Key West is one of the top travel destinations in the U.S., and it’s easy to see why. With its beautiful scenery, variety of things to do, and comfortable atmosphere, it draws thousands year after year. But sometimes, you want to visit someplace and not feel like a tourist. When it comes to Key West, it’s easy. Here are some ideas to help you do that.
Think Small for Your Accommodations
While Key West has several large resorts and spas that welcome hundreds of guests at a time, it’s the smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts where you’ll feel at home. Many are locally owned and operated, so you’ll have the benefit of getting insider advice from a true Key West resident when you want it. These accommodations are often smaller and offer the architectural charm of long-ago Key West building styles. You may find courtyard gardens and pools, cozy balconies, spiral staircases, and walls adorned with local artists’ work. They’re often located on smaller side streets, and you get a real feel for living in the neighborhood you’re in. Because Key West is relatively small, getting around by bicycle is common, and some hotels, motels, and B&Bs offer bikes for guests to rent or borrow.
Fun on the Water
As an island, it’s not surprising that water activities are a big draw for visitors. Lots of people visit Dry Tortugas National Park for snorkeling, kayaking, and historic fort tours, but there are places to enjoy those same activities while on Key West as a local might. Key West has multiple public beaches where you can swim, sunbathe, and snorkel with ease. These even offer beachside vendors where you can rent snorkeling gear if you don’t have your own.
Book an eco-tour and kayak through mangrove forests, led by an experienced guide. It’s a unique excursion that allows you to see up close the shore birds, turtles, fish, and one-of-a-kind plants that grow naturally in this uncommon ecosystem. Guides offer an engaging dialogue about the history of the area, including an overview of the flora and fauna that are abundant and rare. You’ll get a true locals’ look at the backcountry shores that most tourists never see.
Fishing is one of the top activities in Key West, whether you’re a resident or a tourist. Of course, being a tourist makes fishing a bit more challenging, you’d think, but booking a fishing charter with All In Fishing Charters makes the process simple. All you need to do is book your trip and choose what kind of fishing or what kind of fish you’d like to head out for. The experienced captain will guide your choices depending on what’s in season, and because he’s local, you can have total confidence in his recommendations; fishing these waters is not just his job but his career. All the fishing gear you need is provided, and the comfortable boat ensures you feel at ease while at sea. Guests who catch fish can find several areas restaurants willing to cook your catch and serve it family-style, further enhancing the experience.
Like every other well-populated area in America, Key West has its share of chain restaurants. Choosing locally owned and run restaurants, whether you want fine dining or casual meals, is the best way to feel like you live in Key West and connect with city residents. Consider taking a food tour on your first day in Key West. These generally include several small local restaurants, and the ability to sample small bites of their best dishes helps you plan the rest of your dining in Key West, giving you time to make reservations if needed.
If you’re looking for one of the most highly-rated seafood restaurants around, head to Old Town Key West and visit Eaton Street Seafood Market & Restaurant. They select only the prime seafood from the day’s catch supplied by local fishermen, making it available for you to buy raw or prepared. Choose lobster, fish, stone crab, and more. Take your food packed to-go or dine outdoors in front of the unique art deco-style building. Top menu items include fish sandwiches or tacos, grilled lobster, and conch fritters.
And while practically every food establishment in Key West serves key lime pie, to truly enjoy your slice, visit Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. The pies here are made fresh daily from wholesome ingredients, and you can buy a slice or a whole pie. It’s the authentic, homemade taste that Key West residents grow up with, just like your mom would make if she were from Key West.
Getting Away, Feeling at Home
If you like to travel yet feel like a local, Key West gives you plenty of chances to experience that. From your accommodations to the excursions and dining options this island city offers, you can build a whole itinerary with ease, and you can use these ideas to get you started.
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