Travel tips

Crosswalk Savvy

Las Vegas Boulevard, or simply “the Strip,” is one of the nation’s busiest streets and crossing can be daunting, even dangerous. Be prepared to cross only at designated intersections and use the elevated crosswalks (pedestrian bridges). There are a lot of distractions on the Strip, and if drinking alcohol, your judgment is impaired, so pay extra attention to street traffic.

Money Hungry Tunnel

If you are unfortunate enough to be in the backseat of a taxi whose driver is trying to pull a fast one, request that they not take the tunnel. This is a well-known Vegas trick among taxi cab drivers to ensure they get the most out of a fair. Sometimes it’s not necessary to go through the tunnel by the airport.

Get the Better View

For the best view of the Bellagio fountains, head for the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Strip at Bally’s. The show lasts about 5 minutes and takes place every 15 minutes. Find yourself a good spot towards the end of one display, ready for the next, and you’ll be well-positioned for some great shots if you’re a budding photographer.” Paul at

Casinos Are Farther Apart Than They Appear

Kind of like a desert mirage, casinos give the illusion of being much closer to each other than they actually are. Plan for ample walking time to get from one casino to the next.

Quirky Key West

Quirkiness is the rule rather than the exception in Conch Republic. From the official artists to the street performers, wild chickens everywhere, kooky cars and bicycles, you will definitely be entertained. Even the afterlife on Key West is different. Key West cemetery memorial inscriptions include “Devoted fan of Julio Iglesias,” “I’m Just Resting My Eyes,” and this one. Look for the well-decorated manatee mailbox on your drive between Miami and Key West. Do you have Key West travel tips and tricks to share? See also these fun travel articles about Key West vacations:

  • Where to Stay in the Conch Republic by Stay Adventurous
  • Wild and Wonderful Key West, Florida by Coastal Living
  • Adventures in Key West by Mr Scott Eddy
  • Perfect 5 Day Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary by Bobo and ChiChi Like this article? Add it to your favorite Pinterest board.

Walking Around Key West

Once you are in Key West, a car is not needed. You will see lots of scooters, bicycles, and small electric cars. Walking is the easiest and best way to get around. On a walk along highway A1A, my wife and I saw paddle boarders and kayakers in the mangroves, and an Italian guy unsuccessfully trying to spearfish a barracuda. McCool Travel tip: A great, free self-guided Key West walking tour is around the historic Key West Cemetery. For more places to visit along the gorgeous Overseas Highway drive, see 8 Great Spots to Visit in the Florida Keys

Key West Sunset Performances

The natural sunset is the big draw at Mallory Square but there are also food carts, art displays (and sales), and street performers. My children enjoyed Blue the young Cuban unicycle-riding juggling machine, the Bush Man, and the wacky cat guy in the Westin complex. “Blah blah blah Cho Peen” we finally deciphered to mean “clap clap clap for Chopin”—one of his cats that jumped through a hoop of fire. McCool Travel tip: Bring some one dollar bills to tip the Key West street performers.

Key West Celebrations

Key West always has a celebration. Every day Key West residents and visitors have a sunset celebration in Mallory Square. One local told me the daily sunset is “a gift from God.” Every night on Duval Street is a bacchanalian event. Google “Key West Fantasy Fest” for a real eye opener. McCool Travel tip: the Westin marina area is less hectic than Mallory Square. This picture was taken there.

Key West Beaches

Key West is a small island (4 miles long by 2 miles long) and is surrounded by water. It is very difficult to avoid the water—so embrace it. There are countless boating, fishing, swimming, and snorkeling opportunities. McCool Travel tip: Smathers Beach, along Highway A1A, usually has plenty of free and metered parking. It is a great place to stick your toes in the water when entering the island before continuing into Old Key West.

Cuban Food in Key West

Since you are as close to Cuba you you can get without being there, you might as well have some great Cuban food. El Meson de Pepe has an incredible location, adjacent to Mallory Square. They serve the strongest mojito I have had (but I have not had one everywhere!) and fantastic Cuban food. Only sit inside if the weather is intolerable—but when will that EVER happen in Key West? Whereas El Meson is a classic bar and outside eats, El Siboney has great casual Cuban food. Many say it is better; it is definitely less expensive and popular with more locals (McCool Travel tip). It is a perfect place to order a Materva (rather than a mojito) with your lunch or dinner. For more places to eat along the Gulf Coast see: Cool, Happy, and Fun Gulf Coast Restaurants Along the #USGulfCoast McCool Travel tip: visit the deli section of Fausto’s Food Palace on Fleming Street, right around the corner from the Pilot House. Every day is a different theme. Thursdays is Cuban food and I got a small container of plaintains for $2.40; it had seven versus the two and a half that restaurants serve.