Key West Day Trip

The peak tourist season in the Florida Keys begins in late December and runs through May. During this period it almost never rains. Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys have a particularly mild climate, which manifests itself in harmonious temperatures throughout the year.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, which means cloudier weather and the possibility of dangerous storms (peak hurricane months for the Florida Keys are usually August 15 to October 15).

The Florida Keys are divided into five regions: Key Largo, IslamoradaMarathon, Big Pine and Lower Keys, and Key West.

Key West is the most known and explored by tourists. The small island is closer to Cuba (145 km) than to Miami (256 km) and represents the southernmost point of the continental United States.

The drive from Miami takes around 4 hours and you have to cross a total of 42 bridges on the Overseas Highway. Although it may seem like a lot, there’s no way you’ll get bored driving through one of the most scenic roads in the United States.

The architecture is mainly Caribbean, with many houses built from coral rock or salvaged ship planks.

If you arrive in Key West you will see chickens roaming the streets, sometimes even wandering into shops or restaurants. Some birds were brought from the Caribbean by the early settlers of Key West, using them for food.

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This was long before bridges or railroads were built and it was much harder for them to procure food. As Key West became connected to the mainland, the need to raise its own food decreased and many chickens were either released or escaped.

In the 1860s, during the Cuban Ten Years’ War, many Cubans migrated to Key West , bringing with them the sport of cockfighting. The sport thrived in Key West until it was outlawed in the late 1970s and the roosters were left on the streets. Today, the city of Key West protects the birds and lets them roam free among residents and tourists.

Things to do in Key West:

1. A walk on Duval Street – the main boulevard in Key West, which stretches from Mallory Square to the Southernmost Point marker. Along the street are many shops, live music restaurants, historic houses and some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

2. Southernmost Point of the Continental USA. Don’t miss taking a photo with the concrete buoy that marks the southernmost point of the continental United States. On it is inscribed the motto of the island “Key West – Home of the sunset“, but also the distance to Cuba, 90 miles. Sometimes you have to wait up to an hour to take a picture, so we advise you to go as early as possible in the morning to avoid queuing.

3. If you come to Key West you must try the famous Key Lime Pie – an American pie made from egg yolks, lime and sweetened condensed milk. We tried the one from Moondog Cafe and highly recommend it.

4. A Conch Train tour . This tour operates in a hop-on hop-off style, with the purchased ticket valid for the entire day. A full island tour takes 75 minutes and costs $50.60/person ($35.87/person – online).

5. Visit the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum. One of Key West‘s top attractions is a beautiful Spanish Colonial mansion built in 1851. Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner, famous writer Ernest Hemingway spent 10 years of his life in this house. Among his best-known novels are The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The museum is open every day and the ticket costs $13/person (tickets cannot be purchased online and payment is by cash only).

6. Harry S. Truman Little White House. Visit the winter residence of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States. The house was built in 1890 as a naval headquarters during the Spanish-American War. It was later restored and turned into a museum. Exhibits document Key West ‘s role in naval conflicts as well as the history of the house. Admission is $24.67/person or $22.20/person if you purchase your ticket online.

7. Key West Museum of Art and History inside the Custom House. Built in 1891, the house has had many uses, including a post office, courthouse, and government center. Ticket price: $16/person ($14.40/person – online)

8. Shipwreck Museum & Lookout Tower. The Shipwreck Museum houses famous artifacts and treasures collected from ships that wrecked on the reef near Key WestAfter visiting the museum you can climb the 20 m high observation tower for amazing panoramic views of the city center and Mallory SquareTicket price: $17.19/person ($15.47/person – online). 

9. Key West is a place rich in history and maritime lore, so the ghost stories of pirates and sailors are endless. If you enjoy ‘hunting’ ghosts and hearing scary stories, then we recommend booking a tour from Ghosts and GravestonesIt’s a 2-hour tour that takes you through some of the most haunted places in Key WestPrice $36.86/person.

10. Enjoy the sunset. Although everyone chooses to watch the sunset from Mallory Square, we went to a less crowded place: Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. Admission for vehicles with two to eight passengers is $6/person, and pedestrians and bicyclists pay $2/person. Whether you want to admire the sunset from the oceanfront or from a boat, you must not miss it if you come to Key West, because every evening the sunset is celebrated here.

(Key West – December 2021)

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