10 Things to Do While on a Vacation in Key West

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Key West is the southernmost part of Florida, and its unique location at the crossroads of Atlantic and Gulf Coast makes it an ideal place to consider your own crossroads. Book a trip that includes time for reflection and rediscovering your inner calm through a variety of local activities, including yoga. The city is relatively easy to get to from most major North American airports, and because it’s in the United States, this tropical paradise requires no passport for American citizens.

1. Duval Street and Mallory Square

The famed “Main Street” of Key West, this is the place to go for charming shops, hidden cafes and jazz clubs, and dynamic art galleries featuring the best of locally, nationally, and internationally known artists and their works. Stroll along the sidewalks during balmy afternoons or breezy evenings after dinner. Enjoy wine tastings, sidewalk sales, and live music. Each evening, Mallory Square’s Sunset Celebration lights up the end of Duval Street with a party. Music, food, arts and crafts vendors, and performers make each celebration one to remember.

2. Yoga

It’s not necessary to leave yoga behind while travelling! Several studios dot the island of Key West, and some even offer outdoor classes in public places like Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Individual and group sessions are available. Area yoga studios may offer individual classes and workshops, and nearly all welcome visitors. Book ahead of your trip for the best selection of classes and availability.

3. Boating

Because of the island nature of Key West, experiencing it while at sea is really one of the best ways to take in its natural beauty. There are several local schooners that offer sunset sails. These trips usually last a few hours and include an informal tour guide chat, light refreshments, and live music. Or, try fishing. Customized trips with local fishing charters can provide the best experience, especially for those new to the sport. Local charter fishing boat operator Captain Pepe says, “We’re happy to arrange trips for people of all levels of ability.” Several area restaurants also cook-your-catch, so it’s a great opportunity for visitors to try their hand at the sea-to-table experience.

4. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

This attraction is a wonderful way to get reacquainted with nature at the micro level, especially the fragility and beauty of living things. The glassed-in conservatory hosts a natural habitat for dozens of butterfly species, as well as numerous tropical plants, waterfalls, small trees, and birds. The lush greenery and delicate yet energetic butterflies are captivating; sitting here makes it easy to lose yourself in the experience. Soft, ambient music lulls visitors into a relaxed state, and the many sitting areas encourage visitors to sit and truly enjoy their surroundings.

5. Lounge by the Pool

What’s a vacation without true relaxation? Perhaps the best opportunity to do so is by staying at a private, secluded bed and breakfasts. These rooms or cottage accommodations often include pools. Guests also enjoy homemade breakfasts and bicycles to borrow or rent. Pampering amenities may include spa services like massages, too. A bed and breakfast, while located in the heart of everything, feels like you’re off the beaten path because luxurious landscaping generally includes artfully planted trees that can convince guests they’ve discovered a hidden garden.

6. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Commune with legendary American literary history at this Key West attraction. Guided tours take visitors through the home and around the grounds. There are still some original furnishings remaining in the home, as well as photos and some items that belonged to the Hemingway family. And of course, the famed polydactyl cats come and go as they please. Explore the immaculately kept grounds, including the in-ground pool, a dramatic and highly talked about feat for its day.

7. Dry Tortugas National Park

Slightly off the beaten path, this national park has retained all of its natural beauty, insulated by its lack of accessibility except by boat or plane. This is perhaps the best place to snorkel in Key West. There are a variety of diving sites for experienced and novices alike, where fish, corals, and other sea animals can be seen and studied. Don’t miss the nighttime snorkelling along the seawall. Adventurous types can book campsites for overnight visits. The darkness makes for outstanding star gazing! A visit to the Dry Tortugas is a great way to get back to nature at and in the sea.

8. Food Tasting Tour

Explore the best variety of Key West’s culinary and cultural history with a food tour! From ethnic dishes to all-American favourites, these specialized walking tours are a good way to get an overview of the island and learn more about what makes Key West special, from its people, places, and history. A food tour will have you sampling food and drinks like a local in a fun and engaging environment. You can expect to try dishes like Cuban pork, fish tacos, key lime pie, and conch fritters.

9. Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum

What’s an island without a lighthouse? Stop here and take in the bird’s eye view after climbing just 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse. The adjacent museum has several exhibits and artifacts that reflect the history of Key West, including recorded talks of lighthouse keepers. Several of them were women at times when that job was commonly held by men. In addition to postcard-perfect views, it’s also a reminder of just how big the world is when you’re sitting on a small island surrounded by the most beautiful blue water.

10. Key West Garden Club

At Fort West Martello Tower, which is a Civil War-era fort, tropical botanical gardens are freely open to the public. The grounds are maintained by the Key West Garden Club, whose intention is to engage and educate visitors about tropical gardening. With countless flowering plants and trees nestled among fountains, walking paths, and pergolas, this is an ideal spot to sit and enjoy some tranquillity and observe nature.

Lots of people might think of Key West as a great place to have a good time, but it’s also a good place to find yourself. From natural sanctuaries to parks and the open ocean, as well as historic and cultural attractions, Key West offers a feast for the senses and the perfect venue for practicing mindfulness.

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