Folklore, films and widespread hearsay have given the FLORIDA KEYS – a hundred-mile chain of islands that runs to within ninety miles of Cuba – an image of glamorous intrigue they don’t really deserve; at least, not now that the go-go days of the cocaine cowboys in the 1980s are long gone. The Keys can more accurately be described as an outdoor-lover’s paradise, where fishing, snorkelling and diving dominate. Terrific untainted natural areas include the Florida Reef, a great band of living coral just a few miles off the coast. But for many, the various keys are only stops on the way to Key West. This self-proclaimed “Conch Republic” has vibrant, Caribbean-style streets with plenty of convivial bars in which to while away the hours, watching the spectacular sunsets.

Wherever you are on the Keys, you’ll experience distinctive cuisine, served for the most part in hip little shacks where the food is fresh and the atmosphere laidback. Conch, a rich meaty mollusc, is a speciality, served in chowders and fritters. There’s also key lime pie, a delicate, creamy concoction of special Key limes and condensed milk that bears little resemblance to the lurid green imposter pies served in the rest of the US.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Summer of Love: a journey through San Francisco 50 years on

Summer of Love: a journey through San Francisco 50 years on

San Francisco was the epicentre of the Summer of Love, a movement intent on changing the foundations of American society forever. Half a century later, Tamara…

04 Jul 2017 • Tamara Hinson local_activity Special feature
Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide

Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide

Few regions of the world have been as idealized and mythologized as California – and yet it seldom fails to live up to the hype. The glamour, surf beaches and…

22 Jun 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
The 15 most spectacular sights in Southwest USA

The 15 most spectacular sights in Southwest USA

A vast expanse of stunning desert scenery, the Southwest is arguably the USA’s most spectacular region. For splendour and sheer scale, the landscape consisten…

06 Jun 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right