How to Experience Key West Like a Local
Every well-versed traveler knows to keep an eye on the locals—they’re the ones who live there day in and day out and know how not to fall for the tourist trap destinations and instead experience the place in an authentic way. Here are four suggestions that should help you experience Key West like a local!
- Take a food tour to know the local places to eat.
If you’re a foodie even in the most general sense of the word, you’ll have some serious eating to do when you get to Key West. The key here is to choose an outfit that’s authentic and won’t just take you to the few obvious destinations. You want someone who will show you the off-the-beaten-path places the locals go to: restaurants that are not only amazing, but also cheaper, because they cater to local residents.
- Go to local bars.
Again, don’t go to the few obvious choices all the tourist flock to. Hang back and have a cold one with an off-shift local music performer or charter captain. Our recommendations for authentic bars are:
- Mary Ellen’s – a great neighborhood bar, famously “open daily from 11am-4am, 365 days a year”. Get one of their famous grilled cheese sandwiches, and, like a true local, stop by for the happy hour for even cheaper drinks!
- Green Parrot – with live music most nights, this self ascribed “sunny place for shady people” is a must-do pit stop for those who want to experience Key West like the locals do.
- Agave 308 – take a metaphorical trip south of the border at this hip tequila bar. Be sure to try one of their signature infused tequilas, which are made in-house. They go great with the roast pork tacos!
- Rent a bike and get lost in the backstreets of the island.
Key West is only 5.6 square miles, which means you can jump on a bike and make it all the way across the island in less than 20 minutes. Some of the coolest experiences come from getting lost on the narrow, winding streets and then figuring your way out.
Because of its size, there’s no chance of ever being really lost in Key West. The locals are also friendly enough that they probably won’t even give you a chance to get lost.
- Spend the day in the backcountry.
Key West natives like to take full advantage of the islands and sandbars on the weekends. Mellow Ventures and SolChaser are good companies for excursions. Fun in the Sun also does fishing and spearfishing charters.