Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Key West Travel Guide | Best Attractions, Tours and Beaches

If you follow me on Instagram (@DiaryofaTrendaholic), then you probably saw my beach-y photos of palm trees, delicious food and sunny skies. After a hectic (but exhilarating) adventure in Asia, I longed for a warm, tropical escape and Florida is just a short flight away. I never tire of the beautiful skyline and picturesque shores along Miami Beach. In fact, my family and I have been looking at vacation homes for extended getaways.

This trip was all about rest, relaxation and fun, so we loaded-up the car and drove to Key West – Florida’s southernmost point. Known for its spectacular sunsets, thriving coral reefs, Mexican bistros and tasty key lime pie, there is something for everyone!

The drive to Key West was long and slow since there is only one highway in and out with a sluggish speed limit of 45 MPH. If you have time to spare, the road trip can be quite scenic. Along the way there are 113 miles of coral and limestone islands connected by 42 bridges suspended over turquoise water. We stopped to snap a few photos among the mangroves and spotted bright green iguanas and colorful fish.

You can also fly to Key West in about 45 minutes or take a leisurely cruise aboard a luxurious ship.

When passing Homestead, take a detour to Robert’s Fruit Stand and try a fresh smoothie or creamy milkshake. There is always a scrumptious array of tropical fruit, exotic jam and delectable honey.

After you stock-up on healthy treats, don’t forget to check out the animal sanctuary just behind the property.

Along the way there are shops, restaurants, beaches and interesting attractions that make the drive more enjoyable.

We stayed at The Perry Hotel just outside of Key West.

As I entered the trendy lobby, I was greeted with refreshing fruit infused water and a spectacular view of the pool.

The room was spacious, clean, modern and comfortable with a stylish bathroom stocked with full-size toiletries made by a local company. 

I loved the marina view from the balcony. It was the perfect place to kick back with a glass of wine after a long day.

One of my favorite features is the outdoor lounge/bar area with hammocks, cozy couches and toasty fire pits. The staff went out of their way to welcome us and the hotel offers a free shuttle to Duval Street.

The Old Town Trolley is a fun way to see most major attractions. You can hop on and off at your leisure or stay put and enjoy the entire guided tour.

Travelers Tip: Keep an eye out for the FREE tourist bus that makes 16 stops around the Duval Loop including the Southernmost Point Buoy.

Duval Street

If you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican food, I highly recommend Amigos Tortilla Bar. Try the steaming fajita platter, mouth-watering tacos (chicken, beef, shrimp, fish or fried avocado) and the loaded corn smothered in creamy garlic sauce, savory spices, feta and onion.

There are great souvenir shops at Duval Village and on the main road you can score incredible deals at the “everything for $5.00” store. I may have gone a bit overboard with the gifts and t-shirts.

One of the most unique shops I visited was The Key West Shell Warehouse. It was like walking through an underwater treasure trove of beautiful trinkets!

The Key West Memorial Sculpture Garden in Mallory Square is a wonderful tribute to legendary historical figures. Stroll through and read the honorary plaques that tell inspiring stories of bravery, courage and innovation.

The Ernest Hemingway House and Museum is another popular tourist destination honoring one of America’s most respected authors.  

For those interested in a supernatural experience, you can always try the Ghosts and Gravestones Tour featuring spooky tales, lost tombs and sacred grounds. The trolley departs from the Shipwreck Treasures Museum which is also close to the Aquarium.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not is always chock-full of unusual exhibits with some pop culture tossed in for good measure.

If odd occurrences and possessed dolls aren’t your thing, the Glass Bottom Boat Tour departs from the marina and offers a spectacular view of the coral reefs from a comfortable air conditioned vessel.

After all that excitement, grab a giant cookie from Mattheessen’s or a heaping scoop of gelato and head down to the pier. You will notice an abundance of chickens and roosters strutting about as ships sail in the distance.

No trip to Key West is complete without visiting the famous Southernmost Point Buoy (just 90 miles to Cuba).

Traveler Tip: While waiting to snap photos with the buoy, keep cool with an icy snow cone. The vendors are usually right around the corner.

Most tourists visit Key West to frolic in the warm waves and Smathers Beach has soft white sand and calm swimming conditions. There are also public showers, restrooms, volleyball nets and jet ski rentals.

Travelers Tip: The beach can get quite crowded during peak hours so arrive early and bring food. There aren't any restaurants nearby.

Smathers Beach

Higgs Beach is a great spot to picnic and relax under swaying palm trees.

For thrill seekers, there are a wide variety of water sports to choose from including Barefoot Billy’s exhilarating Jet Ski Tour. This high-speed adventure takes you on a scenic trek around the island with 5 stops at various points of interest. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and other marine life as you coast along the blue shores.

In the evening when most tourists are bar-hopping, I prefer a romantic sunset stroll. The Victorian and colonial homes are an architectural delight!

For more information about the Florida Keys or to plan your visit, head to

Check out my Travel Guide on Miami & Fort Lauderdale by clicking HERE!

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