The Ghost Whisperer David Sloan is the original Key West ghost hunter David Sloan is a ghost hunter and author. “Everything I do seems to come down to me being an entertainer, through writing, art or ghost hunting,” Sloan says. “I like to entertain people and challenge their limits.” He got into the ghost-hunting game early, via a kindergarten teacher who told her class about “her” ghosts. “One day, she showed us a photograph of the ghost and I was hooked,” Sloan says. “Also my grandparents owned a haunted hotel in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and me, my sister and my cousins would hunt ghosts there.” Before he went into ghost-hunting fulltime and founded Sloan’s Ghost Hunt, Sloan managed cruise ships. He visited Key West and decided to quit his job, move to the island and start one of the first ghost tours here. He has since launched ghost hunts in other cities but says Key West is special, because of the history and the people. “There are theories that water is an excellent conductor of spirits and they say the same thing about limestone. If you look at Key West, we are surrounded by water and the island is made up of coral and limestone.” Another reason? “It has never been easy to live here. People love being here, but they fight to stay here. I think sometimes they are not ready to leave.” He says people who come ghost-hunting with him can “expect the real deal.” “Ray Campbell and I—he’s another member of the investigation team that leads tours—have been hunting ghosts together for more than a decade. We go beyond just the storytelling and we actually engage the spirits. We are looking to have an encounter, which is why I don’t suggest the tour to kids under 16 or women who are pregnant. We are also the only interactive haunted experience on the island with all the equipment you’ve seen on TV.” Sloan’s ghost tours are extremely interactive. “On this tour, you are not hearing stories; you are becoming part of the hunt. We get up close to where the ghosts are. We have exclusive access to private gardens and into one of the two most haunted buildings in town. We also have a cleaning process at the end of every tour so no one has to deal with spirit attachment.” And he has some advice for anyone who lives in a haunted house: “Most ghosts were, at one time, human, so try talking to them as you would a fellow human being. And if that doesn’t work, call in the professionals.” —Juliet Gray Sloan’s Ghost Hunt, 301 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040; (305) 290-3451; www.keywestghosthunt.com. Audubon House & Tropical Gardens 205 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-2116 or (877) 294-2470 www.audubonhouse.com Original lithographs of John James Audubon’s drawings are on display at this former home of shipwreck salvager Capt. John Geiger. Tour the home and the surrounding lush tropical gardens and learn the techniques Audubon used to create his avian masterpieces. CityView Trolley Tours of Key West 1045 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-0644 www.cityviewtrolleys.com These open-air trolleys offer hop-onand- off tours that incorporate narration of the history of Key West. Pick up and drop off locations throughout the island include Clinton Place, Higgs Beach, Key West Bight, Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and Duval Street. Conch Tour Train 303 Front St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-5161 or (888) 916-8687 www.conchtourtrain.com The Conch Train has been winding its way through the streets of Key West since 1958. This hour-and-a-half tour has only one stop toward the end for refreshments and shopping. Sights include the Hemingway House, Southernmost Point, and Bahama Village among others. Custom House 281 Front St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 295-6616 www.kwahs.org The Custom House was originally home to Key West’s customs office, postal service, and district courts. It was restored and converted in the early 1990s into a museum and the official headquarters of the Key West Art & Historical Society. Dry Tortugas National Park (305) 242-7700 www.nps.gov/drto The Dry Tortugas is a cluster of seven islands about 70 miles west of Key West. The park is accessible only by boat (either your own with a permit, or on the Yankee Freedom II: 800- 634-0939; www.drytortugas.com) or seaplane (305-293-9300 or www.Keywestseaplanecharters.com). Activities include exploring the historic Fort Jefferson, snorkeling, bird-watching, fishing and camping. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum 907 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-1136 www.hemingwayhome.com This Spanish Colonial home where Ernest Hemingway once lived and wrote contains many of the original fixtures and furnishings, as well as artifacts from his life. Take the tour and say hello to one of the 40 to 50 six-toed cats, all descendants of Hemingway’s cat, Snowball. Florida Keys Historical Military Memorial 1 Mallory Square This open-air multiwar memorial is in honor of those who lost their lives while serving the U.S. You’ll find plaques that give battle information and list the names of Florida Keys military veterans dating back to World War II. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center 35 E. Quay Road, Key West, FL 33040 (305) 292-0311 or (305) 809-4750 floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html Sponsored and operated in part by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA, the Eco-Discovery Center features interactive exhibits including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory. Fort East Martello Museum 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-3913 www.kwahs.com This Civil War fort was built in the late 1800s and is now home to a sculpture garden and museum featuring a collection of relics from the Civil War. Artifacts also document the wrecking and cigar-making industries—and the museum is home to Robert the Doll, a highlight on Key West’s trolley tours. Ghost Tours of Key West 430 Greene St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-9255 www.hauntedtours.com Take a guided walking tour during the day or night through the eerie areas of Old Town Key West. The tours end inside the only haunted Hark Rock Café in the world, right on Duval Street. Harry S. Truman Little White House 111 Front St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-9911 www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com This historic building famously served as the winter White House for President Harry S. Truman in 1946. Truman later made 10 more trips to the Little White House, which is now a museum focusing on his Key West experience during his presidency. Key West AIDS Memorial Foot of White Street and Atlantic Boulevard www.keywestaids.org Located at the entrance to the White Street Pier, the Key West AIDS Memorial commemorates Florida Keys-friendly people who have died from AIDS-related causes. New names are engraved each year on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. Key West Aquarium 1 Whitehead St., at Mallory Square, Key West FL 33040 (800) 544-5927 www.keywestaquarium.com The Key West Aquarium is home to alligators, jellyfish, sharks and many other marine animals, and features a touch tank including conchs, sea stars, sea urchins, giant hermit crabs, and horseshoe crabs. Guided tours and feeding presentations are available. The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory 1316 Duval St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-2988 or (800) 839-4647 www.keywestbutterfly.com More than 50 different butterfly species from around the world and 20 different exotic bird species coexist in this climate-controlled, glass-enclosed habitat that includes waterfalls, flowering plants and trees. Key West City Cemetery Bordered by Angela, Frances, Olivia streets and Windsor Lane (305) 292-6718 Stop at the sexton’s office near the entrance at Passover Lane and Windsor Lane for a map containing a free walking tour from the Historic Florida Keys Foundation. The tour includes the famous headstone of hypochondriac B.P. “Pearl” Roberts that reads: “I told you I was sick.” You can also arrange for a guided tour in exchange for a donation to the foundation by calling ahead of time. Key West Historical Memorial Sculpture Garden 401 Wall St. (at Mallory Square), Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-4142 www.keywestsculpturegarden.org This sculpture garden, at the site of the original shoreline in Mallory Square, features 36 bronze busts of the most influential men and women from Key West’s past, including Henry Flagler, Ernest Hemingway, and President Harry S. Truman among others. Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters Museum 938 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-0012 www.kwahs.com The lighthouse opened in 1848, was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1969, and now stands as a museum dedicated to Key West’s maritime heritage. Take a look at the artifacts of past lighthouse keepers and then climb the 88 steps to the top of the light. Key West Shipwreck Museum 1 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 292-8990 www.keywestshipwreck.com At the Shipwreck Museum, you can walk up the 65-foot lookout tower for a 365-degree view of Key West and its harbor, learn about the lucrative wrecking industry and discover artifacts from the Isaac Allerton, the richest shipwreck in Key West’s history. Key West Theater 512 Eaton St., Key West, FL 33040 www.kwtcs.org KWTCS is a newly renovated performing arts center that presents plays, musicals, films, concerts, dance shows and more. Its resident theater company, On the Rock Productions, produces new works by Keys writers. Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden 5210 College Road, Stock Island, Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-1504 www.keywestbotanicalgarden.org This natural conservation habitat is home to many endangered flora and fauna as well as two of the last remaining freshwater ponds in the Keys, making it a migratory stopping point for rare birds from as far away as South America. Key West Wildlife Center 1801 White St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 292-1008 www.keywestwildlifecenter.org The Key West Wildlife Center is in the 8-acre Sonny McCoy Indigenous Park and includes a nature walk with a freshwater pond and two aviaries. The center also provides rehabilitative care to more than 1,000 native wild animals. Mallory Square Sunset Celebration 1 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (786) 565-7448 www.sunsetcelebration.org This nightly festival begins at the water’s edge about an hour or two before sunset and includes street performers, local artisans, food carts, psychics and more. Jewelry, T-shirts, photographs, paintings and sculptures made by local artists are also for sale. Mel Fisher Maritime Museum 200 Greene St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-2633 www.melfisher.org Exhibits include treasures from the Spanish galleons of 1622 discovered by Mel Fisher and his crew, Spanish coins in the New World, the Real Pirates of the Caribbean, the Science of Shipwrecks, artifacts from a merchant slave ship and more. Mile Marker 0 Sign 490 Whitehead St., corner of Fleming Street U. S. 1 begins here in Key West, continues 2,369 miles north up the East Coast, and ends in Fort Kent, Maine. Stop here to commemorate your visit to Key West with a photo next to the iconic Mile Marker 0 sign. Old Town Trolley Tours of Key West 1 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-6688 or (888) 910-8687 www.historictours.com/keywest Historic Tours has been running sightseeing trolleys in Key West for more than 25 years. Hop on and off throughout the day at numerous attractions including the Hemingway House, Little White House, Mallory Square and more. Psychic Readings by Julie 606 Duval St., Key West, FL 33040 (954) 295-9562 Find out where you’ve been and where you are going with a tarot card or palm reading by visionary Julie. Red Barn Theatre 319 Duval St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-9911 www.redbarntheatre.com The Red Barn Theatre has been producing professional plays and musicals in Key West for more than 35 years. This 88-seat theater is actually a converted carriage house built behind the Duval Street mansion in 1829. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! 108 Duval St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 293-9939 www.ripleys.com/keywest Ripley’s contains more than 550 odd, bizarre, and unusual exhibits housed in a historical building. Exhibits include taxidermy of two-headed animals, a shrunken torso, white buffalo and a landscape carving made of camel bone among many others. San Carlos Institute 516 Duval St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-3887 www.institutosancarlos.org This historic landmark serves as a Cuban museum, library, art gallery, and theater. Take a self-guided tour through exhibits such as The Life and Works of José Martí: 1853-1895, and the History of the San Carlos Institute. Sloan’s Ghost Hunt Tours start at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill, 301 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 290-3451 www.keywestghosthunt.com David Sloan is the author of the books “Ghosts of Key West” and “Haunted Key West,” and is the haunted history columnist for the local newspaper. Sloan’s Ghost Hunt tour takes you through Old Town using “actual” ghost hunting equipment in order to capture the spirits. The Southernmost Point Corner of Whitehead and South streets This colorful anchored concrete buoy was erected in 1983 to commemorate Key West as the southernmost point of the continental United States. There is usually a line of people queuing to take their photo next to the buoy, so plan for a bit of a wait to get yours. The Studios of Key West 533 Eaton St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-0458 www.tskw.org The Studios of Key West is a local nonprofit dedicated to nurturing artists and the artistic process. This newly renovated building, scheduled for opening in January, houses a gallery devoted to contemporary art, a 200-seat professional theater, artists’ studios and classrooms. Tennessee Williams Theatre 5901 College Road, Stock Island, FL 33040 (305) 296-1520 or (305) 295-7676 (tickets) www.tennesseewilliamstheatre.com The Tennessee Williams Theatre presents national tours, concerts and cabarets in the facility at Florida Keys Community College, which includes a 480-seat theater, a grand foyer performance area and an outdoor performance area with water views. The Tropic Cinema 416 Eaton St., Key West FL 33040 (877) 761-FILM (3456) www.tropiccinema.com The Tropic Cinema is a nonprofit movie theater that shows independent films and documentaries in addition to hosting a wide variety of community cultural events. Waterfront Playhouse 310 Wall St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-5015 www.waterfrontplayhouse.org The nonprofit Waterfront Playhouse produces professional plays and musicals in its 150-seat theater, right next to Mallory Square. The building is actually a converted icehouse from the 1880s, and the original sweeping stone walls still stand. West Martello Tower 1100 Atlantic Blvd., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-3210 www.keywestgardenclub.com The West Martello Tower is a former Civil War-era fortification that is now home to the Key West Garden Club and the Joe Allen Garden Center. Take a walk along the brick pathways to view its collection of native and exotic trees and plants. LOWER AND MIDDLE KEYS Dolphin Research Center 58901 U.S. 1, Grassy Key, FL 33050 (305) 289-1121 or (305) 289-0002 (for reservations) www.dolphins.org The Dolphin Research Center says it promotes peaceful coexistence between marine mammals, humans, and the environment through rescue, research, and education programs. It offers live trainer presentations, opportunities to observe animal training, and more. Marathon Community Theater 5101 U.S. 1, Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 743-0994 www.marathontheater.org The Marathon Community Theater produces plays, cabarets, readings, dance showcases, musicals, art shows, and concerts annually that feature local performers. Past productions include “9 to 5: the Musical” and “Elvis: A Concert Experience.” Crane Point Museum and Nature Center 5550 U.S. 1, Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 743-9100 www.cranepoint.net This 63-acre property is a natural hardwood hammock that is also home to the Marathon Wild Bird Center, which rescues and rehabilitates wild birds. Walk down one of the many nature trails or take a volunteer-led small-trolley tour around the center. National Key Deer Refuge and Watson Nature Trail 28950 Watson Blvd., Big Pine Key, FL 33043 (305) 872-2239 www.fws.gov/nationalkeydeer This refuge includes 9,200 acres of preserved land with pine rockland forests, hardwood hammocks, freshwater and salt marsh wetlands, and mangrove forests. Designated trails are available for hiking and viewing the diminutive and endangered Key deer. Pigeon Key National Historical Site 1 Knights Key Blvd., Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 743-5999 www.pigeonkey.net The 5-acre Pigeon Key was an active work camp for Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad as the company built the Overseas Railroad down the Keys in the early 1900s. The island is now home to a marine science center, and guided historical tours are available. Pigeon Key is accessible by ferry only (305-743-5999 for reservations). The Turtle Hospital 2396 U.S. 1, Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 743-2552 www.turtlehospital.org Since 1986, the nonprofit Turtle Hospital has been dedicated to rehabilitating injured sea turtles, educating the public, and conducting research. Take a tour to learn about its research and rehab efforts, and meet the current residents. UPPER KEYS Florida Keys Wild Bird Center 93600 U.S. 1, Tavernier, FL 33070 (305) 852-4486 www.fkwbc.org The nonprofit Florida Keys Wild Bird Center rescues, rehabilitates, and releases native and migratory wild birds. Take a walk along the boardwalk to view the birds as they recover in their natural habitat. The History of Diving Museum 82990 U. S. 1, Islamorada, FL 33036 (305) 664-9737 www.divingmuseum.org The History of Diving Museum is home to interactive exhibits and diving artifacts including helmets, bells, and suits from all over the world. Also on-site is the Bauer Diving History Research Library, housing nearly 2,500 books on undersea exploration. Indian Key Historic State Park/Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park Off Mile Marker 78.5, Islamorada, FL 33036 (305) 664-2540 www.floridastateparks.org/indiankey Indian Key, a tiny uninhabited island off the ocean side of Islamorada, offers great snorkeling. Nearby Lignumvitae Key is covered in a hardwood hammock; ranger-guided tours are offered twice daily. Both are accessible only by boat or kayak; tour boats leave from nearby Robbie’s Marina, which also rents boats and kayaks. Call 305-664-8070, www.Robbies.com.
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