Phew – I don’t think I’ve ever seen Key West as busy as it was between Christmas and New Years in 2015. Several car accidents and heavy traffic driving down Route 1 in southern Florida set the stage for the coming week. But even with crowds of people and lots of traffic, I still absolutely love Key West. FL.
Yes, it’s always warm (and humid). The waters are crystal clear. But more than that, Key West just feels like rest and relaxation. It’s a colorful place, and Duval St. is the place to be if you’re in the mood for some night life and bar hopping.
Also, don’t forget to check out Mallory Square for interesting street performances put on by local, umm, artists (we watched a dancing pig!). They do it for tips, so bring a few extra bucks with you if you do watch an act. While there, check out the sunset over the pier (pictured to the right), especially if you’re lucky enough to be there when a cruise ship is docked. Makes for great photography!
By the way, bicycles or scooters are the best way to get around the city if you prefer not to walk. We rented scooters for a morning and rode around the entire Island (a few times), zigzagging our way down quiet residential streets and getting a feel for where people actually live in Key West.
Setting the stage in Key West
Courtney and I spent a week in Key West with my folks, a tradition that we had assumed would stop after our first trip to Key West nearly 10 years ago (I’ve now been there three times). We can’t stop going. Honestly, we’ll probably never stop! There is something about that island that keeps us coming back.
We stayed at the “Fly Navy” lodge on the Naval Air Station Key West because my dad spent 20-years in the military. Nice enough place, especially for the rock-bottom $70/night price during prime time in Key West. And that price includes tax!
To get there, we drove down from northern Florida, a process that took a little less than 11 hours with a few stops along the way and waiting through traffic jams. It was a long haul, frustrating at times, but not nearly as painful as it could have been.
We heard from several tourists who routinely travel to Key West during this time of year that traffic was the worst they’ve ever seen. Key West is a popular tourist destination, but it’s not usually that packed. One person’s drive from Miami took close to nine hours! It should take around three.
Much of Route 1’s road is only two lanes, including long stretches on two-lane bridges that take travelers between islands. If an accident happens or if large groups of people get caught behind a slow driver or large truck, it does not take long for traffic to back up.
But, we got there just in time to check into our hotel, throw our stuff down and grab some dinner.
Restaurants galore in Key West
For virtually any picky eater, you’ll be able to find something that you like in Key West, from traditional American food to Mexican, Italian to Asian. We love a Thai restaurant called Thai Life Key West that literally operates out of a boat, which is generally our first dinner spot the night that we arrive. Authentic, well-prepared food and happy staff makes the experience completely enjoyable. The beautifully-warming evening breeze didn’t hurt, either.
We also checked out a brewery in town that we’ve never been to, Waterfront Brewery. It’s new, and we will definitely be back. If you like sampling beer, get yourself a flight and pick from a variety of their own locally brewed beauties – if you enjoy lighter beer, try the Crazy Lady. I enjoyed their chocolate stout, which offered subtle hints of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!
And if you’re in the mood for some hardy deep-fried fish, their Fish and Chips meal is huge and delicious.
Oh, the photography!
To me, the best part about Key West is all the photography. Every where you turn, a photograph seems to be waiting. I spent a lot of time with my camera, and here are some of my favorite photographs from the week.