CULTURE Seaplanes of Key West (3471 S. Roosevelt Blvd.; 800/950-2FLY or 305/294-0709; from $189/person) and the Dry Tortugas Ferry Service ($139/person) offer day trips to Dry Tortugas (thus named to alert seafarers to the fact that it contains no natural sources of water), including great views of marine life and shipwrecks, a tour of the Fort Jefferson National Monument (a Civil War fort), and great beaches for sunning, swimming or snorkeling.
Audubon House & Gardens (205 Whitehead St.; 305/294-2116 or 877/294-2470) was the home of John James Audubon while he painted the wildlife of the Florida Keys in 1832.
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (907 Whitehead; 305/294-1575) is a palatial Spanish colonial-style mansion with a mysterious and lush garden. Across the street, peeping incongruously over an ancient banyan tree, the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum (938 Whitehead St.; 305/294-0012) provides a close-up view of the inner workings of this lighthouse built in 1847. Climbing the 88 steps provides spectacular views of the island and surrounding waters and a burning calf workout.
For visual stimulation without the exertion, check out the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory (1316 Duval St.; 305/296-2988 or 800/839-4647), habitat to more than 30 species of tropical butterflies and 50 kinds of flowering plants.
The Key West Film Society opened Tropic Cinema (416 Eaton St.; 305/295-9493), a two-screen art house theater, in spring 2004. Visit the moving AIDS memorial at the White Street Pier (at the end of White Street at Atlantic, next to Higgs Beach). Set in the path in front of the pier and etched with the names of local victims of the plague, this memorial is a poignant testament to the community's losses.
While Key West has its share of tacky T-shirt shops (and an increasing number of mall chain stores), it has more than its share of arty boutiques and interesting shops.
Since 1966, Kino Sandals (107 Fitzpatrick St., at the corner of Greene St.; 305/294-5044) has had a home in Key West. The simple operation churns out well-made, comfortable leather sandals for men and women at $10-$12 a pop. Available styles and colors vary daily.
Towels of Key West (806 Duval St.; 305/292-1120) sells fine linens, pajamas and Egyptian cotton robes and towels. They originated the rainbow towel and are celebrating nearly 20 years in business. Gay-owned Cocktail Party (808 Duval; 305/295-9100) has "everything for entertaining" from funky glassware to quirky coasters.
The boys shop for clubwear, activewear and swimwear at Graffitti (701 Duval St.; 305/295-0003).
Whitehead Street Pottery (1011 Whitehead St.; 305/294-5067) sells porcelain, stoneware and raku-fired vessels.
The Fairvilla Megastore (520 Front St.; 305/292-0448) offers a huge selection of intimate apparel, erotic toys and DVDs in a non-seedy environment.
To take some local spice home with you, stop in at Peppers (602 Greene St.; 305/295-9333 or 800/KW-SAUCE), step up to the tasting bar (bring your own beer, please) and sample some of the myriad hot sauces.
Find imported British candies and foods at Millie's Sundries (425 Front St.; 305/294-6877) with a hunky gay staff eager to take care of your needs.