Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Key West Fantasy Fest 2012 A-Conch-Alypse

If you like visiting the Florida Keys and Key West, you owe it to yourself to visit during Fantasy Fest at least once.  Fantasy Fest is the Mardi Gras of Key West with a week-long festival leading up to the Saturday night parade.  Key West was crowded this year during Fantasy Fest with most hotels reporting strong sales and sold out rooms, so if you plan to go next year and need a hotel it pays to make reservations early so you get a nice place to stay.  So if you're coming to Key West for the first time or returning and looking for a better place to stay, here are our tips for finding a hotel in Key West.

You really have two choices when it comes to finding a place to stay in Key West: Old Town or New Town.  Old Town is basically downtown Key West.  This is the area in and around Duval (which is the longest street in the world stretching from the ocean to the gulf).  If you want to be within walking distance of Duval and all the action, then a hotel in Old Town is your best bet, but if you want something a little more quiet, especially during Fantasy Fest week, you might be better off with something in New Town.  There are several really big resort style hotels you might consider.  We walk by several every morning near the airport that have great views of the water.  We hear the Best Western Key Ambassador has a great pool and and even better poolside bar, and this place is just steps from the water.  Places like the Key Ambassador are perfect if you want a great hotel with an even better view and have a car while your in Key West.  But if you prefer to walk or don't want to spend money on cabs or bike rentals, Old Town is probably your action.

Fantasy Fest has changed a lot over the years.  These days bead trading is virtually non-existant, and you'd better be prepared to see a lot of body paint, even outside the Fantasy Zone and even in the daylight.  We're always amazed by the number of strollers we see late at night during Fantasy Fest, so no matter how cool you are, our best advice for young parents is not to bring toddlers down to Duval once the drinking really revs up.  One of our best jokes is the toddlers sitting at the high tops in Fat Tuesdays, feet swinging because they can't touch the ground.

Want to make your Fantasy Fest a little more family-friendly?  First, plan to watch the big Saturday night parade like the locals.  Instead of jamming onto a packed Duval, we bring our chairs and watch comfortably from Whitehead on the courthouse lawn.  This is normally right where the parade starts to roll, so we see everything first rather than waiting 45 minutes to an hour for it to wind back around on Duval.  Second, look for events off Duval where kids will be comfortable.  A prime example of this is the Pet Masquerade and Parade at Casa Marina.  Plus Casa Marina is within walking distance to the public beach.  And if you are tired of watching sunset from Mallory, come watch with us from White Street Pier, and you'll see for yourself how Josh and Joe Travels!

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