Key West City Guide
About Key West
Key West is an island city located in the archipelago of the Florida Keys. This gorgeous, perennially sun warmed island is a choice vacation destination for avid sun seekers, deep-sea fishing enthusiasts, seafood lovers and other holiday-makers looking for some rest and relaxation.
Key West, which also happens to be the southernmost city in the continental USA, is renowned for its year round amenable weather and laid back pace of life. However, the island has another claim to fame, for it is most commonly associated with literary greats like Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, John Dewey, Archibald MacLeish, John Dos Passos, Wallace Stevens, S. J. Perelman and many others. These famed writes spent much time in Key West and produced some of their best works when they were living on the island.
Key West celebrates its literary legacy with its annual Key West Literary Seminar, which is held in January every year and draws writers to this charming Floridian resort from around the world.
However, aside from this Literary Festival, Key West also hosts other popular festivals like Fantasy Feast ( held in October every year) and the Annual Hemmingway Days Festival( July), which attract holidaymakers from far and wide to book a vacation to Key West.
Where to stay in Key West
The Old Town area of Key West is its downtown district and has a rich share of quaint homes and stores as well as historic districts like Bahama Village (the site of the Goombay, a two day street party during the annual Fantasy Feast) and Duval Street.
The Old Town of Key West is home to a few luxury hotels as well as a few spa resort properties and quaint bed and breakfast inns. Old Town offers an ambience, which is quintessentially Key West so if you enjoy the old-world lure of the city, Old Town should be your base during your stay in Key West.
The New Town in Key West is located on the eastern end of the island and offers shopping centers, grocery stores, a movie theatre as well as a slew of modern hotels and other attractions like beaches and museums. If you like your vacation with all the conveniences of modern life then the hotels of New Town should be the favored accommodation option for your Key West vacation.
Places to see in Key West
Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
This 19th century home named after noted painter and bird expert, John James Audubon who visited it in 1832 offers many treasures like rare Audubon prints, photos, stunning antiques and verdant tropical gardens.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
The Noble prize winning author lived at his Spanish colonial abode in Key West from 1931 to 1961. It is believed that he produced some of his best work while he was resident in Key West. For his most famous works like For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro were all written while he was living in this beautiful island city.
The Hemingway home with its many artifacts should be considered as must-do attraction for fans of the author on a visit to Key West
Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium is one of the oldest attractions on the island that should be included in your sightseeing itinerary if you are on a vacation to Key West with your children.
This aquarium offers several interactive displays with various marine creatures along with its many exhibits of tarpon, sharks, barracudas, sting rays, turtles and more.
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly and Nature conservatory consists of a 5000 square foot glass enclosed butterfly aviary which features 1500 butterflies of all hues and types and 3500 lush plants that include exotic and rare orchids. This stunning nature preserve should not be missed by any nature lover on vacation in Key West.
Key West Heritage House Museum and Robert Frost Cottage
The Heritage House Museum is another piece of fascinating architecture in Key West, which happens to be one of the oldest houses of the island city that. This edifice was the home of Jess Porter, a Key West preservationist who hosted luminaries like Robert Frost, Tennessee Williams, Gloria Swanson, and Tallulah Bankhead in his home-cum-salon. This imposing dwelling, which is furnished with many spectacular 19th century antiques, is open to public tours.
Harry S Truman Little White House
The Little White House served as President Truman’s refuge in the Florida Keys. This restored home today documents the President’s time spent in Key West and is open for public tours.
Best time to visit Key West
Key West is believed to be the driest city in Florida and experiences year round mild, tropical climate. The peak tourist season in Key West is usually during the period of November through April when the city receives abundant sunshine, little rainfall and has average day time temperatures in the high 70s F.
However, the city does experience a wet season during the months of May to October when a few, heavy showers and thunderstorms are a daily occurrence. No matter when you choose to vacation in Key West, we at Fare Buzz can procure the best hotel and flight deals for your visit.
Getting around in Key West
Key West is easily accessed via its Key West International Airport, which welcomes various domestic and international airlines though big jets often find it difficult to land at the airport’s short runway.
Most visitors use taxis to get to their hotels located around the city of Key West; though some visitors also choose to rent a car for the duration of their stay in Key West.
Fare Buzz can provide you with affordable car rentals for your Key West vacation, which can be booked through at the same booking platforms as your cheap air tickets and cheap hotel rooms in Key West.
As far as public transportation is considered, the Key West Department of Transportation operates a number of public buses and shuttle services, which provide transportation around the city; though visitors who don’t want to deal with the expensive and scarce parking facilities choose to navigate the city on foot or avail of a bike or scooter rental.
Where to shop in Key West
Visitors who come out to Key West don’t really have shopping on their mind, though if they want to shop, then this southernmost city does offer a number of shopping options. In fact the city during recent times has come to host outposts of several national chains like Banana Republic, Express, Coach amongst others.
However, if visitors are looking for something uniquely Key West, they should give these outlets a pass and explore the offerings at Key West’s home-grown stores like Fast Buck Freddie’s (apparel, home furnishings, furniture and souvenirs), Besame Mucho, (an old-world apothecary and gift shop), Local Color Key West (handcrafted jewelry), the Key West Hand Print Fabrics (textiles) and the Pelican Poop Shoppe (Caribbean wall art and other decorative accents).
If cheap and cheerful is more your thing, then a visit to Half Buck Freddie’s on Caroline Street is definitely recommended. This store offers overstock, damaged and clearance goods at hugely discounted prices.
Amongst the many souvenir stores located on Duval Street in old Key West are several art galleries that showcase colorful works of Caribbean artists. So if you are looking to take a home a piece of Key West with you, galleries like Cuba Cuba and the Haitian Art Company are well worth a visit. Also recommended is the Key West Cigar store which is renowned for its hand-rolled cigars, believed to be as good if not better than the famed, much sought-after Cuban originals.
Where to eat in Key West
The tropical paradise of Key West offers a lively dining scene populated by eateries that offer a good selection of local and international cuisines. Fresh seafood is a staple in this southernmost city and thus Key West boasts of some excellent seafood restaurants like Garbo’s Grill, DJ’s Clam Shack, Flaming Buoy Filet Company, Blackfin Bistro and Seven Fish.
Other highly-ranked restaurants in Key West include hot spots like Latitudes (Caribbean and Mexican), El Siboney Restaurant (Cuban, Caribbean), Louie’s Backyard(New American), Braza Lena Brazilian Steakhouse and Paseo Restaurant (Caribbean).
Nightlife in Key West
Key West’s nightlife scene is legendary and the city is equipped bars, roof-top bars, saloons and night clubs that rock on until the wee hours. Some of the most ‘happening’ bars and clubs in Key West currently include spots like the Green Parrot Bar(Dive bar and live-music venue), Rick’s bar (roof-top bar), Virgilo’s, the Porch, Rum Bar, Captain Tony’s Saloon , Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Speakeasy Inn and 801 Bourbon Bar.