Mallory Square Sunset artwork, created on an iPad.

Key West, at the southernmost tip of the United States below Florida (and only 90 miles from Cuba), can leave you getting sucked into one attraction or tourist shop after another. And that can leave a dent in your wallet. But there are a few things to do in Key West that are both free and amazing. Check out our story “4 Fun Free Things To Do in Key West (+2)” for more on that!

One of those free things is the nightly Mallory Square sunset celebration. Mallory Square has existed as a gathering point for Key West’s social and commercial life since the mid 1800’s. Even today, that has not changed much. People start gathering (unless it is raining of course) nearly two hours before the official scheduled sunset (you can find out the official sunset time on the Mallory Square website here). And of course that means drinks, music, crafts festivals and other shenanigans.

The subject: Honestly, the Mallory Square sunset event is fun Key West kitsch at its best with a boisterous street fair atmosphere, people hawking crafts and food, psychics, street performers, and enough alcohol floating around to sink you. But watching the sun settle down into the Gulf of Mexico, painting different colors every night for one of the most spectacular sunsets anywhere in the world is the reason you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with masses of locals and tourists alike. The beauty is, the scene and the colors change every night. So go once, go twice, and go again and again.

The inspiration: It was early November when Therese and I joined the throngs gathering along docks at the water’s edge to witness the Mallory Square sunset celebration. The air was filled with laughter, music, and the constant hum of conversation as the sun began dipping toward the ocean. Then, as if on cue, hundreds of people holding mobile phones high and sometimes in selfie mode began snapping photos of an event that has been recorded by millions a million times before. I was having as much fun watching the silhouetted crowd as I was witnessing an amazingly colorful sunset.

Artist’s tools: As the light was disappearing too quickly, I worked, as I sometimes do, with a photo that my wife took to complete my artwork of the Mallory Square sunset. Looking at her photo projected on a large computer screen in front of me, and using a combination of various watercolor brushes, as well as special texture brushes available in Procreate, I worked with my Apple pencil to capture the intense colors of the sunset on my iPad Pro. I then used a charcoal pencil for the palm tree and to create the soft blurred effect of the fronds. Finally, using an ink pen and brush, I added the lamp and people in the foreground as well as my trademark birds – gotta have some birds flying in the sky.

A print of this digital painting on your wall is the next best thing to being there yourself…as well as a great gift for anyone in your life who appreciates artwork inspired by travel. Click on any image below to go directly to my online store to purchase prints, gift cards, coffee cups and more.

Read More Travel Tips For Florida

Mallory Square sunset celebration captured in bright colors

Key West, at the southernmost tip of the United States below Florida (and only 90 miles from Cuba), can leave you getting sucked into one attraction or tourist shop after another. And that can leave a dent in your wallet. But there are a few things to do in Key West...
Read More

Florida’s hidden gems: 10 more reasons to visit

There are plenty quiet and magical places sans crowds in Florida if you know where to look — places we like to refer to as Florida’s hidden gems. Rest assured that when Ponce de León first arrived in Florida in 1513 he wasn’t greeted by Walt Disney or Mickey Mouse. You too can get to Florida and not just find theme parks or senior citizens’ specials. The Sunshine State has hidden gems that whisk you way beyond the expected.

Read More

Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is most certainly one of the most isolated parks in the national park system. It lies 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, and is accessible only by boat or seaplane.

Read More

Dry Tortugas National Park – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Almost 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. With the surrounding shoals and water, they make up the Dry Tortugas National Park, an area noted for bird and marine life and shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson, its central cultural feature, is one of the nation’s largest 1800s masonry fort. Video shot in 360 with a Kodak Pixpro SP360 camera.

Read More

4 Fun Free Things to Do in Key West (+ 2 )

Key West, at the southernmost tip of the United States below Florida (and only 90 miles from Cuba), can leave you getting sucked into one attraction or tourist kitsch shop after another. And that can leave a dent in your wallet. How about four free things to do in Key West that are totally cool and fun? (Plus, we’ll toss in 2 bonus things to do).

Read More

Running at Disney World turned me into an outlaw

During a trip to Orlando, Fla., in 2015, I was reminded of a previous vacation my husband and I took to Orlando’s Disney World – one where I actually tried running at Disney World. For runners, the city can be so aggravating: I call it the home of “sidewalks to nowhere.” That’s assuming there are any. Usually there are not. The moniker “sidewalks to nowhere” came up a long time ago when I would find that sidewalks just ended – wheelchair ramp and all – leaving any unlucky pedestrian in the middle of a busy street or slogging through rough grass and mud beside an endless stream of cars and trucks. Basically, this city ain’t designed for anything but automobiles.

Read More

Walt Disney World Travel Tips: 17 insights for a not-to-forget visit

Walt Disney World in Florida is an amazing destination many adults pass by, assuming it is only for kids. Really, it’s for the kids in all of us. But no matter how kid-like we are in the adult quest for fun, maneuvering the massive array of parks, transportation...
Read More

Disney World Tips: Planning before booking & traveling

Walt Disney World is a wonderful adult getaway – one that HI Travel Tales highly recommends. But as (alleged) grown-ups, going toe-to-toe jostling for space with battalions of 6-year-old pirates and princesses and their weary parents is not high on our “favorite things about Disney” list. You need some Disney World tips.

Read More

Map of Florida

In the map below, pins mark the exact location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on Florida. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information. 

Disney World

http://hitraveltales.com/walt-disney-world-travel-tips-17-insights-for-a-not-to-forget-visit/

Epcot Center

http://hitraveltales.com/walt-disney-world-travel-tips-17-insights-for-a-not-to-forget-visit/

Castillo de San Marcos

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Blowing Rocks Beach

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Coral Castle Museum

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Monkey Jungle

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Christmas - Orange County

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

The Presidents Hall of Fame

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Gasparilla Pirate Fest

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Azucar - Little Havana

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

The World's Smallest Police Station

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-hidden-gems-10-more-reasons-to-visit/

Cuban Coffee Queen

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-dry-tortugas-national-park/

Yankee Freedom Dock

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-dry-tortugas-national-park/

Dry Tortugas National Park

http://hitraveltales.com/floridas-dry-tortugas-national-park/

Eco-Discovery Center

http://hitraveltales.com/free-things-to-do-in-key-west/

Key West's Oldest House & Garden Museum

http://hitraveltales.com/free-things-to-do-in-key-west/

Historic Hellings House

http://hitraveltales.com/free-things-to-do-in-key-west/

West Martello Tower

http://hitraveltales.com/free-things-to-do-in-key-west/

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration

http://hitraveltales.com/free-things-to-do-in-key-west/

Sunrise at Dog Beach

http://hitraveltales.com/free-things-to-do-in-key-west/

Follow Me

Michael Hodgson

Traveler at HI Travel Tales
Born to British parents in Canada, Michael Hodgson had been schlepped back and forth across the pond since he was a toddler. In college, he took the big leap and spent a few months in Kenya – and never looked back. His biology major somehow led him into a writing career, focusing on the outdoors, hiking and gear testing. Building on his lifetime of travel with travel writing was a natural, although he still loves to seek out the wilder side of a mountain – or a city -- for a good story. Michael also is a partner in a consulting business (www.NewNormalConsulting.com) built on a passion to help specialty businesses and brands succeed both domestically and internationally.
Follow Me