Travel tips

Where to Stay in Key West

Like most amazing tourist destinations, Key West has a variety of lodging options. Instead of a typical hotel, stay in a condo, B&B, inn, guest house, or on a boat. On my last Key West vacation, I found a great place called the Pilot House Inn, on a quiet street just one block from Duval Street. Since I walked in at 6:20pm as the office was closing (McCool Travel tip!), I was able to book the one available room for less than half the listed price—which was less than the price for the cheapest Key West lodging suggested by a member at the nearby visitor center. This was a much better room and location—for less money. Note that the Pilot House pool area is clothing optional—”When you stand up, cover up.” McCool Travel Update: The Pilot Inn is now Marquesa 4-1-4, across the street from and part of The Marquesa Hotel. I do not know the status of the pool or anything else about the new place. Let me know! Another Key West FL lodging option is vacation rentals, including condos, apartments, and houses.

Getting to Key West Florida

No matter how you travel to Key West FL, it will be a fun experience. Most visitors enjoy the scenic drive from Miami to Key West; Overseas Highway is one of the world’s great scenic drives. On my latest Florida Keys trip, I flew into Key West airport for the first time and it is wonderful to see the beautiful islands from the air. If you visit Key West by private boat, well, you are just special. McCool Travel tip: it was less expensive for me to fly to Key West and rent a car than to fly into Miami. Many cruise ships include Key West as a port of call. Where is Key West? Here is a map of Key West FL For more fun Florida road trips, see: 7 Fun Scenic Drives in Florida

DON’T Drive at Night

It wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world but the reason I’m mentioning this is because depending on where you are, you’re increasing your chance of putting yourself (or adorable animals) in danger. Cute woodsy animals like to come out at night and graze and hop around. Sometimes they wander in traffic. If it’s a little guy, poor thing but at least your car will be fine. If it’s a big boy, you’re totally screwed. Overall, night driving can be a bit more challenging and you also need to be a bit more careful with choosing your sleep spot for the evening in the dark. We always made it a goal to find a place by sunset and if we went a bit later, it wasn’t too big of a deal but we wouldn’t push it.

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Indulge in the nightlife

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Nashville knows how to party. The city is full of awesome breweries, dive bars, cocktail lounges, speakeasies – you name it. It’s super touristy, but doing the honky-tonk bar crawl up Broadway can be a lot of fun. After several whiskey drinks, you just might want to get up and dance on the bar at Coyote Ugly. Go ahead, I won’t judge.

Visit the Hermitage

History buffs will want to check out the Hermitage, which is the former home of Andrew Jackson. The 7th President of the United States retired here after his time in office and actually died here in 1845. Take a tour of his mansion and learn all about the “People’s President.”

See a game

If you’re a sports fan, you should definitely add seeing a game to your list of things to do in Nashville. The city is home to two different professional sports teams – the Nashville Predators (NHL) and the Tennessee Titans (NFL). People are passionate about their sports and the games are a lot of fun to attend. In addition to the pro teams, you can also watch the Nashville Sounds (minor league baseball) or check out some of the nearby college teams.

Eat hot chicken!

When in Nashville, one must eat hot chicken. There’s a lot of delicious food in the city, but this is definitely Nashville’s signature dish. Some of the best places for Nashville hot chicken include Hattie B’s and Prince’s. A word of warning – even the medium flavor will light you up. Unless you’re a masochist, I would advise against ordering above that.

Grand Ole Opry

One quintessential Nashville attraction that you just have to visit is the Grand Ole Opry. It’s been called the “home of American music” and is one of the most popular things to do in Nashville. This is the oldest continuous radio program in the US, dating all the way back to 1925. You have several options for visiting the Grand Ole Opry. There are shows every Friday and Saturday night, as well as Tuesday nights from March to December. They also run a variety of tours if you want to learn more and get backstage.

Tennessee State Capitol and Museum

Seeing as how you’re in the capital city and all, you might as well learn a bit about Tennessee when you travel to Nashville. Head to the Tennessee State Capitol building first, and then check out the Tennessee State Museum in its nice new home. Best of all, both are absolutely free! Great for those trying to visit Nashville on the cheap.

Take a walking tour

The best way to get to know a new city is on a walking tour. Nashville is a great city to explore on foot, so lace up your walking shoes, grab your camera, and check out the highlights of Music City. Those who prefer a DIY approach can follow one of two self-guided walking tours. Follow the link for a detailed description of both options. If you’d rather meet some people and hear about the city from locals, sign up for a Really Entertaining Tour. It’s not just a clever name, as these tours are a ton of fun.