Thursday, December 22, 2016

Key West vacation

Welcome my Key West vacation guide - you're almost there!

A Key West vacation can be hot, sunny, beautiful, fun; and also at times expensive, humid and wet. 

This blog is all about helping you decide if Key West is right for you and hints and recommendations about how to make the most of your visit. 


Let's dive right in with the bad and the good about Key West. The not so good first.


Downsides of a Key West vacation
  • Key West is expensive - the hotels and B&Bs, especially in peak season (i.e. the season you'll want to come here) charge a small fortune. There are only a few good cheap accommodation options
  • Key West is small, really small
  • Key West in off peak (August to November) is uncomfortably humid 
  • There are only 2 beaches on the island and only 1 is good
  • Key West is not that geared up for kids
If you prefer to see the glass half full, here are the best things about Key West. 


Upsides of a Key West vacation 


WHAT IS A KEY WEST VACATION GOING TO BE LIKE?
  • Sunny
  • Hot but not too hot (heat is never a problem, it does get very humid between August and November)
  • Pretty - Key West style houses, tree laden streets, flowers, plants, lush tropical 
  • There are some great hotels but many of the B&Bs / guesthouses are even better (as they are original historic homes built in the 1800s so you are living like a local in a cool looking property)
  • Mostly friendly people
  • It's a walking, not driving, town
  • Can be busy in peak time, but walk a few streets away from Duval Street and it's quiet and peaceful
  • Great selection of bars covering all tastes
  • Great selection of restaurants covering all tastes
  • 80% of bars and restaurants within walking distance of most hotels and B&Bs - meaning you don't have to drive and so you can relax (and drink a lot!)
  • Some world famous stuff like Sloppy Joe's, the Hemingway House, Blue Heaven restaurant
  • Historic - Key West has a long and fascinating history to discover (e.g. Key West museum, lighthouse, Audubon House)














THINGS YOU GOTTA DO ON A KEY WEST VACATION

click below to read more....



or   ---  THINGS THAT MAKE TROPICAL KEY WEST A UNIQUE PLACE TO VACATION  ---

(most interesting / unique first)

1.Fly on a seaplane from Key West airport to Dry Totrugas/Fort Jefferson and snorkel in the ocean

2.Eat at Blue Heaven restaurant

3.Wander around Key West harbor and see the chaos of the tarpons and pelicans being fed - free, daily 4pm

4.Wander leisurely around Key West Old Town, away from Duval Street, and see the amazing homes

5.Sit in a bar, on Duval Street, in the open air of a balmy Key West evening and watch the world go by

6.Go watch a drag show - Inga's girls at Aqua are the best - it's funny and fun. Gay, straight or a bit of both, it don't matter at Aqua

7.Get active and visit attractions only found in Key West: the Key West lighthouse, the Audubon House, the Hemingway House



Finally, different people like different vacations, so...

WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR....?


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR SUNBATHING?
**** [4 out of 5]

It's good but not if you insist on a beach to sunbathe - see below.

More likely around your hotel or guesthouse pool. 

But during peak season December to April the temperature is a consistently and reliably in the 80s. Not too hot, and lots of sun. Lovely! 


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR BEACHES?
**    [2 out of of 5]

Well, surprisingly, not very good.

Yes, this is Florida, and it's tropical and it's hot... but Key West is small and it's a limestone rock basically, not sandy.

There's 2 beaches, the bigger one which is more sandy is not very good. The other one (Fort Zach beach) is less sandy/more rocky, but it's much prettier/nicer/better - it's the "local's secret."


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR KEEPING BUSY AND DOING LOTS OF STUFF?
****    [4 out of of 5]

It's a major tourist destination so there are dozens of things to do. The Conch train tour of the island, walk around the harbor and see the hungry pelicans/tarpon being fed, visit historic houses including the Hemingway House, don't forget the views from the top of the cool lighthouse. 

See my recommendations of what to do in Key West.


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR LUXURY?
**    [2 out of 5]

There are no 5 star hotels but there are 3 or 4 top notch hotels - that charge 5 star prices - which offer amazing ocean views and sumptuous rooms. There are no famous spas.

To get a feel for the best - check out my favorite the Pier House resort.


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR KIDS?
*    [1 out of 5]

It's a town for adults. In terms of things aimed specifically at kids, there's the small aquarium and a pirate museum (that takes an hour) but that's it. 

I would imagine most kids would get bored in Key West and the nearest theme park is 160 miles away in Miami.


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR A BUDGET VACATION?

Bad.

The biggest cost is accommodation. Hotels and the better guesthouses charge very high rates indeed (because this is an island with limited rooms and lots of people want to come here).

Here's my guide to Key West on a budget.

I would imagine most kids would get bored in Key West and the nearest theme park is 160 miles away in Miami.


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR A PHYSICAL / ACTIVITY HOLIDAY?
*     [1 out of 5]

People come to Key West to laze around, eat too much and drink too much.

This is a small island and it's as flat as a pancake. The walks are pretty but hardly long / strenuous.


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR A GAY HOLIDAY?
****   [4 out of 5]

Great! 5 gays bars, a gay sauna, gay friendly, a gaggle of drag queens, and 150,000 gay visitors a year. It's fun.

For more on the Key West gay scene - here.


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR MARTINIS?
This town has long liked a strong drink, ever since the pirates and sailors. This is a cocktail town.

If your tipple is a martini, this town has 2 fantastic martini places, including - in Virgilio's - one of the best martini bars in the world!


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR SHOPPING?
**      [2 of 5]

There are some really fun shops - very eccentric - selling local art, hot chilies, towels, hammocks etc.


WHAT'S KEY WEST LIKE FOR EATING/RESTAURANTS?
****      [4 out of 5]

I think the restaurants in Key West - as long as you choose the right ones, of course - are excellent.

There's a brilliant steak restaurant, and - not surprisingly - the seafood is good.



I hope I've given you a better view on  Key West vacations. Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.




View some itineraries of what you could get up to in Key West and how long to stay


Planning a Key West vacation