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Key West, Florida, USA

Destination:

Key West is a city and an island of the same name, the county seat of Monroe County, and an island in the Florida Keys. It is considered the southernmost city in the continental United States.

Get around

Driving around Key West is difficult and parking is expensive. (Although there is free parking in front of the USS Mohawk Museum, at the intersection of Southard St and Fort St.). Many visitors choose to rent motor scooters, bicycles, golf carts or explore on foot. When renting a golf cart keep in mind that you have to find parking for this vehicle as well. Scooters and bikes can normally be parked on the sidewalk right outside your destination. However, really consider insuring anything you rent.

The main street in Key West is Duval street.

There is a fairly comprehensive bus system with color-coded lines. Unlimited travel tickets are available for periods between 7 days and a month and are good value.

Fares: (Discounts are available for senior citizens, students etc.)

Single Trip: $2
7-Day $8/Unlimited Use
31-Day $25

If you plan to rent a car be aware that both Enterprise and Alamo desks are not located at the airport. You have to call the shuttle bus and wait for 12 minutes to catch a ride to the Truman Ave location. Budget is the only car rental agency in Key West that does not charge additional fees (usually $10/day from anyone else) for a second driver - so if you are traveling with a partner who drives, be advised.

One Key West Taxi Service is reached at +1 305 295-5555.

See

  • A Key Encounter. A non-profit "museum" that is on the upper level of Clinton Square Market Mall. A Key Encounter features "Nature Theater", a 3 screen movie theater showing the Christian God's creation of the animals and everything He is believed to have made. It also features "The Jungle Walk" that has live animals and animatronic animals including a 22.5 foot stuffed skin of an Anaconda that ate a woman down in Brazil years ago. And "The George M. Kretschmar, Jr. Planetarium". Free.
  • Ernest Hemingway House

    , 907 Whitehead St. 9AM-5PM daily. Hemingway lived and wrote here for a decade. He also raised cats, the descendants of which still roam the grounds and have extra toes. $12.
  • Fort Zachary Taylor

    , 601 Howard England Way (end of Southard Street on Truman Annex), ☎ +1 305 292-0037. 8AM - sundown. The perfect romantic place to cuddle up with someone special, unwind, and watch the sun set as sailboats glide by... all without the crazy circus of Mallory Square. It doesn't get any more romantic in this crowded city. Nature trails, 1866 fort with a real moat, beaches, snack stand. The beach area is the southernmost point in the continental US accessible to the general public, regardless of what the famous buoy at the corner of Whitehead and South Streets says. $2-$4.
  • Harry S. Truman Little White House, 111 Front St. A historic retreat used by President Harry S. Truman. Guided tours are available, as well as a gift shop. It's still used as a retreat and place of business by US government officials today.
  • Key West AIDS Memorial, White Street and Atlantic Boulevard (on the beach). The City of Key West has lost more than a thousand of its citizens to the AIDS epidemic. Some of their names are inscribed on a memorial near the White Street Pier. The memorial is embedded in the sidewalk near the ocean, and made of flat smooth granite. The memorial was dedicated on World AIDS Day in 1997, and funded entirely through private sources. At the time of dedication, there were 730 names engraved on the memorial. There are spaces for 1,500 names, and each year more are added and dedicated in a ceremony, also on World AIDS Day in December. A group called Friends of the Key West AIDS Memorial takes care of the memorial. Free.
  • Key West Art and Historical Society Museum, 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd, ☎ +1 305 296-3913. 9:30AM to 4:30PM. Visitors can explore the preserved battlement’s collection of relics from the Civil War, learn about the wrecking and cigar-manufacturing industries which shaped the Florida Keys, view the unique folk art of Mario Sanchez and the imaginative metal sculptures of Stanley Papio, as well as meet the Ghosts of East Martello, including the infamous Robert the Doll. The building, formerly the Fort East Martello, is on the National Register of Historic Places $9.
  • Key West City Cemetery

    . In Key West, burial customs reflect combinations of African, Hispanic, Anglo and other mixed heritages. Due to the water table of the Keys, most burials are in above ground tombs. Grave markers with unusual inscriptions such as I told you I was sick, Devoted Fan of Julio Iglesias and At Least I know where he's sleeping tonight are not unusual. Cemetery maps are available at the front gate.
  • Key West Lighthouse, 938 Whitehead St. Daily from 9:30AM-4:30PM. With a panoramic view of the island. Adults $10, Students/Seniors $9, Children $5, under 6 free.
  • McCoy Indigenous Park. Free.
  • Shipwreck Museum, 1 Whitehead St, ☎ +1 305 292-8990, fax: +1 305 292-1617. Offers a panoramic view of the island from its observation tower.
  • Southernmost Point (Corner of Whitehead and South Streets). A "buoy" (actually an old sewer junction painted to look like a buoy) placed at this point contains a claim that it is the southernmost point in the continental USA, but the claim is inaccurate. The true southernmost point of Florida is on Ballast Key, a privately owned island about 9 miles (14 km) from Key West which includes signage prohibiting unauthorized visitors. The marker is also not the southernmost point on Key West island—a private yard is immediately southeast of the buoy, and the island's true southernmost point is in the Truman Annex west of the buoy, which is U.S. Navy property and cannot be entered by civilians. The buoy isn't even the southernmost point that can be accessed by the public — that would be the beach area of Fort Zachary Taylor (see above). Nonetheless, it's one of the city's most visited and photographed spots. Free.
  • Western Union, 200 William St, ☎ +1 305-290-2045. A schooner listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Wildlife Rescue of the Florida Keys, Atlantic Boulevard and White Streets. This rescue operation has released more than 2,000 healed animals into the wild since 1993. They take care of any animal that needs attention, from sea birds to raccoons, and at any given time you might see up to 100 creatures healing at the center. They come from all over, from the Seven Mile bridge to the Dry Tortugas. You can visit the patients any day from 9AM to 5PM, and the park is open sunup to sundown. It's free, but they like donations and volunteers.

Do

Key West is a great place for the family. There is plenty to do during the day... for those that are awake. Enjoy an early night and prepare for the next day's adventure. However, if you are traveling with young ones, stay in a hotel off the main streets. For those who stay out all night you may not get to do these things but you should try. Because many locals get around by scooters, bikes, and/or electric cars, you may want to consider renting them at one of the many rental shops throughout the island.

Nature

  • Key West Nature Preserve. Two entrances on Atlantic Blvd. Ocean front property that has been turned into an accessible natural area. Enjoy seeing local Key West wildlife such as lizards, butterflies and maybe even a snake.
  • Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Truman Annex Waterfront. With its touch screens, stunning photos, and roomy theater showing a short high-definition film about the Keys ecosystems, this educational center has become a hit with families. It's a fun way to learn about reef and mangrove habitats before or after an excursion. The newest addition is the Living Reef exhibit, which fetures a 2,500-gallon reef aquarium. Free admission and parking on-site.
  • Dry Tortugas National Park. Details daily trips to Fort Jefferson. By ferry with Yankee Freedom II.

Watersports

  • Sebago Watersports. Waterfront Area. Reef snorkeling, sunset sails and much more. All things water. Sebago trips are always full of fun and a wonderful crew that will take good care of you. Sunset sails, parasailing, all day adventures from the tame Island Ting to the active Power Adventure. The parasailing tends to be a bit brief (13 minutes), but the crew is friendly.
  • Fury Water Adventures. Fury Water Adventures is a water sports company that has been in Key West for almost the past three decades. It offers snorkeling, parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, rock climbing, water trampoline, sunset sails and cruises, reef eco tours, and glass bottom boat tours. Fury also offers combo packages such as the Ultimate Adventure, the Rum & Reggae, and the Commotion on the Ocean.
  • Diving in Key West. Offering Daily Dive trips to the reefs near Key West.

Other

  • Astro City, Atlantic Blvd. A popular stop for families on their way to and from the beach. Located directly across the street from Higgs beach.
  • Swim With Dolphins, for ages 5 and older.
  • Key West Fishing. Offers charters, guides, and fishing information for Key West. Includes private and group fishing charters.
  • Sunset CelebrationMallory Square (where Duval Street meets the Gulf of Mexico). This event begins every evening a few hours before sunset and is much like a street carnival, with vendors, performers, food, and fun. Also a great photo op for some of the most beautiful sunsets.
  • The Southermost Scavenger Hunt, ☎ +1 305 292-9994. Since winning the prestigious "Venture Award" from the Key West Chamber of Commerce, The Southernmost Scavenger Hunt has expanded to offer a wider variety of custom designed features to their ever-popular scavenger hunts.
  • Restless Native Charters (KeyWest bight marina at historic waterfront seaport), ☎ +1 305-394-0600. Luxury sailing catamaran for sail/dive, sunset sails, private partys, weddings/proposals. Upscale food and drink and a great adventure on the water.
  • Honest Works Island Pottery co, 929 Truman Ave (mile marker 1), ☎ +1 419 308-9221. 9 - 6. Honest Works Island Pottery Co. is a vibrant art gallery and active studio space in Old town Key West. Stop on by and watch the pottery in the making or make it yourself. Honest Works offers pottery classes, as well as, paint your own pottery for locals and tourist alike. In this dynamic studio space artists, Adam Russell and Kelly Lever, create and display their own colorful island pottery. Come on in and fell the artist energy flowing!

Buy

Key West is not like Miami. There aren't many high end shops or big name brands. While there are a few, Key West is not the place for this type of shopping. Fly into or out of the Miami airport and spend a day in South Beach if this is what you are looking for. There are a lot of shops in Key West, especially along Duval Street, which goes from coast to coast. You can find something to wear at night which in Key West isn't much (price or material). Lose your sunglasses...they have them. Need suntan lotion..check. Want a tattoo? You could get probably get 20 or so if you went to every tattoo place in Key West. This is not a good idea if you have been drinking. You may regret it the next sober morning when you realize you have one or more.

  • Blue, 718 Caroline St. A boutique specializing in women's clothing. Everything from fun tees, to comfy linen pants they have everything for a casual day of drinking.
  • Fairvilla Megastore, 520 Front St (across from the Pier House), ☎ +1 305 292-0448. M-Sa 9AM-2AM, Su 10AM-2AM. Intimate apparel, exotic fashions, sensual accessories, romantic gifts, playful novelties, passionate books and tantalizing movies.
  • Fast Buck Freddie's, 500 Duval St, ☎ +1 305 294-2007. Many items for sale are one of a kind or designed and built just for Fast Buck Freddie's. Also known for its window displays.
  • Key Lime-N-More, 424 Greene St (next door to Captain Tony's Saloon), ☎ +1 305 296-9515. All things Key Lime. The only home made Key Lime pie on the island. Friendly shopkeepers that treat you as more than just another tourist. Hours vary.
  • Conch Republic Gifts. A gift store offering Conch Republic-related items including flags, shirts, magnets and more.
  • Paradise Tattoo, 627 Duval St, ☎ +1 305 292-9110. 10AM-10PM, 7 Days. Paradise Tattoo is Key West's Largest, Cleanest & Oldest Studio. So come on get stuck in Paradise.
  • Bare Bones Beach Shop, inc., 2770 N. Roosevelt Blvd (Overseas Market next to Winn-Dixie), ☎ +1 305 296-5970. 9AM-6PM Mon-Sat. Bare Bones Beach Shop has swimwear and beach products for men, women and children, in addition to stylish dog clothing and accessories. mid.

Eat

Budget

  • Conch Republic, 631 Greene St. Enjoy their spacious waterfront setting where the atmosphere is like a trip back in time to the way Key West used to be. Enjoy fresh fish and a raw bar. Feel like you are dining outside with the large windows that remain open during the day. A great place for a drink & some snacks specially during football season.
  • El Siboney, 900 Catherine St, ☎ +1 305 296-4184. This Cuban restaurant, tucked into a quiet residential intersection, flies well below the tourist radar. Delicious food at very reasonable prices. To sum it up, this is where the locals go for Cuban.
  • Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, 500 Duval St, ☎ +1 305 292-1435. Key West is pretty close to paradise, so you might as well have a cheeseburger while you're there. Prices are kind of high: 11 bucks for a Cheeseburger in Paradise.
  • Schooner Wharf, Caroline Street. A surprising choice for breakfast, this rough and ready landmark has a three-egg seafood omelette that, coupled with a bloody mary or two, will shock you back to life from a throw down night on Duval.

Mid-range

  • A & B Lobster House, 700 Front St. The main dishes are mid-range in price, and paired with great tasting appetizers and salads it will be hard to forget your meal here. While Key West is warm and the porch may seem like a good idea make sure the ladies have jackets. It is right on the water and with the fans on high blast it can get a little chilly.
  • Mangia-Mangia Pasta, 900 Southard St, ☎ +1 305 294-2469. Every day 5:30PM-10PM.
  • El Meson de Pepe, 410 Wallstreet (Mallory Square), ☎ +1 305 295-2620. If you want authentic, delicious Cuban food look nor further. I have been visiting this place for about the last 5 years when I drive down to Key West. Be ready for a special treat on the days that Pepe himself takes over the kitchen and creates his delectable masterpieces. The prices are very reasonable and their Mojitos have a kick. Everynight at Sunset, they have a band playing and enough space for dancing and having a couple of drinks at the bar.
  • Roof Top Cafe. Exactly what the names suggest, this is a restaurant situated on the roof top of a building. Overlooking Mallory square this place is perfect for dining during sunset or under the stars. As well as dinner they also serve Breakfast and lunch. Nothing is too expensive and the food is of good quality.
  • The Half Shell Raw Bar, Margaret St, ☎ +1 305 294-7496 231. A Taste of Old Key West! Traditional Key West Raw Bar & great Key West seafood restaurant! Oysters, clams, shrimp, more! A low key restaurant for casual lunch or dinner. Settle down to an informal atmosphere, local characters, great bar and waterfront dining. It's a little piece of Old Key West on the historic Key West Bight. Drop in! Enjoy a frosty drink and the freshest seafood this side of the reef!
  • Upper Crust restaurant. A local favorite right on Duval Street next door to Antonia's, they serve what is called "not your average pizza." Unlike other pizzerias, this place serves very thin crust pizza that can be made with or without tomato sauce. Also serves salads and even a few types of sea food as well.

Splurge

  • Nine One Five, 915 Duval St. Dinner served from 6PM-11PM. With weather so nice you want to spend as much time outside as possible. So why not take your dining outside.or as close as possible? Join others on the porch of this dignified Victorian home. Similar to tapas dining, everything is intended to be shared and mixed and matched.
  • Seven Fish, 632 Olivia St, ☎ +1 305 296-2777. This very small restaurant tucked away on Olivia St, is a true delight. The staff is intelligent and polite, the fish dishes are always fresh and innovative. Reservations a must.
  • Square One, 1075 Duval St # C12, ☎ +1 305 296-4300. They serve breakfast lunch dinner and even Sunday brunch. The menu is very similar to many other restaurants. A lot of fish and seafood. A lot of "tropical' flavors and many fruits are included in the ingredients of their dishes.
  • Louie's Backyard, 700 Waddell Ave. This high-end establishment sells "dining with a view," and this is what you get because food is unremarkable.

Drink

There are a large number of drinking establishments of various types. The main tourist strip on Duval Street has numerous watering holes.

  • Bourbon Street Pub, 724 Duval St, ☎ +1 305 294-9354. Part of the gay-oriented Bourbon St. Complex on the 700 block of Duval.
  • Captain Tony's Saloon, 428 Greene St. Ernest Hemingway's old stomping grounds. Pirate's Punch in a 22 oz cup.
  • Fat Tuesdays, 305 Duval St, ☎ +1 305 296-9373. So you're not in New Orleans.who says that means you can't have Mardi Gras! Featured on MTV's Real World Key West here it is Mardi Gras everyday.
  • Hog's Breath Saloon, 400 Front St, ☎ +1 305 292-2032, e-mail: bosshog@hogsbreath.com. Take a peek at the "hog cam" on their website.
  • Irish Kevin's Pub, 211-C Duval St, ☎ +1 305 292-1262. Webcams here, too. Can be a lively place at times.
  • The Lazy Gecko Bar, 203 Duval St. Next door to Sloppy Joe's bar. This place offers air conditioning if you can't take the heat. Also cool off with one of their 12 daiquiris. Hungry? Grab a slice of pizza or a fresh sandwich. Starting early.join The Lazy gecko for happy hour from 5-8. Like your friends a lot? Rent the whole place!
  • Rick's/Durty Harry's Entertainment, 202 Duval St, e-mail: info@ricksanddurtyharrys.com. Club w/ 6 different venues & 10 bars. Live entertainment, VIP bar overlooking the action, famous juice & premium spirits bar, dance club, adult entertainment, & live Rock & Roll!
  • Sloppy Joe's Bar, 201 Duval St, ☎ +1 305 294-8759. Ernest Hemingway's "new" stomping grounds. Sloppy Joe's used to sit at the current location of Captain Tony's, but the landlord raised the rent on the owner back in 1937. Legend has it that upon hearing the news, the bar owner and his customers (including Hemingway) moved the bar, barstools, alcohol, etc. across Duval Street to a former restaurant - its current location.

There are also plenty of places to wet your whistle that aren't necessarily right on Duval Street.

  • Green Parrot Bar, 601 Whitehead St, ☎ +1 305 294-6133. The last (or first, depending on your direction of travel) bar on US 1. Not your typical trop-rock bar, the Green Parrot leans more toward blues. Great bands, and an unbelievable selection of blues on the jukebox. Just remember, no snivelers.
  • Rum Barrel Tavern, 528 Front St, ☎ +1 305 292-7862. Pat Croce's place features the largest selection of rums in the world. Not a rum drinker? Plenty of other libations to be had. Several big-screen TVs (you'll never miss an event involving a Philadelphia team) and a deck overlooking Old Town.
  • Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St, ☎ +1 305 294-3302. A last little piece of Old Key West, Schooner Wharf is an open air bar that sits on the Key West Bight. Grab a brew and watch the yachts.
  • Finnegans Wake, 320 Grinnell St. Celebrate life in true Irish Style.
  • Bogarts Irish Pub, 900 - 904 Duval St, ☎ +1 305 296-0815. An Irish pub and restaurant attached to a bed and breakfast located right on Duval Street. Daily happy hour specials offered as well as great Irish food. Come in and say hi and enjoy a nice cold pint.
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