A sequence of islands surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Key West is a world aside from the mainland. The southernmost metropolis within the continental United States, the sun-soaked outpost treats guests to a seamless mix of nature, nightlife, and historical past. In fact, it’s simple to imagine the place is little greater than a three-mile-long bar — and that’s not fully unfaithful. However, past the thrill of Duval Road and the aspect streets filled with endless-happy-hour spots, there’s extra to see on this island paradise than most guests ever take into account.  The city has famously been residence to literary giants together with Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, and Elizabeth Bishop. In fact, the tropical outpost was additionally the longtime residence of Jimmy Buffet, who has often paid musical homage to Key West in his songs.

At the moment, locals admire the eccentric, the inventive, the bohemian, and rejoice anybody or something that’s just a bit bizarre. Right here’s a information to touring the USA’ southernmost outpost like a proudly off-kilter native.

Beach in Key West in early morning.

Associated Journey Guides

When to Go to the Florida Keys

Springtime (between March and Could) is the best time to go to. Crowds start to skinny out from the winter rush, however the climate remains to be snug with a 70-to-80 diploma candy spot. Winter is the excessive season as these from the Northern U.S. hurry to flee the chilly. Summer season is a bet, because it brings hurricane season (June to November) which is humid and infrequently wet, however inns supply nice charges and there are fewer vacationers.

With an extended checklist of occasions each month of the 12 months, Key West is a pageant lover’s dream. Listed here are the highlights:

  • January: The five-day Key West Food & Wine Festival is a end result of 30 occasions to rejoice the island’s distinctive Floridian-Caribbean delicacies.
  • April: The Cow Key Channel Bridge Run isn’t a significant occasion. However, because the “solely zero Okay bridge run,” it completely embodies Key West’s eclectic, humorous, and simply plain bizarre tradition. April additionally brings the annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration which showcases Key West’s historic and weird 1982 “secession” from the USA.
  • June: Like a toned-down model of Fantasy Fest, Key West Pride is a multi-day occasion to advertise the One Human Household philosophy so completely engrained within the island’s lifestyle.
  • October: Fantasy Fest is Key West’s 10-day carnival and the one can’t-miss annual occasion. It’s loud, wild, and really near a bacchanal the place (virtually) something goes. Make your journey plans early and be ready to pay a hefty premium for inns and nearly all the things else.
  • November: For nearly 4 a long time, the Super Boat Annual Key West World Championship has been one of many world’s premier powerboat racing occasions. Spectators crowd at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Key West harbor to look at extra the highest contenders race at greater than 100 mph. The next week sees the Key West Film Festival which options the most effective in impartial cinema for offbeat international, LGBT, and documentary movies, plus Florida-centric film premieres as effectively. It’s a full-featured occasion with a  big kick-off social gathering, unique screenings, and an awards gala.

The place to Keep

When it comes to in a single day lodging, Key West has one thing for everybody. There are inns, Airbnb’s, and mom-and-pop locations similar to you would possibly see on the collection Bloodline for lease in Key West. Factor is, there’s solely a lot actual property, as anybody who visits can let you know, it may be costly. Ebook your lodging far upfront of your journey to get the most effective fee.

Eden Home

People grilling at Eden House.
Eden House

For regionally flavored lodging, it’s exhausting to beat Eden Home. It was Key West’s first resort and, even after a number of renovations, it retains the island’s charming, bohemian-meets-Colonial vibe. It’s ‘boutique’ in each sense of the phrase – the form of place the place check-in beers are complimentary and each visitor is assured a hammock.

  • Nearest Airport: Key West Worldwide Airport
  • Time: 14 minutes
  • Distance: 4.9 miles

Southernmost Seashore Resort

Stunning view of the blue sea at Southernmost Beach Resort.

Beachfront lodging is scarce in Key West, however Southernmost Seashore Resort is an exception. The Colonial-style cottages are stylish, upscale, and supply loads of island flare – all unfold throughout six beachfront acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. What’s extra: It’s inside a brief stroll to the motion on and off Duval Road, however far sufficient eliminated to guarantee loads of quiet and seclusion.

  • Nearest Airport: Key West Worldwide Airport
  • Time: 14 minutes
  • Distance: 4.8 miles

The Gardens Lodge

Exterior of blue and white buildings of Gardens Hotel.
Gardens Hotel

A Key West mainstay because the 1800s, the property that’s now often known as The Gardens Hotel was as soon as slated to develop into a botanical backyard. In 1930, masterful landscaper Peggy Mills bought the property, and remodeled the property into an exquisitely lush backyard, with unique tropical crops and artfully-crafted brick walkways. And, the tranquil vibe stays, though nowadays, the property even has facilities for visitors, together with heated swimming pools bicycle leases, and the well-stocked Wine Gallery. Lodging choices embody ethereal visitor rooms, an artfully-appointed master bedroom, and 5 distinctive cottages, 4 of which embody non-public swimming pools.

  • Nearest Airport: Key West Worldwide Airport
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Distance: 3.6 miles

What to Eat and Drink

View of the sea and some restaurants in Key West.

At simply seven sq. miles, Key West is tiny. So, fortunately, its vacationer district is condensed right into a single highway – Duval Road. It’s residence to Starbucks, Denny’s, Jimmy Buffet’s Magaritaville, mass-produced tchotchke outlets, and pop-up stands with buckets of booze all the time on ‘particular.’ It’s definitely worth the cease as a result of you may’t absolutely admire modern-day Key West with out it. However, the most effective elements of the island are discovered on the various aspect streets and alleys off Duval. Fortunately, Key West’s diminutive dimension hasn’t stopped the proliferation of wonderful eating places on virtually each nook of the island.

  • “$” = budget-friendly or low-cost
  • “$$”= common
  • “$$$”= costly

Santiago’s Bodega

Plate of food and a glass of wine.

Santiago’s Bodega might look a bit too low-key, however as soon as inside, it’s inconceivable to not admire the Spanish-meets-Keys appeal of this tiny tapas bar. The décor is quaint and understated, particularly given the out-of-this-world good small plates which can be the most effective in Key West (and arguably the state). Just about all the things on the menu pairs effectively with a pitcher of their house-made sparking sangria. Reservations are extremely really helpful any time of day because it’s simply we widespread with locals as with vacationers.

  • Finest for lunch, dinner
  • $$

Browse the Menu

Garbo’s Grill

Lobster and chips on cutting board.

For one thing a bit extra ‘grab-and-go,’ try Garbo’s Grill. This husband-and-wife owned meals truck behind Grunts Bar serves up easy however artistic takes on handheld meals like burgers, burritos, and tacos. The tiny, palm-lined patio is a chill, cozy place to dine alfresco.

  • Finest for lunch, dinner
  • $$

Browse the Menu

Higher Than Intercourse

Ice cream dessert from Better Than Sex.

Should you can forgive the ham-handed, Valentine’s Day schtick theme of Higher Than Intercourse, you’ll be in for a few of the island’s finest after-dinner treats. This dimly-lit dessert bar offers no illusions about its menu and each plate is nearly unnecessarily decadent. Go for the unique Higher Than Intercourse – darkish chocolate-soaked pumpernickel bread pudding stuffed with wealthy candy cherries.

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Inexperienced Parrot Bar & Charlie Mac’s

Burger topped with onion rings, lettuce, and tomato with a side of crispy fries.

The Inexperienced Parrot Bar claims to be the oldest bar on the island. Rumors abound in help of and in opposition to the declare. Both means, they’re been slinging stiff drinks since 1890 – and it feels as if the place has hardly seen a cleansing since. It’s a textbook instance of what a dive bar ought to be: Loads of dwell music, angle, and no meals on the menu (attempt the BBQ at Charlie Mac’s subsequent door for those who’re hungry). Don’t miss their Root Beer Barrel – the home boilermaker that mixes root beer and schnapps with a chaser of their least expensive beer.

  • Finest for drinks, lunch, dinner
  • $$

Browse the Menu

Captain Tony’s Saloon

Captain Tony's in Key West.

A quintessential dive bar, the property housing Captain Tony’s Saloon as served lots of capabilities – and featured prominently in native lore, even incomes a point out in Jimmy Buffet’s track Final Mango in Paris. Initially constructed in 1851 as an icehouse that additionally operated because the native morgue, the property housing Captain Tony’s Saloon served lots of capabilities earlier than first being opened as a bar in 1933 – a spot often known as Sloppy Joes, famed for internet hosting the likes of Ernest Hemingway frequently. However, after a dispute with the owner, Sloppy Joes moved to Duval Road in 1938 – and 20 years later, native constitution captain Tony Tarracino purchased the joint, and the remainder is historical past.

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Salute! on the Seashore

Fish dish from Salute!

To flee the maddening crowds, Salute! on the Seashore presents decidedly relaxed cocktails and eating removed from Duval Road. Hop an Uber to this funky hangout located immediately on the sand at Higgs Seashore the place beachgoers have quick access to clear tropical cocktails and seafood-centric snacks.

  • Finest for lunch, dinner
  • $$

Browse the Menu

Key West Authorized Rum

Distiller sits beside copper stills at Key West Distillers.
Trip Advisor

Key West Authorized Rum is a perfect finish level for a day pub crawl. The chef-owned distillery embraces the island’s lengthy, sordid historical past with liquor and prohibition. The tasting room offers loads of historical past together with free samples and bespoke rum-centric cocktails. Whereas the menu adjustments usually, ask concerning the Inexperienced Flash – a singular mix of calmly carbonated ginger, lime, demerara sugar, and vanilla brulée rum.

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Blue Heaven

Painting of Blue Heaven Restaurant.

For such a tiny island, the breakfast choices are surprisingly plentiful. However, even locals agree nothing touches Blue Heaven. The country sister restaurant of Salute! has an al fresco courtyard the place roosters run wild beneath the tables. It’s a staple of the island’s breakfast scene and the wait can typically be greater than an hour. But it surely’s effectively price it as a result of each final thing on the menu is artistic and superb. We suggest BLT Eggs Benedict with recent Florida lobster, bacon, avocado, and lime hollandaise sauce. Comply with it with a slice of scratch-made key lime pie (as a result of pie with breakfast is appropriate right here) – key lime juice and wealthy graham cracker crust, topped with six full inches of meringue.

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What to Do

Exploring the seashores and swimming within the turquoise water of the Keys ought to be on the prime of each customer’s checklist. Whether or not you do that by snorkeling, scuba diving, or driving a jet ski is as much as you. In fact, the wealthy historical past of Key West is price diving into as effectively. Moreover, Key West sunsets are to not be missed, as road performers supply full of life leisure whilst you stroll the streets, having fun with the breeze. The island undoubtedly toes the road between ‘Jimmy Buffet-inspired touristy’ and ‘stylish island bohemian.’ Whenever you’ve had your fill of the bustle of Duval and half-drunk-by-morning vacationers, escape to Key West’s finest off-island experiences. What you might not know is that the island’s trendy historical past is inextricably linked to the lifetime of Ernest Hemingway. To know and absolutely admire Key West, you have to begin originally.

Hemingway Home

Full building view of the Hemingway House on a clear, sunny day.

House to the storied creator from 1931 to 1940, Hemingway Home is a requisite first cease for brand new guests because it offers the proper primer. After transferring into the Spanish colonial home along with his second spouse, journalist Pauline Pfeifer), Hemingway penned works together with Inexperienced Hills of Africa (1935) and The Brief Comfortable Lifetime of Frances Macomber (1936) on the property. A tour of the museum takes little greater than an hour or two. Guides present a light-weight, instructional glimpse into the lifetime of not simply Hemingway the person, however the historical past of Key West as an entire. A lot of his unique memorabilia (together with a tiny author’s loft which seems frozen in time) and loads of six-toed cats nonetheless stay.

Visit the House

Barefoot Billy’s (Water Adventures)

Barefoot Billy boat cruises open water.

Not surprisingly, Key West’s finest adventurous diversions are on the ocean. Barefoot Billy’s supply a number of guided water-based actions together with snorkeling, dolphin watching, and harbor cruises. However, their huge get is a two-hour jet ski tour that circumnavigates your complete island (no earlier talent required). Whereas there are a handful of stops alongside the best way, the tour is quick so be ready to maintain up.

View Tours and Rentals

Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park

Breathtaking aerial view of the Dry Tortugas National Park.

Seventy miles west, you’ll discover one of the crucial distinctive national parks in the USA. Dry Tortugas National Park is a shocking, distant outpost that few Individuals have ever heard of, not to mention visited. It’s comprised of seven islands, protected coral reefs, and Fort Jefferson – a sprawling, 19th-century navy set up that noticed little use in its day and nonetheless stays very well-preserved. The true win for vacationers is simply off-shore because the island is residence to a few of the clearest, warmest tropical waters within the nation. Chartered floatplanes are the quickest (and costliest) technique of transportation to/from Key West, whereas the ferry is much slower however permits you to take within the surroundings. For an ‘all-in’ expertise, the park service presents restricted in a single day camping for not more than a dozen guests. However be ready: there are not any providers (water, cell service, or electrical energy) of any type. You’re, fairly actually, by yourself.

Explore the Park

Sundown Key

Sunset Key Cottages and oceanic view in Key West.

Even with the miles of gorgeous shoreline, The Florida Keys should not identified for his or her Caribbean-style, smooth sand seashores. For a uncommon seashore expertise in Key West, e-book a day cross to Sunset Key, only a seven-minute boat experience throughout from Mallory Sq.. The tiny island is residence to one in all Florida’s most unique inns and a restricted variety of non-guests are allowed to loosen up on its non-public, flour-soft seashore every day. After sundown, head to Latitudes – the resort’s beachfront restaurant, routinely ranked about the most effective and most romantic in Key West.

Visit Sunset Key

Key West Cemetery

Sign at historic Key West Cemetery.

Nestled into Previous City, the Key West Cemetery is a microcosm of native historical past. Established in 1847, the 19-acre cemetery is the ultimate resting place for locals from all walks of life, from mariners to cigar makers to millionaires. Maps of the cemetery can be found from the Sexton’s Workplace for self-guided excursions, and the Historic Florida Keys Foundation additionally presents strolling excursions twice per week. In fact, with a fame as one of the crucial haunted locations on the town, the storied cemetery can be one of many stops showcased on the Ghosts & Gravestones Tour of Key West.

Visit the Cemetery

Tips on how to Save Cash on Your Journey to the Keys


Search for Groupon offers, reductions by means of your resort, and financial savings for these purchasing on-line. And, don’t overlook about Key West’s budget-friendly experiences, from free, self-guided strolling excursions to historic websites to public seashores.


Whereas the climate might be unpredictable throughout the hurricane season in late summer time and early fall (sometimes in September and October), there are ‘low season’ lodging charges accessible. And, if potential, e-book upfront to snap up the most effective offers.

Car Leases 

Ebook in Advance and be open to no matter is accessible. Rental cars might be costly proper now and having some flexibility will allow you to get monetary savings.

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