Key West as a solo traveler; advice please.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 13, 2015 6:02 AM GMT
    Hi, this June im headed to Disney World and universal studios in Orlando for a family vacation. I decided ill stay about 4 days longer in Florida after my family trip to trek over to Key West as ive heard it's beautiful and fun; plus, im already in Florida so I might as well check it out!

    - any tips on things I must see/do while im there?
    - good places to eat (key lime pie perhaps?) lol.
    - places to stay? Ill be traveling solo and may book a hotel room but may also try out couch surfing tho ive never tried it before...

    Ill be renting a car in Orlando and driving to Key West after...

    Thanks in advance!
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    Mar 13, 2015 12:09 PM GMT
    Congrats! You'll love KW.

    But first: one does not 'trek over' to KW from Orlando! LOL


    But, it is well worth the time and expense to get there!!

    DO park your car and leave it! Parking is at a premium there and if you park a rental car in a residential space, it will get towed!

    DON'T get a hotel except as a last resort, get a room in a B&B if you can.
    MAKE SURE it is in OLD Key West, not the newer section where the strip mall and car dealer lots are.

    DO go see the sunset over Mallory Square, but get there at least an hour before then to take in the street festival that takes place.
    Oh, and get a Mojito from the vendor with the fake Trolley/train!

    DON'T take a scooter or golf cart, period..that's not the way to see and absorb KW! WALK! (The Trolley tour is OK for first timers).

    DO go to Hemingway House and The Truman Annex.

    DON'T go to any of the drag shows on Duval EXCEPT!! Randy Roberts and company at La Te Da! Ask anyone where it is. The other shows are just lip-synch and RR actually sings and participates with the audience!

    DO get a frozen Key Lime Pie dipped in chocolate from Kermit's!

    DON'T but cheap tees from anyone hawking them from the doorway of their bodega.

    DO take a sunset tour on the Blue Q, a gays only catamaran with a great captain and first mate!

    DO email Art_Deco, the resident Key-West-Unoffical-Guide! icon_lol.gif

    Hope you have a great time. We always do!
  • Kw89

    Posts: 4

    Mar 13, 2015 2:47 PM GMT
    Wow StudylyScrewRite is right on!!! I am actually from Key West, as most people understand why I would leave, and you really adventured the island. Dead on with having to WALK to absorb what Key West has to offer and what you will really take back from the Island!

    Only concern is I don't think you'll have enough time to do everything unless you RUN Key West lol
  • Svnw688

    Posts: 3350

    Mar 13, 2015 2:51 PM GMT
    StudlyScrewRight nailed it.

    Perhaps bring Grindr/Scruff and condoms for a night rendezvous icon_cool.gif
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4435

    Mar 13, 2015 3:55 PM GMT
    Buy a day pass for Island House and spend time in the clothing-optional fun.
  • madsexy

    Posts: 4843

    Mar 13, 2015 4:44 PM GMT
    StudlyScrewRite said Congrats! You'll love KW.

    But first: one does not 'trek over' to KW from Orlando! LOL


    But, it is well worth the time and expense to get there!!

    DO park your car and leave it! Parking is at a premium there and if you park a rental car in a residential space, it will get towed!

    DON'T get a hotel except as a last resort, get a room in a B&B if you can.
    MAKE SURE it is in OLD Key West, not the newer section where the strip mall and car dealer lots are.

    DO go see the sunset over Mallory Square, but get there at least an hour before then to take in the street festival that takes place.
    Oh, and get a Mojito from the vendor with the fake Trolley/train!

    DON'T take a scooter or golf cart, period..that's not the way to see and absorb KW! WALK! (The Trolley tour is OK for first timers).

    DO go to Hemingway House and The Truman Annex.

    DON'T go to any of the drag shows on Duval EXCEPT!! Randy Roberts and company at La Te Da! Ask anyone where it is. The other shows are just lip-synch and RR actually sings and participates with the audience!

    DO get a frozen Key Lime Pie dipped in chocolate from Kermit's!

    DON'T but cheap tees from anyone hawking them from the doorway of their bodega.

    DO take a sunset tour on the Blue Q, a gays only catamaran with a great captain and first mate!

    DO email Art_Deco, the resident Key-West-Unoffical-Guide! icon_lol.gif

    Hope you have a great time. We always do!

    Disagree on only two things:
    -Walk OR bike - Key West can be fun to cycle around, and even more fun to do a run around.
    -You forgot to advise TIGHT shorts commando - that always guarantees a great time for me! icon_redface.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 13, 2015 5:00 PM GMT
    whereibelong saidHi, this June im headed to Disney World and universal studios in Orlando for a family vacation. I decided ill stay about 4 days longer in Florida after my family trip to trek over to Key West as ive heard it's beautiful and fun; plus, im already in Florida so I might as well check it out!

    - any tips on things I must see/do while im there?
    - good places to eat (key lime pie perhaps?) lol.
    - places to stay? Ill be traveling solo and may book a hotel room but may also try out couch surfing tho ive never tried it before...

    Ill be renting a car in Orlando and driving to Key West after...

    Thanks in advance!

    I'm emailing you directly, we go to Key West several times a year.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 13, 2015 5:47 PM GMT
    Wow; thanks all! It seems like I have a lot to ponder! I'll be off researching and planning icon_biggrin.gif
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    Mar 13, 2015 6:35 PM GMT
    It has been quite some time (decades! icon_eek.gif ) since I was there, but I found it convenient to rent a bicycle to get around. Although I seem to recall having to dicker a bit to get a weekly rate from a place more set-up for hourly rentals.
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    Mar 13, 2015 6:45 PM GMT
    Nearly a day's travel (6-8 hours with lunch) from Orlando but don't travel both back and forth to the Keys in the dark. There's not much to see until you get down there so that segment can be done at dark but do at least one leg of island hopping during daylight hours (& probably mid-daylight is best) to enjoy the water views, especially on your drive over the bridges. The colors are stunning.

    SevenMileBridge_ROW3471879294_20101103.j
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    Mar 13, 2015 7:05 PM GMT
    madsexy said
    StudlyScrewRite said
    DO take a sunset tour on the Blue Q, a gays only catamaran with a great captain and first mate!

    DO email Art_Deco, the resident Key-West-Unoffical-Guide! icon_lol.gif

    Hope you have a great time. We always do!

    -You forgot to advise TIGHT shorts commando - that always guarantees a great time for me! icon_redface.gif

    Thanks, we already emailed. I'm using my husband's RJ account (some problem with my password I'm trying to resolve, but my account still appears active). I provided him with a suggestion for a place to stay with contact info. I also recommended a sunset cruise, weather permitting, for which Key West is famous.

    The Blue Q is fun, the all-day cruise including some clothing-optional snorkeling with other gays. Not sure the OP's schedule can fit that in. A shorter 3-hour cruise for just the sunset might work better, he can choose.

    For tight shorts try graffitti menswear at 721 Duval, diagonally across from the Bourbon Street Pub. We've known the owner Phil for many years. A strong supporter of the gay community, he carries what's currently hot in Key West. Tell him Bob from Wilton Manors recommended his place.
  • davfit

    Posts: 309

    Mar 13, 2015 11:48 PM GMT
    Rent a bike ( on US 1 )for sure ..nothing will spoil your trip like getting tired from all the walking . do go to 3 brothers get a cuban sandwich best in the world. Go to Zach Taylor
    Beach and day trip Snorkeling.. Blue Q ..You can pre book..A must.. will slow.. you .....down to island time!! (Most people don't get this.. it's.. what makes KW... magic
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    Mar 14, 2015 11:00 AM GMT
    Lot's of good tips in this thread.

    I'll just add that I'd consider possibly flying to Key West from Orlando because it is such a loooong drive and you won't need a car once you get down there anyhow. And big thumbs up to going out on the Blue Q!
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Mar 14, 2015 7:33 PM GMT
    Never been to Key West, but I can tell you that the drive from Orlando is a VERY long ride. Consider saving energy and time with a flight. A long and not terribly interesting drive can take it out of you.
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    Mar 14, 2015 11:49 PM GMT
    My BF and I traveled southern FL last year on vacation. We stayed in south beach for 3 days, key west for 3 and Ft. Lauderdale for 2.

    I hate to be the downer but we found the other two area A LOT more fun, but I guess its more about what you're looking for. We both are big into nightlife/dancing and Key West was lacking compared the other two.

    If you are set on Key West I would suggest snorkeling. That was the highlight of our stay
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    Mar 14, 2015 11:56 PM GMT
    southbeach1500 saidI'm surprised that Art_Deco hasn't weighed in yet, with his boasts about all his "connections" that he has in Key West. I'm sure he'll be by here soon though..>

    As a Florida "resident" why haven't YOU? Why do you never give Florida travel advice to our RJ brothers here, if you really live in South Florida as you claim?

    But as it happens I've already emailed the OP directly in private. Using my husband's RJ account, since access to my own was blocked for a time yesterday, either by a hacker or some system glitch. Now resolved. icon_biggrin.gif

    Gave him a name, phone number and web site. Which is more than YOU ever do for fellow members coming to Florida.
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    Mar 15, 2015 12:06 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    BTW... In what state DO I live, Art_Deco?

    I can't imagine. But given your lack of knowledge about Florida, or at least your unwillingness to share any information you have with RJ vacationers coming here, I would hazard a guess that Florida is not one of them. A vacation spot for you, perhaps, but not a location you know very much about.
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    Mar 15, 2015 1:17 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    Let's be courteous to the OP.

    Thanks.

    That's why I PE'd him with Key West information, and you have not. Because you can't. I think YOU'RE the one who usually trashes & derails these threads of guys seeking information about Florida. What's wrong with you??? icon_razz.gif
  • mybud

    Posts: 11837

    Mar 15, 2015 2:17 AM GMT
    Rent a scooter when in Key West. The traveling is fun as hell, and easy access to it's small beach. You can also visit Key Largo, and other off the beaten path towns.
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    Mar 15, 2015 2:27 AM GMT
    mybud saidRent a scooter when in Key West. The traveling is fun as hell, and easy access to it's small beach. You can also visit Key Largo, and other off the beaten path towns.

    Yeah, rental scooters are everywhere. And rental bikes, and electric GEM cars, sorta like oversized golf carts for 2, 4 or 6 people. But if the OP goes where I suggested to him in PE, he can get everywhere walking by day.

    And at night for dinner, take a cab to anyplace away from Duval Street (and I have good suggestions). The cabbies know every address, you won't need to have mapped it yourself. It rarely costs more than $5.00, very reasonable. That's what we do. We park our car, and never move it until we leave, a week or more later. You don't need to.

    Because parking in Key West is such a hassle. You simply don't wanna use your car once you get there and secure a parking spot (although be aware metered curb parking has a daily limit, I think 12 hours, that does NOT apply to my handicapped permit, which allows unlimited free street parking 24/7) Also, many side streets have assigned curb parking to residents with permits, and you'll get towed - watch for the signs or curb markings. As I said, a hassle.

    If the OP stays where I suggested to him in PE, I'll send him the private code for a reduced parking rate from the central meter machine (the type that dispenses a receipt for your dashboard, maximum single purchase limit 6 continuous days, but then you can repurchase). Or the hotel clerk will tell him. He parks his car once and forgets it at an off-street lot across from the hotel. As we do. And we can see the car from the hotel's second-floor nude sundeck.
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    Mar 15, 2015 9:12 PM GMT
    theantijock saidNearly a day's travel (6-8 hours with lunch) from Orlando but don't travel both back and forth to the Keys in the dark. There's not much to see until you get down there so that segment can be done at dark but do at least one leg of island hopping during daylight hours (& probably mid-daylight is best) to enjoy the water views, especially on your drive over the bridges. The colors are stunning.

    SevenMileBridge_ROW3471879294_20101103.j

    Yes, weather permitting you've got bright blue sky above, and brilliant turquoise water below you as you cross dozens of bridges, as shown in this photo of the Seven Mile Bridge (actually 6.8, with the original bridge next to it now closed and decaying). It's even more stunning on a motorcycle, or with a convertible. I've also bicycled the length of the Keys, including that bridge, but the traffic is so treacherous, and with so much debris in the road shoulders to dodge, you haven't got much time for sightseeing.

    It really only becomes beautiful at the middle keys and beyond; that bridge is 60 miles from Key West. The upper keys are congested, heavy traffic, and you don't see much water. Lot of small communities with local traffic and stop lights. So a drive from Orlando could be a slog.

    Another tip - never drive to Key West on a Friday, nor return on a Sunday, and Monday can be bad going north, too. Weekend visitors from south Florida clog the roads, you can get bumper-to-bumper traffic in places, half the Keys are single lane each way posted at 35-45 mph, can add an hour to your drive time. We always try to travel mid-week, coming & going. Don't use simple map mileage to estimate your travel time, it will be much slower than you might anticipate.
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    Mar 15, 2015 11:00 PM GMT
    If you do drive down a possible lunch stop at US 1 mile marker 81.5 is the Islamorada Fish Co. A bit touristy but a lovely view of the Gulf of Mexico if you eat on the dock, shown below. RJ's own paulflexes took these aerial views for me from his airplane. The second view shows how close US 1 is to their entrance, and how narrow the highway is.

    The bigger 2-story building on the left is a fishing store, that usually flies a US flag from a roof flagpole that you can see as you're approaching. As soon as you pass it the Fish Co. entrance is on the right. Then walk down to the sand, there's a small tiki hut, just visible on the far left of the first pic, where you arrange for dock seating.

    My favorites for a light lunch there are 2 appetizers: a half dozen raw oysters, along with a cup of their conch chowder, pronounced "konk", sorta like a red Manhattan clam chowder. An iconic local seafood item, Key West residents also refer to their island as the "Conch Republic."

    islamorada-fish-co-2_zpsmrgooarx.jpg

    islamorada-fish-company-3_zpsxabmramd.jp
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    Mar 16, 2015 12:01 AM GMT
    And here is why you don't want to miss a sunset cruise, if the weather cooperates. You can also watch from land at Mallory Square, but it's mobbed and the view is nothing like this, out in the Gulf. My own snapshots from a sailboat:

    P1020782%201_zps3yf7vdy1.jpg

    P1020783_zps76xxyowh.jpg

    P1030139_zps9237fb18.jpg
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    Mar 16, 2015 12:13 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said


    ....Because parking in Key West is such a hassle. You simply don't wanna use your car once you get there and secure a parking spot (although be aware metered curb parking has a daily limit, I think 12 hours, that does NOT apply to my handicapped permit, which allows unlimited free street parking 24/7) Also, many side streets have assigned curb parking to residents with permits, and you'll get towed - watch for the signs or curb markings. As I said, a hassle.
    .....



    I don't know where he's staying but if he stays in Old Key West, I'd suggest the parking garage up by the Bight. Unless his hotel/B&B offers off street parking. icon_cool.gif