Though Audubon and Winslow Homer are gone, artists still regard the island as a haven. This is evidenced by the abundance of studios and galleries showing exciting and imaginative works by artists of local, national, and international fame. Bookstores abound, too, displaying in their windows signed copies of the latest writings of island authors: David Kaufelt, Nancy Friday, Allison Lurie, Richard Wilbur, and Laurence Shames among them.
Key West hotels, like their art and architecture, are distinctive and exude lots of character. The choices range from large, first-class waterfront resorts to a youth hostel. There are modest hotel chains, guest houses built around tropical gardens and pools, small five-star inns, and bed and breakfasts located in immaculately restored historic houses.
Key West's proximity to the sea gives it a long tradition of fresh seafood, but the result of 200 years of influence by Bahamians, Cubans, New Englanders, and tourists has created much more complex international dining.
Although the conch itself is served throughout the Keys, the taking of the Queen Conch is prohibited and imported from Bahamian waters. Key West's proximity to the sea gives it a long tradition of fresh seafood, but the result of 200 years of influence by Bahamians, Cubans, New Englanders, and tourists has created much more complex international dining. Atmosphere and prices are equally diverse, with expensive, elegant dining rooms overlooking the ocean just a block away from moderately priced rustic, open-air bars/restaurants specializing in Cuban or Caribbean food.