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First-time guide to Visiting Key West

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Top tips and recommendations for those visiting Key West for the first time

Located at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, Key West has a little something for everyone.  Between the sandy beaches, myriad of dining options, and trendy night clubs,  Key West can feel a little bit like heaven. Here are a few favorite Key West experiences for first-time visitors.

key west florida

Key West, Florida

Eat

Let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room. Key West does have some darn good key lime pie. While there are ubiquitous shops claiming that they have the best key lime pie on the island, the top two contenders according to locals and regular visitors are Kermit’s Key Lime Pie and Key West Key Lime Pie Company (Kermit’s seemed a little more tart, while the latter was a touch sweeter). Nearby, local Mexican restaurant, Amigos Tortilla Bar, not only serves up delicious food made with their special molcajetes, but they also offer their guests the chance to sample a half slice of each famed pie. Try a slice covered in chocolate and cast your vote on which one reigns supreme.

Chocolate Covered Key Lime Pie

With it’s location on the Gulf of Mexico, Key West has plenty of exciting seafood options. Stone crab and spiny lobster are two things you need to try your first time in Key West.

For the best stone crab, try Joe’s Stone Crab for some of the best crab claws on the island. Alonzo and Berlin’s Lobster House has some of the best spiny lobster in Key West, as well as great overall seafood.

Another Key West treat are the famed conch fritters. Meaty conch is mixed with onions, garlic, and an array spices, then deep-fried until golden brown and served to you piping hot. Be sure to get your order with a drizzle of the creamy key lime sauce – a perfect blend of sweet and savory. Sharkey’s has some of the best conch fritters around and make a great mid-day stop.

Drink

Watering holes can be found around every corner on Duval Street, but there are a few that serve up some history with their poison. Captain Tony’s Saloon is a hotspot that holds claim as not only Key West’s oldest bar, but is also rumored to be haunted. Captain Tony’s centerpiece, a large tree rooted in the middle of the bar, is said to be the town’s old hanging tree, where over 75 crooks and criminals met their fate. The curiosity needs not end there as the hundreds of bras dangling from the ceiling are sure to capture your attention. Grab the house special, a pirate’s punch, and come up with your own theories about this local haunt.

Duval Street key west

Duval Street, Key West

For live-music and dancing, The Sunset Pier provides a great waterfront venue for both. Sipping on a tropical cocktail here is a great way to spend a sunset.

For a truly all-out entertainment experience, stop by Rick’s Entertainment Complex. Rick’s Entertainment Complex is everything Key West, dance clubs, VIP bars, premium drinks and the most riotous parties on the island. With eight different bars and several live-music venues, the complex sure to provide a good time.

Activities

One of the best ways to explore Key West is by bicycle. Silver Palms Inn rents out bikes by the bargain rate of $25 a day. Use your new found freedom to take to the streets of Key West, leaving no nook or cranny undiscovered.

Cycle your way through the southernmost point of the continental United States, make a stop at the Hemingway House, take a break from your jaunt by eating a few chocolate-covered key lime pies, and then pedal your way to the favorite local beach located inside Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

hemingway house key west

Hemingway House, Key West

If you want to take your adventures off land, a sailing adventure from the pier is an exciting adventure.

There are cruises to fit each and every desire, some of the most popular are sunset champagne sails and snorkel sail excursions. Be advised that unruly weather can call for choppy seas and a rather unpleasant time on the water. Check the weather reports to see which days would be best for you. 

cruising off key west

Cruising off Key West

Regardless of who you take with you to Key West, a good time is sure to be had. Treat yourself to conch fritters and key lime pies before biking around town and exploring the subtle intricacies that keep Key West’s visitors returning time and time again.

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