Growing up in the northwest hills of Connecticut, I was very accustomed to frigid winter temps and the sultry “dog days of summer.” However, after living in Key West for so long, I’m unquestionably spoiled by our temps that stay pleasantly subtropical for most of the year — with highs ranging from 75 to 90 degrees F. and lows from 65 to 80.
Beat the summer heat by chilling at poolside venues like this one at the Bourbon St. complex. (Photo by Mike Freas, Florida Keys News Bureau)
Admittedly, it does get a tad humid here during the summer months, but there are so many fun ways to keep cool while enjoying everything the island has to offer. Here are a few of my favorite ways to chillax on those late-summer days.
One: Set sail aboard the Blu Q for refreshing breezes and cooling ocean waters. The Blu Q offers two fantastic ways to enjoy the gorgeous blue-green waters off Key West. The “All Male Snorkel and Sandbar” excursion provides a chance to snorkel at remote reefs within the Florida National Marine Sanctuary, teeming with tropical fish and marine life. Your incredible aquatic adventure doesn’t stop there as the vessel continues on to a secluded sandbar where you can swim — or just chill out in the clear waist-deep water with an ice-cold libation in hand.
Then in the evenings, get ready to see some awe-inspiring sunsets on the all-welcome Sunset Sail. You may want to bring a long-sleeved shirt, since it can get a bit chilly after the sun sets (yes, for real!). FYI, Blu Q’s new crew and ownership have been getting rave reviews.
Two: Spend the day chilling at a poolside tiki bar. The Bourbon St. Entertainment Complex at 724 Duval St. includes a male-only guest house called New Orleans House. The property has a full-service tiki bar, Jacuzzi, pool and clothing-optional sundeck. And one of the best-kept secrets on the island is that all of these amenities are available to males 18 years old and older — free of charge — seven days a week.
Fort Zachary Taylor is renowned for its thick brick walls, unique vaulted ceilings and remarkable collection of Civil War cannons. (Photo by Joann Ogonowski)
The pool is delightfully refreshing due to its towering waterfall that maintains water temps perfect for cooling down during the hot, sultry days of summer. The venue also offers several shaded loungers and areas. Please note, if you want to have a poolside nosh with your cocktail, the property’s food outlet is currently closed. However, don’t worry — seemingly every take-out delivery driver on the island has the pool bar on autopilot.
Three: Enjoy a fabulous day at one of Key West’s inviting white sand beaches. Although Key West is small in size, we have several appealing public beaches. My favorite is at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, and has been affectionately nicknamed Fort Liz Taylor Beach by our LGBTQ community. Taylor stayed in Key West frequently during her years with Richard Burton.
The marvelous beach is a great place to swim and snorkel in the temperate Atlantic Ocean waters. The park provides everything you might need for a perfect day at the beach: picnic tables, grills, nature trails, a massive fort to explore and even some cooling shade (thanks to the site’s majestic Australian pines). As you walk to the far left-hand side, you may spot an abundance of Speedo-clad men — and then you’ll know you’ve arrived at the correct spot.
The Tennessee Williams Museum contains fascinating memorabilia and other items chronicling the playwright’s years in Key West. (Photo by Peter Arnow)
Four: Learn about Key West’s most renowned gay resident while enjoying some cooling air conditioning. Key West has many notable museums that provide insights into history plus air conditioning to beat that summer heat. My favorite is the Tennessee Williams Museum, located at 513 Truman Ave.
The museum memorializes iconic playwright Tennessee Williams, who called Key West home and lived here as an openly gay man from the late 1940s until his death in 1983. Williams and his partner Frank Merlo and had a pivotal influence on the island’s literary culture.
Featuring one of the largest permanent collections of Williams memorabilia currently available to the public, the museum showcases extensive photographs (mostly taken in Key West), first-edition books, plays and even a typewriter used by Williams when he lived on the island. Hours are Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What other attractions await late-summer visitors to the southernmost island in the continental United States? Find out here.
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