-the-island jet ski run (1.5 hours). The jet skis themselves are a bit beat up, but the motors hum right along at high speed. Guides are safe and knowledgeable, but give the renter plenty of rope to enjoy.
Key West Fishing, . Offers charters, guides, and fishing information for Key West. Includes private and group fishing charters.
Sunset Festival, at Mallory Square in Key West (where Duval Street meets the Gulf of Mexico). This event begins every evening a few hours before sunset and is much like a street carnival, with vendors, performers, food, and fun. Also a great photo op for some of the most beautiful sunsets.
Trails of Margaritaville Tour, Jimmy Buffett spent his "formative" years in Key West, and this tour will regale you with tales of those days. I suspect you'll hear some Semi-True Stories (believe it or not), but it's a good time for Parrotheads and non-Buffett fans alike.
Fantasy Fest, . Annual event October 19-28, 2007.
Gay Spring Break, . Annual event held in February, March, and April targeting college-age LGBT students.
Womenfest, . Annual event Sept. 4th-9th. One of the largest lesbian-oriented parties on earth!
Tropical Heat, . Adult-themed event held every year. Usually in April, but in 2008 will be held the first weekend in August.
Key West is not like Miami. There aren't many high end shops or big name brands. While there are a few Key West is not the place for this shopping. Fly into or out of the Miami airport and spend a day in South Beach if this is what you are looking for. There is a lot of shops in Key West especially along Duval Street. You can find something to wear at night. Which in Key West isn't much (price or material). Lose your sunglasses...they have got them. Need suntan lotion..check. Want a tattoo you could get probably get 20 or so if you went to every tattoo place in Key West. This is not a good idea if you have been drinking prior to wanting a tattoo. You may regret it the next sober morning when you realize you have it.
Key Lime-N-More, 424 Greene Street, Next door to Captain Tony's Saloon, Phone: +1 305 296-9515, . All things Key Lime. The only home made Key Lime pie on the island. Friendly shopkeepers that treat you as more than just another tourist. Hours vary.
Fairvilla Megastore, 520 Front Street, across from the Pier House, Phone: +1 305 292-0448, . Intimate apparel, exotic fashions, sensual accessories, romantic gifts, playful novelties, passionate books and tantalizing movies! M-Sa 9AM-2AM, Su 10AM-2AM.
Fast Buck Freddie's, 500 Duval Street, Phone: +1 305 294-2007, . The premier department store in Key West. Many items for sale are one of a kind or designed and built just for Fast Buck Freddie's. Also known for its window displays.
Blue, 718 Caroline St, . A boutique specializing in women's clothing. Everything from fun tees, to comfy linen pants they have everything for a casual day of drinking.
King of Conch A gift store offering Conch Republic-related items including flags, shirts, magnets and more.
El Siboney, 900 Catherine Street, +1 305 296 4184. This Cuban restaurant, tucked into a quiet residential intersection, flies well below the tourist radar. Delicious food at very reasonable prices. To sum it up, this is where the locals go for Cuban. Bring your appetite and leave amex at home because they don't accept credit cards.
Schooner Wharf, Caroline Street, a surprising choice for breakfast, this rough and ready landmark has a three-egg seafood omelette that, coupled with a bloody mary or two, will shock you back to life from a throw down night on Duval.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, 500 Duval Street, +1 305 292-1435. Key West is pretty close to paradise, so you might as well have a cheeseburger while you're there. The prices were not jacked up. Less then 4 bucks for a Cheeseburger in Paradise.
Conch Republic, 631 Greene Street. Enjoy their spacious waterfront setting where the atmosphere is like a trip back in time to the way Key West used to be. Enjoy fresh fish and a raw bar. Feel like you are dining outside with the large windows that remain open during the day. A great place for a drink & some snacks specially during football season.
Mangia-Mangia Pasta, 900 Southard St, +1 305 294-2469, . Every day 5:30PM-10PM.
A & B Lobster House 700 Front St, The main dishes are mid-range in price paired with great tasting and priced appetizers and salads it will be hard to forget your meal here. While Key West is warm and the porch may seem like a good idea make sure the ladies have jackets. It is right on the water and with the fans on high blast it can get a little chilly.
Roof Top Cafe Exactly what the names suggest, this is a restaurant situated on the roof top of a building. Overlooking Mallory square this place is perfect for dining during sunset or under the stars. As well as dinner they also serve Breakfast and lunch. Nothing is too expensive and the food is of good quality.
El Meson de Pepe, 410 Wallstreet, Mallory Square, +1 305 295-2620, . If you want authentic, delicious Cuban food look nor further. I have been visiting this place for about the last 5 years when I drive down to Key West. Be ready for a special treat on the days that Pepe himself takes over the kitchen and creates his delectable masterpieces. The prices are very reasonable and their Mojitos have a kick. Everynight at Sunset, they have a band playing and enough space for dancing and having a couple of drinks at the bar.
Square One, 1075 Duval St # C12, +1 305 296-4300, . They serve breakfast lunch dinner and even Sunday brunch. The menu is very similar to many other restaurants. A lot of fish and seafood. A lot of "tropical' flavors and many fruits are included in the ingredients of their dishes.
Seven Fish, 632 Olivia St., +1 305 296-2777, . This very small restaurant tucked away on Olivia St, is a true delight. The staff is intelligent and polite, the fish dishes are always fresh and innovative. Reservations a must.
Nine on Five, 915 Duval Street. Dinner served from 6PM-11PM. With weather so nice you want to spend as much time outside as possible. So why not take your dining outside...or as close as possible? Join others on the porch of this dignified Victorian home. Similar to tapas dining, everything is intended to be shared and mixed and matched.
There are a large number of drinking establishments of various types. The main tourist strip on Duval Street has numerous watering holes.
Bourbon Street Pub, 724 Duval St, +1 305 294-9354, . Part of the gay-oriented Bourbon St. Complex on the 700 block of Duval.
Captain Tony's Saloon, 428 Greene Street, . Ernest Hemingway's old stomping grounds. Pirate's Punch in a 22 oz cup.
Rick's/Durty Harry's Entertainment, 202 Duval St., firstname.lastname@example.org. Complex offers it all! Key West's #1 Club w/ 6 different venues & 10 bars. Best live entertainment, VIP bar overlooking the action, famous juice & premium spirits bar, hottest dance club, premier adult entertainment, & best live Rock & Roll!
Sloppy Joe's Bar, 201 Duval St, +1 305 294-8759. Website blocked by spam filter, but it's (not surprisingly), sloppyjoes dot com. Ernest Hemingway's "new" stomping grounds. Sloppy Joe's used to sit at the current location of Captain Tony's, but the landlord raised the rent on the owner back in 1937. Legend has it that upon hearing the news, the bar owner and his customers (including Hemingway) moved the bar, barstools, alcohol, etc. across Duval Street to a former restaurant - its current location.
Hog's Breath Saloon, 400 Front Street, +1 305 292-2032 (email: email@example.com), . Take a peek at the "hog cam" on their website.
Irish Kevin's Pub, 211-C Duval Street, +1 305 292-1262, . Webcams here, too. Can be a lively place at times.
The Lazy Gecko Bar 203 Duval St, . Next door to Sloppy Joe's bar. This place offers air conditioning if you can't take the heat. Also cool off with one of their 12 daiquiris. Hungry? Grab a slice of pizza or a fresh sandwich. Starting early...join The Lazy gecko for happy hour from 5-8. Like your friends a lot? Rent the whole place!
Fat Tuesdays, 305 Duval St., +1 305 296-9373, . So your not in New Orleans...who says that means you can't have Mardi Gras! Featured on MTV's Real World Key West here it is Mardi Gras everyday.
There are also plenty of places to wet your whistle that aren't necessarily right on Duval Street.
Green Parrot Bar, 601 Whitehead St, +1 305 294-6133, . The last (or first, depending on your direction of travel) bar on US 1. Not your typical trop-rock bar, the Green Parrot leans more toward blues. Great bands, and an unbelievable selection of blues on the jukebox.
Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St, +1 305 294-3302, . A last little piece of Old Key West, Schooner Wharf is an open air bar that sits on the Key West Bight. Grab a brew and watch the yachts.
Rum Barrel Tavern, 528 Front St, +1 305 292-7862, . Pat Croce's place features the largest selection of rums in the world. Not a rum drinker? Plenty of other libations to be had. Several big-screen TVs (you'll never miss an event involving a Philadelphia team) and a deck overlooking Old Town.
Key West Bed and Breakfast, 415 William,800-438-6155,  Classic Caribbean Casual. This three story Victorian in the heart of old town is full of color and art with prices that wont break the bank.
Curry Mansion Inn, 511 Caroline Street, 800-253-3466, . A Great Small hotel, best location just steps from Duval on Caroline, plenty of free parking, open bar cocktail party with piano player every afternoon, breakfast buffet with cooked to order eggs. The best value in Key West.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Key West, +1 305 296-5700, . Discover the true spirit of the islands, as well as the area's best value.
Southern Cross Hotel, 326 Duval Street, 1-888-364-3200, . A no-frills hotel with a great location. Located right on Duval Street between Eaton and Caroline. Just steps from everything that Key West has to offer.
Casa Marina Resort, 1-866-397-6342, . A sophisticated resort with its own private beach.
Wyndham Reach Resort & Hotel, 1435 Simonton St, +1 305 296-5000, . With the only natural beach on the island as a backyard, this hotel is located in charming Old Town, and Duval Street is just a block away.
Island City House Hotel, 411 William Street, +1 305 294-5702, . This charming and historical hotel offers 24 suites for lodging near Old Town Key West.
Douglas House, 419 Amelia Street, +1 305 294-5269, [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Bask in the warmth of the Caribbean sun. This hotel offers the perfect pool-side setting with swimming pool and heated jacuzzi all surrounded by lush tropical gardens.
Pier House Resort & Caribbean Spa, One Duval Street, +1 305 296-4600, +1 800 327-8340, . A tropical resort retreat nestled in lush gardens - located at the corner of Key West's legendary Duval Street and on the Gulf of Mexico - a prime location in the heart of Old Town Key West. This is a key location for those who are visiting Key West for poker runs or boat races. If you book early enough you may be able to ask for water view and watch the races from your room. Otherwise you will have to pay upwards of $100 for a table on the deck. Ask for a higher floor otherwise the trees may block some of your view.
Heron House Bed & Breakfast, 512 Simonton Street, +1 305 294-9227, +1 888 861-9066. . In the heart of the historic district, this 23 room bed and breakfast is located near Duval Street. Complimentary breakfast is served in the mornings and a wine and cheese tasting each night.
Doubletree Grand Key Resort, 3990 South Roosevelt Blvd., 1-888-844-0454 (Email: email@example.com), . The newest resort-style property among luxury Key West hotels. This place has a good roof top view of the water. For those of you traveling to Key West for poker run and boat races this is a very popular place. However, book early there is limited space available.
La Concha, Crowne Plaza, The legendary hotel on Duval Street is a must-see or stay. The staff is helpful and the rooms are great, and you can't miss "the sunset at the top"!
The Reach Resort in Old Town Key West, 1435 Simonton St. 1-866-397-6427, . An elegant choice for style and comfort.
Historic Key West Inns is a collection of six small historic hotels in Key West. Each inn has a prime location in the "Old Town" section of the island. Visitors can conveniently walk to the shopping and nightlife of Duval Street, stroll through the neighborhoods of the historic district, or reach the shoreline by walking, bicycling, or driving in any direction.
Old Towne Suites A great choice for clean, elegant guesthomes.
The Inn at Key West, 3420 N. Roosevelt Blvd. (US 1), . Luxury rooms and world-class amenities, accommodations feature a king or double queen size beds some with oversized bathrooms. Freshwater pool, tiki bar and poolside restaurant.
Tropical Inn Key West Historic Key West bed and breakfast with Bahamian-style Conch houses. Located on Duval Street, the main street of Old Town Key West. 
Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, 601 Front Street. Key West, FL 33040, . Newly renovated. Intimate resort with casually elegant Floridian touches, combined with sumptuous, rich fabrics and stunning ocean views. One block from Duval Street. Private marina to fish, scuba, snorkel, parasail, waverunners, or sail on the “Floridays,” the resort’s 60-foot Irwin sailboat which offers daily sunset cruises and private charter trips. Work out in the exercise studio or relax at our small private beach, pool with oversized whirlpool or on the deck area on the Gulf of Mexico. Indoor and outdoor dining is available at our two restaurants, where guests can watch the sun set into the peaceful Gulf waters.
There is no longer any camping in Key West, but you can still find some just outside the City limits on Stock Island. Within Key West itself, parking is very limited and RV's are generally discouraged, so your best shot is to stay somewhere outside the city and drive a smaller vehicle into town.
There are a few more a little ways up the Keys that cater to RVs. The number of campsites are limited, so do not be shocked by the price. Make your reservations well in advance six months to a year so you are sure to get your spot. You will notice the use of "MM" or "Mile Marker" in the addresses. This is how US 1 is marked. MM 0 is in Old town Key West and the beginning of US 1. The numbers go up, so you can tell just how far an address is from Key West.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!