As a native Floridian, I have visited Key West more times than I count. In fact, my family lived there from the late 1800’s to just past the Depression era. I’ll tell you some of the favorite tourist spots and also tell you some of the secret places to visit that only we natives know about!
Cruise down Duval Street. This is the main drag in Key West and the favorite tourist spot. Here you will find all of the museums and shops. Also, you will find the famous Sloppy Joe’s, the bar that Hemingway frequented.
Need a place to stay for a night or two? There are plenty of hotels in Key West. You can stay in a conventional hotel or try a bed and breakfast on Duval Street. A great place to stay is at the Palms Hotel. This is a beautiful hotel in the heart of paradise. It is in historic downtown and within walking distance of everything you will want to see without being on the main drag (Duval Street). It is quiet and peaceful and allows pets! Depending on the season, the rates are very reasonable.
Forget fine dining. Eat at El Siboney – a lovely little Cuban resturant. This restaurant is off the beaten path and not many tourists even find it. It is the best restaurant in Key West and all the natives dine there. The Cuban cuisine is excellent and you can’t beat the prices. Make this a priority stop on your visit to Key West!
Be sure to look at the architecture. Much of the area homes and buildings adhere to strict renovation codes. The town takes pride in keeping Key West much like it was at the turn of the century. Check out the gingerbread at the top of the houses and on the fences – you’ll be surprised at the variations you will find!
It may sound morbid, but you must check out the cemetery. The tourist can wile away many hours wandering through this historical cemetery. A must on the list of To See items for the history buff!
End the day watching the sunset in Mallory Square. This is the southern most point of the United States. Every evening you will find a mini festival going on in Mallory Square, complete with vendors, food, and sidewalk musicians and artists.
The best way to visit Key West is on foot. You can also rent bicycles or mopeds to get around town. Driving a car around is too much work in such a small place. Be friendly with the people who live there. Contrary to popular belief, native Floridians are very friendly people.
A few words of caution: Don’t assume because you are in paradise that there is no crime! Lock up your belongings always. Also, Don’t go into private areas. Much of the area is residential and even though all those flowers are pretty, it is rude and against the law to trespass.