04 Sep Make the Most of Your Trip to Key West
Key West is one of the most beautiful destinations in Florida. Just a small island where the Florida Keys trail delicately into the Gulf of Mexico, it’s got gorgeous weather year-round. Combine that with something-for-everyone accommodations, an eclectic selection of restaurants from fine dining to super casual, and an array of activities whether you like your vacations fast-paced or slow and relaxing, and it’s no wonder why Key West is so loved by those who’ve been here.
Where to Stay
This small island offers a broad array of accommodations for every taste and price point. Choose from among independent hotels, national and international chains as well as vacation rental apartments and homes, and bed and breakfasts. Some hotels are full-service resorts, with pools, spas, and on-site dining. Many accommodations offer amenities like bicycle rentals, complimentary happy hours, and amazing views.
Here are a few, in particular, that stand out: The Perry Hotel Key West, winner of Travel + Leisure‘s 2019 World’s Best Awards List for Top 10 Resort Hotels in Florida, is known for spacious elegance and highly attentive staff. Eden House, a smaller property with off-street parking, pool, hammocks, and nightly happy hour is staffed by locals who provide guests with the hospitality that only real Key West residents can provide. Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Windward Pointe has all the comforts of home, including full kitchens and on-site activities like shuffleboard, pool, live music, and on-site dining. Azul Key West, a stately home on the National Register of Historic Places, is where guests can enjoy true relaxation while still close to all the entertainment and nightlife that Key West has to offer.
Where to Eat
The food scene in Key West is vibrant and welcoming. Because of the diversity of Key West’s inhabitants over the years, the local cuisine often reflects a multicultural mix of flavors and influences, from Caribbean to Latin American, French, Asian, Mexican, and American. Visitors and locals enjoy fine dining as well as many casual restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Among the most popular are Amigos Tortilla Bar, a Mexican restaurant known for its vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes, where hand-made square tacos rule the day. Corn tortillas are made fresh every day and filled with local ingredients, from breakfast to late dinners.
Key West Diner offers visitors the traditional diner experience but with local flair, best known for its omelets. Moondog Cafe & Bakery is a charming setting for light fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From breakfast classics like omelets, pancakes, and bagels to lunch and dinner favorites like ahi tuna poke, salads, tacos, burgers, sandwiches, and grilled pizzas, this is a long-time favorite of visitors and locals alike.
Things to Do
Key West has so much to do, anyone would be hard-pressed to get it all into a single trip. Don’t miss Fish All In for custom fishing charters. Led by a local captain who knows the local waters and the fish that frequent them, these trips are the best way to ensure a great day at sea, whether you’re fishing for tarpon, grouper, snapper, and more. Perfect for novices and experienced anglers, Fish All In has everything you need, from permits to tackle. Snorkeling in Dry Tortugas National Park is hugely popular. While technically in the Gulf of Mexico, the islands that make up this park are just a short ferry ride from Key West and definitely worth the trip. Exciting dive sites like wrecks and coral reefs are accessible to novices and experienced snorkelers alike.
The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden is the only one of its kind in the continental U.S. Filled with lush plants, trees, and shrubs that are allowed to grow naturally, this is the best place to get an idea of what southern Florida might have looked like prior to development. Stroll along planked walkways and take in remarkable native flora and fauna; guests of the garden also enjoy birding.
Depending on what time of year you book your trip, you may enjoy some of Key West’s famous festivals. From Hemingway Days to Fantasy Fest and the “Bight” Before Christmas. Festivals and other celebrations typically offer unique entertainment options, food trucks, and vendors as well as arts and crafts, music, and family-friendly activities.
Key West is one of the most exciting warm-weather destinations in the continental U.S. It offers an array of dining and activities that deliver a world-class vacation right in your own backyard. And with it being so easy to get to by car, plane or sea, there’s no reason not to consider it the next time you’re searching for a fun and affordable tropical island getaway.
Author: Chris Garcia is the owner of key-west-fishing.link and a longtime Key West resident