You can't come to Florida without checking out the southernmost point in the Continental United States! From beautiful beaches to some interesting history and great shops and restaurants...oh, and you can't forget about the infamous chickens. :)
The scenery along the way
Starting your trip
The best way to get to Key West is to drive. The drive from Orlando is about 7 hours so plan to be on the road the whole day. When you are on the road from Key Largo to Key West, the traffic can be terrible, but the scenery is beautiful! As long as you are not in a big hurry, you will be able to enjoy what is around you. If you have some extra time, make some stops along the way. John Pennekamp State Park located on the first key, Key Largo, is a great place to stop for a kayak break and Bahia Honda State Park, located in the lower keys, is a great place to stop for a quick swim. You can drive down to Key Largo and stay the night then start your trek down U.S. 1 to Key West and take the whole day making stops along the way.
Welcome to Paradise City!
Where to stay?
Accommodations and transportation on the island
One of the things I strongly suggest is going with multiple people and sharing a house. You can go to Home Away and rent a 3-bedroom house for around $1200 a week. If you split a 3-bedroom house between 3 couples, you would only spend about $400 per couple for the week. When you go, make sure you take your bicycle, or you can rent one for $15 the first day and $10/day after that. Riding a bike is really your best way to get around on the island. The whole island is about 8 miles around the perimeter and there is a lot of traffic. With the bike its much easier getting around the traffic. Plus free parking for the bike is a lot easier to find than free parking for a car. If you don't like to ride a bike, just walk. The island is easy to get around by foot.
Things to see and do
Sunset Water Adventures offers a boat ride out the Gulf of Mexico and they have a lot of water toys to play with. The boat anchors on a sandbar and you have kayaks, paddle boards, an inflatable rock wall with a slide on the other side, canoes, jet skis, banana boats and a slide off the side of the boat. You can even include parasailing and see the beautiful island and water from the sky! The adventure also includes a lunch buffet, drinks included when you are on the way back to shore.
Billy Ocean Underwater Adventures has an amazing underwater scooter, called the HydroBob Tour. This is an underwater scooter with a bubble that goes over your head. Its a great way to check out the bottom of the ocean! With this scooter, you do not need your scuba license and the scooter balances itself. Billy Ocean Underwater Adventures will even take pictures for you so you just have to enjoy the views from underwater.
Take out some time for a little sailing with Schooner Appledore. Take in Key West from the ocean on a schooner with an experienced crew. Relax on the deck and soak in some sun, or help the crew with the boat by putting up the sails or taking the wheel!
So much to do but so little time!
Around the island
Of course, if you don't want to go out onto the water, you can also find some areas on a beach and just relax. The Gulf of Mexico side is the more popular side and usually has more people. The Atlantic side is usually a little less crowded and a great place to go sun bathing.
One of the places you have to check out is "Mile 0." This is the infamous spot where U.S. Highway 1 starts. U.S. Highway 1 runs from Key West all the way up the eastern coast to the state of Maine.
There is also the Southernmost Point. This is the farthest south you can go and still be in the Continental United States. This point is annotated by a big buoy on the beach. If you want to check out the Southernmost Point, go early or be prepared to stand in line. There are lots of people that like to have their picture taken here, especially at sunset.
The Key West Lighthouse is a great place to visit. Make sure you bring some sneakers though if you want to climb to the top of the lighthouse, 73 feet up! If you don't like heights, they made the light keeper's house into a museum so you can see how they lived, what they wore, and the lightbulbs used in the lighthouse. There is also a history of the lighthouse. Definitely a must see!
You can ride your bike, or walk, all over the island as well. There are lots of shops and cafes, ice cream shops and even a macaroon shop.
The restaurants are wonderful! Some get a little crowded so make sure you eat early! If you are staying in a house, you will have a full kitchen and might be tempted to eat in, but you have to experience some of the restaurants in the area. The seafood is wonderful and fresh! There is a harbor where you can see a lot of the boats that bring in the fresh catches each day.
They also have a place you can watch the cruise ships as they come into port. Its pretty amazing watching those monster ships float on the water.
Fun on the island
Some people don't know this, but Key West is also known as the Conch Republic, from when they declared their independence from the United States. Back in the 80's when the American Government was fighting their war against drugs, the border patrol set up road blocks at the beginning of the islands. This caused traffic jams getting onto the islands and businesses suffered due to the lack of tourism. Because of this, Key West decided to declare its independence from the United States and called themselves the Conch Republic, stating "Since the government was treating the Florida Keys like a foreign nation they might as well act like one." This didn't last very long and Conch Republic became a nickname for Key West. Key West still celebrates this event every April with a week long celebration.
Another thing you will see when you go to Key West that is unusual is the wild chickens. Wild chickens are all over the island. They are said to be descendants of a jungle fowl from Cuba and other Caribbean Islands that were brought to Key West for food by the island ancestors. Over the years they have just roamed the island and are now a protected species in Key West.
Wonderful to the end
Perfect ending to a day
The end of the day...
What better way to end the day with a perfect sunset.
Sunset Water Adventures also has a sunset cruise that offers a buffet dinner, drinks included. They have dancing on the deck with live music and if the weather decides to not play well, there is a covered area that is big enough to hold everyone.
If you would prefer to enjoy the sunset from the land, you can head to Mallory Square on the west side of the island. Surrounded by small shops and cafes, there are vendors, stunt performers and live music while you watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.
© 2020 Chief Mom