The good, the bad and the ugly on the Key West’s party strip.
You can choose to completely escape Duval if you’d like, but I feel that you’ll miss out. The shops are mainly filled with gaudy souvenirs, junky jewelry, and offensive t-shirts and the bars are populated with creepy guys checking out the dangerously intoxicated college girls, but there’s still a charm to the mile-long tourist trap. At night, there is a vibe similar to the heavily partied areas of Amsterdam, especially considering that the adult entertainment club on upper Duval advertises live shows. Steer clear of that place and other wallet-emptying traps and enjoy yourself among the stumbling spring breakers and bachelorette parties on Duval St.
618 Duval st
If you’re like me, you’ll be embarrassed to be here.
While exploring the bars of Duval with my country music-loving brother, I found myself at a Honky Tonk Saloon. Not surprisingly, I had never been to a honky tonk saloon and I hope to never go again. The place was riddled with people in cowboy boots square dancing while their bear sloshed onto the floor. A man sang a song about how he liked his women a little bit trashy.
Despite the fact that I, in my velvet shorts and black lipstick, stuck out a little bit, I actually had a really fun time here. We played a game of beer pong and I was somehow convinced to ride a mechanical bull. I did a pretty good job, despite the amount I had drunk prior. It’s a good time, but I wouldn’t go in without my brother.
525 Duval Street
Make your mark with a dollar bill stapled to the ceiling.
Average live music and an expected beer selection are not quite as charming as the dollar bills plastered on the ceiling and walls at Willi T’s, the ghosts of tourists past. But the space is open, inviting and comfortable making it one of the better spots to grab a beer on the strip.
Beers just off Duval: World of Beers
511 Greene Street
The best selection of brews in the party district.
A beer enthusiast will quickly notice that Key West has a deficiency of craft brews. Enter World of Beers, a chain pub with a varied tap of 60+ imported and domestic beers. The best beer we enjoyed was the Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout.
It was a large bar and seemed like a nice place to hang out. Unfortunately, the bartenders that day were very rude. I felt like a drunk Cubs fan in Wrigleyville, where I would at least have understood their attitude. Still, the beer is awesome and they have a dollar-off happy hour from 4 – 7 PM.
224 Duval St
Get loose and let your uglies shine
You probably won’t find hot college girls standing around topless, rather you’re more likely to accidentally bump into some creepy guys and their dongs. However, it’s worth stopping into. What’s the worst that can happen in a nude garden rooftop bar?
Best of Duval: Aqua
711 Duval St
The performers are talented and the drinks are fairly priced.
I’m a sucker for a good drag show and the Aquanettes delivered. Gaga tore the floor up, Tina Turner showed off her gams and we even got a taste of a Chicago cabaret. One of the queens also prerecorded an array of raunchy songs that she accessorized with outlandish costumes and poking fun at the straight boys in the audience. Each performance is entwined with the queens walking up and down the runways allowing you to stuff money into their cleavages. The drinks are fairly priced, allowing for a rambunctious event.
The show is fairly long, running just past 2 hours. At the end, the dancing is replaced by slower impersonations like Adele, suggesting that the girls have tired. The audience is at its drunkest, so most won’t notice the drop off. However, each performance becomes a little repetitive and the show begins to drag a bit. Regardless of the somewhat slow ending, this is a really good drag show and I recommend spending a night here.