maybe it is and maybe residents do. if you get rid of all the tourists. or get away from Duval Street and Mallory Square. when we saw what were obviously native islanders, they certainly seemed a little off — exactly what you think of when you think of someone “quirky.” mostly, though, Key West is a slightly offbeat tourist magnet with kitschy gift shops, touristy museums, overpriced sights, and plenty of street performers. I cannot imagine being on the island during the summer or in the height of Spring Break season. it must a different world.
we did manage to get slightly off the beaten path, thankfully. after our attempt to eat at a very Popular Spot was thwarted by a 70 minute wait, we walked the mile and a half to its sister restaurant on Higgs Beach. in the end we probably didn’t get our food any sooner than if we’d waited at the first place, but the walk afforded us with an alternative view of Key West that we hadn’t yet encountered on our shuttle rides or walks around the northwest end of the island.
on Higgs Beach, despite the wind coming off the water, a group of leathery-skinned locals sat on chairs in the shade of a palm tree, chatting. a sign warning of jellyfish danger greeted you on approach to rather murky-looking water. and, perhaps the best example of Key West’s alleged “quirkiness”, a peace sign composed of coconuts that had fallen from a nearby tree.
in spite of the crowds and aggressively touristy nature of Key West, there is a lot to recommend the place. the off-the-beaten-path places that are truly unique and don’t try to foist themselves on you and whose merit speaks for itself, for one thing. and the sunsets, for another.