I just took my second trip off the island since the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m happy to report that it went off without a hitch. After my 10-minute Lyft ride from my home to Key West International Airport (a.k.a. EYW), and then a 5-minute wait in the TSA precheck security line, I headed for the departure gates.
Key West International Airport welcomes visitors from a wide variety of U.S. hubs via a number of new nonstop flight options.
I barreled down the escalator with great anticipation, since this would be my first nonstop flight from Key West to Chicago since moving to the island. And get this — the flight is just under three hours!
To say the airport was bustling with activity would be an understatement. In recent years our airport has attracted several new airlines, most with nonstops to more major U.S. cities than ever before.
NEWSFLASH: Starting in 2022, Key West’s airport will undergo a major upgrade/expansion. Ultimately it will feature a new concourse, security checkpoint, gates and (for the first time) glass-enclosed jet bridges.
Actually it has never been easier for passengers traveling to the Florida Keys & Key West, given the various new nonstop flight options for convenient air access to our island chain. In fact, we now have six airlines serving Key West International Airport: American, Allegiant, Delta, JetBlue, Silver Airways and United.
Visitors can fly into Key West via connecting or direct flights from many domestic or international hubs. The hubs include Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, Boston, Chicago, New York’s LaGuardia and JFK, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta and North Carolina’s Charlotte international airports.
The quirky, welcoming island of Key West lies more than 100 miles south of mainland Florida at the end of the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)
Also, direct regional flights connect Key West with other major Florida cities including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
For our Midwest and mid-Atlantic based travelers, we now have you covered as well with nonstops to EYW from Pittsburgh, Nashville and Cincinnati.
And even if you’re not a fan of flying, no worries — there are also easy-breezy ways to get here via land and sea.
I always recommend that a first-time traveler to the Keys experience the drive through the island chain at least once (ideally in the daytime).
That’s because the 127-mile road trip from mainland Florida to Key West via the Florida Keys Overseas Highway — featuring 42 bridges over water — is absolutely breathtaking.
A glistening Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico surround you with gorgeous colors ranging from turquoise to blue to deep green as you travel south to Key West, the southernmost city in the continental U.S.
Tranquil beaches, like the one at Curry Hammock State Park, are appealing stops when driving the Florida Keys Overseas Highway.
While winding through the captivating island chain, definitely stop at one of our funky waterfront dining venues to savor some incredibly fresh seafood — served up to please even the most discerning palate.
There are also many amazing off-the-beaten-path beaches and parks, plus boutiques and galleries carrying one-of-a-kind Keys-crafted offerings to satisfy your inner shopper.
Alternatively, if you’re the seafaring type, the Key West Express offers year-round ferry service from Fort Myers Beach and seasonal service from Marco Island to Key West, with trips lasting approximately 3.5 hours.
The ferry features a full-service bar, food, TVs and sundecks for soaking up our warm South Florida sunshine. As a bonus, you’re likely to meet a new “family” member or two to chat with.
Once you reach Key West, the best method of transportation is by bike or on foot.
Transportation via the Duval Loop is free, with stops near island attractions, hotels, museums, boutiques and eateries. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)
I recommend renting a bike and “riding like a local,” or racking up your Fitbit steps and strolling through our charming and historic Old Town neighborhoods.
However, for those who like more pampered (and air-conditioned) transport, the island city offers the Duval Loop bus. The hop-on, hop-off ride provides a convenient way to get around the Historic Seaport and downtown districts without using a car.
Other transportation options include city bus service and rental scooters and electric cars. Or you can always call a taxi or use your ride-share app (we have Uber and Lyft) to navigate around our 2-by-4-mile island paradise.
No matter how you choose to travel to Key West, may your trip be easy and enjoyable — and your island experience everything you want it to be!
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