We drove from Delray Beach to Key West in Jan 2023 for a SUNFLOW photo shoot. To my surprise, this small town stole my heart. In addition to its natural beauty, the locals are so warm and welcoming. Our fabulous photographer @irismoorephotography and cast of local models (a mix of pilates & yoga instructors, boat captains, and all-around wonderful humans) felt instantly familiar. Honestly, the whole trip felt more like a homecoming than a new experience. We loved our time there so much that we decided to go back in February to create more beach videos.
Duval Street, Key West’s main drag, can be as overwhelming as Bourbon Street in New Orleans or The Strip in Las Vegas, but it has its own unique hustle and bustle. Live music spills out into the streets, wild roosters and stray cats wander freely and wall to wall tourist shops overflow with quirky memorabilia. While downtown is full of life and action, we found some real gems off the beaten track.
Key West itself only runs 4 miles long and about 2 miles wide at its widest! Everything seems within walking or biking distance, but a golf cart or car is sometimes the way to go. We loved our stay at the Kimpton Lighthouse Hotel. The location was ideal for its proximity to everything, including the Southernmost Point. We were welcomed with their signature drink, the Kimpton Key West @CayoHuesoBrewing Passion Fruit Shandy beer! (delicious!!!! we may have snuck a few extras)
Key West has a true boating culture. It seems that most everyone is tied to the water somehow, either by trade or by hobby, and for good reason. The water surrounding this tiny island is magical. Don’t miss the chance to spend a few days on the water visiting Snipes or Marvin Key sandbars. The tides will tell you when to go. Be ready for surreal postcard-like views, perfectly crystal-clear water, and absolute serenity. If you’re lucky, low tide will be during sunset. The sight of the sun dipping below the horizon will take your breath away. If you want to hit the beach, Smathers and Fort Zachery are easily accessible public beaches that are definitely less crowded on the weekdays than the weekends.
Dining options were plentiful! A few of our favorites were @MoondogCafeKW for breakfast, mural and decor by our wildly multi-talented videographer @wonderdogstudios Marky Pierson (be sure to grab a Bronut if they have them that day!) Everything is baked fresh in house every day, so don’t be surprised to see the kitchen lights on at 3am since the baking happens around the clock! @Harpoon_Harrys_key_west is another local fave for smoothies and bowls. We loved Salute on the Beach for fresh fish for lunch. Faves for dinner were @NineOneFive_kw with the best Bolognese and people watching, @SantiagosBodega_kw for tapas with great vibes, and Blue Heaven for a delicious, casual outdoor meal.
I’ve been told by a “saltwater conch" (which is what they call a Key West local that was born and raised in Key West), that the Duval Crawl bar tour never disappoints if you are able to remember anything! Fantasy Fest happens in October and is well worth the visit for wild people watching, costumes and nonstop fun! Or go for the Songwriters Festival in May for some live music and good vibes!
Overall, the people won me over at hello… and the town followed soon after. Already trying to plan another work trip down there, but who knows, maybe just a trip for fun next time!