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20902
Florida

Signature City Key West

Dive deep into the legends, history, artistic legacy and natural wonders of one of Florida’s most vibrant cities as you unravel the mysteries of Old Town, Key West.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 20902RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,699
Florida

Signature City Key West

Dive deep into the legends, history, artistic legacy and natural wonders of one of Florida’s most vibrant cities as you unravel the mysteries of Old Town, Key West.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,699
Program No. 20902 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2021
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

This program will take place at the Margaritaville Resort in Key West's Old Town.

Jan 9 - Jan 14, 2022
Starting at
2,049
Feb 13 - Feb 18, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Mar 6 - Mar 11, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2022
Starting at
1,799
Dec 4 - Dec 9, 2022
Starting at
1,699
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2021
Starting at
2,299
Itinerary Note

This program will take place at the Margaritaville Resort in Key West's Old Town.

Jan 9 - Jan 14, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Feb 13 - Feb 18, 2022
Starting at
3,349
Mar 6 - Mar 11, 2022
Starting at
3,349
Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2022
Starting at
2,549
Dec 4 - Dec 9, 2022
Starting at
2,349

At a Glance

With its distinctive architecture, courtyard gardens and hidden pathways, Key West’s Old Town is a delight to explore on foot. Experience what makes the United States’ southernmost city so unique and what lies behind the quaint facade. With local experts, hear tales of shipwrecks, explore the Hemingway home and get a look at Papa’s favorite bar. Consider President Truman’s love affair with Key West at the “Little White House” and share the spirit of the island with artists, divers, gardeners, historians, musicians, oceanographers and other natives.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking two miles daily on paved sidewalks; some stairs and standing at museums and historic sites.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Meet numerous Key West residents and hear from them about their home and the cultural scene.
  • Visit the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum to examine artifacts retrieved from a sunken 17th-century ship.
  • Learn about the variety of bird species and exotic flora at the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens.

General Notes

You may be interested in a more leisurely version of this program, "Key West at a Slower Pace: Living on Island Time" (#21797).
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Bob Wolz
Bob graduated from Youngstown State University, majoring in history with a minor in business. In 1999, he became the executive director of the Harry S. Truman Little White House State Historic Site. Bob created a not-for-profit corporation that aims to expand educational outreach of the Little White House and complete its restoration. He is an accomplished writer, having co-authored or edited several books including 'Presidents in Paradise.' His work has also appeared in the Florida Artland History Magazine and the American Political Science Review.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Bob Wolz
Bob graduated from Youngstown State University, majoring in history with a minor in business. In 1999, he became the executive director of the Harry S. Truman Little White House State Historic Site. Bob created a not-for-profit corporation that aims to expand educational outreach of the Little White House and complete its restoration. He is an accomplished writer, having co-authored or edited several books including 'Presidents in Paradise.' His work has also appeared in the Florida Artland History Magazine and the American Political Science Review.
Profile Image of Alex Okinczyc
Alex Okinczyc View biography
Alex Okinczyc, a longtime resident of Key West, is an experienced deep sea diver who shares his stories through humor, connecting with his audience and music! Okinczyc brings his treasures from the sea to tell us about his passion for deep sea diving and for Key West.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Key West: History of an Island of Dreams
by Maureen Ogle
Parrotheads, Hemingway aficionados, and sun worshipers view Key West as a tropical paradise, and scores of writers have set tales of mystery and romance on the island. The city’s real story—told by Maureen Ogle in this lively and engaging illustrated account—is as fabulous as fiction. In the two centuries since the city’s pioneer founders battled Indians, pirates, and deadly disease, Key West has stood at the crossroads of American history. In 1861, Union troops seized control of strategically located Key West. In the early 1890s, Key West Cubans helped José Martí launch the Cuban revolution, and a few years later the battleship Maine steamed out of Key West harbor on its last, tragic voyage. At the turn of the century, a technological marvel—the overseas railroad—was built to connect mainland Florida to Key West, and in the 1920s and 1930s, painters, rumrunners, and writers (including Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost) discovered Key West. During World War II, the federal government and the military war machine permanently altered the island’s landscape, and in the second half of the 20th century, bohemians, hippies, gays, and jet-setters began writing a new chapter in Key West’s social history.
Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean
by Les Standiford
Last Train to Paradise is acclaimed novelist Les Standiford’s fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West Railroad—one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935.
Hemingway's Key West
by Stuart McIver
This vivid portrait reveals both Hemingway, the writer, and Hemingway, the hard-drinking, woman-chasing fighter and sportsman of legend. Hemingway's decade in Key West during the 1930s was his most productive. His only book set in the U.S., To Have and Have Not, takes place there. Meet his circle of friends (known as "the Mob"), his second wife, Pauline, and their two children. Hear from Hemingway contemporaries and scholars about the man and the town that he made famous.
To Have and Have Not
by Ernest Hemingway
This is the dramatic, brutal story of Harry Morgan and his efforts to support his family by running contraband between Key West and Cuba. Set in the 1930s, the book carries all the flavor of an era that was poor, tough and resourceful. Harshly realistic, yet with one of the most subtle and moving relationships in Hemingway's "oeuvre", it goes beyond high adventure. It was adapted for film and became a memorable classic, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams
by Lyle Leverich
The riveting, revelatory, and sole authorized account of the critical first decades of Tennessee Williams's life. Tennessee Williams, author of such indelible masterpieces as The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, is considered by many to be the greatest literary artist of the American theater. Tom is Lyle Leverich's definitive account based on his exclusive access to letters, diaries, unpublished manuscripts, and family documents of Williams's early life and of the events that shaped this most autobiographical of dramatists. It tells the story of the marital traumas of his bullying father and overly protective mother, the mental disorders that institutionalized his beloved sister Rose, his stalled academic career, and his confused sexuality and early successes as a writer; and it leaves Thomas Lanier Williams on the brink of fame with The Glass Menagerie and his transformation into the celebrated persona of "Tennessee."
Notebooks
by Tennessee Williams & Margaret Thornton
Tennessee Williams’s Notebooks, here published for the first time, presents by turns a passionate, whimsical, movingly lyrical, self-reflective, and completely uninhibited record of the life of this monumental American genius from 1936 to 1981, the year of his death. In these pages Williams (1911-1981) wrote out his most private thoughts as well as sketches of plays, poems, and accounts of his social, professional, and sexual encounters. The notebooks are the repository of Williams’s fears, obsessions, passions, and contradictions, and they form possibly the most spontaneous self-portrait by any writer in American history.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Key West Old Town
D
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Check in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to pick up your arrival packet containing your up-to-date schedule, and to confirm the time of the orientation session. Don't forget to bring your name tag which is included in this information packet. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome, introduce everyone, and provide key staff contact names and phone numbers. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: This evening’s dinner at the hotel is a plated, 3-course meal with salad, choice of entrée, and dessert.

Evening: Meet and hear from our favorite deep sea diver who will delight you with tales of his many years of fishing and diving in these waters. Take the rest of the evening to settle in, relax, and prepare for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Harry Truman, Custom House, Mel Fisher, Cuban Dancing
Key West Old Town
B,L,D
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walk up to 2 miles today on sidewalks. We will use the trolley which has four steps. An elevator is available at the Mel Fisher museum, though you may need to climb a flight of stairs to reach some parts of the facility.

Breakfast: Our well-balanced breakfast buffet in the hotel offers a variety of tasty options to start your day with hot and cold items, fresh fruit, juices, and coffee/decaf, tea, water.

Morning: Our Truman expert will tell us all about the President’s days in Key West and what came to be known as The Little White House. Florida’s only Presidential site, the Harry S. Truman Little White House was constructed in 1890 as housing for naval officers. Its most important usage was as President Truman’s winter White House from 1946-1952. While traveling to our lunch destination, hear why this island, only four miles long and two miles wide, is such a fascinating place.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with the group.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will go on a field trip to the Custom House Museum. This living link to Key West’s historic past was built in 1891 to house the island’s customs office, postal service, and district courts. “Old 91” is now the headquarters of the Key West Art and Historical Society that maintains a collection of artifacts and art significant to the Florida Keys. A local expert will lead us through this amazing space. Next we will visit the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum where we will learn about marine archaeology and see treasures, including gold and silver bars, retrieved from beneath the sea. Dedicated to educating the public on maritime and colonial activity in the New World and preserving maritime culture resources, the museum celebrates 500 years of history. As a special highlight, we will go behind the scenes and explore the conservation lab. Prior to dinner we'll enjoy the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Dock. In Key West, watching the sun go down is a daily ritual accompanied by a festival with arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, vendors, and a crowd of thousands of locals and visitors alike. People begin gathering about two hours before sunset for this multi-cultural “happening” that embodies the spirit of Key West.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: See vibrant Cuban dancing from a local performer!

DAY
3
Architecture Lecture, Butterfly Garden, Free Time
Key West Old Town
B,L
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walk up to 1 1/2 miles during butterfly exhibit visit. Remember to use sunscreen and wear a hat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Learn about Key West's intricate architecture at this morning's lecture at the hotel. Next we will visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, where we will see and learn about exotic butterflies, plants and birds in this beautiful, glass-enclosed habitat. We will return to the hotel following the field trip

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: The afternoon is free for you to enjoy Key West on your own. The Group Leader can provide suggestions for activities, or you can refer to the activity sheet provided in your welcome folder.

Dinner: On your own to explore Key West's local fare. The Group Leader can provide suggestions on where to eat, or you can refer to the activity sheet provided in your welcome folder.

Evening: At your leisure. Your Group Leader will be happy to offer free time suggestions.

DAY
4
Eco Center, Hemingway House, Tennessee Williams
Key West Old Town
B,L,D
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walk a total of 2 miles today on paved sidewalks; walking and standing up to 1 hour, and climbing a flight of stairs at the Hemingway House; standing at the Eco Discovery Center for up to 1 hour; standing up to one hour at the Tennessee Williams Exhibit

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: The morning's field trip will be to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Eco-Discovery Center features more than 6,000 square feet of interactive and dynamic exhibits including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory. Colorful exterior artwork depicts the deep sea, coral reef, and mangrove shoreline. There we will learn about native plants and animals of the Keys, marine and terrestrial, and gain an increased awareness and appreciation of the need to protect and conserve South Florida’s ecosystem.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with the group.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will go on a literary journey of Key West starting with the Hemingway House. There, a local expert will lead us through the former residence of one of America’s most iconic writers, whose personal life was as colorful as any of his characters. Ernest Hemingway first visited Key West in 1928, arriving from Havana. We will learn about the lives and times of Hemingway and his wife Pauline in Key West, and about the house itself. Personal touches are still visible throughout the house, from European antiques to trophies and skins which are the legacy of Hemingway's African safaris. It was at the house that Hemingway produced some of his best known works including “To Have And Have Not” which is set in Key West. Descendants of his six-toed cat still flourish there. We will then learn about Key West literary figure Tennessee Williams during a guided visit to an exhibit dedicated to the playwright.

Dinner: At a local restaurant with the group.

Evening: Free Evening. Enjoy a stroll to view the passing parade. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, wet your whistle in one of Hemingway's favorite hang-outs. Hint: Two local bars lay claim to being his "real" favorite.

DAY
5
Audubon House, Truman House, Walking Tour, Farewell Dinner
Key West Old Town
B,D
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walk a total of 2-2 1/2 miles today on paved sidewalks; climbing a flight of stairs at the Audubon House

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: At the hotel, we will hear about John James Audubon, America's greatest wildlife artist and early naturalist. Audubon began exploring Florida in 1831 and visited the Keys and Dry Tortugas the next year. He left having seen 22 different bird species, and created drawings of each for his "Birds of America" folio. Audubon's painting of the white-crowned pigeon features the Geiger tree found in the front yard of the appropriately-dubbed Audubon House where he stayed in Key West. We will then head over to the Little White House. President Harry S. Truman’s first 19 months were grueling and left him physically exhausted. His doctor ordered a warm vacation and Key West was chosen as the location. President and Mrs. Truman arrived in November 1946 for a week of relaxation. He fell in love with the climate and small town charm and returned to what became known as the Little White House for 11 presidential working vacations and five post-presidential trips after leaving office. Truman claimed Key West was his second favorite place on earth -- surpassed only by his hometown, Independence, MO.

Lunch: Lunch is on your own to sample the local fare.

Afternoon: After lunch we will set out on a guided excursion walking Key West's streets, taking in its intricate architecture and vast array of colors. Hear from local experts about the Key West's rich history of the US Navy presence as well as the heyday of the wrecking, sponging and cigar industries.This walk covers about a mile and requires about one hour to complete. Next we will go on a guided exploration of the Audubon House and Gardens, the place Audubon lived and worked while in Key West which was then the home of one of the town’s founders. In the center of the lot was a garden of native and imported tropical plants Audubon used in his images of local birds. We will learn about Audubon’s life and work there as well as the history of the house itself, which was the first restoration project in Key West in 1958 and is still considered the gem of the island's restoration movement. The home also displays 28 first edition Audubon works

Dinner: Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy your last evening Key West with your new Road Scholar friends.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Key West Old Town
B

Activity note: Hotel check out is by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We hope you have enjoyed this Road Scholar learning adventure and look forward to having you on other programs in the future. Please stay in touch and share your memories, pictures, and comments via the Road Scholar Social Network. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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