Key West is much more than just another Florida vacation spot. This tropical paradise offers countless opportunities to enjoy its stunning coastal scenery, such as sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, and fishing charters. However, what truly sets Key West apart are its fascinating historical artifacts. The island was a top destination for famous figures such as Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and President Harry S. Truman, and it boasts an array of museums and historical landmarks. For those seeking a more urban experience, Duval Street is a bustling hub of activity, teeming with souvenir shops, affordable dining options, and vibrant nightlife.
In Key West may the most vibrant beach one on the island is undoubtedly Smathers Beach, which draws a significant crowd during spring break. Recent travel reviews attest to the beach’s cleanliness, tranquility, and abundance of shade, with accessible amenities such as food trucks, bathrooms, and chair and umbrella rentals. The breathtaking views and soft white sand further enhance visitors’ experience. Located about a mile away from central Key West, on the southern shore of the island, Smathers Beach also provides picnic areas, restroom facilities, volleyball courts, and Jet Ski rentals, alongside spectacular sunsets. Proximity to the airport, while advantageous for plane enthusiasts, may prove to be a downside for those seeking a peaceful escape.
Key West Boat Tour
Looking to experience the crystalline waters surrounding Key West beyond the beach? Treat yourself to the unparalleled beauty of the region from the comfort of a boat. Numerous reputable companies provide a range of exciting opportunities, including snorkeling, kayaking, dolphin watching, sunset cruises, and rewarding fishing charters. A snorkeling tour may take you to the awe-inspiring Florida Keys Reef, the sole living coral barrier reef in North America, only six miles offshore from Key West. With its shallow waters, beginners are welcome to explore this magnificent underwater world. Alternatively, navigate through the uninhabited mangrove islands in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge on a soothing kayaking tour. Whatever your choice, prepare for a memorable adventure in this breathtaking paradise.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Ernest Hemingway, the renowned literary icon and journalist, has cemented his place as a beloved “freshwater Conch” in Key West. The literary titan’s former abode, a U.S. National Historic Landmark in Old Town, is a testament to his impact on the region. Despite his brief residence for less than 10 years, the grand residence boasts an intriguing history, being among the first in Key West to feature indoor plumbing and a pool. Within its walls, guests can revel in an assortment of memorabilia offering insights into Hemingway’s life and work. Once the tour concludes (lasting around 20 to 30 minutes), visitors can enjoy exploring the lush gardens and admiring the exquisite design flourishes added by Hemingway’s wife, Pauline. Highlighted as a must-visit destination, several of the city’s top guided tours incorporate stops at this timeless treasure.
No trip to Key West is truly complete without a leisurely stroll along Duval Street. This iconic promenade spans just one mile, yet boasts an impressive array of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and boutiques that make it a hub of activity. Be sure to stop by Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe for a taste of their legendary Key lime pie, or sign up for a spine-tingling ghost tour that will take you on a journey through the city’s eerie past.
But perhaps the greatest draw of Duval Street is the opportunity to simply sit back and people-watch. Whether you’re taking in the stunning architecture of the city’s historic buildings or admiring the colorful characters that call Key West home, this lively thoroughfare offers something for everyone – and best of all, it won’t cost you a thing.
Looking to bask in the beauty of the Key West sunset? Make your way to Mallory Square at the island’s northwest tip for an unparalleled view. Don’t miss the Sunset Celebration, a lively art festival that kicks off two hours before the sun begins to set. This event provides the perfect backdrop for capturing the sun’s final moments and savoring the end of the day. However, be prepared for large crowds – this popular locale draws hordes of cruise ship passengers keen to witness the stunning sunset.