Who hasn't dreamed of a tropical get a way when wading through snow on a dreary winter's day. Now is the time to plan your next winter's get-a-way to the end of the line on the continental USA, Key West. Situated on latitude 24.5 and longitude -81.7, 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is as close to Hawaii as you will get on the US Mainland. It is filled with tropical delights and rich in surreal history, just like the Hawaiian islands and you can get there by car (or plane, if you choose).

Key West is the last key in a chain of keys (islands) connected by bridges and situated between the Atlantic to the south and the Gulf of Mexico to the north, extending for about 100 miles from the southwestern most point of the Florida peninsula. It is also the home of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the continent. In fact, at Mallory Square a Sunset Celebration is enjoyed each evening by locals and visitors alike, with art exhibits, vendors marketing their artistic creations and the World Famous "Cat Man" who has entertained us with his well trained Cat Show for over 20 years.

Key West was discovered by the Spaniards in 1521, while it was occupied by the original residents, the Calusa Indians. With a history rich in pirates and shipwrecks, Key West attracted some of the most rugged of settlers, rum runners, drug runners and others of shady character. But it takes this kind to settle a far away land in the middle two large bodies of water. It is their ruggedness and fortitude which created the tropical get-a-way we enjoy today.

More to follow about things to do and places to see in Key West, the mainland's tropical paradise.

Reference from Wikipedia: Ponce de Leon discovered Key West in 1521. The inhabitants are described as the Calusa people.