Key West Update - 2023
Key West is back! With all of the challenges of a pandemic, lack of cruise ships and a limited workforce, we are pleased to report the resilience of the Conchs triumphs again! The Florida Keys are a favorite destination of Florida Travel Blog.
History tells us that despite hurricanes, civil wars, pirates and Indians, Key West has survived it all. Your favorites like Sloppy Joes, Hogs Breath, Irish Kevin’s, and even the Tree Bar outside of Rick’s were operating. Our visit during the week of April 29, 2023 found busy streets, almost full hotels, and the sounds of music up and down Duval Street.
Our previous posts about this iconic southernmost town in the United States have highlighted the fun, attractions, and quirky venues that make Key West a travel destination. Read about our previous adventures here and we are adding a few ideas below.
The Restaurant Scene
The restaurants in Key West are as diverse as the population. Most of the old establishments we documented here are still enjoying the success they have had for years. Some notable additions include the The Red Shoe Island Bistro on Petronia Street. This clean little venue serves some of the best seafood on the island and is just steps away from the Hemingway House.
The Moondog Cafe is not new, but their reputation as a bakery and cafe has grown along with the people waiting for a seat on Whitehead Street. We can recommend them as a great breakfast option.
One of the most iconic bars in Key West is back open. The Chart Room in the Pier House resort has returned in their same unassuming style. Free popcorn, peanuts and crock-pot soaked hot dogs sustain many a travelers who partied well into the wee hours when restaurants were closed! Rumors persist that much of the planning that built Key West was done at this little six seat bar!
Visits to some of our favorites like Shots & Giggles, Sand Dollar Sports Bar, Smokin’ Tuna, Irish Kevin’s and others found the same vibe as on previous trips.
One notable change was The Green Parrot. A reliable source (bartender at The Bull) told us The Green Parrot had been sold. That is a likely possibility since friends tried to visit the local’s hangout at 9:30 one morning for their signature bloody Mary and found it was opening later now.
Additional Attractions in Key West
While in Key West we visited the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden. While somewhat disappointed in the upkeep (mainly through volunteers), there is still plenty to see and learn about tropical fauna and flora.
While walking the island one day, we were reminded of the importance Henry Flagler was to the growth of Key West. Without this serial entrepreneur and the East Coast Railway, there may not be this island wonderland as it is today. A visit to The Flagler Museum will remind you of the perils and visions of Henry Flagler.
Key West is an island museum itself! You can hardly walk more than a block or two without running into a historical building or two. It’s hard to imagine how the early settlers overcame hurricanes, lack of fresh water and the vast open waters around them to survive and flourish.
A Few Parting Notes About Key West
Last fall there was a local referendum on cruise ships docking at Mallory Square. Voters passed a law that severely limits the size and capacity of ships docking in Key West. In fact, all major cruise ships would have been effectively eliminated if the law stood as it was.
The Florida legislature was unhappy with the local ruling. They feel that the city took state and federal money to build the docks and Key West should not decide who can and can’t dock there.
It appears this battle has been settled and cruise ships have returned to their daily schedule.
Despite the islanders who just don’t want the additional guests, I’ll bet this is just another bump in the road that many in the Conch Republic just won’t get too excited about!
Key West 2023 is back! Visit soon.
Key West Boat Races
The Keys host many festivals, fishing tournaments, concerts and sporting events, but none is more exciting than the annual Key West Offshore Championships. The racing is along Mallory Square and turns at the Key West Bight entrance and then proceeds west about a mile. Rarely can you see boats racing at up to 200 MPH that are just a few paces in front of you.
This week-long racing series features everything from the most powerful boats in the world to outboard 25-foot boats. The event draws racers and spectators from all around the country. Duval Street becomes filled with fans, boat parades, and thrill seekers. Generally, the schedule starts the second week in November and runs from Sunday to Sunday.
2023 Offshore Races are scheduled for November 5-12, 2023. Don’t miss them. Florida Travel Blog will be there.