Key West

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Even the most seasoned traveler can feel like a novice when visiting a new place for the first time, and that includes somewhere as close as Key West in Florida. With these travel tips, you can improve your planning and ensure your experience is full of the enjoyable adventures, good food, and memorable experiences you want in a fantastic trip.

Try Hiking to See a Different Side of Key West

If you would like a more active way of exploring Key West, consider the island’s many hiking trails. That’s right, in addition to great fishing, sunny beaches, and numerous museums, the hiking trails in Key West stand out for their variety and beauty. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park has multiple hiking trails open to the public. Check out the trails at Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, Sonny McCoy Indigenous Park, and Little Hamaca Park, too. While these hikes may not have the strenuousness you’re accustomed to because of the geography of Key West, you’ll still be impressed by the views and the natural foliage and wildlife you’ll encounter.

Book Your Dry Tortugas Trip Early

Although Dry Tortugas is relatively close to Key West–just 75 miles or so away–it is accessible only by ferry. This means that reservations are required, and those spots fill up quickly. Booking your ferry tickets early is the best way to ensure you have a seat on the ferry, even if your trip isn’t for several months. Dry Tortugas is one of the most popular stops for vacationers, especially because of the world-class snorkeling here. Beyond snorkeling, visitors enjoy swimming, kayaking, birdwatching, tours of the historic fort, and picnicking.

Visit Top-Rated Restaurants

With a 5-star reputation for excellence, Eaton Street Seafood Market in Old Town Key West is the best place for a casual lunch or dinner. Get your fish tacos, conch fritters, grilled lobster roll, and fried shrimp prepared fresh from the day’s catch. Dine on-site at their spacious and shaded outdoor seating area or take your order to go. You can’t miss the amazing Art Deco architecture of the building, making it a true local landmark.

If you’re in the mood for key lime pie, make a stop at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, where the pies are made from scratch every day. In addition to the traditional key lime pie style, Kermit’s is home to several additional varieties, such as strawberry key lime pie. Check out Duetto’s for a casual pizza night, where there are more than a dozen specialty pies to choose from, all prepared on hand-made semolina crusts; and be sure to save room for dessert–Duetto’s gelato is house-made, too.

Pick Your Accommodations by the Amenities They Offer

Travelers to Key West have dozens of choices in hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds, so it’s not hard to find something in your price range and preferred lodging style. That’s why the amenities available are so important, and can really improve the overall vacation experience. Consider benefits like free bike rentals, courtyard pools, nightly happy hours, and spa services, as well as perks like marina access and concierge services.

Go Fishing

Fishing is one of the top sports activities in Key West, and the plentiful fish that visit these waters make it easy to see why. The fishing here is good all year long, no matter the season, and a fishing charter makes experiencing this sport truly effortless. Even if you have never held a fishing pole, the captain and crew take care of everything. You’ll be provided with all of the fishing gear you need, plus pointers for novices. Book your choice of flats, backcountry, reef, wreck, or deep sea fishing with All In Fishing Charters. Head out for tarpon, grouper, mahi-mahi, cobia, snapper, and tuna. Many area restaurants also feature a cook-your-catch menu item, so if you do make the catch of a lifetime, it’s easy to have it prepared to order and served family-style so you can share it with your family and friends.

Visit During a Festival

In Key West, you can celebrate everything from the arts and culture to homes and gardens, food and wine, sporting events like marathons, fishing, and the environment. Seasonal and holiday-themed festivals and events coincide with Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s, too. Consider booking your trip during a festival that appeals to you so you can enjoy special events, meet-and-greets, and even customized hotel and resort packages. Many of these festivals and events are all-ages, so they’re great opportunities for everyone to have something special to look forward to that’s aligned with their interests.

Plan the Best Key West Vacation

Traveling somewhere new is always exciting. Having the inside scoop on how to make your vacation even better can make planning less stressful.  By using the tips here, you can organize your travel plans and itinerary for the trip of a lifetime.