A Jimmy Buffett Guide to Key West
Key West loves Jimmy Buffett. The trop rock singer-songwriter embodied the spirit of the island, documenting its colorful characters through catchy tunes that put Key West on the map. The Mississippi-born country singer first arrived in Key West in November 1971 seeking some reprieve from Nashville's music business climate. Fascinated with the history, charm, and lifestyle of the island, Jimmy made it his home the following spring in a move that would forever cement himself in Key West culture. Visiting our island paradise? Here’s your Jimmy Buffett guide to Key West, including all the places he lived, loved, and jammed.
Looking for the best "cheeseburger in paradise”? Jimmy has a whole song dedicated to his love of the popular American dish. Try the burger at Kaya Island Eats, Jack Flats, Island Dogs Bar, or The Blind Pig food truck here at The Gates.
We suggest you begin at the same place Jimmy did - The Chart Room Bar at 1 Duval St. It was his very first stop in town. Jimmy got his first beer on the house and soon after began playing The Chart Room for drinks. Some of his earliest Key West related songs were first performed on that stage, although Jimmy’s first Key West performance was at Crazy Ophelia’s at 615 Duval St. (now Antonia’s). He became a paid regular at Howie’s Lounge at 109 Duval St. (now Ocean Blue Galleries), the notoriously small stage hosted many intimate Jimmy Buffett performances. To supplement his income as a musician, he found work as a bartender and a mate on a fishing boat. Of course, Jimmy Buffett outgrew these small venues, and would go on to play Key West spots like the Key West Theater and the Coffee Butler Amphitheater at the Truman Waterfront Park time and time again.
Take a walk to Jimmy’s private recording studio in the Key West Historic Seaport area. Nestled in between Schooner Wharf Bar and Conch Republic Seafood Company, Shrimpboat Sound is housed in an old shrimp storage cooler where boats would store their fresh catch. The white waterfront structure with no windows may look rather simple, but the recording studio has hosted famous musical artists like Alan Jackson, Zac Brown, The Eagles, George Strait, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, and Billy Corgan.
Jimmy Buffett had his fair share of residences throughout his years spent on Key West. His first official residence was a guest house at 123/125 Anne St., followed by a stay at 1011 Von Phister St., before settling in a second story apartment at 704 Waddell St. for much of the 70s. From Waddell Street, he recorded albums A1A, Havana Daydreamin’, A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, and Living and Dying in 3/4 Time. His last residence on the island was 3624-3628 Sunrise Dr. in New Town, less than a mile from The Gates Hotel.
Now that the annual Meeting of the Minds (the annual trop rock festival that brings together Parrotheads from around the world) has moved from Key West to Gulf Shores, Alabama, there’s only one place for Parrotheads to congregate in Key West - Margaritaville at 500 Duval St., where Jimmy opened his first successful retail store in 1985. The Jimmy Buffett inspired bar and grill serves up all the island fare you can dream of, alongside appropriately named cocktails like Last Mango in Paris, Changes in Latitudes, and 5 O’Clock.
For the best margarita in Key West, consider “wasting away” at more top margarita spots like Agave 308 Tequila Bar, The Bull & Whistle Bar, El Meson de Pepe Restaurant & Bar, and Schooner Wharf Bar.
Join us in Key West where, as Jimmy said, “ocean is the only medication.” The Gates Hotel is located at the point of entry to Key West and convenient to everything in Old Town and across the island. Our Condé Nast award-winning hotel offers shuttle service to Old Town and exciting onsite amenities - like a food truck, cigar lounge, and a spectacular swimming pool. Check out our special offers online, including perks just for Florida and Georgia residents.