Key West Reopening After COVID-19
Jason Daniel Shaw
Key West is the last stop before Cuba and the perfect place to catch a few sunsets on during any Florida vacation. That is exactly what we did recently – the only difference was we were one of the first visitors back to the Florida Keys after the COVID-19 shutdown. The coronavirus pandemic has really taken a toll on travel worldwide but we recently took a trip to Florida for our first wedding anniversary and to visit family. While in south Florida, we heard that Keys were going to re-open to tourists for the first time in almost three months. I had always wanted Amanda to see the beauty that the Florida Keys holds and thought that hopefully without the crowds would be the perfect time.
CROWNE PLAZA LA CONCHA
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza La Concha right on Duval Street. The manager met us at the door and welcomed us, saying that we were the first guests in since closed down. The theme continued as we visited stores and restaurants in the town that seemed like it was still waking up from a spring nap. With that being said, all of the restaurants that we visited were open and there wasn’t really anything that we missed out on doing – except for the crazy nightlife but we aren’t big bar people. Every place that we visited was overly friendly, welcoming and thanked us at least a couple times for coming to visit the island. It seems as though they, like many other places around the country and the world, rely on tourism and are hurting right now. We will continue to visit these places as it is safe to do so. For now, read about some of the places we visited in Key West.
KEY WEST SOUTHERNMOST POINT
One of the most iconic spots in Key West is the Southernmost Point. The monument there marks the southernmost point in the continental USA and boasts that it is only 90 miles to Cuba. No trip to Key West is complete without a stop here for a photo op. Usually this place is mobbed with tourists also trying to get their vacation photo but with COVID-19 and the islands just re-opening to non-residents, it was almost empty. While there isn’t much else to do at this spot, you can couple a stop here with a nice roundtrip walk down Duval Street and back up Whitehead Street. You can also pay a visit to our next stop, Fort Zachary Taylor.
FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR BEACH KEY WEST
Fort Zachary Taylor is at the southwestern tip of Key West and is a state park that requires a fee to enter whether you are walking or driving. Once inside, you can explore the historic fort, relax on the beach or have a picnic under the trees. During our visit, we were virtually the only ones there and the beach was completely empty. Despite visiting Key West many times, this was my first visit to the park so I can’t say what the crowds are normally like. If they are anything like our visit, it is another perfect spot for a photo op, an afternoon photoshoot or just to catch the sunset without the crowds of Mallory Square.
SUNSET AT MALLORY SQUARE KEY WEST
Nothing says Key West like a sunset at Mallory Square and the crowds will attest to that. The entire square comes to life with vendors, street performers and tourists, all celebrating the end of another day in paradise. As with all of the other spots that we visited, Mallory Square was deserted compared to pre-COVID times. The street performers and vendors had not returned yet which was a shame but as the same time, it was nice to not have to fight the crowds to find a spot to sit. And the sunset was just as beautiful as always. Crowds or not, I would recommend seeing at least one sunset at Mallory Square during your visit to Key West.
JET SKI KEY WEST
I had also never done the jet ski tour while in Key West so we booked that with Fury to get out on the water. We tried to make the most of our day and scheduled the first tour of the day – we were the only person on the tour, other than the guide. So it was like a private tour! As you can tell from the photos, the weather was threatening to ruin our fun but we were able to finish our tour right as it started dumping on us. I could imagine if you had a small group and sunny weather, this would be a great way to spend the afternoon. Either way, we had a blast and Amanda even got to try driving the jet ski for the first time.It was a nice way to close out our trip to Key West. I hope that you enjoyed reading about our trip and that you will get a chance to visit the island soon – whether the crowds have returned or not.