Welcome to Key West

Welcome to Key West

The SMART Ride is coming up this weekend, bringing hundreds of bicycle riders, friends and family into Key West from Miami. The two-day event ends at the AIDS Memorial in Key West on Saturday, November 15. Before you go, let me tell you about what Key West has to offer, so you know exactly where to go to eat, drink, party and crash!

Lodging

Equator ResortEquator Resort

This resort’s beautifully-designed rooms bring paradise indoors. You can relax in your two-person whirlpool inside your hotel room, or you can lounge poolside and get a beautiful tan. Everyone’s idea of a vacation is a getaway where they can feel special and pampered, and the staff at this resort does all they can to ensure you have the best experience possible. (818 Fleming Street, 305-294-7775)

island houseIsland House

The Island House is one of the most famous gay resorts in the world, and you should definitely stay here at least once! This award-winning resort allows you the chance to relax and be yourself. The entire complex is clothing-optional and its amenities include a 24-hour heated pool and jacuzzi. Rooms are decorated with Ernest Hemingway’s Havana in mind as a motif. Make a reservation and find out why gay men the world over love this place! (1129 Fleming Street, 305-292-0051)

Duval HouseDuval House

This romantic bed and breakfast captures the essence of Old Key West. Overlooking a lush botanical garden, the Duval House offers plenty of packages that will sweep your significant other off his feet. Want to plan an excursion like snorkeling or jet skiing? The helpful front desk clerks can arrange everything for you. They can even host your wedding! Call them and find out what they can do for you! (815 Duval Street, 305-294-1666)

Dining

AnotoniasAntonia’s Regional Italian Cuisine

This restaurant is one of the best-known in all of Key West, and its accolades are numerous: they’ve been rated by the Zagat Survey and have won the Wine Spectator Award eight years in a row. Celebrating their thirty-second year in business, Antonia’s brings the best in Mediterranean dining to you, with such decadent entrees as Fettuccine al Profumo di Tartufo (fettuccine, asparagus, Shiitake and button mushrooms, truffle oil and slivered Parmesan cheese, $20). This establishment is very busy and reservations are required. (6 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily, 615 Duval Street, 305-294-6565)

Pepes CafePepe’s Café

A favorite with locals and tourists alike, Pepe’s is the oldest restaurant in the city, having first opened their doors in 1909. Pepe’s prides itself on its steaks, its fresh seafood, and its selection of beers and wines. Where else can you get a New York Strip Steak for lunch? (8 oz., $19.25) Another unique offering, only available at dinner, is Pepe’s New York Strip Steak smothered in center-cut pork chops! (Meal for two, $51.75; meal for one, $30.25). (Open all three meals, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., 806 Caroline Street, 305-294-7192)

Azur ResaurantAzur Restaurant

The Key West Business Guild says this place serves the best brunch on the island, and who doesn’t love a good brunch? Some of the dishes offered during brunch include duck confit (Yukon Gold potatoes, porcini mushrooms, fried eggs, and a balsamic glaze, $14.95) and Key Lime pie-stuffed French toast (Texas toast grilled in vanilla custard, Key Lime pie, and wild berry compote, $10.75). For dinner, try gnocchi (made four different ways, $14-$16). (Breakfast 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; brunch starts at 9 a.m. on Sundays, 425 Grinnell Street, 305-292-2987)

Nightlife

Bourbon St. PubThere are quite a few entertainment and nightlife options for the gay community in Key West. Let’s start with 801 Bourbon Bar (801 Duval Street, 305-294-4737), which offers bingo, karaoke, and a cabaret featuring the “801 Girls”! It’s the largest drag show in the Keys! Then there’s 1 Saloon, in the back of 801 Bourbon, which is Key West’s only leather bar and the home bar for the Bone Island Bears. La Te Da (1125 Duval Street, 305-296-6706), a well-known hotel, restaurant and bar complex, offers three different bar choices, including the “Crystal Room” where people can enjoy live entertainment. Bourbon St. Pub (724 Duval Street, 305-294-9354) is the original and only video bar in Key West. Boasting five bars, including a male-only clothing-optional garden Aqua Barbar, featuring a pool and jacuzzi, you have all you need for a day and night of fun! Aqua (711 Duval Street, 305-294-0555) is a chic bar and nightclub with sleek lighting and decor, great music, and drag shows featuring the Aquanettes show cast! Bobby’s Monkey Bar (900 Simonton Street, 305-294-2655) is a place where everybody will welcome you with open arms if you take the time to stop by. I hear it has some pretty lively karaoke!

Find gay-owned or gay-friendly businesses in South Florida and elsewhere across the state by downloading the Hotspots Media app for your smartphone or tablet, available now on iTunes or Google Play.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.