How To Spend a Day in Key West, Florida
When you're in Key West, you're on island time, so cancel the A.M. alarm and let the crashing waves and beach breezes wake you up. Put on your walking shoes and get ready for a day of blue skies and palm-shaded sidewalks. Let us put together your ideal itinerary for a day in Key West. From brunch to the beach to cocktail hour and beyond, we have plenty of ideas for your stay. The first step? Put all your cares away. Key West is a worry-free zone. (Pro tip: Trade in your cares for a slice of Key lime pie on a stick. It's a sweet swap.) Keys, please! Without further ado, to start your perfect Key West day...
8:00 A.M. / Stroll the Beach
Roll out of bed and onto the beach. Sugar-white sands and salty waves make the ideal island wake-up. Run, bike, or just meander down any of the island's beaches: Smathers Beach, Rest Beach, Higgs Beach, Dog Beach, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park beach. Keep walking—you'll find one.
9:00 A.M. / Have Brunch, Island Style
Wander over to Blue Heaven—a fan-favorite breakfast spot at the corner of Petronia and Thomas—and order the Lobster Benedict or a seafood omelet. Keep an eye out because you might run into one of Key West's free-roaming hens and roosters. They tend to congregate on street corners. Then grab yourself a cup of coffee to-go from one of the town's Cuban Coffee Queen locations.
10:00 A.M. / Ride a Beach Cruiser
Two wheels are always better than four in the narrow streets and slow traffic of the island's historic downtown. Rent a beach cruiser and breeze all over town (it's only 2 miles wide by 4 miles long) to see the sights. Don't miss The Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S. and its brightly painted buoy proclaiming "90 Miles to Cuba." Also, catch a glimpse of the historic Key West Lighthouse nearby on Whitehead Street.
11:00 A.M. / Meet Hemingway's Cats
Legend has it that the felines that roam the Hemingway Home & Museum, a Spanish Colonial mansion where the author lived throughout the 1930s, are descendants of Snowball, a six-toed cat that a sea captain gave to Hemingway's sons. Take a guided tour of the property and peek at the author's antiques, which were collected during his travels around the world.
12:00 P.M. / Eat Local
There are plenty of places to find a great meal in Key West. Check out Eaton Street Seafood Market for a lobster roll, Bien for a Cuban sandwich (grab a seat at the tables outside), and Onlywood for Neapolitan-style pizza.
2:00 P.M. / Explore Indoor Gardens
Walk through a botanical wonderland at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, an indoor oasis where you can see birds, butterflies, and tropical plants galore. Say hello to the resident flamingos, Scarlett and Rhett, while you're there.
4:30 P.M. / Try a Classic Key West Treat
Remember that Key lime pie on a stick we mentioned earlier? Now's the perfect time to try one. Stop into Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe for a frozen, chocolate-dipped slice of tart Key lime pie. Don't wait: Step outside into the sun and eat it on the sidewalk.
6:00 P.M. / Raise a Glass
Walk down Duval and grab a table on the front porch of Nine One Five, a bistro in an 1860s Victorian house located at (you guessed it) 915 Duval Street. Order up a selection of tapas and stay to enjoy the late-night wine bar—and the people-watching from your table on the porch. Or make a reservation at Blackfin Bistro for fresh seafood and a big wine list.
7:45 P.M. / Catch the Sunset
There's a Key West tradition everyone has to do it at least once: After dinner, join the crowd at Mallory Square to applaud the sunset. If you're lucky, you might see the fabled green flash said to occur the moment the sun sinks below the watery horizon.
12 A.M. / Say Goodnight
When it's time to turn in, lay your head in the beautifully appointed rooms at The Marquesa, a gorgeous hotel in the heart of Old Town Key West. Or book a stay at The Southernmost House (pictured above), an oceanfront B&B in a pastel-painted Victorian mansion.
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What does your perfect Key West day look like? Where are your favorite coastal destinations?