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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.
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!
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.
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.
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?