I have some great news to share with you! Key West has been nominated in GayCities.com’s Best of 2019 travel awards’ “Chill Getaway” category, and Aqua Nightclub is a contender in the “Drag Bar Extraordinaire” category.

Key West Atlantic Oceanfront dinner

Al fresco dining by the Atlantic Ocean enhances a “chillaxing” Key West getaway. (Photo by Mike Freas, Florida Keys News Bureau)

First-time visitors to Key West comment almost immediately on our island’s unique laid-back atmosphere (AKA chillaxed state of mind). And no wonder — it’s a world away from the bustling big cities and theme parks that define other parts of Florida (or, as we call it, “the mainland”).

Once you arrive in Key West, you’ll notice that our residents really do embrace “island time” and life unfolds a bit more slowly than it does in fast-paced mainland cities.

Flipflops, shorts and t-shirts are the norm for wardrobe choices, and anyone wearing a suit might just get a curious stare from passersby.

Almost everywhere on the island, the view is dominated by deep-blue seas, towering palms and inviting beaches. Our gentle ocean breezes will ignite your senses, and picturesque sunsets help soothe any stress away — providing what I think is the perfect “chill getaway.”

LGBTQ visitors, straight visitors and residents mingle freely at all of our establishments here on the island, embodying our “One Human Family” philosophy.

Aqua Nightclub Key West

Featuring drag shows by the lovely and talented Aquanettes, Aqua is an iconic spot on Duval Street in the heart of Key West’s LGBTQ entertainment district.

The Aqua complex, located at 711 Duval St., has three such venues. The Aqua Nightclub is where the hilarious and talented Aquanettes drag troupe performs the “Reality is a Drag” Show. The shows are amazing and will have you laughing and applauding from beginning to end. The Aquanettes lip-synch to their favorite tunes and wind their way through a cheering audience accepting tips and flirting with revelers. Congrats to everyone at Aqua for being nominated as a GayCities “Drag Bar Extraordinaire”!

The complex was expanded in 2016 and opened its new venue in a building behind it (whose address is actually 504 Angela St.). The latest offering, the Sidebar, was transformed from an old industrial building into a world-class dance club.

The Sidebar now connects all three of the Aqua Group bars, including the lovely outdoor garden bar called the Back Bar, where you can enjoy a tasty libation under the stars.

As befits its status as a prime dance club and video bar, the Sidebar boasts a stunning 12-foot video wall where dance videos are shown nightly starting at 9 p.m. The impressive dance floor is 20 feet by 16 feet (honestly!), and the club has Crown Amplifiers and a Serato Dual DJ Controller. The floor is lit by two overhead complements of Chauvet lighting, fog and lasers to provide the perfect club atmosphere.

The Sidebar’s mix of music ranges from house tunes to disco and 80s and 90s dance music — plus whatever patrons request from cooperative DJs.

Key West bicycling

Hopping on a bike and pedaling through Key West’s historic Old Town is a great way to chill and see the town — with plenty of chances to stop at intriguing shops and sites. (Photo by Mike Freas, Florida Keys News Bureau)

By the way, if you’re planning a wedding or special event during your Key West visit, the Aqua complex can accommodate a seated dinner for 50 people or a buffet-style event for up to 150 guests.

And up until 5 p.m., you can rent the entire complex for yourself (and maybe just a few of your very best friends).

After immersing yourself in our lively nightlife, you may need to take a break and rejuvenate. My favorite way to “chillax” is a deep tissue massage at one of the island’s day spas — and there are many of them, all waiting to provide renewal and relaxation.

In fact, whether you’re a party animal at heart or a health and wellness enthusiast (or maybe even both!), Key West is ready to fulfill your dreams of an outstanding “chill getaway.”  So please remember to vote for us on the GayCities website (and FYI, you can vote once a day until Dec. 6).

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