Sunday, December 18, 2016

What to do in Key West when it rains

If you're reading this then it's probably raining in Key West and you're looking for ideas about what to do. First I'm sorry it's raining and I hope it stops soon. Anyway, what to do? The traditional answer in Key West when it rains is: Drink! You have a multitude of choices and you'll find the bars packed today if it's raining. But there are alternatives, read on...
What to do in Key West when it rains. Here on Duval Street someone has a different option than a rain poncho.  

special notice: today Sunday  30 October 2016: Happy Fantasy Fest! arrgh! it's raining in Key West (3.30pm) and the forecast does not look good for the rest of the evening - so getting to a good bar seems the best option! see you in there!

When it rains: drink
It's never too early to drink in Key West. Climb into your rain poncho (which is an essential for rainy days) and go to somewhere with a lively vibe preferably with live music. Here's the bars which will be busy regardless of the time of day and often have music:
  • Sloppy Joe's (best choice for music)
  • Schooner Wharf Bar
  • Margaritaville
Heck, do a bar crawl and take in all of them!

If you want a cocktail or martini them here's the best picks in Key West.

It's too early for a drink: so eat
A long food session is a good option for rainy days. You want a leisurely meal with a view so you can see the rain clearing (or alternatively, seeing other people caught out in the wet!).
  • Alonzo's (underneath the A & B Lobster House) - views of Key West Bight/harbor
  • Roof Top Cafe on Front Street. Good view from their inside balcony.  Sit inside on their second floor dining room and watch the other tourists getting wet.
  • Conch Republic Seafood Company restaurant - also good views of the harbor
I already ate breakfast or lunch: I want to get active
So, lazy walks are out because it's raining. You want something inside and interesting. Here are the best inside options, see which one you fancy, I've added the amount of time and how much brain activity is required:
  • Shipwreck museum - very little brain power required; 1 hour 
  • Mel Fisher museum - medium brain power; 1.5 hour
  • Key West aquarium - little brain power; 1 hour
  • Key West museum - medium to high brain power but very interesting; 1.5 hours
  • Butterfly Conservatory.  little brain power; 1 hour. The good news, it's inside and hot. The bad news, it's all the way down the other end of Duval Street.

I don't want to use my brain: Retail therapy
I'm afraid there are no department stores on Key West to browse. There are some interesting stores, but they are spread out around Old Town and quite small. But, hey, it's only a bit of rain so don your poncho again and go for it.  Here are some great shops to try and make you forget about the weather:
Get me out of Key West: I've got a car and I'm sober enough to drive what are my options?
Just to state the obvious, if it's raining in Key West it'll be raining all the way along the Keys. And the drive will be not much fun. There's not too much to see outside of Key West when it's raining - I recommend you stay in Key West. There are no retail places or malls, unless you want to drive to Miami 4 hours away.  

The only thing I can think of is going to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon (48 miles from KW), and go on the guided tour of the hospital (very good experience). Although that is also outside for about 1 hour of the 2 hour tour. Important: also note that they only allow guided tours and there are a limited number of tours available. So on busy days (and rainy days) it can often get booked up. I REALLY don't want you driving over an hour out to Marathon in the rain only to get there and find out all the tours are booked up for the entire day. And it happens (i.e. it's happened to me once). If you're not on a guided tour there is nothing to see at the Hospital.

My very top recommendations for a rain day - rainy day itinerary
  • Breakfast: Blue Heaven (they have an inside dining room up the stairs, totally sheltered from the rain)
  • Walk down to Front Street
  • Late morning - Key West museum followed by Shipwreck museum
  • Afternoon - Peppers of Key West - chilli tasting bar
  • Drink - 1 in Sloppy Joe's; then 3 in Margaritaville, sit at the bar and chat

All these ideas are boring: give me some offbeat ideas
  • Buy a trashy book, get a coffee and settle down for a good read - Old Town Bookshop on Fleming, just off Duval. Starbucks on Duval.
  • Or get a history book of Key West and be inspired with the trail blazers and eccentrics that experienced this rain in the years gone by.
  • It's raining so go for a swim in the ocean, it'll probably be warmer. Or hire a sailing boat.
  • Spend a few hours in the gym
  • Get arty: Spend some time browsing in the art galleries dotted around Old Town.  There are many, many with local themes, and of all different types (e.g. oil, sketches, glass).  Remember, the better art galleries tend to be off Duval Street.  
Finally, if all else fails, some thoughts to make you feel (a tiny bit) better:
  • It might be raining, but at least it's not cold
  • Just imagine how lovely tomorrow is going to be in Key West. Start planning now to make the most of it.
  • At least you're not at work
  • Do something "Key West" - rash and crazy
  • Everyone else is feeling exactly the same as you
  • There are 20 bars within 5 minutes walk, what are you moaning about!
  • Key West is an adventure. Get out there, even though it's raining, and discover some one or thing.  And do it right now!
  • Maybe it's not raining as hard as it did this time in Key West - see video below:

Here's a live blog of a very rainy day in January 2014, see how many hours of rain we got, when it stopped, with lots of pictures of what me and others did in the rain - click here

Even when it's pouring, Key West is always entertaining with lots to see

Other Key West stuff on this site, particularly relevant for rainy days...

Of course, you could browse the 200 posts on this Key West blog while you're waiting for the rain to stop!

11 best Things to do in Key West - several of these are safely inside and so check out my favorites 

Finally, here's a blog post I wrote back in 2012 of a day that turned from beautiful to dreadful back to beautiful again.  Here's now we tried to make the most of a rainy day in Key West.

The day started with clear skies, but a storm front was coming on.  It was Sunday and so, of course, we were in Blue Heaven.  By 11am, within 10 minutes, the rain came on and then was torrential for an hour.  After that, a very strong wind, overcast and further occasional showers.  The afternoon was a write off for sun.
We were in Blue Heaven when the rain started at 11am.  It went on like this for an hour.
After breakfast, we nipped from shop to shop along Duval trying to avoid the rain showers.  Retail therapy Key West style here - this is a display in Fast Buck Freddie's tropical department store.  (Unfortunately, since this was written in 2012, Fast Buck Freddie's has closed for good - but there are still interesting shops along Duval!).
It was still showery and a very strong wind kept blowing for hours.
Ok so then we gave in and went into the bar at Margaritaville for several margaritas.  Very good they were too.  And some Jimmy Buffet on the video screens.  By the time we came out at 4.30pm the weather was clearing and some sun was around.
Happy ending - it stopped raining.... Home for a quick shower and then a busy Sunday evening!
The Gardens Hotel on a Sunday for jazz
By 6.30pm the skies had cleared but there was a wind and also it was really cold.  All the locals are wearing long trousers and jumpers.  Only foolish tourists like me are still in shorts!
To Mangoes for cocktails at the bar (they had the heaters on!).  And then a great dinner at Antonia's rounded a busy day off. See, there's lots to do and fun to be had even when it rains.

I hope this blog post was in some way useful. If you're waiting for the rain to stop please leave a comment in the comment section below this post.