Resting at the very bottom of Florida, Key West is a string of islands packed with a million things to do. Not many secrets exist on an island this size, but locals know a few—including just how to spend a perfect day in the sun of Key West!
If you love Ernest Hemingway, you must plan a visit to Blue Heaven restaurant on Thomas Street. Even if you aren’t hungry you should try a slice of their huge Key Lime pie, maybe to share, at the site where Ernest judged boxing matches when it was the Blue Goose arena.
Whether you are here to visit and looking for a good time or you are traveling with your family, Key West is a beautiful place to take a ride. And not in a car either – we mean on a bicycle. Now many of the shops renting bikes will tell you where to visit along with all the other tourists but I am going to tell you – Duval street is awesome, I love it. But if you are wanting to really experience the local side of Key West get off Duval street! Whitehead Street is better known by the locals for being the best street in Key West.
When you rent a bike you should follow this path: Start at the famous Southernmost Point Monument. Continue northwest, toward the Gulf of Mexico, and you will pass the Key West lighthouse, Ernest Hemingway’s home, an amazing kapok tree, some of the largest banyan trees on the island, the Audubon House, and more. Best thing about renting a bike is being able to stop at the locations that float your boat, or just cruise by and admire them from the street.
Now, if you are traveling to Key West there is a good chance that you know what the local reputation is for the pub crawls, shots on Duval street and the late nights out on the town. Start with a craft cocktail and a round of pool at General Horseplay on Caroline Street. Then go visit the Chart Room Bar, tucked away in the Pier House hotel, they have great cocktails here and this is also where Buffett played his first Key West gig. The best live music in town can be found at the Green Parrot Bar. Then duck around the corner to Mary Ellen’s Bar on Appelrouth Lane for a silly dance party with the regulars.
While you are in Key West, you absolutely need to check out the beaches. Now all of these beaches are man made, since the Keys are mangrove clusters the beaches had more shells and pebbles than sand. But over the last several years the city has been working at beautifying the beaches and making them more of a draw for travelers to come visit. Smathers or Higgs beach are perfect for white sand beaches and even are populated by food trucks.
Get out on the water! There is no way that you came this far South, being surrounded by islands of paradise and not get in the water! Paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, or even taking a sailboat out – the coral reef to the sandbar beaches, there is no way that you can’t get out on the turquoise waters.
Soak up the Cuban culture while you are here! Being that you are 90 miles from Cuba – enjoy it! This is where you can get the good cigars, rum and of course coffee too! Relish the vast Cuban culture that is soaked up throughout the Keys – especially the food!
There is a daily rite of passage when in Key West. This is for travelers and locals alike – no matter what your daytime activities include, when you know the sun is about to set you need to head to the Mallory Square sunset celebration to say goodbye to the day.
It’s a party with food vendors, artisans, musicians and acrobats. It goes without saying that the most colorful time of day in the Keys is often at sunset – the Keys are famous for them. No two sunsets are ever the same, and they all deliver the same dazzling evening performance, which is why it’s customary to celebrate the sunset.
Key West is known for more the unique local atmosphere and of course the fantastic key lime pie! There is something for everyone wanting to visit Key West, fun, flair and fantastic!
Traveling Photographer Out!