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Everything you need to know about the Conch Republic. Keep up on local events, nightlife and activities while in Key West.

How to Spend a Day in Key West Like a Local

How to Spend a Day in Key West Like a Local

November 15th, 2020 | Activities

Being a local Key West resident has many advantages. With access to delicious eats, beautiful outdoor spaces, and endless entertainment, enjoying the Conch Republic has never been easier. Stroll the streets, immerse yourself in the lifestyle of the island, then sit down to an authentic meal with local flavors. Let us be your guide and spend a day in Key West like a local would.

Stay by the water

Begin the day by checking into The Gates Hotel. Located at the entry point of the island in New Town, The Gates Hotel is the gateway to the soul of Key West. Our stylish rooms, polished service, and thoughtful amenities make you feel at home.

Stroll the streets

From here, your next stop is Old Town - undoubtedly the most popular destination on the island. A midday stroll along the historic seaport, Mallory Square, and Duval Street isn’t just reserved for tourists. Locals also appreciate the vibes, eateries, and local boutiques of Old Town, albeit earlier in the day before crowds arrive. Parking can be tricky regardless of the time, so locals know to make alternative transportation arrangements when visiting Old Town. When you stay with The Gates Hotel, getting to and from Old Town is a breeze. Our complimentary air-conditioned shuttle transports guests right to Mallory Square, just show the driver your key! Prefer to spend the day by or on the water? Visit our Blog for ways to enjoy the surrounding waters from a floating tiki boat, jet ski, or leisurely cruise.

Dine at a Key West Restaurant

After working up an appetite, enjoy a meal at a beloved local restaurant. Key West has some of the best food in the world and bucket lists are the real deal here. The island’s cuisine is distinguished by the use of its fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Conch fritters, key lime pie, oysters, Key West pink shrimp, and fish tacos are as much loved by tourists as they are by locals. B.O.’s Fish Wagon has killer conch fritters and fried conch sandwiches, Blue Heaven’s Caribbean “BBQ” shrimp is divine, and the Cuban sandwich at Sandy’s Café is always top notch. While locals love Key West staples, we also know where to find healthier alternatives. Find vegan, vegetarian, and lighter fare at places like Sugar Apple Organic Café and Market, Moondog Café, and The Café. Visit our Blog for plenty of loved-by-locals, including where to snag the best key lime pie in town.

Find the best drink in town

Even those acclimated to the warm Key West climate need extra hydration. Although a mouthwatering cocktail isn’t hard to come by in Key West, locals have their favorites from across the island. White Tarpon’s Key Lime Martini, El Siboney’s house-made sangria, and Rum Row’s Tomoka Mojito with Key West rum, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, and lychee juice mixed and muddled with fresh lime, mint leaves, and a float of club soda are a few of our preferred libations. That said, take your Tomoka Mojito (one of our favorite rum cocktails here at The Gates) and sit by our pool to soak up the sun. And of course, if you’re still thirsty, our poolside bar has you covered. Looking for a local brew? You’ll find craft beer from Florida Keys Brewing Co. and Waterfront Brewery at taps around town.

Watch the sunset

Refreshed, your last stop of the day is to see the sunset. While the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration is always a blast, locals like to keep it laid-back at Fort Zach located near the southern tip of the island. Views from this vantage point are simply unforgettable. The beauty of a Key West sunset where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico is enhanced by the vivid pink, yellow, and orange hues. A perfect sunset to end a perfect day.


Interested in putting this guide to good use? Choose from our best rates and special offers when you book direct with The Gates, an award-winning Key West destination.