Coming to Florida’s Key West and not experiencing Duval Street is missing one of the area’s most important commercial roads. It’s the main street on the island. Visit at any time. At the end of the day, when the heat abates and beachgoers have packed up, the street truly comes into its own. Being bored on Duval Street is a rarity.
Near the northern end of the street is Mallory Square, a congregation point where the daily sunset has all eyes cast to the spot where the sun first touches the ocean horizon. Don’t blink as you watch for the elusive split-second green flash.
Stores and eating establishments along the street have charming façades behind which you’ll find items that you may not find elsewhere. As might be expected, stylish beachwear is very much in demand, with an excellent selection of merchandise.
A carnival atmosphere is perpetually present on the 1.3-mile (2-kilometer) street, particularly at night, with people-watching always a popular pastime. Street revelers wearing colorful costumes reach a peak in October during the 10-day Fantasy Fest. The street belongs to people, bicycles and scooters, with cars being directed away from the area. Rent a bicycle from one of the many operations located along the strip.
Look down so you don’t trip over any wild roosters that call Key West home. Any efforts by this bird to wake people up on the drag is in vain, as Duval Street seems never to go to sleep. On the subject of drags, nightly drag queen shows are held at a few establishments.
Ernest Hemingway made another local animal famous, the six-toed cat, when the author lived in the area in the 1930s. See them at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and take the house tour. Everything Hemingwayesque is promoted up and down Duval Street, including a bull run every summer to commemorate the city’s famous resident. Even though the bull isn’t real, legions of Hemingway look-alikes will have you reaching for your camera.