Key West has an ambiance that you cannot fully describe to someone that has never been. It has a Caribbean laid-back feel without ever leaving the United States. It is a citland; a blend of city and island. It possesses beautiful architecture, serene gardens, delicious food and a wild bar scene with the added benefit of wavering palm trees, soft sand and breathtaking sunsets.
Many have been enchanted and inspired by the unique vibe of Key West such as Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost and Jimmy Buffet. Visitors are there to have a good time and are jovial to the core. Residents are known for their “anything goes” attitude and have adopted the One Human Family motto:
We are all like fingers on a hand… we are all different and unique. We are all of equal value. We are all created to work together. And although we appear to be separate, we are all linked to and apart of each other.
The combination of acceptance, lack of judgement and easy pace, creates a euphoric feeling of wanting to leave your inhibitions at the entrance of the Seven Mile Bridge and let your freak flag fly!
In no particular order, here are 20 Key West things to do for any first-time visitor:
- Eat Tacos a Garbo’s Grill Food Truck. The owners of this establishment caught the Key’s Disease and moved down here to open their own restaurant, well more like a 6 x 8 food cart. The food is mouthwatering! Try to go between the usual eating times because there is usually a line.
- Listen to the antics of Kevin at Irish Kevin’s Bar and don’t forget to look up at the Jameson chandelier.
- Pet a six-toed cat, see a urinal turned water fountain and walk over Hemingway’s last penny at the Ernest Hemingway House. Situated in Old Town Key West, the tour gives an insider a look into his personal life and the notable mark he left on the literary world.
- Soak in a Sunset at Mallory Point. Walking hand in hand along the water, watching the boats glide by as the sun slipped away was one of my favorite moments while visiting Key West.
- Bar hop and people watch on Duval Street. You must make your way down Duval and embrace your wild side! Make sure to at least visit Green Parrot Bar, Sloppy Joe’s and the Garden of Eden.
- Listen to one of the many talented live bands at Hog’s Breath Saloon.
- Take advantage of Happy Hour. Most bars and restaurants offer happy hour deals on food and drinks.
- Eat Breakfast at Pepe’s Cafe, the oldest joint in Key West.
- Take a picture at the Southernmost Point. Get there early or late or on a day when the cruise ships are not there. We couldn’t believe the line there was to take a picture with a buoy! We didn’t wait, we just sort of snuck in between and with other people.
- Walk around the Secret Garden of Martello Tower. It’s free and it’s gorgeous!
- Hang out on Smathers Beach. Walking around town or even most of Key West, you’ll think they have no beaches at all. They are the least exciting thing the island has to offer. With that being said, Smathers Beach offers a long stretch of sand to enjoy a walk on the beach, volleyball or a picnic.
- Have a drink, dance and listen to live music at sunset pier at sunset. The drinks are a bit pricey, but worth it for the entertaining atmosphere.
- Check out the floating community off of S. Roosevelt Boulevard, reminiscent of the old houseboat row. It’s a collection of colorful houseboats with a whole lot of character.
- Eat free samples at the Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. Get your munch on with free samples of key lime jelly beans, taffy, cookies and salsa.
- Try a few craft beers at Waterfront Brewery. Makes my mouth water just looking at that picture!
- Stroll along the Harbor Walk at the Key West Historic Seaport. You’ll find fishing boats, fun bars, seafood restaurants, and waterfront shops.
- Visit Lagerheads Beach Bar and don’t forget to wear your bathing suit!
- Browse the shops in Mallory Square.
- Take a picture at mile marker 0 to prove you made it to the end of the road where life slows down. US 1 stretches 2,369 miles from upper Maine to Key West.
20. Visit the Key West City Cemetery and look for the gravestones that read, “I told you I was sick,” and “At least I know where he’s sleeping tonight.”
Be Part of the Adventure.
Looking for more tips on travel to Florida?
Check out these posts:
- Buzzing Along on an Airboat Through the Everglades
- Coral Castle: Romantic Gesture or Deranged Obsession?
- Reduce Hotel Expenses with Best Rate Guarantees
- What is Ebates and Why You Should Use It
Plan Your Trip to Florida
We have been budget traveling for over ten years and love finding deals. Here are a few websites that we use consistently to save money and time booking accommodations, flights and car rental.
- Hotels.com has a best rate guarantee program that allows you to price match up until 24 hours prior to arrival and its rewards program gives one free night for every 10 nights collected.
- Airfarewatchdog.com is a comparison website that searches through tons of flights. It compares airline pricing up to three times a day, having up to date information and also includes airlines such as Southwest and Allegiant that other websites do not include.
- Priceline is usually the cheapest for car rentals and has a best rate guarantee program as well.
Have you ever been to Key West? What’s your favorite thing to do? Tell us in the comments!
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