You’ll see it all on Duval. If I were a slogan-writer, that’s how I’d refer to the main thoroughfare in Old Town, Key West, a road that stretches approximately two miles southeast to northwest on the western side of Bone Island.
Duval Street is where the cruise ship tourists stroll, the Fantasy Fest participants parade, the pubbers crawl, and the chickens roam. Some of the unusual sights I’ve seen are pirates, performing animals, transvestites, and body-painted tourists. Once, I even saw a man on a leash.
A constant hum of scooters, conch cruisers, pedi-cabs, pink taxis, motorcycles, and cars fills this street, joining the Conch Train and Ghost Train tours that chug through periodically, day and night.
Duval Street is split into Upper and Lower Duval. To keep it simple, remember that the lower the street number, the closer to Lower Duval you are. At the beginning of Lower Duval is Mallory Square, renowned site of beautiful sunsets and free nightly street performances on the Gulf of Mexico.
We especially like watching Dominic the Cat Man whenever we attend Sunset Celebration.
Like the island’s peoples, stores along Duval Street are eclectic. You’ll find mom-and-pop grocery stores and smoke shops sandwiched between big-name stores such as The Gap and Coach. There are endless t-shirt shops here as well, with storefront displays of tacky silkscreen art and the occasional marijuana paraphenalia.
Lower Duval is where the famous Sloppy Joe’s and numerous other bars are located. We enjoy Hogs Breath Saloon for its hogaritia, a potent version of a margarita, and its live music. Irish Kevin’s is the bar to visit for raunchy versions of your favorite songs. There are also piano bars, sports bars, clothing optional, and upscale martini bars. Key West’s Smallest Bar, with its two stools, is a proud resident of this famous street.
As you travel toward what I refer to as mid-Duval, a variety of aromas will whet your appetitie. We’ve enjoyed tapas at 915, Sunday brunch at Croissants de France, and American cuisine at Fogerty’s. If you crave ice cream, frozen yogurt, or smoothies, walk or bike a few blocks until you spy a snack shop that suits your desire. Jimmy Buffett fans attending the 35th Parrothead convention a few weeks ago had the surprise of a lifetime when he performed an impromptu concert for them outside the Key West Margaritaville at 500 Duval Street. Check out this concert video courtesy of YouTube:
I wouldn’t consider myself a Parrothead and I don’t generally like crowds, but I would’ve really liked to have been in Key West for that experience.
Upper Duval is at the southeast end of the street where you’ll find the Southernmost Hotel, including a tiki bar/restaurant and beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The Key West Butterfly Conservatory , one of Old Town’s must-see attractions, is on Upper Duval, too. This end has plentiful window shopping opportunities, with its beautiful art galleries, jewelry stores, and other specialty shops.
You never know what you’re going to see on Key West’s Duval Street, but I can almost guarantee you’ll come home with a story or two. Join me here every Monday for a Margarita Moment where I’ll be sure to share another of mine. Until then, enjoy each day doing what you love.
Do you have any Duval Street stories to share? Or questions for me? I’d be happy to answer questions, or research as necessary.