Welcome to Paradise! You’ve spent hours online researching the best of Key West. Wondering where to go and what to do. Tripadvisor recently recognized Key West, Florida as one of the Best Islands in the United States. Travel and Leisure named Key West one of the World’s Friendliest Cities! We agree! Now it’s time to help you get past the online chatter and visit Key West like a local.
Six helpful hints, tips and local hangouts to help you plan the perfect day in Key West from Sunrise to Sunset:
1. Sunrise at Smathers Beach
Early to rise and run! A spectacular Key West Sunrise is the way to start your day! A site so beautiful it takes your breath away. Southernmost Beach Resort is not the only place to enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Get your walking or running shoes on and head over to Smathers Beach and watch the sun come up over the Atlantic Ocean while getting fit. Along the way you’ll probably see many locals doing just the same.
PHOTO Credit: Smathers Beach sunrise by Rob O’Neal
2. Drink Cuban Coffee + Eat Cuban Cuisine
Want to know where you’ll find the locals in the morning… well it’s one of these three places and your go to source for Cuban Coffee a/k/a Cafe Con leche, the locals cup of morning brew.
Sandy’s Cafe, Counter-service spot with minimal seating serves Cuban sandwiches & cafe con leche 1026 White St, Key West (April 2016 Nominated Best Cuban Sandwich in Florida via USA TODAY)
Five Brothers Grocery and Sandwich Shop – Small Grocery Store on Fleming with a big local following. Located at 930 Fleming Street, Key West.
Ana’s Cuban Cafe – Located on South Street across from Southernmost Beach Resort is our third recommendation for your morning coffee break.
Don’t be surprised to see people standing outside chatting or walking out with sandwich bags filled with to go orders. It’s a morning ritual for the locals! Cuban Coffee Alert: Be prepared, the Con leche will definitely give you an extra boost of caffeine and sugar to help jump-start your day!
Some of the Best Cuban Cuisine on the island can be found at El Siboney! Located in the heart of Old Town, a walk or bike ride from the hustle and bustle of Duval Street is where you will find this family owned Cuban restaurant. You can expect authentic Cuban Cuisine loved by locals! Open for lunch and dinner. (April 2016 Nominated Best Cuban Sandwich in Florida via USA TODAY)
El Siboney: 900 Catherine St, Key West www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com
3. Go to a Movie at the Tropic Cinema
Located in the heart of Old Town on Eaton Street you will find the Tropic Cinema, a Retro-style cinema with 3 theaters for mainstream & indie films, plus cultural events & lectures. It’s more than a movie theatre; it’s a cultural hub and a Key West experience. It’s no surprise that it has won awards for the best small theater in Florida. It’s an ‘art deco’ style movie theatre with accommodations for adults. The Tropic Cinema is run by volunteers and one of the best parts is you can enjoy wine and snacks while watching the movie. It’s one of the hidden gems and definitely where the locals go for entertainment!
4. In Bahama Village Eat + Drink + Shop
Bahama Village is a treasured piece of Key West’s cultural heritage and it’s there where you will find one of Key West’s most popular restaurants “Blue Heaven.” If you Google Blue Heaven it says “ Iconic landmark for Floridian-Caribbean cuisine & key lime pie, with a funky setting” … Yes to the above! Blue Heaven is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and in addition to great food, some of the best local bands/groups are on stage. Don’t be surprised to see local friends and fans get up and dance during dinner. TIP: Save room for dessert and make sure to try Blue Heaven’s Key Lime Pie, it’s one of the best on the island.
Blue Heaven 729 Thomas St, Key West, FL Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. blueheavenkw.com
Where to shop: Located in Bahama Village you will find Besame Mucho ~ a romantic shop in a cool building filled with many treasures. “Dearest one… Shop here once and life will become a joy forever” Besame Mucho 315 Petronia Street, Key West, FL It’s one of those places with special gifts for someone special. A must visit while in Key West. (305) 294-1928 www.besamemucho.net
Photo: Besame Mucho, Key West, Florida
5. SoundChecks at the Green Parrot
Photo: The Green Parrot Facebook
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 5:30 to 7 PM “soundchecks” at the Green Parrot! Great Music! Great Drinks! Great Friends! This is the place to be! It’s where the Green Parrot gives the locals and visitors a full 90 minute set of great music. To find out who is playing ahead of time make sure to check out Green Parrot Live Music Calendar.
The Green Parrot, 601 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida http://www.greenparrot.com/
6. Sunset Celebration at Fort Zach
Key West Sunset Celebration is a must see and do, no question about it. The review sites will recommend watching sunset at Mallory Square where large crowds gather to be entertained by jugglers and other performers as the sun sets in paradise. Another place to enjoy sunset and one of our “secrets revealed” is Sunset at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park a/k/a Fort Zach.
Head over to the beach at Fort Zach for a late swim or picnic followed by a beautiful Key West Sunset. Instead of being with a large crowd watch the sunset in paradise with a few and the entertainment is an added bonus. Who knows, someone may be sitting on a rock and serenading you at sunset.
Learn more about Fort Zachary Taylor State Park http://www.fortzacharytaylor.com/.
Photo Credit: Lisa Malcom Sunset at Fort Zach
These are just a few of the local favorites in Key West and to find out more just ask one of the locals when you are here. Safe travels and see you soon in paradise.