If you really want to get a sense of Key West's festive spirit and dynamic gay and lesbian community, visit during one of the several prominent events held throughout the year. There's a theme week or weekend in this city for just about every taste. Gay Spring Break (consisting of a series of parties and events) is held from late February through early April). Key West Pride is in mid-June, naturist-themed Bone Island Bare It All is in July and November, Tropical Heat is in August, Womenfest in September and Bear Fest is October 4-7 and so on. And then there's arguably one of the most riotously outrageous celebrations in America, Fastasy Fest, which comprises some 10 days of costume balls and fun-filled gatherings in late October.
Activities and Dining
Whenever you happen to visit, whether alone, with friends or with a significant other, there are a few activities you should partake of in this easygoing, eclectic land. Definitely orient yourself by taking the Gay Key West Trolley Tour, a 70-minute narrated excursion in a rainbow-decked trolley that runs on Saturday afternoons at 4 pm. Also spend a little time at some of the city's seminal attractions, like the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservancy. And on at least one evening, gather with fellow locals and tourists at Mallory Square for the nightly Sunset Celebration.
Good-natured hobnobbing and first-rate dining go hand-in-hand in Key West. Treat yourself and your significant other to stellar Cuban cooking (don't miss the Cuban sandwiches at the hole-in-the-wall 5 Brothers Grocery), fresh seafood at dapper spots like Seven Fish and Conch Republic Seafood Company, romantic high-end dining at favorite gay-date restaurants La Te Da and Square One. Don't miss the hearty breakfasts served at funky Blue Heaven or noshing on choice steaks and heavenly Key lime pie at Michael's.
Continue the evening with bar-hopping among the city's several GLBT nightspots, most of them within a short walk of each other and many hotels and gay guesthouses. Favorites include Aqua Nightclub for dancing to top DJs, Bourbon Street Pub for happy hour, Pearl's Patio for the women's scene and the aforementioned 801 Bourbon Bar for drag and great people-watching.
Finding gay-friendly accommodations is incredibly easy, whether you prefer clothing-optional guesthouses with predominantly gay clientele or mainstream hotels and resorts. Many of the gay guesthouses, including famed properties like the Island House, Three resorts under same number-Hobart Resorts: Oasis, Coral Tree Inn, Coconut Grove reside in the Fleming Street historic district. But other excellent choices are scattered around downtown, such as New Orleans House, Big Rubys Guesthouse and the women-oriented Pearl’s Key West. All are within walking distance of nightlife, dining and attractions.
Of course, here in the land of "One Human Family," you'll encounter cheerful smiles and a gay-friendly vibe just about anywhere you stay.
This article is brought to you by the Florida Keys & Key West Tourist Development Council. For more information about a vacation in the Keys, visit www.fla-keys.com/gaykeywest.