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Key West is a true paradise any time of the year and it’s the perfect destination whether you are traveling with friends or looking for a romantic getaway. Key West celebrates openness and diversity all year round, with a lauded LGBTQ+ scene complete with amazing restaurants, vibrant nightlife, entertainment, and of course, the popular key lime pies. As one of the top LGBTQ+ destinations in the country, Key West hosts over 300,000 LGBTQ visitors annually.
Key West is located at the tip of the Florida Keys, just a 3.5-hour drive from Miami. The ride down is beautiful with 42 bridges and breathtaking views of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean while you are island hopping.
The drive along this highway is gorgeous.
You can also fly directly to Key West International Airport (EYW). Perhaps the best option is a hybrid: enjoy the scenic drive one-way, either to Key West or out towards Miami, so that you can explore everything along the way and see the rest of the Florida Keys. Car rental companies often allow one-way rentals without an extra charge, especially if you are dropping off or picking them up at an airport.
Key West is known for queer-owned and LGBTQ+ friendly accommodations, so it’s hard to go wrong. But choosing the right accommodations can really have an impact on your experience of a destination. Everyone’s idea of a dream vacation is different. Some people love crowds, others love peace and quiet. Some prefer luxury (Ocean Key Resort & Spa), while others prefer RV or tent camping (Boyd’s Campground), or a queer-owned B&B (Alexander’s Guesthouse), or a men-only clothing-optional stay (Island House).
One of three pools at the Marker
The Marker Key West Harbor Resort hits the sweet spot, a quaint boutique hotel with luxurious accommodations. In the Historic Key West Seaport District, the modern waterfront hotel is just steps from the famous Duval Street where most of the island’s restaurants and bars are located. It’s hard to pull yourself away from The Marker, which features three saltwater pools (one that’s adults only) occasionally serenaded by a live DJ. Set on two acres of lush, tropical landscape, the resort offers spacious yet cozy rooms or suites with private balconies, on-site yoga, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and an open-air restaurant.
Chef Stephanie Vitori of The Marker
With its location in the harbor, The Marker is the perfect base for adventure, to explore Key West's bountiful options for watersports, sport fishing, snorkeling, or a romantic dinner sailing or sunset cruise. There are endless Insta-worthy spots to take photos around the keys, but you may be too distracted by the experience to choreograph a photoshoot. Your Key West memories will be more cherished than another snapshot anyway.
When it comes to dining, the island naturally favors fresh fish but has a wide variety of options. Start your day at Cuban Coffee Queen, the place to go for coffee and breakfast. Stop at Fisherman’s Café, for a lunch of the absolutely best fish tacos ever. Settle into a romantic dinner at Azur, a gay-owned Mediterranean restaurant with a delectable menu including Toasted Gnocchi with Pine Nuts, Truffle, and Arugula or the mouthwatering Seafood Risotto with Saffron, Mussels, Clams, Scallops, Shrimp, White Fish, and Chorizo.
Did you know that one of the most recognized American desserts, the refreshingly light key lime pie, was first made in Key West with locally grown key limes? Every pastry chef in town has their own interpretation, and it’s worth sampling more than one. But also go for the traditional version, like the one at Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe.
After watching the stunning sunset, check out the local drag performances, especially the ones at Aqua Bar and Nightclub. It is definitely the place to be any night of the week!
Return to The Marker and accommodations that will refresh you for another day poolside, on the water, or exploring the island. The Marker embodies what most of us envision when we think of a Key West experience, and it undoubtedly makes that experience one to remember. What are you waiting for?
Barry Hoy, a Canadian transplanted in New York City, also known as @Asianmapleleaf, is a travel, food, and lifestyle writer who showcases great destinations, local experiences, and all of the must-see (#bucketlist) places around the world. Travel is his passion, so he is always on the road or up in the air. Follow along with his adventures via Instagram @asianmapleleaf or on his travel blog at www.asianmapleleaf.com