The ultimate travel guide to Key West. I’ll tell you where to stay, what to eat and how to burn it off!
Last month I had the opportunity to escape the cold Michigan winter and travel to Key West for the very first time. Have you been before?
Key West kept coming up in my 2017 reader survey as a place you’d like to visit and learn more about so I thought it would be the perfect destination for my wellness travel series, What to Eat & How to Burn it Off.
If you’re new to my website, be sure to check out the other 14 destinations we’ve already covered including Palm Springs, Whistler, Vancouver, Chicago, Denver, Charleston, Tucson, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, San Diego, Vail, Miami, Utah and Banff.
First thing’s first: let’s talk hotel! The Marker came highly recommended from friends who visit Key West regularly so I couldn’t wait to check it out myself.
Relatively new to Key West, The Marker opened its doors back in December 2014. Centrally located near the harbor and within walking distance of downtown, I loved everything about this sleek, modern hotel.
Of course, you can’t bring a Michigan girl to Florida and not give her some time at the pool to relax.
Lucky for me, the pool at The Marker did not disappoint. In fact, they even had a live DJ blasting music when I arrived.
Let’s get started with What to Eat in Key West! Any active vacation needs to start off with a good breakfast so I have a couple great options for you starting with Cero Bodega located poolside right at The Marker. You can’t beat the proximity to your guest room and every dish came out hot, fresh and flavor-packed.
For a quick grab-and-go option, head to Date & Thyme, a natural foods market and organic cafe just a short Uber drive away from the hotel. Featuring açaí bowls, smoothies and organic juices, it was just the fuel I needed before my day of activities.
If you want to get your hands on an authentic Cuban breakfast, walk one block up the street to the Cuban Coffee Queen. They offer a complete breakfast menu but they’re also ideal for lunch or a quick snack. Pro Tip: Order the Caliente Cuban Mix sandwich: fresh roasted Mojo pork, ham, pepper jack cheese, with horseradish mayo, jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes and onions on pressed Cuban bread. You’re welcome.
If you’re looking for lunch or dinner with a view, head to Louie’s Backyard. This fine dining establishment has been around for over 30 years and features fresh seafood, burgers, salads and more.
The building is gorgeous but I recommend grabbing a spot on the patio so you can take in the ocean views.
If you’re looking to sample authentic Cuban food in a lively atmosphere, head to El Meson de Pepe. Located in Mallory Square, this restaurant features traditional dishes like picadillo, ropa vieja, tostones and more. They even have live music most nights of the week!
If you want to get your hands on the best local stoned crab, head to, you guessed it, The Stoned Crab. Offering Key West’s freshest seafood, this hot spot is located adjacent to Ibis Bay Beach Resort and has two private fishing boats that deliver daily catches of stone crab, lobster, Key West shrimp and a variety of local fish.
We were lucky enough to be dining as a fresh catch of stoned crab came in off the fishing boat!
This restaurant is a must, and a great spot to grab a bite before heading out on a kayak ride. (More on that in a bit!)
For a truly one-of-a-kind fine dining experience in Key West, be sure to carve out time for Latitudes restaurant. Named the #1 Best Overall Restaurant in Key West by OpenTable in 2016, and one of the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2017, you actually have to take a ferry boat to get there!
Tucked away on an exclusive 27-acre island just 500 yards off Key West, Latitudes serves fresh Gulf Coast seafood overlooking the ocean. The ultimate Key West dining experience!
While I’m not a huge fan of sweets or desserts, you can’t go to Key West without heading to Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shoppe! In fact, I was lucky enough to spend a little time with Kermit himself in the kitchen teaching me how to make his famous key lime pie recipe!
Pro Tip: Do yourself a favor and try the frozen chocolate dipped key lime pie. Holy Mama it was good!
Of course, you can’t visit Key West without hitting up Duvall Street, the night life hot spot. Similar to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, this strip is lined with bars, dance clubs, live music venues and more.
If anything, there’s something to be said about walking around a street with a beer in your hand and the warm breeze on your back. It’s so nice to be able to bring your drink from one spot to the next and not have to finish it first!
Now that we’ve gotten our fill of What to Eat, let’s talk about How to Burn it Off in Key West!
I’m a huge fan of practicing yoga but when I travel to warm destinations I like to stay outdoors as much as possible. The perfect solution? Lazy Dog Paddle Yoga!
Offering intimate classes for all fitness levels, I found this yoga class to be extremely peaceful and relaxing. Located in the US’s southernmost mangroves, this calm spot on the water offers protection from the wind, and tides, thus providing the perfect spot for a PaddleYoga session. Highly recommend during your next trip to Key West!
Want to kill two birds with one stone? Key West Food Tours are the perfect way to stay active while enjoying a meal.
The Seafood Lover’s Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour was my tour of choice and lasted a total of three hours in length.
Offering two or three bite samples at each spot, with 5-10 minute walks in between each, it’s a great way to see the city, grab a bite and sneak in a couple thousand steps.
I hinted at the third way to Burn it Off earlier so you probably won’t be surprised to know that Key West has fantastic kayaking opportunities! For a super unique experience, I decided to try nighttime kayaking for the very first time. Located directly next to The Stoned Crab in Ibis Bay, I had so much fun kayaking during dusk and into the dark hours.
Key West Paddle offers a 90 minute tour that starts right before sunset. As the sun sets, the boats are lit with LED florescent lights. The clear bottom of the boats allows you to see the sea life as you ride along the water. It was so incredible- I can’t wait to do it again.
Last but not least, while not a dining or fitness experience, I highly suggest you check out Dangers Charters for a sail boat ride during your visit to Key West!
The Wind & Wine Sunset Sail offers fine wines, tasty appetizers and breathtaking sunset views.
It’s no wonder Coastal Living Magazine ranked Danger Charter’s Wind and Wine Sail one of the top two Sunset Sails in all of North America!
Disclosure: Florida Keys coordinated my air & hotel accommodations, meals and activities during my stay. Photography by Alejandro Photography. I was not compensated to write this post. All thoughts are my own.
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