If you happen to’re in search of a tropical escape with out leaving the nation, head straight to Key West, Florida. 

Everybody from crooner Jimmy Buffett and playwright Tennessee Williams to writer Ernest Hemingway and President Harry Truman has fallen for its charms. And it is simple to see why: turquoise waters, breathtaking sunsets, charming properties, and a laissez-faire perspective that locations you firmly on island time.

Depend me as one of many guests to fall beneath Key West’s enchanting spell once I first visited 20 years in the past. I have been residing in Florida for 25 years now — and have traveled extensively all through the state — and Key West is hands-down my favourite vacation spot within the Sunshine State. Contemplating that Florida spans 66,000 sq. miles, that is saying one thing. 

Due to its laid-back ambiance and tropical vibe, my husband and I consult with Key West as our joyful place. We bought married in close by Islamorada, and for our first anniversary, we wined and dined in Key West. We nonetheless go to Key West as typically as potential, even within the warmth of summer season, and love introducing out-of-town guests to the island’s magic.

Residents prefer to name Key West, the top of the Florida Keys archipelago, the Conch Republic as a result of it appears up to now faraway from the remainder of the nation.

About 159 miles — or a four-hour drive — from Miami, Key West is the southernmost level within the contiguous United States and about 90 miles from Cuba. The island itself is not giant, comprising about 4 sq. miles.

Observe that the island of Key West and the town of Key West are completely different entities. The latter additionally includes Dredgers Key, Fleming Key, Sundown Key, and a part of Inventory Island inside its metropolis limits.

boats in harbor in Key West, Florida Silvia Ros for Insider

Many additionally use boats to navigate the island’s coastlines.

Silvia Ros for Insider

Many of the island’s famed nightlife, historic properties, and lauded eating spots will be discovered on the western aspect of the island within the Previous City, Bahama Village, and Casa Marina neighborhoods. Duval Avenue is akin to New Orleans’ Bourbon Avenue, with revelers pouring out of bars lengthy into the night time. And Inventory Island is an up-and-coming space on the japanese border of the town, the place you may get a real style of Previous Florida and discover fishermen nonetheless plying their commerce alongside dockside eating places, artists’ studios, and a pair new accommodations.

Key West Florida Blue Heaven restaurant travel guide Silvia Ros for Insider

A rooster perched on the roof of Key West’s Blue Heaven restaurant.

Silvia Ros for Insider

However, in some ways, Key West manages to take care of a small-town really feel. Roosters roam the streets, queer residents really feel proper at dwelling, and though company pursuits have purchased up many storefronts and resort properties in recent times, locals are decided to take care of Key West’s genuine vibe as a lot as potential.

I’d be remiss to not point out that Key West is not precisely identified for its seashores. (The identical goes for the Keys normally.) That is as a result of coral reefs offshore stop sand from accumulating and making a seashore. So many of the seashores on Key West are man-made, with Fort Zachary Taylor Seashore thought of the one pure one on the island.

Nonetheless, what it lacks in seashores, Key West greater than makes up for with crystal-clear waters in dazzling shades of aqua and turquoise. And people aforementioned coral reefs — in addition to the ocean and gulf convergence — provide prime alternatives for snorkeling and diving. Whether or not you try this, lease a ship for a pleasure cruise, constitution a fishing journey, hop on a stand-up paddleboard, or go parasailing, getting out on the water is a should when visiting Key West.

Briefly, despite the fact that Key West is simply a four-hour drive from the mainland, it feels worlds aside — in the easiest way potential. This is the right way to plan the last word journey.

The best ways to get to and around Key West from a Florida local, including the closest airports, scooter and car rentals, and more

I’m a Florida local who regularly travels to Key West. These are my 10 favorite places to stay, from beach resorts to boutique villas.

I’ve been visiting and reviewing restaurants in Key West for 20 years — here are 11 of the best places where you should actually eat

Key West is tiny but packed with things to do — here 11 activities that locals say you can’t miss, from boozy Tiki cruises to spooky ghost tours

Everything you need to know before visiting Key West — weather, traffic, and the best months to go


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