Being in the southernmost point of the continental United States opens up myriad excellent options for weekend getaways. Key West may be a small town, but visitors can count on having big fun in the Conch Republic. This area is both a symbol for Old Florida glory and tropical delight, and it’s the perfect weekend destination for any traveler. Popular attractions such as the Ernest Hemingway home are within walking distance of some of the best lodging in the city. Visitors may enjoy a delicious meal while marveling at the expansive views of the ocean. Shop, party or embark on an adventure in the water.

Getting There

Three hours is all you need to complete the 160-mile southbound drive to Key West. The drive itself is a visual adventure, and makes for spectacular photo opportunities. While driving down U.S. 1, drive across the famous Seven Mile Bridge and through other well-known parts of the Florida Keys, including Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine Key. This is one road trip where the drive is just as enjoyable as the intended destination.

Along The Way:

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Dolphin Research Center
58901 Overseas Hwy.
Grassy Key, FL 33050
(305) 289-1121

Prices: $20 adults/$15 children 4 to 12

The Dolphin Research Center is a fascinating attraction because it’s a non-profit facility dedicated to education and research. OK, it’s really interesting because it offers opportunities to swim with dolphins and interact with sea lions, but it’s still all about promoting sea creatures here. The center offers intriguing educational programs that are open to the public including dolphin performances sure to please any traveler.


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Southernmost On The Beach
508 South St.
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296-6577

Prices: from $300

As part of a four-point resort complex, Southernmost On The Beach provides an exquisite waterfront experience for its guests. Each of the 124 rooms at the resort provides partial or full views of the ocean. Other exciting features of the property include a private beach, an oceanfront pool and a private pier with access to the Atlantic Ocean. Daily housekeeping services, mini refrigerators and concierge services are some of the upgraded amenities available to guests during their stay.

Related: Best City Escapes From South Florida

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Best Western Plus Hibiscus Motel
1313 Simonton St.
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294-3763

Prices: from $99

This property is an ideal option because of its close proximity to Duval Street, a Key West landmark. Guests may expect a comfortable stay at this motel, and enjoy amenities including an in-room mini refrigerator, a heated outdoor pool and high-speed Internet access. A one-block walk from the Hibiscus Motel connects guests to popular places of interest like the home of Ernest Hemingway and Margaritaville. Free continental breakfast is also included as part of the accommodations.


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Salute On The Beach
1000 Atlantic Blvd.
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 292-1117

This restaurant has been featured on the popular Channel 2 show, “Check Please! South Florida” as one of the best places to eat in Key West. Its inventive menu consists of Italian favorites with a Caribbean twist. Chefs work their magic using fresh ingredients and high-quality local seafood. Some of the specialties include yellowtail snapper and key lime pie. Sit outside for the best dining experience the area has to offer.

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Hogfish Bar and Grill
6810 Front St.
Stock Island, FL 33040
(305) 293-4041

It’s only a short 10-minute drive from downtown Key West to Hogfish Bar and Grill, where its most celebrated dish is the restaurant’s namesake. The hogfish is plentiful in these parts, and is frequently sampled by travelers unfamiliar with this local catch. The entire menu is chock full of tasty selections; guests may either enjoy their food inside or opt for take-out. Another great feature of this lively local destination is the live music performances on weekends.

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Groove Lounge at the Bottle Cap Café
1128 Simonton St.
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296-2807

Guests get their groove on in this multi-faceted entertainment space, a venue that offers a patio, two clubrooms, nearly a dozen TVs and a virtual jukebox. With a liquor store also on the premises, patrons may partake of quality wine and spirits while at the cafe. The nightclub features nightly offerings of either DJdance parties or live music performances. Friday nights are especially interesting, as the club hosts non-profit benefits.

What To Do:

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Smathers Beach
S. Roosevelt Blvd.
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 292-8190

A tip to Key West just wouldn’t be without a day at the beach. Head out to Smathers Bay for sunbathing, playing in the sand and a splash in the cool Atlantic Ocean. It’s the city’s largest beach, and very popular with locals and visitors as a result. Although Smathers Beach is man-made, the atmosphere and surroundings are as natural as you can find. Vendors are available onsite offering chair rentals and gear for water sports as well

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Conch Tour Train
1805 Staples Ave.
Key West, FL 33040
(888) 916-8687

Prices: $30.45 adults/free for children 12 and younger

A 90-minute ride on this locally operated train tour captures the essence of Key West. For starters, riders get a rolling tour through Old Town Key West. The train also makes stops during the tour, including one at Truval Village – a connection point to Duval Street and other local landmarks such as the Key West Lighthouse. Service generally runs every 30 minutes from its primary departure point, throughout the morning and afternoon.

Related: Key West Celebrates Railroad’s 100th Anniversary

For nearly 20 years, Shawanda James has been actively involved in creative writing in Miami, Florida. In addition to her work as a freelance writer, she is actively seeking publication for her debut novel and collection of poetry. Her work can be found at