All too quickly it was time to grab our last Cuban coffee and board our flight back to Kansas City. I had an amazing time and would love to go back. Here are some final thoughts in case you are planning a trip to the Conch Republic.
1. Leave the kids at home….maybe. Key West is a big “party” destination and there are a lot of retirees and honeymooners there. However if you do bring the kids there are a lot of historical sites and resorts that are family friendly. I would not recommend bringing very small children simply because there is a lot of walking involved and it is very HOT.
2. Step away from that Bahama Mama. I am certainly not against having a drink or several on Duval but there is a lot more to do and see in Key West than just party. Key West is old and has a wonderful and interesting history. Those intensely warm afternoons are the perfect time to take advantage of the air conditioned museums.
3. Spend one evening on Duval. Grab a drink (alcoholic or otherwise) and enjoy the cooler evening weather and some great people watching. Key West has always been a haven for the outsiders of society and even with all the tourists that still rings true today.
4. Eat some seafood, even if you think you don’t like it. Obviously if you are allergic you can ignore this but I had some of the best seafood of my life in Key West. Especially shrimp. Seafood in Key West is FRESH which makes it taste nothing like the seafood you normally get in grocery stores or restaurants. So try a gulf shrimp or yellow-trail snapper- you may be pleasantly surprised.
5. Go fishing! My father-in-law and husband secured themselves a spot on a boat and spent the whole day fishing. They had a great time and ended up with a lot of fish. At the end of the day the Capitan and the First Mate cleaned the fish for everyone so it was ready to eat. There are several restaurants on the island that will cook up your fish for you and they give you options on how you would like it cooked and what sides you would like with it. It was one of the best and most memorable meals we had while we were there.
6. Take a tour. There are several different tours that will drive you around and inform you of all the wonderful sites and history of the island. Its a great way to see more of the island, learn a bit, and take a break from all the walking.
7. Stay near Duval or prepare to walk a lot. Most of what you will want to do and see revolves around Duval Street. The further you get from Duval the less expensive accommodations are however, that also means you will have to rent a car and drive. With downtown being designed many years ago, parking can kind of be a crap shoot. Sometimes you will luck out, other times you will spend 20-30 minutes driving in circles hoping a space will open up. Also, 95% of the time the parking is NOT free. Its not super expensive but since most people vacation on a budget that expense can add up quickly. And speaking of parking, if you must have a car make sure the place you are staying provides parking. A lot of vacation rentals near downtown do not even provide parking spaces.
8. Timing is everything. Don’t get your heart set on going at a certain time until you check an events calendar to see what’s happening on the island. There are festivals through out the year and with those festivals come higher prices. Streets become packed, there are long lines at restaurants, and parking is impossible. We went in April- the holiday season was over, the people escaping their hometown winter weather were beginning to return home and it was too early for summer vacationers. Nothing was too crowded, prices were lower and during the day we had no problem finding parking. (night time was a different story).
I hope you have enjoyed reading about hearing about our trip. If you haven’t been I highly recommend you go! If you have been I would love to hear about your travel experiences.