loading spinner

Key West at a Slower Pace: Living on Island Time

Find out what makes Key West such a unique city as you stroll its vibrant streets, discovering its heritage, culture, world-class museums and the true spirit of island life.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21797RJ
6 days
Starts at

Key West at a Slower Pace: Living on Island Time

Find out what makes Key West such a unique city as you stroll its vibrant streets, discovering its heritage, culture, world-class museums and the true spirit of island life.
6 days
Starts at
Program No. 21797 RJ
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
No Dates
There are no dates available.
Enter your email address and we will contact you as soon as dates are available.

Notify me

At a Glance

Don’t let the quaint, small-town façade fool you — there’s a lot more to Key West than meets the eye. Discover all its hidden treasures at an easy pace befitting this laid-back island city. Navigate by trolley to experience its rich history and the unique pace of life on “island time.” Appreciate the blend of Victorian, Bahaman and New England architecture in its iconic “conch houses.” Hear tales of ships and shipwrecks and walk in the footsteps of larger-than-life figures like Hemingway and President Truman. Share the spirit of the island with artists, divers, gardeners, historians, musicians, oceanographers and other experts who reveal the city through the eyes of Key West natives.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Go inside the structure that gave birth to Key West’s historical restoration movement, the Audubon House, where you can see 28 first-edition works by James Audubon.
  • With a docent, navigate the Custom House Museum, a living link to Key West’s historic past and home to art and artifacts that tell the story of this island town.
  • Learn about life in Key West when Ernest Hemingway and President Harry Truman were residents during explorations of the Hemingway House and Truman's Little White House.

General Notes

You may be interested in a more active version of this program, "Key West Old Town: A Kaleidoscope of Life" (#20902).
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 worshippers 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.

Your Well-Being is Our #1 Priority

We’re committed to making your experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.

See Our Safety Roadmap
Enroll With Confidence
Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.