Not the Key West of My Dreams

Key West has been one of the Florida hotspots that I wanted to visit for a long time.  We lived in Florida for fifteen years so you would think that we would have already made it to Key West but we lived in the Panhandle.  We could get to Virginia in the same amount of time that it took us to get to Key West.  When we were invited to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, just north of Miami, we decided to tack on Key West.


I have to admit that Key West in real life was a bit lackluster compared to the images that I had painted in my head from books, movies and friends’ tales.  I don’t know if it was because it didn’t entertain my kids like I wish it had or if it was because everything was overpriced.  I had a hard time reconciling what I imagined with the Bourbon Street-like atmosphere that I was seeing in Key West.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love New Orleans and visit often with my family.  We just stay away from Bourbon Street.

Did you know this isn't even really the southernmost point in the Continental US?

Did you know this isn’t even really the southernmost point in the Continental US?

Even the drive to Key West left a lot to be desired.  The drive to Key West is very pretty and each causeway over the water was interrupted by fun little towns but everywhere we stopped was either closed or too expensive.  Part of this was poor planning on my part but it was also only about halfway through our week-long trip around the coast of Florida.  We felt like we had already spent a lot of money and didn’t want to keep spending it.

We arrived at our hotel and got checked in.  The hotel was about the only redeeming quality.  And it was a Comfort Inn.

We used the next two days to tick through the list of things I had planned.  We spent a ridiculous amount of money for entrance into a shipwreck museum and an aquarium where we spent only an hour or so.


We spent most of our time in Key West going from shuttle stop to shuttle stop while dodging thunderstorms and listening to our kids whine about how darn hot it was.

Am I glad that we went?  Yes.  Key West was somewhere I wanted to visit and chances are slim that I would get to go now that we don’t live in Florida anymore.  Would I go back?  Maybe, but I think I would plan a mom and dad only trip.  There are things that my husband and I wanted to do but we just couldn’t justify the cost of four people, like taking a boat to the Dry Tortugas National Park.  Only time…and budgets…will tell.

Have you ever visited something that you planned and planned for and then were disappointed when you finally got there?


  1. 1

    Dry Tortugas National Park is a must visit, you won’t it. You and your husband will surely enjoy the beach, snorkeling (if you’re into it) the scenery, and the history it tells.

  2. 2

    Love this post…so glad you were honest about the kids not loving it. I’ve often wanted to go there but the drive has always scared me away. Now, I’ll wait until I’m not with the kids or until they’re much older.

    Was it tough writing this one from Colorado? I know I’m missing the warm weather right now 🙂

  3. 3

    Ironic that I just had two articles singing the praises of Key West–but both were more from the adults point of view. In thinking about it, however, we visited a deer sanctuary, a bird sanctuary, and I know there was also a dolphin place along the way down. I agree about the trip to the Dry Tortugas. We saw a sea turtle swimming alongside the boat, and I think the fort would be interesting to kids. And you don’t have to scuba to see the interesting undersea activity. Just walking around you can see colorful growths and sealife. I’d much rather spend money on that kind of a day with kids than at an amusement park.
    As for Key West itself, did you go to the Truman vacation White House? The pirate museum? Hang out at the beach?
    But it IS expensive, and I think you’re wise to wait until the kids are older.

  4. 4

    This is good feedback. I think this might be one of those trips we save for AK (after kids are grown).

  5. 5

    We stopped at Key West last spring break while on a cruise. My favorite places were Hemmingway’s house and the Audubon house. My daughter’s? The beach. We split up as we had other family members with us. We did enjoy our time… but… our anniversary is coming up and my husband suggested Key West (he wasn’t on trip with us). I said ‘no.’ There isn’t really anything else I wanted to see!

    • 6

      That is how I felt, Dana. I have been there, saw what I wanted to see, am glad I went but don’t need to return!

  6. 7

    That’s to bad you didn’t enjoy Key West as much as you had hoped! I love your site and just came across this article. I think the key was when you said you hadn’t planned as much as you liked. There are a lot of family friendly things to do and getting off of Duval street is the right way to go! Check out our review of Key West with some additional ideas you might enjoy…… Keep up the great writing!


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