Key West, FL

Why Key West Is the Ideal Paradise Vacation Spot

Allison Burney

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Near the beginning of our relationship, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to do a road trip together. We figured that all that time in the car would be a great opportunity to get to know each other better. Plus, in my experience, road trips always make for an adventure—and that’s exactly what we were looking for!

As it was nearing winter where we lived in Canada, we both knew we wanted to head somewhere tropical for some fun in the sun. We settled on the furthest south we could possibly drive in the U.S.—Key West.

We both love the tropics for their sandy beaches, refreshing sea breezes, and of course the water! Whether we’re walking along it and admiring the impossibly vibrant shades of blue and green, floating in it while enjoying one of the many beaches, or exploring what’s beneath the surface on a snorkeling trip, we’re both drawn to the sea.

Knowing that we’d be driving over island chains for the last section of our trip and imagining the views that would bring had us both ready to jump in the car and get to the Florida Keys as soon as possible!

Unsurprisingly, we loved Key West and didn’t want to head back home (where the snow would soon be arriving) as our time came to an end. Although Key West has plenty to offer, below are some of the highlights of this paradise island in our eyes.

You can walk the whole island

I think you can learn a lot about a place by touring it on foot, and Key West is one of the few places I’ve traveled where you can literally do just that!

My partner and I like to walk, and we’ve now made a habit of taking long walks almost daily, so we enjoyed this aspect of Key West more than some might. We spent much of our days there wandering about, stopping whenever we saw something interesting that we wanted to check out. As we got too hot in the endless summer heat, we’d stop off at one of Key West’s beautiful beaches for a quick dip or a nap. For us, the laid-back, friendly atmosphere of this city made it the perfect destination to explore on foot.

From the sailboat we rented on Airbnb, which was moored in Cow Key Channel on the island’s east side, to Mallory Square on the northwest side, it was just under 5 miles each way. We did walk the entire island loop one day, but it took several hours in total! If you’re someone who hates walking, though, you don’t need to worry. There are plenty of other ways to get around the island, including taking a taxi, renting a bicycle or scooter, public transit, trolleys, etc.

It has the 3rd largest reef in the world

For us, a trip to a tropical oasis wouldn’t be complete without exploring the surrounding waters as well as what’s on land. If you’re a snorkeler or scuba diver, or generally just love marine life, you’ll be in heaven in Key West.

If you get tired of wading in the warm waters or lazing around at the beaches, there are plenty of ways to explore the underwater world of this island paradise. A day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the best ways to experience the only reef system in the continental United States, which stretches almost 350 miles.

The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is another great way to learn about the plants and animals native to this area, with an educational exhibit featuring mangrove shorelines, seagrass flats, and coral reef habitats.

But no matter how much learning you do about the marine life here, there’s no substitute for experiencing it for yourself! A dip below the water's surface opens you up to a whole new world you won't easily forget!

For more information, visit the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary here.

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Freelance writer & proofreader. I love travel, reading, coffee, and exploring nature. On a mission to keep learning, growing, and enjoying this adventure we call life.

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