After coming home from a wonderful weekend in Key West with Chris and my friends, I realized something…I have never written about Key West in any great detail on my blog! Considering how often we travel to Key West, that is just embarrassing! I think that Key West has the reputation of being a party destination, and while it is definitely a city you can party in, there is so much more to Key West than the Duval Crawl! Today I want to share with you 5 Things to do in Key West – and I am sure that once I start editing all of my photos from this past weekend, I will come back to share even more ideas, so be on the lookout for a follow up story!
5 Things to do in Key West
Visit the Famous Key West Landmarks
US1 begins – or ends, depending on which way you’re going down the street – in Key West. Park on the street and take your photo with the famous Mile 0 Mile Marker right off US1 and Fleming street! Unlike the famous Southernmost point marker, this official sign doesn’t usually have anyone standing around it, so it’s a quick and easy photo to grab!
Speaking of the Southernmost point, did you know that the most Southern point of the United States in Key West is just 90 miles away from Cuba? We’ve been visiting the buoy for years and taking our photo in front of this famous landmark. While you used to be able to walk right up and snap a quick picture, for the past few years that we’ve been there, there is always a line down the street. I think we waited in line for half an hour last year!
Take a Key West Sightseeing Tour on the Key West Trolley
While Key West is a small island, and people seem to gravitate towards Duval Street, there really is so much more to see! Taking a Key West Sightseeing tour is the perfect way to see all of the highlights, as well as learn about the history of the island. Key West Old Town Trolley Tours is a hop on and off trolley, which means that as you arrive at a landmark that you would like to explore more closely – just get off the trolley and do just that! You can walk to the next trolley stop or just wait for the next trolley to come along to hop back on!
Adults are $30.45 and children 12+ are free! You can even get a special discount for purchasing online here.
Sail, Snorkel and Kayak in Key West
With wildlife refuges and reefs around Key West in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, you just can’t NOT go out on a boat while you are visiting Key West! We have been taking sunset cruises for years, but this past weekend, we went out in the daytime for the first time ever. We booked a Sail, Snorkel and Kayak Day Trip with Danger Charters this past weekend and loved every minute of it!
With Danger Charters, you will have an unforgettable day of sailing on a 65 foot schooner through the Key West National Wildlife Refuge, kayaking in the mangroves, snorkeling in sponge gardens and isolated boulder corals patch reefs. With knowledgeable boat hands and captains, you’ll not only have a lovely time, but actually learn about what you are seeing as you explore the waters off of Key West. You’ll learn about the wildlife inhabiting the Wildlife Refuse, the history of the area, as well as see the animals close up while snorkeling and kayaking.
Of course Danger Charters will keep you well-fed too! Once you begin sailing, you’ll be served a beautiful tray of fresh fruit, and they serve a lunch spread unlike any other! All of the food served aboard the Danger Charter day trips are purchased fresh each morning from Faustos Deli in town. You’ll also be served unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks (and water too!) after snorkeling is over!
With trips ranging in price from $80 for half day trips to $110 for full day trips, you can spend as little as 4.5 hours round trip, or 6.5 hours. There are also evening sunset cruises, with wine tastings and cheese platters served aboard, for $80. They truly have something for everyone!
You can find out more about Danger Charters in Key West, as well as make reservations and book online, on DangerCharters.com. We had such a wonderful experience with Danger Charters that they are now my favorite, but you can also check out Fury Watersports in Key West for similar excursions, sunset cruises, jetski rentals, and glass bottom boat tours. The difference between the two is that Danger Charters only takes out small groups (I think our captain said they max out at 30 people), while Fury might have 100 on board. You can also look into renting your own boat with Sunset Watersports in Key West!
Spend the Day at the Beach in Key West
Now, how silly would you feel if you went all the way down to Key West and you didn’t step foot in their white sand beaches? There are five public beaches in Key West, but I’ll share my favorite two with you!
Higg’s Beach – With wide, sandy beach, volleyball nets and a playground, chair rentals, picnic tables, restrooms and a full service restaurant right there on the beach, it’s the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon! You can even rent water sports and rafts!
Smathers Beach – Smathers Beach is located alongside the Eastern part of Key West and is the beach we’ve visited most often. Half a mile long, Smather’s Beach is man made and perfect for those times when you want to spend an entire day at the beach! There are public restrooms, lots of parking, concession stands, chair rentals, bike baths, picnic areas, volleyball nets, water sports rentals, as well as para-sailing and windsurfing!
Explore the Culinary Side of Key West
While Key West is often thought of as a fun party town with drink specials galore, there is another side of Key West that many are surprised to find: all of those bars and restaurants? They are full of really, really good food! Sure, there’s the added benefit of live music in many of the bars, great drink specials day and night, and quirky decor like Willie T’s, which is wallpapered in the $1 bills of its patrons. As silly as this bar and restaurant might seem, it’s actually a fantastic place to grab lunch!
When we jumped into our cab on Saturday night, we asked the driver for a recommendation for dinner. He suggested we try Louie’s Backyard, which is a former home turned into a restaurant, with inside seating and patio seating right on the water.
Opened in 1971 and renovated in 1983, Louie’s Backyard is quite the restaurant, it’s even listed on the National Register of Historic Places! The executive chef at Louie’s Backyard is Doug Shook, who’s been with the restaurant for almost 30 years. We had a wonderful dinner of rack of lamb and filet of beef – but unfortunately, there is no lighting on the patio, save for candles, and I was not able to take any decent photos!
There are so many different kinds of restaurants in Key West, whether you are looking for dinner on a budget, or a fine dining experience like we had at Louie’s Backyard. There are hole in the wall pizza joints that will make your mouth water, bars with surprisingly good burgers and sandwiches, chain restaurants like Denny’s and Outback Steakhouse, seafood restaurants like the Key West Conch Republic Restaurant, and of course, places like Louie’s Backyard, which offer a fine dining experience.