Many of Key West’s charms lie outside tourist-heavy Duval St

Watching a spectacular sunset from the pier is a Key West ritual, with street performers and musicians providing local color as the sky turns pastel.

Wastin’ away in Margaritaville is not my idea of a good time. So Key West, which inspired Jimmy Buffett’s booze-soaked ode, had never been on my radar.

But when I heard about The Marker Resort — Key West’s first new hotel in two decades — I reconsidered. Maybe it was time to find out why locals dub the southernmost city in the United States “a little piece of paradise,” rather than the tawdry tourist factory I envisioned.

I’m glad I did. While raucous Duval St. certainly helps Key West live up to its rep — picture a B-list Bourbon St. — there’s a lot to discover in this part of the Florida Keys, from quirky boutiques to terrific food and a vibrant art scene.

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