Key West, FL

Key West - Your Key to Success

John M. Dabbs by Julien Borean on Unsplash

If you'll listen closely... Key West is calling. Are you ready? Pick up and go. You really deserve it. If you’re like me, you have stressed from way too much work and drama in the world. You are. I knew it!!

Let me clue you in on something you may not realize. The surf, sand, and sun known throughout the Florida coast are not in Key West (or most of the Florida Keys).

You must experience it to realize it isn’t just a place. Key West is a state of mind.

It isn’t all Fun in the Sun

As you make your way by plane, boat, or car you will realize this place isn’t typical beach frolicking. As you complete your trek across the seven-mile bridge, you’ll be ready to mix and mingle. Life slows to a comfortable pace here.

Key West isn’t as much about water sports as it is peace and relaxation. Here you’ll be ready for a romantic week with your love, or a respite from work to recharge your mind and soul. My first visit was to disengage from a world of non-stop college and work once I graduated.

Walking and bicycling are welcome and amicable means of transportation here. There is no need for traffic jams and honking of horns. Time flows differently here. You will welcome the change once you’ve acclimated.

What is there to do

There is plenty to do in Key West. You may find yourself window shopping in the evening, checking out the trendy tourist shops.

The calm waters lapping at the shoreline are in contrast to the waves of many beaches. Life is less dramatic here. The going is slow and steady. The Key is rich with history.

You may find inspiration at Ernest Hemingway’s House and Museum, or at President Harry S. Truman’s Little White House. You’ll most likely want to visit a few of the other museums and the historic seaport if you have time to kill or just an abundance of curiosity. My love of exploring drags me to these places.

You may be drawn to the tours. You can see the iconic graveyard of Key West and take part in a Ghost Tour on a trolley in town. Check out Dry Tortuga's National Park, the aquarium, or spend hours experiencing the old part of town.

Water Sports Prevail

Okay, you got me there. Water sports are a big draw in Key West. The beaches — not so much. You won’t find the big sandy beaches with waves and surf in the keys.

Key West is home to some of the best diving in the United States because of its coral reefs and clear waters. Many charters are available for snorkeling and scuba diving. If that’s not your thing, you could just walk off the shoreline and into the water and start enjoying yourself.

During my first trip to Key West, I took all of my scuba diving gear and ended up booking the first snorkeling trip I saw. I was hooked!

The water was crystal clear, the colors vibrant, and there were plenty of things to see in the waters. Barracuda swam right up to me and looked me in the eye. A moray eel swam right by me as I was watching a small shark cruise along the sandy bottom. If you love snorkeling or diving, I think you’d be happy here with almost any way you explore.

Lodging Accommodations

There are many options to choose from in Key West. We can find lodging for most budgets and tastes. Luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts are found here, as are budget-friendly and popular hotel chains. In keeping with the atmosphere, there are adult-only hotels where romance abounds. You will also find family-friendly rooms.

I spent my first trip at the Days Inn. I was on a tight budget and went during the tourist season. Even then, it didn’t break the bank.

Foodies Welcome

If you love food and experiencing new cuisine — make your plans to visit now. You’ll find tasty conch fritters, authentic Key-lime pie, and the freshest seafood anyone could want. Caribbean lobster tails and pink shrimp are superb.

If you like Cuban food — you need to look no further. As the closest part of the U.S. to Cuba, you will definitely find authentic and delicious Cuban cuisine here.

You’ll have access to many options during your time in Key West. Your choices run from 5-star restaurants to street food and food trucks. I can guarantee you won’t go hungry. If you do, it’s your own fault.

I’m not sure if they’re still there, but check out Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shop and the Hog’s Breath Saloon if they’re still in business.

Getting there is part of the fun

Getting to Key West could be part of your fun. You can arrive by cruise ship or fly into Key West International Airport. I drove there on my first trip. It was a beautiful scenic drive that took a while.

If you can fly — you’ll enjoy the view coming into the keys. If you drive, you’ll enjoy the view too — for much longer. It could be cheaper to drive — but it cuts down on the time you have available to relax and absorb the vibe that is Key West.

Think about it.

As you are contemplating your next vacation away from it all, close your eyes. Imagine —

… flying into Key West International Airport on an Airbus 319, looking at the emerald green waters surrounding the keys. You land softly and exit the plane to inhale the fresh, warm air of the ocean. Making your way to your hotel, you hail a taxi — or maybe call for an Uber.

You and your luggage get picked up and whisked away to The Reach Key West, a Hilton resort. Checking into your king suite, you and your lover admire the ocean view.

You order some appetizers from room service, before heading out to explore the town and see what sites and sounds await you. You needed this. It’s your time to relax, rejuvenate, and claim your right to a balanced life.

It could be the prescription you need to heal what life ails you. Welcome to easy street.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN

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