Ah, the islands.
A relaxing yet eclectic vibe drowns tourists on almost every paradise island. The people are friendly, seemingly stress-free and gorgeously tanned.
Any island I’ve been to has offered similar excursions and comparable beaches. While they’re beautiful, they can often feel too familiar.
Not Key West.
I went to Key West over Memorial Day Weekend in 2014 and have another trip booked this year the weekend before 4th of July. I couldn’t be more excited to revisit the craziness of the Keys.
Given the size of the island, it’s easy to guess that a long weekend is the perfect amount of time to visit. (For people who can sit on a beach all day, every day without feeling a hint of boredom, you may be able to stay there for longer.)
When I visited, we spent a day on the beach, went snorkeling and enjoyed the nightlife.
On the first day, we visited the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Our original plan was to go to Smathers Beach, but beware–the parking lot fills up quick and the beach gets packed fast. (It’s quite small.) Because of that, we made our way over to Fort Zachary Taylor. The beach is a bit rough—there are a lot of little rocks on the edge of the water specifically. Once you get into the water, though, it’s smooth sailing (HAHA, see what I did there?).
There are jetties not too far into the water that many people climb on. When you get closer, there are fish swimming in and out of the rocks. It’s pretty cool!
You can rent snorkeling gear, chairs, umbrellas and rafts. It does close at 5:45 PM, though, so don’t expect to be there for the sunset.
Most nights we spent walking around from bar to bar or around Mallory Square. Watching the sunset from Mallory Square is a must! After or before dinner, take stroll to the edge of the square and find a seat along the edge. You’ll witness an unforgettable sunset. Just a fair warning: there will be catamarans and sail boats along the water. There are sunset booze cruises to enjoy drinks and an unobstructed view. I haven’t gone on one yet, but I do have one planned for my trip in June!
In addition to the spectacular sunset, the nighttime entertainment there seems never-ending. Street performers pepper the square with everything from magic to music. It’s certainly enough to bridge any gap between dinner and a night on the town.
Key West offers numerous excursions ranging from water sports to Jeep tours. While I didn’t have much time to embark on many adventures, I did go snorkeling. There was a wide range of tropical fish along with beautiful reefs. We even saw a shark! Granted, it was small, but a shark nonetheless. I like to avoid giving too much detail so it sounds cooler when I tell people about it.
We got free drinks—beer and wine included—and enjoyed a great afternoon. I did it through a company called Fury, but there are so many places to choose from.
Enjoy a wide range of excursions including, but not limited to, SNUBA, kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet skiing. It’s worth the extra money!
Restaurants & Nightlife
Duval Street. Need I say more?
Okay, maybe I do.
If you’re looking for some entertainment, walk along Duval Street. You’re sure to find somewhere that tickles your fancy. The restaurants are primarily patio seating, so anywhere you eat you’ll enjoy the fresh air.
People walk the streets sipping their beers and cocktails from various bars along the way. Many places will give you drinks in to-go cups so you have some freedom to bar hop. Of course there are bars and restaurants all over the island, not just on this street. (Sloppy Joe’s Bar is pretty darn famous. Not on Duval Street, but a great place to enjoy some live music with a cold beer.)
I haven’t done it yet, but I plan to take part in the Southernmost Scavenger Hunt: Best of the Bars. For only $20 per person, you’re provided a map and are challenged with solving clues and riddles. The team with the most points gets a prize! Plus, the map includes 2-for-1 drink coupons. Can’t go wrong with that, am I right?
My trip to Key West was definitely one to remember, and I cannot wait to get back there. (65 more days!)
Have you been to Key West and have any suggestions for people? Leave it in the comments!