10 Reasons Why You Should Totally Visit Key West, Florida
Key West, the last of the Florida Keys, is a wonderful place to visit. Whether you plan on staying for the day, week or year, it’s a great place to relax and enjoy yourself.
It is the southernmost city in the continental USA and is famous for its beaches, coral reefs, and laid-back atmosphere.
While it used to be visited mostly by locals, tourists started coming here after the road bridge was built in 1938. Today, around two million people visit Key West every year, making it one of Florida’s premier tourist destinations.
The thing about this island is that it is quite remote and expensive to visit, as wonderful as it is. So is Key West really worth visiting?
Having lived there for a few months myself, I would say: Absolutely!
In this post, you will find ten reasons that will help you decide whether Key West should be your next vacation destination.
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in a hurry?
These are our favorite things to do in Key West:
- Key West Sunset Sail with full bar and live music
- Eating key lime pie
- Snorkeling on a Reef Half-Day Snorkeling Excursion
- Exploring Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
- Seeing sharks on a Shark and Wildlife Viewing Adventure
- Kayaking the mangroves
- Day trip to Dry Tortugas
- Sailing & Watersports (check out this tour!)
How to get to Key West
There are a few ways to get to Key West. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but the best method will depend on your circumstances.
The most direct way is by plane using commercial flights from various major airports across the United States. The size of aircraft used for these flights varies between 50 and 200 passengers, depending on the airline and type of aircraft; however, there are no non-stop flights longer than about three hours duration.
Another option would be to take one of the ferry services out of Fort Myers Beach and Marco Island. However, the most popular way of getting to Key West is driving.
The only way to drive directly to Key West is over the Overseas Highway, a 113-mile) highway carrying U.S. Route 1 through the Florida Keys to Key West. The drive between Miami and Key West takes approximately three and a half hours without stops.
10 Wonderful reasons to visit Key West, Florida
Here are, without further ado, the reasons that explain why Key West is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime.
Each of them is a key component of all the sweet things that make this place really one of its kind. If you have already been to Key West, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The food in Key West Florida is as eclectic and amazing as the people who live there, making it a true paradise for any foodie out there.
In most of the island’s restaurants, you can find everything from gourmet Italian to Mexican and even some Key West classics, such as conch fritters and Key Lime Pie.
Also, Key West’s proximity to the ocean always guarantees the freshness and deliciousness of the local seafood.
Great restaurants to try in Key West
Choosing a restaurant among all the great options on the island is no easy task, but I wouldn’t miss going to Santiago’s Bodega (their tapas are to die for!), Blue Heaven (amazing eggs benedict), and the Southernmost Beach Café.
If you are willing to splurge, you should also absolutely check out Latitudes, an award-winning restaurant located on Sunset Key, an exclusive 27-acre island just 500 yards off Key West.
To get there, you can take the free boat that departs from the Margaritaville Key West Resort and Marina. Oh, and reservations are mandatory.
Good weather year-round
The weather in Key West, as common in Florida, is warm all year round.
The warmest month of the year, July, averages 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 Celsius), while the coldest months, January and February, average 77 degrees.
This is great because you will never need to pack heavy clothes or be concerned about finding an umbrella, making it, in fact, an amazing getaway for winter.
Personally, I lived on the island from December to April, and I can honestly say that the weather was absolutely perfect during all those months.
It was warm and ideal for spending the day at the beach, practicing watersports, and just living the island life at its best.
It has one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world
Key West is home to one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world and even hosts a sunset ceremony daily at Mallory Square.
This event is a great place for people watching and enjoying the Key West sun slip below the horizon while listening to local music groups play traditional songs of the sea.
After the sunset, make sure to hang out at Mallory Square for a while to enjoy a cold margarita, watch the street artists perform and maybe even grab dinner at Mesón de Pepe, one of the most traditional restaurants in that area.
It has a very exciting nightlife
There is nothing quite like the Key West nightlife!
There is something for everyone’s cup of tea in Key West, from live music venues to drag shows and clubs featuring live entertainment.
Some of the coolest places to hang out at night and satisfy all your partying needs include Sloppy Joe’s, Rick’s, the Green Parrot, and Irish Kevin.
Another fun thing to do is have a Duval Street Pub Crawl, which basically means grabbing a drink in every one of the most fun bars on Duval Street.
Another great thing about Key West is how unique, friendly, talented, and passionate its locals are. The island has become a kind of refuge for artists and fun people looking for a more slow-paced life.
A good example of that are the former Key West residents Ernest Heminway, Jimmy Buffet, and Judy Blume.
If you visit the island with an open heart, getting to know the locals will for sure be a memory you will treasure forever. If you can grab a drink, that’s even better! (:
It truly feels like a piece of paradise on earth
With the unbelievable beauty of the Atlantic ocean, picturesque buildings, and iconic Florida sunsets, there’s nothing quite like relaxing in Key West after a long day.
The island really feels almost too perfect to be true, which makes it so magical.
Imagine blue skies, fresh seafood, beautiful historic building, and indescribable nature. Well, that is Key West! No wonder so many people travel there every single year.
You can ride a bike everywhere
Key West is an extremely walkable city. However, to reach those places where walking takes a little too long, you can always rent a bike and go around the city.
If you have the time, I recommend riding to Smathers beach or even all the way to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
There are many bike shops around town, but many hotels and guesthouses in Key West provide bicycle rentals for their guests so that you can rent one at your convenience.
Interesting historical sites
Because of its privileged location, the small island had a big role in historical events such as the Civil War, so there are many historical sites to visit when in Key West.
These places include the Ernest Hemingway House, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West Lighthouse, and the Key West Shipwreck History Museum.
You can visit these sites at your leisure for a complete educational yet relaxing day trip.
Great shopping opportunities
Key West provides ample shopping opportunities for its guests.
Some of the various shops include clothing boutiques, art galleries, wine/liquor stores, and souvenir shops, which are perfect if you want to take home some great memories from your time spent in Key West.
It is close to Dry Tortugas National Park
Going on a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park is a must on any Key West adventure.
The National Park is located about 70 miles west of the island and is accessible by boat or seaplane tours, which are available throughout the city.
The park offers incredible historical sites, great snorkeling, and beautiful turquoise water for all nature lovers during their visit.
Fun facts about Key West, Florida
If Key West hasn’t completely won your heart (yet!), last but not least, I have gathered a list with all my favorite facts about this place.
- It is located closer to Cuba than Miami
The Southernmost Buoy at the end of Simonton Street in Key West is a famous landmark that marks 90 miles to Cuba, but for those who want an adventure and stay longer than just one night, it’s 150 miles down Overseas Highway from Miami.
- The island is completely full of chickens
Don’t be surprised if you wake up to a rooster crowing at dawn during your visit to Key West. The island has an insane population of chickens, which today are part of the city’s unique atmosphere.
- Key Limes are not harvested in Key West
Even though the Key Lime Pie is undoubtedly Key West’s most traditional dessert, key limes are not harvested on the Florida Keys.
The produce is actually imported from Mexico, India, and the West Indies.
- There is a little White House on the island
Originally built in 1890 as the first officer’s quarters on the submarine base naval station, Key West’s little White House served as the winter home for President Harry S Truman in his eleven visits to the island.
Even today, the house still has incredible historical value.
- Key West celebrates Fantasy Fest every year
Fantasy Fest is a traditional annual parade commonly known for the characteristic outrageous and creative costumes people wear to it – body painting is allowed!
Best places to stay in Key West
Now, I would like to share some recommendations of great places to stay in Key West.
Choosing a nice hotel with a great location on the island is very important and will surely make your trip even nicer.
Here are some of my favorites:
This hotel is located in the heart of Key West, ideally set on a private beach in Key West’s Old Town.
It boasts an incredible view over the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. All rooms are well-appointed, spacious and come complete with plush bedding, 32″ flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, and fully equipped bathrooms. There is also a fitness center for guest use.
Casa Marina Key West, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
Casa Marina Key West is located on its own private beach. It is an elegant landmark hotel with commanding views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Straits.
The rooms are elegantly decorated and come complete with plush bedding, 32-inch flat-screen TVs, state-of-the-art bathrooms, and fully equipped work desks.
Best tours to take on your trip
Now that you know all the best reasons why Key West is worth visiting, I wholeheartedly recommend booking a few tours to experience the island to its fullest and make the most out of your trip.
Here are some of the most popular ones:
Key West Sunset Sail with Full Bar, Live Music & Hors D’oeuvres
Watch the sunset and the moon rise off the coast of Key West on this sunset cruise. Enjoy the scenery and peaceful calm of a late afternoon sail aboard a 70-foot catamaran with plenty of deck space to stretch out and enjoy the breathtaking view.
Then watch a legendary Key West sunset as the sun glistens and gently settles into the water. Hearty appetizers plus champagne, wine, a full liquor bar, ice-cold beer, and soft drinks.
Shark and Wildlife Viewing Adventure in Key West
Get up close with sharks and other marine wildlife on this boat tour from Key West. Travel onboard an eco-friendly, 34-foot catamaran just a few miles off the coast of Key West.
See dolphins, stingrays, turtles, and birds and learn about Key West’s waters, and then watch as the pilot drops bait to draw a variety of sharks right to the edge of the boat. Bring a camera to capture the excitement as these super predators swarm.
Cold drinks, snacks, and polarized sunglasses are included on this Key West shark cruise.
Key West Florida Reef Half-Day Snorkeling Excursion
Enjoy an afternoon of swimming and snorkeling on this cruise off the coast of Key West. Spend a relaxing afternoon on a 69-foot catamaran headed to North America’s only living coral barrier reef for the adventure of a lifetime.
Pass some of Key West’s top attractions on the way, then dive right in to see more than 600 species of colorful fish, coral, and other sea life.
This cruise includes professional snorkeling gear and instruction, plus beer, wine, and soft drinks.
Key West Full-Day Power Adventure: Sailing & Watersports Package
Enjoy the Key West sunshine on a full-day catamaran excursion, and take part in a range of watersports, too. As you cruise around the alluring Gulf of Mexico, gaze out at the scenery and spot local marine life.
Choose from a range of activities from snorkeling and kayaking to adrenaline-fuelled parasailing or Jet Skiing. Breakfast and lunch are served on board.
Wrap-up: 10 Reasons why you should visit Key West
That’s a wrap! Now you know all about whether if it is really worth visiting Key West and all the best reasons to give this beautiful island a try.
As you can probably tell, I had a spectacular time there and recommend it to everyone.
So now tell me: would you like to visit Key West? Let me know in the comments 🙂
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