5 Reasons to Avoid Duval Street in Key West

This post may contain affiliate links.
View of a street sign for Duval Street in Key West Florida

Towering palm trees, beautiful turquoise waters, colorful coral reefs, and late-night clubs define Key West, Florida.

It’s one of the most-visited destinations in the Sunshine State because of its beauty and laid-back island lifestyle. But if you plan to visit any time soon, you might feel lured into visiting the popular Duval Street in Key West. 

Even though it has all kinds of entertainment venues, vendors, and photo ops, we’re here to tell you that you might want to avoid it altogether. Duval Street Key West can be raucous, crowded, and way too touristy.

Let’s learn more!

Where Is Duval Street?

Duval Street, located in Key West, Florida, runs about 1.25 miles through downtown. You’ll find beautiful Victorian mansions and cute cottage bungalows.

The famous buoy that marks the southernmost point in the continental U.S. sits a block from the southern end of Duval Street.

Cuban culture also heavily influences it since Key West is only 93 miles from the island. You’ll see abundant cigar stores and outdoor cafes that serve Cuban coffee.

At the north end of Duval Street, you can explore Mallory Square, a touristy area with souvenir shops, museums, and attractions.

Close up of a bike on Duval Street in Key West Florida

What Is Key West Known For?

Key West has vibrant nightlife, entertainment, watersports, beaches, and architecture. It offers visitors plenty to do while also promoting a laid-back island lifestyle.

Boats and seaplanes leave Key West to visit Dry Tortugas National Park, and historic homes like the Ernest Hemingway Home and the Harry S. Truman Little White House are part of Old Town Key West.

You can’t visit Key West without eating a slice of key lime pie or snapping a selfie in front of the buoy marking the southernmost point in the continental U.S. Many enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving, and various companies offer guided tours and excursions to explore the tropical blue waters.

Is It Safe to Visit Duval Street in Key West?

For the most part, because Duval Street is full of tourists, it’s safe to walk during the day and night.

The problems you’ll encounter include drunk people acting obnoxiously, heavy congestion, and drivers who may not pay attention to pedestrians. 

But like any popular city, you’ll want to be alert. Heavy crowds mean it’s easier for pickpockets to take advantage of tourists browsing roadside shops and vendors.

5 Reasons to Avoid Duval Sreet, Key West

Even though Duval Street in Key West has history, charm, and beauty, you might want to reconsider visiting this popular area.

You’ll spend more money than you planned while immersed in huge crowds. You may find better options for food off the beaten path.

1. It’s a Tourist Trap

Vendors and shop owners sell cheap t-shirts, souvenir trinkets, and memorabilia to lure tourists into their establishments.

Other locations have high prices for low-quality items. You’ll find more native and authentic souvenirs by visiting less crowded and touristy locations around Key West.

Keep in Mind: Looking to avoid crowded areas while on vacation this year? Then you’ll want to skip on these vacation spots that are sure to be filled with tourists in 2023!

View of shops in Duval Street in Key West Florida

2. The Partying Never Stops

Although Duval Street in Key West is famous for its nightlife, partying doesn’t only happen at night. You’ll pass plenty of people who have had too much to drink during the daytime hours. 

You’ll hear raucous crowds even at lunchtime. All along the street, people enjoy the laid-back island lifestyle from sun up to past sundown.

3. It’s Crowded

Whether it’s taxis, pedicabs, or bicycles, the streets and sidewalks pack full of people year-round. During the winter, it’s snowbird season. In the spring, it’s full of high school and college students.

And in the summer, you’ll get vacationing families. Duval Street Key West is one of the most crowded places in the Keys.

View of Duval Street in Key West Florida filled with tourists

4. Many Establishments Are Adult-Only After 9 p.m.

If you travel with kids, you likely won’t find many places to get an ice cream sundae or relax and listen to beach music after 9 p.m. Most places are adult-only, so even if you have teenagers, you’ll have to head back to the campsite or hotel once the evening hours roll in. 

Not only do you have to deal with the constant partying, but you also have fewer options if you’re not part of that crowd.

5. Better Food and Better Prices Are Blocks Away

Finally, of course, Duval Street in Key West has many dining and shopping options, but you’ll find more local flavors and authentic cuisine a few blocks away. 

You’ll visit less touristy establishments and enjoy conversation with the locals by venturing off the main street. You’ll also find better prices supporting small businesses that the locals love.

Keep in Mind: One of the less visited islands in the Keys is Marathon Key, but it’s actually one of our favorites! See Why We Love Marathon Key, Florida

How Do I Get Around Key West?

The best way to get around Key West is to leave your car parked during your stay and take the trolley. You can walk or bike to many places, too.

The streets are flooded with people and tours, so you don’t want to drive if possible. And you won’t want to take out an RV and try to maneuver through the streets.

View of Duval Street in Key West Florida

Is Duval Street in Key West Worth Visting?

Duval Street in Key West is popular and famous. But it’s not the only attraction in the city. Instead, venture to where the locals hang out. Ask about where they would recommend you grab a bite to eat. 

Of course, you probably want to do the touristy things like get your photo in front of the buoy or book a dolphin cruise, but to experience the true island life, you’ll be better off avoiding Duval Street.

Have you ever visited Key West? What places would you suggest travelers visit?

  1. Are you kidding me? Duval Street is one of the main reasons to go to key West. That is where all the action is. If you are truly trying to be helpful, you should mention that parking is extremely difficult in that area. Better to walk, or take the loop.

  2. What an exaggeration! We have been visitors to Key West several times a year for over 20 years. In every month of the year. You make it sound like Duval Street is out of control. So not true. However, giving this type of information to the public will help keep people away. And that will help keep it the laid back and relaxing. Someone or something on Duval Street must’ve offended you.

  3. This article is all bullshi*. I lived in Key West for 10 years. Duval St is Key West. Great food, great entertainment, great people watching. What campsite are you referring to heading back to ? Thirty miles up the Keys ? This article is a joke. I hung out on Duval for many years both living there and visiting. The vibe is amazing. It is not a place for children just like Vegas is not for kids. The whole island of Key West is awesome but Duval is the centerpiece and a can’t miss place. Everything in this article is wrong. By the way Marathon is the ghetto of the Keys. Trailer park after trailer park with nothing to do but fish or dive. No town to walk or explore. Whoever wrote this article is way off @

  4. For Italian I reccomened mangia mangia , breakfast ,keys coffee & la te da it’s on Duval kinda pricey but good food and friendly waitstaff , you’ll definitely want to go to Mallory square at sunset,if you like Cuban food there is 2 restaurants that serves great Cuban food , I live in Delray Beach and have been to KW at least 40 times in the last 15 years , it’s my go to happy place,great vibe I’m retired and go there to just relax great beaches I usually stay at southernmost on the beach and rent scooters from hydro thunder key west is paradise to me ,it’s the ONLY place I vacation

  5. You’re an idiot. 4 of your 5 reasons are the exact reason people go to key west. It’s not a family destination. If you believe all 5 of these, go to Disney. KW is an adult playground and party place.

  6. This is the most stupid thing I have ever read. If you can’t handle Duval Street then please stay home.

  7. Totally agree with this article. Duval Street is sorta fine during the day but at night it’s like any other tourist strip where drinking to get drunk, being obnoxious and overly confident is the point. So much more to see and do..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article

Tourist Almost Gored Trying to Pet Bison in Yellowstone

Next Article
View of Yellowstone national park

Did the WPA Create National Parks?