Friday, February 28, 2020

Best hikes in Key West and Lower Keys

Where to hike and get away from it all in Key West and the Lower Keys? They are beautiful but they are not known for hikes and walking. If you want to get away from it all and go for a peaceful hike, where do you go?

Hikes in Key West

Difficult one as Key West is small, busy and built up.

Here are the my best hiking suggestions:

1. Fort Zachary Taylor and it's beach right by it

The beach gets really really busy but the Fort less so and there is a patch of ground between the fort and the ocean where it's a bit quieter. 

No formal trail so just wander around. 

The plus side is you get access to the ocean.

And there are view like this one - no this is not a postcard, I took this pic on Fort Zach beach today!...




2.
Wander around old town Key West

Get off Duval and wander randomly or to a plan.

It's not deserted, but it's lovely.



Best hikes within 1 hour drive of Key West

Best: Lower Sugarloaf Key

What: several miles long out and back dirt road (paved in parts). Closed to motor traffic so this is good.

Busy: Quiet

Where it is? 30 minutes drive from Key West. Come off Highway 1 at Sugarloaf Boulevard, drive a few miles down the road to a 90 degree right turn were the road becomes Old State Road 4a. You have reached the start of the walk. Park by the side of the road.




Trailhead: you'll see the barrier. Go through it and start walking.

Flat

Why is this good?

No card allowed. It's quiet so you can get away from the crowds, it's long (several miles), it's surrounded by water so you really get the mangrove experience. 

If you want a bonus after your hike: Keep driving along Start Road 4a - 2 miles until you get to Sammy Creek Landing. There is a picnic table.



Second choice

Horsehoe Beach, West Summerland Key, just before (nearer Key West) Bahia Honda Beach

What: paddle along a causeway into the ocean

Busy: medium - you won't be a lone!

Where? 1 hour drive from Key West.




Third choice:

Boca Chica Beach

What: 1 mile out and back with the ocean on the right and the air base on the right (not as bad as it sounds!)


Fourth choice:

more coming soon



The state parks parks along Middle Keys to Lower Keys

The parks are justifiably famous because of their amazing beauty. 

My first choice would be Bahia Honda State Park - good hiking along the beach trail. (Although the best walk is currently still closed because of Hurricane Irma in 2017)

Best - Bahia Honda state park and one of the most beautiful beaches in the USA – MM 37
2nd - Curry Hammock state park MM56.2. This is quieter and much smaller than Bahia and has, over the years, become my favorite stop.


Crazy idea - go to even smaller island than Key West to hike!

Go 70 miles on a boat to Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas.

Hiking around the island / fort is fun.







Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Key West vacation

Welcome my Key West vacation guide. 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....

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Top 10 posts on Key West Lookout

Here are the top 10 most read articles on this blog since I started Key West Lookout in 2009. Key West Lookout is written by me and only me. I am a regular Key West visitor, and have been taking vacations in Key West since 1998. My aim is to provide the best, most comprehensive and most up-to-date Key West vacation guide on the planet. See you in Key West! This blog was last updated in January 2017.

#1: Best time of year to visit Key West








#2: Key West hotels












#3: Top things to do in Key West









#4: What to do in Key West when it rains








#5: Key West restaurants

#6: Gay Key West

#7: Best cocktails and martinis in Key West

#8: Key West guesthouses

#9: Planing a Key West vacation

#10: Key West pictures


PICTURES:
  • Crazy Key West - 25 of my funniest, silliest pictures from the last 10 years in Key West. Yes, Key West is eccentric and a little mad.

VIDEO:

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Planning a Key West visit

This post will help if you're planning a Key West visit or vacation and have questions like when to visit Key West, how long to stay, when is the rainy season, what are the best budget hotels, and how to get to Key West. Here's the Key West truth from a fellow Key West visitor.
Planning a Key West visit. This picture is taken during the summer when crowds are much fewer
This post will answer these questions:
  • When should I visit Key West?
  • How many days should I stay? Is a weekend too short?
  • How to get to Key West?
  • How bad is the traffic?
  • Where to stop off on the way down the Keys?
  • How long to stay in Key West?
  • Do you need a car / what to so with the car while in Key West?
  • What to wear in Key West?  How formal is Key West?
  • Where to stay and what to do?
  • How good is Key West for children?
So click on the link below and let's get going....

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

11 must do Key West best bits


1.Definitely go to Blue Heaven, Key West’s most famous restaurant, and definitely go for breakfast. Have a cocktail at the bar (yes, at breakfast, you're on vacation!), eat in the open air under the tree canopy, wild chickens scratching, live music. Heaven indeed. What to order: their lobster benny, without a shadow of a doubt.


2.Fly by seaplane to the Dry Tortugas (tropical islands). You'll do all of the following in half a day: sea plane, amazing flight, tropical island, snorkelling....There are so many reasons why this is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip. You get to land on the water. During the flight the altitude is only 500 feet, so low you can see the sea life swimming below in the blue waters. When you get there you have the island to yourself (and the few other passengers of the sea plane) for an hour before the hordes arrive (the daily ferry) so you can snorkel in peace (this is the best snorkelling location in Key West). Take the half day trip and go in the morning. Book before you arrive in Key West as the trips sell out.

3.Drink the largest, strongest and best martini in Florida at Virgilio’s martini bar on Duval Street. All the martinis are great, the best is the raspberry chocolate bomb. A challenge: see if you can survive two of them! Other bonus: you get a great view of Duval Street madness from your barstool.

4.Wander the streets of Old town off Duval Street. Take your camera to capture the beautiful houses, flowers and trees.


5.Eat! - I’m going to put all my dinner recommendations in one, here they are: Michaels for the best steak and dessert (chocolate volcano). The tastiest fish in the world is Hog snapper and it’s the speciality of fish specialist restaurant Cafe Sole - the best single fish dish in Key West. Finally, for the best lobster and the best dinner table view on the island go to the A&B Lobster House (the restaurant on the first floor). If it’s not too humid, get a table outside on the deck - views of the harbor. All three restaurants will get super busy so book in advance.  

6.Go to see the hilarious drag show at Aqua on Duval. Nightly but pick a night Inga is performing.

7.Take a drink at legendary Sloppy Joe’s on Duval Street. In the 1930s it was Hemingway's regular bar. Take pictures of the iconic neon sign.

8.A fun way of seeing the whole island in comfort and all in just over 2 hours, with a very informative live commentary, take the bus tour or as they call it here in Key West the conch train tour.  

9.Walk up and down Duval Street. I know you are going to do this anyway.

10.Chill on the beach. The best beach in Key West is Fort Zac - it’s beautiful, but not sandy (rocky bits/limestone and coral pebbles). If you really really really want sand go to Higgs Beach but it’s not as pretty.

11.Walk the boardwalk on Key West’s historic harbor. There is always a hundred things going on, great people watching and of course views of the ocean. Really worth the diversion from Duval Street.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Key West breakfast

Here are the best places in Key West to eat breakfast or brunch. 
#1 - Blue Heaven on Thomas Street
#2 - Pepe's on Caroline Street
#3 - Harpoon Harry's on Caroline Street

Over the years of visiting I've been to these places countless times. It's the most important meal of the day and in Key West all the following restaurants are excellent. Don't stay in your hotel or guest house - get out to these!

A word of warning - all these places, and especially the first 2, get VERY busy. Even more so at the weekend. 

If you don't get in line at 11 o'clock (in season) or later you will be waiting an hour or more. At Blue Heaven this is not a problem as you can wait at the bar and have a drink or two; at Pepe's there is a small bar but most people stand on Caroline Street outside the restaurant (which is not much fun!). So go early!


Winner - #1
Blue Heaven

Thomas Street

This is an amazing place anyway and on my list of unique top things to do in Key West. So you have to eat here. My recommendation is to eat here for both dinner and also breakfast. If you can do only one then I would choose breakfast, and it's the best place to eat breakfast in Key West.

Famous, one of a kind, unique venue, in the open air all year round with chickens at your feet and live music. And what's more the food is GREAT. Best is breakfast but dinner is good too.
Key West institution
Sit at the bar for an early martini or their special - bloody mary.
Food great.
Live music, even for breakfast
No reservations, no parking - walking is best
Expect 45 mins to 1 hour or more wait every weekend in season

The best breakfast plate: BLT (bacon, lettuce, lobster) benedicts $24 - amazing! their number 1 seller!

"BLT" (lobster) benedict, the best breakfast dish on Key West, at Blue Heaven



Click below for more....

Sunday, May 7, 2017

28 Best Key West pictures

I love taking pictures in Key West and of the thousands I've taken, here are the best. Whilst I've carefully selected these photos as my favorites, I've not tried to arrange them - they are (almost) in random order. This is deliberate - because one of the joys of Key West is that this place is in no way arranged or ordered. 

During a 1 hour walk you can see all of the following around Key West old town: people having a crazy time, profound history and beauty in people, buildings, the ocean, the beach and nature.

Enjoy!




click here to see more...


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Beautiful Key West

Beautiful Key West
Key West is a really beautiful place to visit. It's a beautiful collision of nature, the ocean and the sun at full power. 

You'll need to get off Duval Street, relax a bit and wander. 

You have to come here in person and walk around the place. So all I can give you is an impression. Everything you see below is available in a few square miles in Key West Old Town. All these pictures are all mine and unadulterated by Photoshop or the like.

If you're visiting Key West, take some time to get off Duval Street and explore. 

If you're not, then sit back, look at the following pictures, and dream tropical!

Below please find, for your visual pleasure, Key West's beautiful:

  • Ocean views
  • Trees and flowers
  • Buildings
  • Animals
  • Sunsets (and a sunrise too)


The ocean
Dolphin in Key West waters, very close to shore - this taken from the East Quay wall at the Truman Waterfront


>> MORE BEAUTY...click below for Beautiful Key West Trees and Flowers; Animals; Sunset - 43 amazing pictures….

Monday, December 19, 2016

Flying from London to Key West

London to Key West is an 17 hour trip door to bar
London to Key West is 4,554 miles and the flying time is 10 hours, via Miami airport. Door to door the travel time is about 17 hours with good connections. This means you can leave cold, miserable London in the morning and end up in hot Key West with a cocktail in hand at 9pm the same night.

Here's how I do it: I fly out of London Heathrow at 11am and walk through the door of my Key West guesthouse at 8pm the same evening. Once in my Key West room, I down a glass of wine, catch a quick shower, and am out by 8.45pm and by 9pm sitting in Virgilio's, potent martini in hand, looking out at the crazyness of Duval Street and preparing to eat at the bar from their wonderful Italian menu. And relax.

Then because of the martini(s) consumed, the jet lag is hours from kicking in, so a detour via Bourbon Street pub is inevitable. Hit the pillow after midnight. All in one day.

As I write (November 2015), I've done the London to Key West trip 19 times - 19 flights out, and 19 flights back. Yes it's a long way but it's worth it. Key West is great for Brits! And about 30,000 Brits and 40,000 Germans visit Key West every year for vacation.

Most beautiful Key West houses and homes

There are some very expensive and beautiful homes in Key West. They are all in Old Town Key West and so very walkable in an hour if you are in a rush or a few hours if you just randomly wander down a few streets in Key West.

Here are a just a few highlights to make you want to come to Key West and also to make you jealous of these beautiful and historic homes.

I think this is my favorite Key West home, 1029 Fleming Street. Immaculate white and all the elements of the house work together in perfect harmony. Very Key West Old Town it also helps that this house is very imposing and also huge. The second image below shows the side view, showing how long the house is. It's not so uniform from the side, for example the 4 sided feature, which I think  makes it even more interesting.

One of the most beautiful homes in Key West - 1029 Fleming Street

Seaplane to Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson

The Dry Tortugas are a group of small islands 70 miles west from Key West and visiting them by seaplane is the best thing I've ever done from Key West and one of my highlights of the year. The flight is only at 500 feet so the ocean views are stunning but that's only a warm up for the island itself which is dominated by the huge Fort Jefferson, the largest brick made structure in the Americas. Then there's the beach and snorkeling. I visited Key West for years without visiting the Tortugas and that was a mistake - make sure you include the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson in your itinerary.
View of Fort Jefferson and the snorkeling area in front from the seaplane at the Dry Tortugas
Here are 11 things that are cool about a seaplane trip to the Dry Tortugas:
  • You get to fly in a small, 12 seat seaplane! That's cool!
  • You get amazing aerial views of Key West on take off and landing
  • For most of the flight you're at only 500 feet so you see loads of turtles, dolphins and other marine life in the water
  • You get to see all the lonely keys and sandbars between Key West and the islands - along with informative commentary from pilot
  • You're immersed in the Caribbean colors of the ocean - beautiful blues and greens
  • When you land on water at the Dry Tortugas experience how soft a water landing is
  • If you go on the morning trip you arrive 90 minutes before the ferry so you have the fort and island to yourself, which is awesome and makes a real difference
  • Fort Jefferson, with its 16 million red bricks, is very photogenic
  • As is the vista out to open ocean which includes the Dry Tortugas lighthouse, 157 feet high, a few miles away on Loggerhead Key
  • The snorkelling, very close (like 10 metres) off the island, is easy to do and good. Much better than any snorkelling in Key West
  • The colors, clarity and contrasts are stunning and you end up with some amazing photographs. The photos you see below are the set I'm most proud of across all my tens of thousands of photos of the Florida Keys - see below
FAQs - visiting the Dry Tortugas