If the northwestern end of Key West’s Duval Street is mostly restaurants and bars, the southeastern half of the street is largely given over to exquisite and interesting shops, including an upscale streetwear boutique called Evolution, a reggae shop called Island Mystique, a gelato bar, a shop of Cuban goods and the occasional restaurant or boutique hotel.
Key West is known as the “Conch Republic”, so it is not surprising that there are several restaurants that serve conch, a large sea-snail common in the Caribbean, and especially popular in the Bahamas and Haiti. Conch meat can be tough, so it’s often served in fritters or soups, but cracked conch is fried, and the variety served at The Conch Shack on Duval Street is very tasty. Also of interest is that Haitians use the conch shell or lambi as a musical instrument, as can be seen in the famous statue of the Neg Mawon (Black Maroon) in Port-au-Prince, who has raised the conch shell to his lips as a call to revolution. Another interesting-looking conch shop is located on Petronia Street near the Bahamian Village, but it closes very early in the day.
At the foot of Duval Street next to the Ocean Key and Pier House resorts is Sunset Pier, a pier and bar that is popular in the afternoons and evenings because of its tropical ambiance and beautiful views of the gulf and of nearby Sunset Key. There is a small stage, and in the evenings there is occasionally live music on the pier.
Sloppy Joe’s Bar sits on the corner of Duval Street and Greene Street in Key West, and a walk to the northeast on Greene Street leads to the A & B Marina, which is also an area of waterfront restaurants and shops. Greene Street is also lined with shops, and is the place where most of the city’s key lime pie bakeries are located. Also on the street is the old, historic building which houses the Key West Chamber of Commerce.
The Overseas Highway ends at Key West,a charming resort town with a colorful past. The center of its vibrant nightlife is Duval Street, lined with an amazing variety of restaurants, bars, lounges and the occasional hotel, most located in historic old houses and buildings whose architecture resembles that of New Orleans. The most famous night spot is Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which was Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinking establishment, although it wasn’t located on Duval in his day, but rather to the south on Greene Street, where there is another bar nowadays. The area of the city known as the “Old Town” is easily walkable, but watch out for the feral roosters, who roam the streets and yards at will. They are said to be descended from those brought to the island by Cuban exiles fleeing Castro in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.