By Cacinda Maloney
I recently spent some time in Florida. It had been years since I had gone down to “the Keys” during my college days. I had fond memories of riding bikes along the historic sea port area and sipping drinks in a Hemingway bar… briefly remember visiting his home and his 6 toed cats, but that was about it. How refreshing it was to finally get to go back to my old haunts and see what has changed!
What to do in Key West:
Take the Conch Tour Train. This or one of the other tours (Old Town Trolly) is something I always recommend to anyone new to an area. Do this on the first or second day that you are there so you can get the lay of the land. This gives you an overview of what there is to see and do and then go back to the places that interest you.
Go to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortuga Islands
You can take a seaplane to Fort Jefferson (which I wholeheartedly recommend) or there is also a ferry that goes out there every day. The seaplane, by far, was the highlight of the trip, as well as the time spent on Dry Tortuga. The water here is gorgeous and many Americans don’t even know this place exists. I have previously wrote extensively about Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortuga and how much I loved it!
You can thank me later for this piece of advice!
Wander thru Old Town’s prettiest streets and take photos of doors! If you are a regular reader then you know it is one of my favorite things to do! I am a door nut and I love seeing how people decorate their front doors, so this is a must if you enjoy seeing different kinds of neighborhoods. There will even be a scattering of chickens or two from the old cock fighting days!
Get into the Ocean – Either by sailboat or water toys, there is something for everyone. Board a catamaran and search for dolphins. They have all kinds of watercraft and beach toys to rent. As well as scuba diving, snorkeling or just plain ole’ swimming and hanging out on the beach. I heard Fort Zachary Taylor State Park was nice, but didn’t make it out there.
While I was in The Keys, I had a chance to attend the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival and it was crazy. It is an annual event, so you can go next year!
What to do in Key West
Stroll Dow Duvall Street – Shop, eat and drink your way around town at all the local hangouts, there are many, like the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar or Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
Tour Famous Houses – From the Audubon House to Hemingway and Truman’s place, there is a lot of history here to discover. This time around I toured Ernest Hemingway’s home and Museum. You can even pet Papa’s 5 toed cats! It is quite interesting to walk around and to see where the writer did his thing.
Go to the Key West Lighthouse and see the best view of Key West. I didn’t get a chance to do this either, but they say it is amazing!
Visit the Custom House – Pirates, Cuban cigar makers, smugglers spongers, turtle people, Flagler, artists – it is all here, the fascinating history of Key West.
Have breakfast at Blue Heaven, where they put lobster on everything and of course, you have to have a slice of their Key Lime Pie!
For dinner, save a special night for Sunset Key’s Latitudes, located on a unique resort island in Key West Harbor. You can take the ferry over to the island and stay until the sun sets with your wine and your lover! (Guaranteed to be a perfect evening!)
At The End: Take a photo of where Highway 1 ends!
And if you get a chance, you are only 90 miles to Cuba!
What Not to do in Key West:
I had heard to “Go to Mallory Square” – to see where all the action is, but let me tell you: It is crowded, hectic and crazy. They do have a nice sunset from here amongst the street performers and the crowds.
Also heard to “Drive to the Southernmost Point” of the United States (I do remember doing this years ago). If you go, be prepared to stand in line in the muggy heat.
There you have it, your Key West, Florida Vacation awaits you! Now you know exactly what to do in Key West!
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Florida Keys Tourism Board. The joy and excitement I had in the Florida Keys was all my own.