For an island that’s only eight square miles, there’s actually a lot to discover in Key West. While you’ve probably heard of Sloppy Joe’s and Margaritaville or conch fritters and key lime pie, Key West has a rich local culture with great spots that are off the typical tourist radar. Why not experience Key West like a local? From restaurants to bars to shopping and the great outdoors, here are 10 spots in Key Wests that locals love. We’re sure you’ll love them too.
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach & State Park – While there are lots of beaches lining the southern end of the island, none is perhaps as nice as Fort Zachary Taylor (called Fort Zach by the locals). Enjoy this rocky beach with due south views of the Atlantic Ocean and a beautiful view at the mouth of the Key West Harbor. Tour the fort and hike through the nature trails or simply enjoy a barbecue at the beach. There’s a great snack bar and a concession on site renting beach chairs and snorkel equipment. No matter what kind of beach day you’re after, you can have it here.
Two Cents – Tucked away on a side street off Duval, search out Two Cents restaurant for dinner. This locally owned gastropub offers some of the most creative dishes and exciting flavors on the island. The menu is divided into Snacks, Greens, Dip & Chips, Shells, Buns, Small Plates and Large Plates for lots of mix-and-match options. Try the Quack Quack Duck Nachos, Bahamian Conch Ceviche and the 2c wings. You also can’t go wrong with the chef’s specials of the day.
The Porch – This local haunt serves up a wide array of craft beer by the bottle and on draft, as well as an impressive wine selection. With an expansive porch (hence, the name) and front garden, there’s also seating inside. It attracts an eclectic crowd of locals, as well as savvy visitors.
Point Five – For delicious artisanal pizza in a sexy setting, head upstairs from the popular nine one five restaurant. The upstairs lounge serves a menu of pizza, light bites and an impressive cocktail list. Grab a seat on the wraparound balcony outside or scope out a nook inside or at the bar. It’s perfect for a cozy date.
Besame Mucho – If the t-shirt shops on Duval Street don’t float your boat, head down Petronia Street into the heart of Bahama Village. This chic shop is carefully curated by the owner who travels the world in search of the best items around. From home goods to skincare to stationery and small gifts, Besame Mucho is an absolute treat to explore. Splurge on a Diptyque candle from Paris or a book on “the art of doing nothing.” You’re sure to find a sophisticated souvenir here for that special someone.
Lazy Dog Kayaks & Standup Paddleboards – Head to Hurricane Hole on Stock Island to rent kayaks or standup paddle boards for the afternoon at Lazy Dog. You can explore the shallow waters of the channel and its mangrove islands at your own pace and have a truly local experience. Keep your eyes peeled for juvenile fish, sharks and even manatees.
Bad Boy Burrito – If your stomach is grumbling at lunchtime and you’re after a meal that will fill you up, but won’t weigh you down, you’ve got to head to Bad Boy Burrito at the southern end of Simonton Street. This place is literally a hole in the wall, but they serve up incredibly fresh, all natural burritos, tacos, salads and more. You can select from kobe beef, chicken, Key West pink shrimp, fresh caught fish or tofu to create your custom burrito. They’ve also got homemade salsas and tons of fresh veggies to add to the mix.
Fisherman’s Cafe – This might be the ultimate hangover helper in Key West. This little shack at the end of Elizabeth Street near the waterfront is the local “go to” for a breakfast sandwich on Cuban toast, a cafe con leche and a fresh juice. You’ll recharge your batteries and be ready to take on another exciting (or relaxing) day in Key West.
Live Music Sunset Sail – For a rockin’ good time on the water, hop aboard local’s favorite Fury Water Adventures and their Live Music Sunset Sail sunset sail. You’ll enjoy a two hour cruise on a spacious, state-of-the-art 65′ catamaran. Nab a prime spot on the upper deck and let the margaritas come to you. Their crew keeps the cocktails circulating, so you can enjoy the scenery and the live music courtesy of The Cory Heydon Band. They also serve an appetizer spread if you get hungry.
The Galleon – When it comes to happy hour, the tiki bar at The Galleon’s pool currently reigns supreme amongst the locals, especially the local boat crew. Come for drink specials and water views perfect for sunset. You’ll avoid the crowds at Mallory Square and rub elbows with a truly local crowd.