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Plan Your Trip to Key West: Best of Key West Tourism

About Key West
Forever in vacation mode, Key West is all about kicking back. But it's not just a beach town. There's also history, culture, nature, and incredible diving and fishing. Stroll through historic Old Town to see the area's famous conch houses and where Ernest Hemingway used to live. Or take the ferry out to Dry Tortugas, a stunning, mostly underwater national park where you can snorkel with parrotfish and tour a Civil War site. Seafood and key lime pie are musts, but Cuban food is up there too (after all, Key West is just a stone's throw from Havana). Once the sun goes down (everyone watches from Mallory Square), head to Duval Street, a rowdy strip of bars and clubs, like the legendary Sloppy Joe’s. That’s not all there is to do—we've got more recs, below.

Travel Advice

Essential Key West

How to do Key West in 1 day

Fresh seafood, sunset boat rides, and fun dive bars
Read on

Traveler Guides

A nightlife guide to Key West

Bar-hopping in Key West is quite the experience—it’s truly a come-as-you-are casual island where you can let it all hang out and just vibe. From divey bars loved by Hemingway to epic drag shows, and of course, cool craft cocktail bars, here’s my guide to a great night out.
Amber Love B, Miami, FL
  • Sloppy Joe's Bar
    8,313
    Easily the most legendary bar in Key West, Sloppy Joe’s has been around since 1933 and was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. I love popping in for conch fritters and a frozen Rum Runner and enjoying the live music from local bands that play every day until closing.
  • General Horseplay
    90
    One of the newer cocktail-driven spots in town, General Horseplay is where to go for a well-curated menu, housemade syrups, and fat-washed cognacs. Vibes are on point and the bartenders are super knowledgeable and always down to experiment with your palette. Don’t miss the more casual backyard area with live music and games.
  • 801 Bourbon Bar
    428
    It’s no surprise that one of the country’s most LGBTQ+ cities has a bar with a drag cabaret. Downstairs always has music and karaoke, but upstairs is where the real fun happens. There’s a nightly drag show that takes place in a small, but cozy room with super affordable drinks. A warning: If you sit near the stage, you will be participating in the show in a big way.
  • The Chart Room Bar
    34
    This place is a hotel-room-turned-bar that’s been around for decades. It’s super small and the type of spot you stop into for a drink and free bar snacks. In the 1970s, a young Jimmy Buffet would play here regularly, in exchange for free drinks, while he workshopped songs that would later become some of his biggest hits.
  • Green Parrot Bar
    1,394
    This is a true dive bar in every sense of the word. You won’t find fancy drinks or food, but you will find incredible live music and tons of people living their best Florida Keys life. The staff is friendly and quick which means you’ll be spending way more of your time people-watching and taking in the cool music memorabilia on the walls than you will waiting for a drink.
  • Rick's Key West
    53
    If you’re visiting Key West with a group, this is your spot. Rick’s Bar is a real choose-your-own adventure situation with eight bars in one. The highlights: Durty Harry’s, which is a rock music venue pub-like room; Rick’s Loft, where you’ll find legit cocktails; and Rick’s Upstairs for nightclub dancing. And there’s way more.
  • 22&Co
    14
    Flamingos, tutus, and unicorns—oh my. Totally different from any other bar in town, 22&Co is all about embracing fun, silly, colorful lifestyles and not taking anything too seriously. The drinks are on the sweet and fruity side, filled with edible glitter made by bartenders with big personalities who really love their job. There’s bingo, tarot card readings, and drag shows weekly. Protip: Show up in a tutu and you’ll score 22% off your bill.

Explore Key West by interest

Fresh-off-the-boat seafood

From fish shacks to sit-down spots

Hit the water

Boating, kayaking, canoeing, and more

If you like pina coladas

The island's most iconic watering holes

Step back in time

Historical homes and must-see museums

A taste of Cuba

Where to go for coffee, Cubans, and more
Key West Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Key West

TheLifeofT
As long as you are staying close to Duval where most of the sights are, Key West is quite small and easy to get around on foot or bicycle. If you need to drive, it may prove easier to take a taxi than to deal with parking — especially in the evenings.
TexHorn3
Take the Conch Tour Train and learn about the history, culture, architecture, customs, and quirkiness of the island also known as Cayo Hueso. It's an entertaining and informative 90-minute open-air trip around the majority of the town.
Key West B
Ride your bicycle all over, taking in the sights for yourself. You can ride all over and take your time to see what you want.

In the words of those who've been there before ...

Hokie67
You can be whoever you want to be... and still have a great time.
MarshaToronto
It has something for everyone and being completely walkable, makes all its wonderful attractions very accessible.
funtime4430
Key West is a place where just about anything goes.
Pjk
Full of quirky locals, chic boutiques, and hip venues, Key West is the perfect destination for trendy travelers.

What is the best way to get there?

Flying:

The Key West International Airport is the main commercial airport serving Key West. Hotel shuttle buses and taxis are available.

Bus:

Greyhound offers bus services to Key West from Miami along with several private touring companies.

Driving:

Travelers driving to Key West have one way in: The Overseas Highway. It’s 165 miles from Miami to Key West, and should take travelers a little over three hours to complete.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Key West from overseas, use the state department’s Visa Wizard to see if you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Key West is a late-winter, early-spring hot spot. During this time, the temperatures tend to hover between 70 to 80 degrees F (21-26C). The winter snowbirds will also be flying back north and the high tourism season will have yet to begin, making it an ideal time to get a great deal and stretch out a bit in Key West.

Bus

There are several public bus routes servicing the island. Fares start at $2 one-way, or visitors can pick up a day pass for $4.

Taxis and rideshare

Both taxis and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are readily available.

Driving

Parking is available at most hotels and rental homes, however, driving isn’t recommended on the island. The streets are small, and public parking is extremely hard to come by. Walk, bike or take the bus instead.

On the ground
What is the timezone?
Eastern Time Zone
What are the voltage/plug types?
The standard voltage in the United States is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. The plug has two flat parallel pins.
What is the currency?
The U.S. dollar
Are ATMs readily accessible?
Yes
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Yes
Is it easy to find a bank?
Yes
How much do I tip?
Bartender
$1 a drink or $2 for a more labor-intensive cocktail
Restaurant
15-20%
Bellman
$1 to 3 per bag
Housekeeper
$2-$3 per night
Taxi/rideshare
15-20%
Shuttle driver
$1-$2 per person
Tour guide
10-20%

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking
The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 21 years old. Despite misconceptions, open containers of alcohol are indeed illegal in Key West.
Walking
Walk to the right of the sidewalk and step off to the side of the sidewalk if you want to stop to check your phone, look up directions or want to take in a view.
Public transport
Allow others to disembark before boarding, don’t take up more than one seat and stand to offer seating to pregnant women or someone with a disability.
Find more information about local customs and etiquette in the United States generally here.
Frequently Asked Questions about Key West


Some of the most popular restaurants in Key West include:



If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Key West between June and August, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between December and February.