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Key West Basics

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Scenes of Key West

Fast Facts: Key West

Key West, the southernmost point in the Continental United States, is an eclectic, funky and fun place to visit. Because of its location between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Key West was once Florida's largest city, where the locals made their livings salvaging ships that sank off its reefs. Today, the city hosts a population of 23,000 eccentric and interesting people. The city is a very popular cruise port, with 275 cruise ship visits scheduled during 2016.

The economy of Key West is primarily based on tourism, and secondarily on the US Navy, which maintains the Naval Air Station Key West on Bolsa Chica island.

Owing to the nearby Gulf Stream, Key West enjoys a pleasant mild tropical climate year-round. The city features an average annual temperature of 77° F. November through April is the dry season, while hurricane season stretches from June through November. Direct hurricane strikes have been rare.


Key West map


First Impressions


Dog Bar
©2008 CedarBendDrive, under cc-by-sa 2.0 license

Key West is a unique place. It's a town of character that's full of characters. When the cruise ships arrive, it frequently feels overwhelmed, with the tourists moving slowly down Duval Street, the main drag, trying to take it all in. Given its history, the city is without a doubt worth visiting, and an interesting time can be had by all.

Most of the cruise ships visiting Key West dock at either Pier B or at the Mallory Square dock, which is located in the Old Town section of the city. Some ships will dock at the "Old Mole," which is located in the the Truman Annex; if you're docked here, you will take a 5-minute shuttle ride into the Old Town area.

Key West is a walkable city, and there are a number of places to see and things to do in town. To get your arms around the place, one of the better things to do is to take the narrated hour-long "Conch Train" tour, which begins in Mallory Square and takes you on a winding tour of the city. You may feel ridiculous riding in the cars, but in the end it's worth it.

As an alternative, print out the map of the city (in our Key West Maps section) and just start walking. You should also see our Key West On Your Own section for some background on the more rewarding and interesting things to see and do.


What to Do in Key West


Aquarium
©2008 Marc Averette, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

Key West On Your Own

If you're looking for what you can do On Your Own in Key West--like Food, Shopping, Bars, Activities and Attractions, click here for our Key West On Your Own page.

The Top 10 Things to Do in Key West

So it's your first time in Key West? Or your fifth? Want to make the most of your visit? Well, click here for our list of the Top 10 Things to Do in Key West.

Cruise Line Shore Excursions on Key West

Key West is a great place to get out and explore. Whether you're looking to visit the town's historic homes, snorkel in the coral reefs, experience some of the town's infamous bars and restaurants or just stroll down Duval Street, you'll find lots of things to do in the Conch Republic.

Click on any of the tiles below to see the Shore Excursions offered by the Big 6 cruise lines.


Attractions Tours Beach Sailing and snorkel tours Biking tour
Food & Drinks tours Ghost tour Sightseeing Tours

Time Zone


Key West is on Eastern Time, five hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during Standard Time, and four hours earlier than GMT during Daylight Savings Time. Daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday of March, and ends on the first Sunday of November.

USA flag Key West Local Time
 


Language


English is universally spoken in Key West. You'll also find many people who speak Spanish as well.


Dealing with Money in Key West


Currency



dollar bill

The currency of the United States is the U.S. dollar, and it is printed on bills in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins include the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, fifty cent piece and dollar.

Bank ATMs

ATMs aren't hard to find in Key West. Most of the resort hotels have ATMs in their lobbies, and you can find other ATMs in many restaurants and stores. In addition, there are several bank branches with ATM machines in the historic area and on the southern end of Duval Street. These include:

  • First State Bank has two branches with ATMs conveniently located in the historic area of Key West, including at 1201 Simonton Street, 1 block east of Duval at Catherine Street, and 444 Whitehead Street.

  • Orion Bank has an ATM at 1075 Duval Street, 2 blocks south of Truman Ave.

  • Wells Fargo Bank has an ATM at 114 Duval Street.

  • Centennial Bank has branches at 701 Whitehead Street, and 1229 Simonton Street, 1 block east of Duval at Louisa Street.

  • Bank of America, 510 Southard Street, at Duval.

Key West ATM Map


Map icon

To see the locations of the above-mentioned ATMs, see our Key West ATM map.


Weather


Palm Tree
©2011 Serge Melki, under cc-by-sa 2.0 license

Key West enjoys a mild, tropical climate year-round, given its close proximity to the Gulf Stream. During the winter months, cold fronts are moderated by the warm waters of the Florida Straits, and during the summer months, prevailing easterly trade winds help cool down the summer heat. Key West has an average annual temperature of 77° F.

November to April is the dry season, notable for abundant sunshine and brief (or occasionally heavy) showers caused by cold fronts advancing from the north. The rainy season extends from May through October, and during this period you can expect a brief daily morning shower. Key West is the driest city in Florida, receiving only 39 inches of rain per year.

The water temperature varies from around 70° F in January to 87° F in July.

June through November is hurricane season. Key West has been fortunate, in that it has rarely been hit directly by a hurricane. However, in October 2005 the city incurred an 8 foot storm surge after Hurricane Wilma passed by, causing significant damage to the island.

Average Temperatures

Average Precipitation



Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Key West

Key West is a very well wired place. Wi-Fi is ubiquitous.

Wi-Fi in Key West

More often than not, restaurants in Key West offer free Wi-Fi. Here's a short list of coffee shops with free Wi-Fi:

  • Starbucks has a store at 431 Front Street, near Mallory Square, and another at the La Concha Hotel, at 430 Duval.

  • Cuban Coffee Queen has a store at 284 Margaret Street that offers good coffee and free Wi-Fi.

  • Sippin' Coffee House has a store at 424 Eaton Street that offers good coffee and free Wi-Fi.

  • Cafe Moka has a store at 1211 Duval Street that offers good coffee and pastries and free Wi-Fi.

  • McDonalds has a store at 3704 N. Roosevelt Blvd.

  • Zomato provides this list of Key West restaurants that feature free Wi-Fi.

Key West Internet Access Map


Map icon

To see the locations of Key West's Internet Cafes/Wi-Fi locations, see our Key West Internet Access Map.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Customers of the four major U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Key West:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service provides digital coverage to the greater Key West area.
Data services: Verizon offers 4G LTE coverage in the greater Key West area.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services coverage in Key West.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service covers all of the greater Key West area.
Data services: AT&T offers extensive 4G and 4G LTE service in the greater Key West area.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage in Key West.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service provides digital coverage to the greater Key West area.
Data services: Sprint offers extensive 3G service in the greater Key West area.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage in Key West.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in all of the greater Key West area.
Data services: T-Mobile offers extensive 3G/4G service in the greater Key West area, with some spotty coverage.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage in Key West.


Samsung Galaxy S III

Key West Telephone Information

Canadian cell phones used in the U.S. work seamlessly south of the border, and just like back home.

The Country Code in the U.S. is 1, just like in Canada.

The Area Codes used in Key West are 305 and 786.

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

Woman with a cell phone

Local Events, Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local holidays, festivals and events taking place in Key West in 2017:

  • 12th Annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival, Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15. This free festival celebrates the area's indigenous seafood and the fishermen who harvest it; it's held at Bayview Park, located at Truman Avenue and Eisenhower Drive.

  • Key West Craft Show, Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29. Features handmade arts and crafts created by over 100 artisans from throughout the U.S.

  • Civil War Days Heritage Festival, Friday, February 3 through Sunday, February 5. Here you'll discover Civil War reenactments at Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park.

  • Old Island Days Art Festival, Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26. This is the festival's 52nd year, featuring a juried fine art show in Old Town. Free for attendees; open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day.

  • Conch Shell Blow
    © Florida Keys News Bureau
  • Conch Shell Blowing Contest, Saturday, March 4, at the Oldest House and Gardens, 322 Duval Street, at 12:00 pm. Register for the "Conch Honk" from 10:00 to 11:30. It's free to register and compete. This is the 55th year of the contest.

  • 22nd Annual Robert Frost Poetry Festival, mid-April. This five day festival offers poetry readings, workshops, and contests at the Robert Frost Cottage, 410 Caroline St.

  • 35th Annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration, Friday, April 23 through Sunday, April 30. Ten days of parades, parties, bacchanalia and and humorous events.

  • 22nd Annual Taste of Key West, Monday, April 24. Local restaurants provide samples of their fare. The event takes place from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Truman Waterfront Pier.

  • 22nd Annual Key West Songwriters Fest, Wednesday, May 10 to Sunday, May 14. Many noteworthy songwriters from throughout the country offer performances in Key West.

  • Independence Day Celebrations, Tuesday, July 4. Fireworks after sunset launched from the White Street pier.

  • Hemingway Days Festival, Tuesday, July 18 through Sunday, July 23. Daily events celebrating the literary works and life of Ernest Hemingway. There's also a Hemingway look-alike contest at Sloppy Joes on the 22rd.

  • Key West Fantasy Fest, Friday, October 20 through Sunday, October 29. More Key West bacchanalia, featuring outrageous costumes, parades, parties and competitions. Not generally a kid-friendly event.

  • Drag Queen Drop
    © Florida Keys News Bureau
  • Key West New Year's Eve Celebrations, Sunday, December 31. You have a choice of witnessing a wench drop at Schooner Wharf, a conch shell drop at Sloppy Joe's Bar, and a drag queen drop on Duval Street, featuring Sushi, a local drag queen celebrity. CNN covers it live.

Cruise Port Schedules


Mallory Square
©2008 CedarBendDrive, under cc-by-sa 2.0 license

Key West is one of the most popular ports in the Caribbean, and is typically included in 7- and 10-day Western Caribbean or Bahamas itineraries.

As a general rule, cruise ship passengers can expect to spend between 6 and 10 hours ashore in Key West; the average port calls to the city in 2017 will last 7½ hours.

In 2017, Key West is slated to host 710,900 passengers sailing on 316 ships. For further information, see our Key West Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017.

In 2018, Key West is slated to host 812,800 passengers sailing on 369 ships. For further information, see our Key West Cruise Ship Schedule - 2018.


Cruise Lines Making Port


The following cruise lines will make port in Key West in 2017:

Carnival icon Carnival Royal Caribbean icon Royal Caribbean
Celebrity icon
Celebrity Cruises
Holland America icon
Holland America
Disney icon
Disney Cruises
NCL icon
Norwegian
Regent icon
Regent Cruises
Oceania icon
Oceania Cruises
Silversea icon
Silversea Cruises
Crystal icon
Crystal Cruises
Azamara Cruises
Azamara Cruises
Hapag-Lloyd
AIDA Cruises
F. Olsen
P & O Cruises
Costa Cruises
Seabourn
Phoenix Reisen
Cruise Ship


       
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