Key West, Florida Keys Travel Guide
Key West Summary
- Super laid-back, funky vibe
- Party central of the Keys
- Lots of attractions for the family, like nature reserves and train tours
- Plenty of water activities, like parasailing, snorkeling, and swimming
- Excellent Cuban cuisine
- Warm weather year-round
- Fresh, delicious seafood
- Fun (if rowdy) nightlife; popular bars that stay open 'til the wee hours
- Tons of outdoor activities -- biking, golf, kayaking, tennis
- Only one public airport
- Driving is difficult; parking is expensive
- Small beaches, but very clean
- Some built-up, kitschy areas
- Hurricane potential from August to November
What It's Like
Things you'll hardly ever find in Key West: a mega highway; a quiet night; a wristwatch. This island is packed with an eclectic mix of nature preserves, party bars, and luxury hotels. As the U.S.'s southernmost city, one of Key West's biggest draws is the weather -- it claims to be the only city in the lower 48 states to never have had a frost. Most visitors flock to this city for some genuine R&R as well as bottomless bottles of booze. But there's more to Key West than rowdy bars-- the island is home to a bunch of art galleries, a few interesting museums, including Ernst Hemingway's Home & Museum, and a community movie theatre.
Even though the Florida Keys are not known for their beaches (most of them are man-made), Fort Zachary Taylor Park is a Key West favorite among beachgoers. The old 19th century fort is now a major destination, not only for the buildings of historical relevance, but for the beautiful beach and the wonderful ovean views it offers.
Along with Marolly Square, Duval Street is the main nightlife area, and the main artery of Old Town Key West. It is lined with restaurants, bars, and tacky souvenir shops, and can sometimes feel overrun by cruise ship passengers. However, if you can see past the bright, ridiculous T-shirts, you'll notice that Key West has a certain lovable funk that keeps the tourists coming.
Where To Stay
Visitors seeking the active nightlife that the area is famous for should check out hotels around Mallory Square and Duval Street. Those in need of some R&R will probably find the south side of the island quieter.