11 Fun Things to Do in Key West
Insider Tips for a Great Key West Visit
Key West is a tiny city that at first appearances seems to be overwhelmed with the tourist attractions and trappings that draw nearly 5 million visitors every year. But look beneath the veneer and you can still find traces of the remote, semi-desert island with a centuries-long historic record of pulling explorers, adventurers, eccentrics, and fortune seekers of all types to its shores.
One way to get a feel for the real Key West and have a great time doing so is to gather a little bit of local knowledge then get into the tucked away corners of island life to try out some of the less-advertised Key West activities. It’s not hard to do as long as you have an easy way to get around the city. Here are some insider tips for cool things to do in Key West.
Track Down a Cuban Coffee
While not exactly a local secret, Café Cubano is a treat that no self-respecting coffee lover will want to miss during their island visit. In Cuba, sipping cups at cafecito counters is part of the social fabric. With Key West being only 90 miles from the coffee orchards and sugar cane fields of Cuba, Café Cubano is a caffeinated staple available nearly everywhere around town. It’s a sweet, foamy creation with hints of caramel and molasses and a pure Italian espresso kick. Sitting in the morning sun with a fragrant cup and a buttery slice of Cuban bread is the perfect way to start a Key West day.
Grab Lunch at the Hogfish Bar & Grill
When you come out to Stock Island to pick up your Arcimoto FUV, don’t miss a stop at the Hogfish for drinks and seafood with a real old Keys local touch. Grab a picnic table right by the moored boats and find out why Conchs who fish for a living eat and drink here. Bottled beers served in ice-filled metal pails, peeled pink shrimp caught and served the same day, giant hogfish sandwiches, and Baja fish tacos are standout dishes that might keep you at this classic joint through the afternoon into evening.
Cruise the Southside Beaches
For a fun trip on the FUV and good times on a couple of Key West’s top beaches, you will want to head to the south shore of the island. Plan a day of it, and start with a scenic ride west along Roosevelt Blvd on to Atlantic Blvd or cut right down to the south end of White Street to find Higgs Beach. It’s a beautiful family beach with two piers, nearby historic sites, a playground, a dog park, and more. Then around lunch time, throw your stuff back in the trunk of your Arcimoto and head west. Cruise through the neighborhoods until you hit South Street then go to the Southernmost point. Head up Whitehead from there, then take Southard west to go to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and what is arguably the best beach on Key West. You might want to bring some snorkel gear for this beach day adventure.
Hit Happy Hour
For a local-style happy hour experience, head for The Conch Republic Seafood Company, a slightly weathered, rustic little hideaway on the Historic Key West Bight in a converted former shrimp processing plant and fish warehouse. Insiders come for 2-for-1 drinks and beers from 4-7 pm every day plus treats like peel and eat shrimp and smoked mahi-mahi dip made with seafood right off the nearby docks. Once you are in tune with the island happy hour scene, there are many other good early-evening deals to hunt down in the Waterfront and Old Town areas.
Explore South Duval Street
Duval Street is well-known as the center of much of the action in Key West. However, if you are mobile you can escape the madding crowds of Old Town, Sloppy Joe’s, and Captain Tony’s for a run down to the extreme south end of Duval. There you can explore residential neighborhoods that are still dotted with early Victorian mansions and bungalows. Look for the historic Southernmost House, built in 1896 and frequented by both Harry Truman and author Ernest Hemingway. There are plenty of art galleries, bodegas, and boutiques to browse. Stop at the Duval Street Pier and pocket park for a nice place to take a rest.
Try Some Key West Street Food
In Key West, pleasant weather and interesting surroundings make it easy to enjoy food eaten outside while standing up or sitting on the nearest random flat spot. B.O.s fish wagon is a local fixture down at the Key West Bight parking lot. The conch fritters are worth a try, but this is a place to go more for the old island atmosphere and the local characters that turn up. Garbo’s Grill silver bullet Airstream food cart on Caroline Street dishes out fish tacos with batter-fried local Mahi-Mahi served big in a large, soft tortilla and topped with fresh mango slices and a proprietary crema-like Caribbean sauce. For a more upscale experience, head for the Floridita Food Truck at the Havana Cabana Hotel and try some Cuban-Caribbean specialties by the poolside.
Catch Some Live Music at Schooner Wharf Bar
Go up to the Key West Bight on the north side of the island for seafood, drinks, and live music in a saloon that some folks call one of the last pieces of the old Key West. Open-air tables, dockside views, many special events, and an authentic seaport atmosphere make the Schooner Wharf a place you have to hit at least once during your Key West visit.
Visit Five Brothers Corner Store
Whether you are tracking down your first Café Cubano or have already made it a daily routine, you will want to try a cup at Five Brothers Grocery. It’s a classic Key West neighborhood grocery in a vintage building at Southard and Grinnell in the heart of town, and it has been a favorite of locals and tourists alike for 23 years. Grab a coffee, try a Cuban sandwich or one of their lunch plates, and stock up on any groceries, beverages, and sundries you might need. They also have hand-rolled Cuban seed cigars. Five Brothers is the perfect place to pick up a picnic snack and head over to Mallory Square, down to the waterfront, or into the nearby historic cemetery.
Crawl the Raw Bars
As 4:00 pm draws near, around the start of happy hour, check out places like Alonzo’s Oyster House, the Hogs Breath Saloon, Turtle Kraals, and the Half Shell Raw Bar. You will uncover one of Key West’s most delicious local secrets: the raw bar. Iced displays of succulent crustaceans, fish, and shellfish going for discounted happy hour prices along with plenty of beverage specials invite you to sit down for a seafood lover’s nirvana. Something that is not easy to find outside of the Florida Keys, a good raw bar must offer the freshest of fresh seafood. The Key West locals who frequent these drinking establishments on a daily basis are a discerning crowd, so variety, presentation, and taste are all kept at the optimum. Don’t miss it, and don’t forget the Hogfish Grill raw bar out near Arcimoto Key West’s home on Stock Island.
Get Back to Nature
The Berg Nature Preserve is one of the island’s true hidden treasures. Take a ride down to the south end of White Street where it hits the White Street Pier, then go left along Atlantic Boulevard. Go to the intersection with George Street and look carefully on the right. The entrance is just a small gazebo and sign next to the parking lot of the 1800 Atlantic apartments. A patch of rare undeveloped beachfront and mangrove forest has been preserved as an accessible natural area and beachfront. It is a true slice of wilderness and a great spot for a walk with the kids or just some moments of peace and quiet. The area is home to plenty of birds, butterflies, lizards, land crabs, snakes, and frogs. The quarter-mile trail to the beach is a mini adventure trek, and the beach itself has a good length of walkable sand. There is also a wooden viewing deck that overlooks a portion of the mangrove forest and a wetlands area.
Do an East Island Circle Tour
Coming into Key West from Stock Island is an ideal set up for doing an east island circle. Also called New Town, the area is bounded by North and South Roosevelt Blvd or Florida State Highways 1 and A1A respectively. Take a right off the Causeway to cruise the south shoreline for some excellent views out over the water. Turn on to Bertha Street going north onto First Street. Then turn right on North Roosevelt to make a run past Garrison Bight and the historic charter boat docks. You will pass through Key West’s main shopping plaza areas and get good views of the nearshore Keys Backcountry waters. This is a fun ride and a great way to get a look at parts of Key West that most visitors never see.
Go Mobile on an Arcimoto FUV
For the perfect Key West runabout, try the new all-electric Arcimoto FUV from Arcimoto Key West and experience the cutting edge in sustainable island transportation. You will find that this powerful, comfortable three-wheeler is ideal for exploring Key West. It’s fun, exciting, and the perfect way to add a unique adventure to your Key West vacation.
Come on down to our Marina Village location on Stock Island or reserve your FUV online right here and have it ready to go when you arrive in Key West. Use our secure online booking system and contact our friendly customer service desk with any questions. We’ll see you on the road!