Key West

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You only need to look at the Key West calendar of events to realize this place is different. It all starts with the Drag Queen Drop that rings in every new year and includes such events as the Weiner Dog Walk and the annual 10-day costume-filled Fantasy Fest in October that features such events as the Vampire’s Ball and Headdress Ball, a pet masquerade parade, a celebrity lookalike Contest, a toga party and the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade, with 70,000 masked partygoers waltzing down Duval Street. And Key West always maintains its sense of humor. A crypt in Key West is inscribed “I told you I was sick.” Every day at sunset, crowds gather at Mallory Square at the end of Duval Street to watch the sunset in a carnival atmosphere that features an eclectic group of street performers and art booths.

But Key West is much more than weird. It has a rich history and culture that set it apart from the rest of the country. It is where descendants and fans of pirates coexist with a flamboyant gay and lesbian community. Where you can tour the Ernest Hemingway House and have a burger at one of his favorite haunts, Sloppy Joes. Oh, you want to party? Key West has more bars per capita than anyplace in the country. You can just be a tourist and browse the T-shirt shops on Duval Street alongside cruise ship passengers, and have your picture taken at the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S., just 90 miles off the Cuba coast.

Or, you can go boating, fishing, scuba diving, skiing, or just sit back on Smathers Beach and soak up the tropical sun. Key West has never seen a snowflake and in fact has never experienced temperatures below 41 degrees fahrenheit.

Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida. Photo Credit: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

Key West from the air. Photo Credit: Any Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau


The beaches of Key West:

Surprisingly, Key West does not have a lot of beaches. Protected from wave action by coral reefs offshore, the ocean does not deposit a lot of sand here. Yet, there are a few great places for sun worshippers to get their tropical groove on:

  • Smathers Beach, along the southern shore, is the largest and most popular beach on the island. This is where you will find plenty of beach activities, including water sports and volleyball, and vendors selling snacks, beverages and renting beach chairs. The city regularly replenishes the sand, which tends to get swept away by tropical storms. But typically, the surf is quiet and snorkeling is worth the effort. But if you really want to see tropical fish here you will want to consider an excursion out to the offshore reefs.
  • The beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park – on the western tip of the island – is rocky but conducive to swimming and snorkeling for small fish. Many visitors ride their bikes to the park from Duval Street.
  • If you’re willing drive 30 miles or so up Highway 1 to Big Pine Key, you can enjoy Bahia Honda, which has been recognized as one of the best beaches in the U.S.


The beaches of Key West:

View Beaches of Key West in a larger map


Key West Weather:

Partly Cloudy
06/27/2017 10%
High 87° / Low 80°
Partly Cloudy
06/28/2017 20%
High 87° / Low 81°
Partly Cloudy
06/29/2017 20%
High 87° / Low 81°
Partly Cloudy
06/30/2017 20%
High 87° / Low 82°
07/01/2017 20%
High 87° / Low 82°
07/02/2017 20%
High 87° / Low 81°
Chance of a Thunderstorm
07/03/2017 30%
High 86° / Low 81°



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