The Keys in Florida is a must visit for any gay traveller to the States, but what’s the best way of getting there and which Key should you go to?
At the far reaches of the Keys is Key West, which is where you’ll find most of the Keys’ gay life. There are three main ways in which you can arrive to the extremely gay-friendly Key – by car, plane and boat.
From the latter, you can fly directly into Key West International Airport. Despite its name, you won’t find any direct flights from the UK flying into the airport. There are a number of ways you can make the journey – a standard transatlantic flight (British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, AA and Delta all make these flights) into Miami, Orlando, Ft Lauderdale, Tampa or Atlanta and then getting a connecting flight to Key West International with AA, Delta or Silver Airways.
One of the most impressive ways to arrive is by car, but be warned the journey is quite long from Miami to Key West (about 4 hours, including comfort and food breaks) and there’s no guarantee of parking once you get there. Space is limited in Key West and there are many resident-only parking spaces. Hotels and resorts in Key West tend not to have their own parking.
Along the scenic and historic drive, you’ll cross over 42 bridges that connect the islands. One of the most famous is the Seven Mile Bridge, which connects the Knight’s Key and the Little Duck Key. While on the Seven Mile Bridge you’ll be able to see an original bridge built in 1909 – 1912 which is now restricted to cyclists and pedestrians. This was the bridge that was constructed under the direction of Henry Flagler, whose vision of connecting the Islands with an Overseas Railroad ensured the growth of tourism in the region.
You can also travel by sea. Key West Express operates a high-street ferry from Ft. Myers Beach and Marco Island on the west coast of Florida. It takes three and a half hours.
Authors tip: When I travelled to Key West (in April time) we managed to find a parking space relatively close to the hotel we were staying at, The Equator Resort. The spaces are marked. Some have “residential” printed on the ground next to them – others do not. We asked a local whether the space in which we had parked was okay – and he told us, “you’ve won the lottery ticket” – meaning that parking spaces are few and far between. During our stay, we didn’t move the car – but opted to get taxis if we decided to leave the Key. However, it should be noted that Key West is not that big and most of the places of interest like the: Southern Most Point, the legendary Pan Am’s birthplace, the gloriously iconic Tropic Cinema and the poignant Key West Historical Memorial Sculpture Garden.
For more information on the Keys be sure to visit and bookmark the official website.