Staying at a Bed and Breakfast in Key West is one of the best ways to experience everything Key West has to offer. One of the most unique destinations in Florida, and perhaps the entire country, the tiny island of Key West offers visitors the chance to experience the laid-back and quirky local culture, year-round warm weather and beautiful scenery.
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Key West has many interesting sights and distinctive features including being the southernmost point in the United States and the former home to notable author, Ernest Hemingway. There are many bed and breakfasts right in the heart of old town Key West, walking distance to the famous Duval Street, the Key Wet Lighthouse, the Duval Gardens, and Mallory Square, with it’s nightly Sunset Celebration. The Atlantic Ocean is right near the old town, so you’ll be perfectly situated for a stroll in the salty seaside air when you book a stay at a Key West bed and breakfast. In fact, the island is only a few miles across in any direction, so you won’t be far from any of the island’s attractions, no matter which Key West bed and breakfast you choose to stay at. In addition to being a hotspot for those who like to party, Key West offers attractions for those who prefer to tuck into bed early. The old city has many interesting galleries and museums, local restaurants and coffee shops, and numerous shops selling unique souvenirs and local goods.
Key west was first discovered by Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, in 1521 during his search for the Fountain of Youth. The island’s original name was Cayo Hueso, which translates into English as “Bone Island.” The name Key West was given to the territory by the English Settlers who later came. Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys became part of the United States in 1822, when Lt. Commander Matthew C. Perry selled his vessel, named Shark to the island and claimed it for the US. During the Civil War, a naval fort was constructed on the edge of the Old Town. Even though the rest of the state of Florida became part of the Confederacy, this naval presence meant that Key West remained part of the Union.
The island, located 150 miles south of Florida, was linked to the mainland by a railway in 1912. This meant that more tourists had access to the island than ever before. Celebrities and other travelers were attracted to the island and it grew into a tourist destination somewhat unlike any other place in the country. With a reputation as an offbeat destination for independent thinkers and artists, Key West remains a desirable destination for travelers of all kinds.
Your time in Key West will be filled with memorable activities. Mallory Square is the island’s centerpiece. It’s a waterfront plaza in the historic Old Town, which is best known for its nightly Sunset Celebration. Visit the Sunset Celebration and you’ll join hundreds of other visitors to Key West who come to Mallory Square to watch the sun go down out over the water. The celebration features artists and local craftsmen, street performances and street food. The party starts two hours before the sun sets, year round.
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a nice place to spend an afternoon. The butterfly park houses more than 50 different species of butterflies from all around the world. The park sits right at the end of Duval Street, on the southern side. In addition to the butterfly conservatory, you’ll find a learning center, an art gallery and a small gift shop.
Numerous artists and authors have visited and lived in Key West over the years. The most famous is Ernest Hemingways, whose home has been turned into a museum that you can visit. Another home in the old city, dubbed the Artist House was home to a local artist, and is said to be haunted. Today it is operated as a bed and breakfast.
Key West is located 150 lies off the southern tip of mainland Florida, and is actually closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. The Island is the southernmost point in the United States. You can have your photo taken with a concrete buoy that marks this southernmost point. Key West is flanked by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The southern location means it has much in common with Caribbean islands, perhaps more than it does with the mainland United States.
There are numerous beaches to visit along the coast of the small island. Smathers Beach is the most popular, and has a nice sandy shoreline. Many of the other beaches are pebbly or have a lot of coral. The waters off the coast of Key West, especially the area around Fort Zachary Taylor, are nice for snorkeling and diving. Hiking trails are also available in several locations, including around the fort.
There are several other small islands within easy reach of Key West. Fort Jefferson National Park, 70 miles from Key West, encompasses seven such islands and their surrounding coral reefs. It’s home to stunning beaches and the historic, 19th-century Fort Jefferson. The nearby island of Bahia Honda is a mostly uninhabited island that features sugary white sand, stunning blue water and camp sites with utilities if you’d like to stay the night. Marine life is abundant here.
The island of Key West may be small but it is jam-packed with fun things to do. It’s easy to explore many of the most popular sites on foot from your Key West bed and breakfast. Bike rentals are readily available and cycling around the island is a nice, quick way to get around and do some sightseeing.
Historic Duval street is lined with famous shops, tasty restaurants, popular bars and entertainment establishments. One of the best ways to see it all is to hop on the Old Town Trolley and enjoy the sights while the conductor shares an interesting narration about the major attractions in the historic old town. Make sure to finish your evening off at Mallory Square for the famous Sunset Celebration, a street fair where locals and visitors alike gather to watch the sunset, enjoy entertainment and eat street food.
Smathers Beach is the most popular beach in Key West, and the largest. It sits on the southside of the island about a mile from downtown. The beach features soft sand, calm waves and facilities available such as restrooms,showers and vendors selling food and renting out beach chairs and rafts. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, a Spanish-style mansion where Key West’s most famous resident and his wife lived for a number of years. The gardens surrounding the home-turned-museum are beautiful. Look out for some of the famous resident cats, many of them have six toes as they are the descendents of Hemingway’s six-toed cat, Snow White.
A day trip to Fort Zachary Taylor is a must while staying in Key West. The Civil War-era fort is a National Historic Monument with a significant cache of Civil War armament. In addition to the historic fort, the park also has one of the best beaches in Key West.
Key West has year-round warm weather with highs ranging from the low 70s to upper 80s year round, and the lows rarely falling below 60 degrees. Winter is the busiest season as the beautiful mild weather and low levels of rainfall make it a desirable escape from the rest of the US. Hurricane season is from June to November, but if you take the gamble and visit during the summer or fall, you’ll find the lowest hotel rates. Spring is a nice time to visit if you want to get the best of both nice weather and fewer crowds than winter time.
Key West has a number of fantastic dining options and must-try dishes that aren’t easily found in other places. Freshly caught seafood is available in abundance. This includes Conch meat which is considered a local delicacy, served both in fritter and chowder form. Due to the island’s proximity to Cuba both in distance and in cultural ties, Key West is a great place to try authentic Cuban food. Order up some ropa vieja, camarones al ajillo, or a classic Cuban sandwich, and don’t forget to grab a cup of sweet and strong Cuban coffee while you’re at it. Key West is a party town. While you’ll certainly find plenty of margaritas, mojitos, pina coladas and beer being served around town, make sure to try First Legal Rum, the first locally distilled rum available in Key West. Wherever you choose to dine, finish your meal off with a slice of Key Lime Pie, the island’s most iconic treat.
While each bed and breakfast is a bit different, and it’s worthwhile to check with your individual property about available amenities, some amenities are fairly standard and can be expected when you book a Key West Bed and Breakfast. Complimentary breakfast is usually par for the course at a bed and breakfast, although the exact offering can range from a simple continental breakfast to a full, home-cooked spread. Free Wi-Fi is usually available throughout the property, including in the guestrooms and common areas, so you’ll be able to keep up with your social media, or meet that important work deadline without searching out a coffee shop.
Many local bed and breakfasts are located in restored Victorian homes, some, like the Coco Plum Inn even have guest rooms spread across more than one historic home. Even though the homes may be older, it doesn’t mean they don’t have modern amenities. You can expect air conditioning throughout Key West Bed and Breakfasts as well as modern bathrooms, some with jacuzzi tubs. Heated pools, hot tubs, and hammocks for relaxing are also common at many Key West properties.
Many inns have bike rentals available to guests. And while parking comes at a premium in Key West, some have off street parking available. Some inn’s are pet friendly, and some allow children, although there are some that are adult only, offering something for every type of traveler.
Staying at a bed and breakfast is one of the best ways to experience the island like a local. You’ll be welcomed by a friendly host who knows the area and calls it home. Bed and breakfasts are usually located in historic homes and the home’s charming interior is another feature that attracts guests looking for one-of-a-kind accommodations during their Key West vacation.
The guest rooms at a bed and breakfast are each unique with their own style, and individually chosen decor, perfect for a quirky and unique destination like Key West. Bed and breakfast owners usually are local and live at or near the guesthouse, making them perfectly suited for providing valuable concierge service, and helping you to plan your itinerary.
Of course, breakfast is a major reason people choose to stay at a bed and breakfast. Waking up to a home-cooked meal is a fabulous way to start each day of your Key West getaway.
Many of the bed and breakfasts in Key West offer drink deals at happy hour. Some even have a daily free happy hour drink for inn guests. Swimming pools and sundecks are common features at Key West BnBs, which give you a nice place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of Duval Street and Smathers Bea
To get to Key West, you can fly to Miami International Airport and take a scenic drive through the other Florida Keys, about three hours down state road A1A. Alternatively, you can fly directly into the Key West Airport which is available through connections on Delta and American. The airport is small and easy to get around. Rental cars are available at both airports. Although, once you’ve arrived at your bed and breakfast in Key West, you’ll hardly need it. Most of the main attractions will be within walking distance. It’s great to be just a few minutes walk from nightlife hotspots so you don’t have to worry about arranging a designated driver. Bike rentals are available as are mopeds, taxis, city buses, and hotel trolleys. If you are staying in New Town on the island’s eastern side, you may find a car more desirable as taxi rides into town can be expensive.
There are many different types of bed and breakfasts in Key West, with something for nearly every budget and type of traveler. You’ll find charming older homes that have been converted into inns as well as more modern properties that are being used as guest houses, with a number of quirky, and off-the-wall homes thrown in - this is Key West after all!
The Conch House Heritage Inn, is centrally located in the Old Down, just a couple minutes away from Duval Street. There’s free parking and a swimming pool, with poolside accommodations available. The Inn on Fleming is a delightful bed and breakfast that has bike rentals, tropical gardens and a pool with waterfalls, not far from the Key West Lighthouse. Still located in a convenient location, the Avalon Bed & Breakfast is on the quieter end of Duval Street, a bit away from the action. La Pensione is a historic Key West inn, founded in 1891, with a pool and bicycle rentals, right near the old town.
The Ambrosia Key West is one of the best bed and breakfasts in Key West. It’s a relaxed property offering tropical-themed rooms and private outdoor space for each guest. The Ambrosia is both pet and family friendly. Another pet friendly bed and breakfast in Key West is the Old Town Manor, right off of Duval Street. Island City House in the Old Town is all suites, and is one of the bed and breakfasts in Key West for families and larger groups.
For couples looking for a romantic getaway, or others traveling without kids, Key West has a number of adult-only bed and breakfasts. For example, the Azul Key West offers bright, simply furnished rooms with outdoor space in a historic Queen Anne-style mansion. Knowles House is another adults-only property offering cozy accommodations and a daily happy hour in an 1860s clapboard house with heated pool and a garden. The Grand Guesthouse Key West is a small, quiet property that only allows guests ages 12 and up