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Frame The Importance of

Commercial Truck Insurance in Key West, FL

  • Let's face it - truckers in America have always been the backbone of our great country. They still are in modern times. On any given day, thousands of trucks traverse our highways and local roads, delivering goods and products on time so that businesses and consumers have what they need to live life. And while commercial trucking can be an incredibly lucrative way to make a living and put food on the table, it can also be risky and expensive.
  • Whether you're the owner of a fleet, an independent trucker, or have a business that uses big rigs to transport goods, you need commercial trucking insurance to protect you and your client's investments, shield you from liability, and more.
  • That's where working with a reliable truck insurance agency comes into play. Unfortunately, for many commercial truck insurance providers, serving the needs of truckers is low on the proverbial totem pole. At Independence Insurance Agency, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Insurance Agency in Key West, FL You Can Trust

Much like you pride yourself on running a successful trucking business, Independence Insurance Agency prides itself on its years of experience providing truck insurance for hardworking men and women across the country. And in our experience, insurance rates for truckers are just too high - so high, in fact, that they eat away at their bottom line, making it more difficult to run a business and make a profit. Fortunately, at Independence Insurance Agency, we provide truckers the freedom they need from astronomically high insurance rates so they can stay on the road and keep driving America forward.

As one of the most trusted commercial trucking insurance agencies in the U.S., we understand the challenges that you face daily as a trucker. We also know how important it is to protect your business. That's why we go above and beyond to find you the best-priced coverage available, whether you're an operator, own a small fleet, a large fleet, or something in between.

Commercial Truck Insurance Key West, FL

We Put Truckers First Because Others Don't

 Truck Insurance Key West, FL

Truckers across the country choose to work with Independence Insurance Agency because we put their needs first before anything else. As experts in transportation insurance, we proudly offer a range of quality insurance products that are both practical and affordable for them. Our industry-leading carriers provide coverage that caters to the unique challenges faced by the trucking industry, ensuring that your business is protected at all times.

At our core, we are committed to finding the best possible price for your coverage without compromising the quality of service you deserve. The truth is, we understand how essential truckers are to the United States and take pride in making their insurance experience more streamlined and affordable.

One way we do so is by simplifying the insurance process. Our transportation specialists take the time to understand your specific needs and budget to tailor a comprehensive plan that works for you. You won't ever have to worry about cookie-cutter plans or uninterested agents when you work with our commercial trucking insurance agency. We take an educational approach to ensure that the entire big rig insurance process is quick, painless, and easy to understand. If there's something you don't understand, we're happy to take the time to explain. After all, the success and safety of your business are on the line.

Looking to the future, we are committed to providing innovative new products that cater to the ever-changing needs of truck drivers. As your one-stop shop for commercial trucking insurance, we are dedicated to your success, one policy at a time.

If you're a commercial trucker looking to ensure your rig, you can rest easy knowing that Independence Insurance Agency provides:

  • Affordable Trucking Insurance Plans for Any Budget
  • Exemplary Customer Service
  • Seasoned Transportation Specialists Who Customize Plans to Your Needs
  • A+ Carriers Across the Country
  • Simple, Easy Quote and Bind Process
  • Multiple Insurance Carriers Quoted to Find You the Best Rates
  • Truck Insurance for New Ventures

Call us or send us a message today to learn more about the best 18-wheeler insurance options for your trucking business.

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Common Types of Big Rig Truck Insurance in Key West, FL

At Independence Insurance Agency, we offer several types of insurance coverage for local, intermediate, and long-haul trucking needs. Here are just a few categories of trucking insurance coverage that our agency offers.

As the foundation of your insurance policy, liability coverage is required by law in most states in the U.S. It provides coverage for damage or injuries caused to properties or other people if your 18-wheeler is responsible for the crash. Without liability coverage, it's almost impossible to drive a truck or run a trucking business without major legal consequences.

Having physical damage coverage is an essential component that shouldn't be overlooked. This insurance is responsible for covering the expenses related to repairing or replacing your truck in situations such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and other damaging events. By having this coverage, you can rest assured that your business won't be affected significantly by unexpected incidents, and you can continue running your operations smoothly even in challenging times.

For trucking companies, the goods they transport are crucial to their operations. To protect these goods from damage, loss, or theft while in transit, cargo insurance is essential. This coverage provides much-needed peace of mind for both you and your clients, allowing you to reimburse clients for any losses sustained while protecting your reputation and brand identity.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is designed to cover property damage or bodily injury that may occur during personal time when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. This coverage can be applied with or without a trailer and is added to a commercial policy as an endorsement.

While Independence Insurance Agency has built a reputation of excellence in serving the needs of truckers, we also offer general liability. Also known as Truckers General Liability, this coverage insures for bodily injuries or property damage that happen due to business activities that are NOT the cause of operating a truck. It covers accidents that occur in parking lots, rest stops, also while loading or unloading. General liability can also cover losses related to theft and vandalism. Most brokers and shippers will require this coverage to work with you.

Bobtail insurance is a type of coverage that is comparable to non-trucking liability, which is designed to offer protection when driving a truck without a trailer attached. This is commonly referred to as "bobtailing." With bobtail insurance, the tractor is covered at all times, even when it is not attached to a trailer, regardless of whether or not the truck is under dispatch.

Trailer interchange insurance is a must-have if you're involved in a trailer interchange agreement. This essential coverage offers protection for trailers owned by other parties that you're using under a contractual agreement. It covers damages caused by collisions, fire, theft, and vandalism, providing assurance to all parties involved.

Curious whether our commercial truck insurance agency in cityname, state offers additional coverage? The following options can be bound in your insurance policy:

  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Reefer Breakdown Insurance
  • Occupational Accident with Contract Liability Insurance
  • Rental Reimbursement Insurance
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance
  • Towing Insurance
  • Electronics Insurance
  • Much More

Three plus 3 Safe Driving Tips to

Lower the Cost of Truck Insurance in Key West, FL

Keeping your drivers safe on the road is crucial not only for their own well-being but also for the safety of other motorists and the financial stability of your business. The Department of Labor has identified the trucking industry as one of the most hazardous sectors in the U.S. In fact, trucking and logistics fleets are known for their high injury and fatality rates. By improving how safely your truckers drive, you can help reduce expenses related to claim payouts, accidents, and insurance premium hikes.

Whether you own a large fleet or you're the owner and operator of a single rig, keep these safe driving tips in mind to help lower your insurance costs.

Implement Preventative Maintenance Plans

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

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 Trucking Insurance Key West, FL

Practice Defensive Driving

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
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 Commercial Liability Insurance For Truckers Key West, FL

Find Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

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 Commercial Truck Insurance Quote Key West, FL

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

 Low Priced Commercial Truck Insurance Key West, FL phone Call Now

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
Commercial Truck Insurance Key West, FL phone Call Now

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

 Truck Insurance Key West, FL phone Call Now

check light FAQs About

Independence Insurance Agency

If you're looking for a commercial trucking insurance agency for your business, chances are you have some questions - and we've got answers. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from truckers like you.

Why go with a "jack of all trades" when you can work with specialists who focus exclusively on transportation insurance? We have excellent relationships with major trucking insurance carriers and, as such, can provide the best assistance and reasonable rates.

Typically, companies will look at claims that date back three years or less.

We proudly work with more than 20 carriers to provide our clients with the most advantageous options at competitive prices, catering to the needs of owner-operators and big fleets alike.

Permit filings are typically done by insurance companies on the next business day. Federal (FMCSA) filings are completed online and updated immediately, while some states may take up to three weeks to process.

Independence Insurance Agency: Committed to the Trucking Industry

There's no question about it - you've got to protect your staff, your rig, and your trucking business with insurance. But choosing the right insurance partner isn't always easy. Thankfully, with Independence Insurance Agency by your side, you can rest easy knowing you're covered no matter where the road takes you. If you're in need of a commercial truck insurance agency in Key West, FL that caters to truckers like you, pick up the phone and contact one of our transportation specialists today. That way, you can get back on the road with confidence tomorrow.

 Trucking Insurance Key West, FL

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The Best Times to Visit the Florida Keys for Great Weather, Low Prices, and Fewer Crowds — According to a Floridian

These are the best times to visit the Florida Keys for every type of traveler.0 seconds of 57 secondsVolume 0%This video file cannot be played.(Error Code: 224003)Growing up, I thought my childhood summers spent snorkeling and sunbathing in the Florida Keys were unique, that my family had unearthed paradise and settled in. When my Miamian great-grandparents purchased our family “Keys house” in the 1970s, they set in motion a legacy of love for the seas and salty breezes of this sun-drenched island chain....

These are the best times to visit the Florida Keys for every type of traveler.

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Growing up, I thought my childhood summers spent snorkeling and sunbathing in the Florida Keys were unique, that my family had unearthed paradise and settled in. When my Miamian great-grandparents purchased our family “Keys house” in the 1970s, they set in motion a legacy of love for the seas and salty breezes of this sun-drenched island chain.

The house has since been sold, and family gatherings beneath the tiki hut are now a distant memory, but my love for the Florida Keys endures. Of course, as an adult, I now realize we weren’t alone in recognizing what a special place the Florida Keys is — more than five million people visit these 1,700 islands each year. While the archipelago is pretty buzzy year-round, some months are more popular than others:

These are the best times to visit the Florida Keys, depending on weather, crowds, prices, and more.

Best Times to Visit the Florida Keys for Smaller Crowds

Popular months to visit can vary from the Upper Keys to the Lower Keys, and there are months, like August, that are desirable for some reasons (read: lobster season) while undesirable for other reasons (read: hurricane season and sweltering heat). If you're looking for lighter traffic and thinner crowds, you’ll find the sweet spots in the quieter seasons: between the winter throngs and the summer rush, and as kids go back to school in the fall.

In late spring, crowds are smaller than they are throughout the holiday and spring break seasons, but temperatures haven’t heated up to their full furnace level yet. Crowds are lightest in the fall toward the tail end of hurricane season. Both are nice times to visit the Florida Keys.

Just remember that fall in the Keys isn’t the cool, breezy, leaf-tinged dreamscape you may be used to in northern climes; here, the weather is hot, muggy, and prone to rain.

Best Times to Visit the Florida Keys for Good Weather

Each month in the Florida Keys has weather pros and cons, so the best time to visit may depend on your vacation goals.

Summer is one of the most popular times to visit, but the weather is as hot as it gets, and hurricanes are a constant threat from June 1 to November 30, with most storms popping up from mid-August to mid-October. Still, this is when the water is warmest and boating season is at its prime.

Florida Keys weather is at its mildest during the winter months, from about November to February. That doesn’t mean it’s chilly: January sees the lowest average temperature of any month, but that low is a mild 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Wintertime weather in the Keys is pleasant, but the water is also at its coldest during these months, so you may need to work a shortie wetsuit into any diving or snorkeling plans.

For many people, late spring in the Florida Keys offers the best of all worlds: the weather is pleasant but not too hot; hurricane season hasn’t yet arrived; the water is warm; and the summertime crowds have not yet descended in full force.

Best Times to Visit the Florida Keys for Lower Prices

Because there’s not really a bad time to visit the Keys, finding a low price can be a challenge no matter what month you try. However, you’ll likely have the best luck in “off” months like September and November.

Prices are usually highest in the depths of winter and the height of summer because that’s when the destination is in highest demand; in the shoulder season months of May and June, you can sometimes score deals as good as they get.

Best Times to Visit the Florida Keys for Being Out on the Water

Beaches in this palm-lined island chain may be few and far between (though plenty delightful), but reefs are not — the Florida Keys is, undoubtedly, more of a boating than a beach destination. Most people go with plans to get out on the water and dive, snorkel, fish, or just boat from reef to sandbar and back again.

You won’t catch a lot of Floridians diving into the water in the winter — the water is (subjectively) much too cold. On the flip side, summer promises warmer waters but sweltering temperatures (and quick sunburns). You’ll also need to dodge daily afternoon thunderstorms. Spring begins to heat up in and out of the water but can be windy; early fall sees both temperatures and crowd levels fall but can be rainy.

Floridians love going to catch lobster during “mini season,” or the two-day time frame when lobstering is allowed just before the main season (which runs from early August to late March). Lobstering is best done from your own boat, though some companies offer charters as well. Keep in mind that traffic along the single-lane Overseas Highway can be heavy during this short season.

How to Plan a Fishing Trip in the Florida Keys

Worst Times to Visit the Florida Keys

Choosing when to visit the Keys can be a double-edged sword; some of the best times to visit the Keys are also the worst times.

For example, everybody loves to go for mini season, but that’s exactly the problem: You’re not the only one with the bright idea to visit the Keys during these lobster-laden days. In the same way, nothing sounds better than Christmas in the Keys — but don’t expect to find any good deals on hotel rates at this festive time of year. In fact, all holidays tend to draw crowds and drive up hotel prices.

If you melt in extreme heat, avoid the Keys in the summertime. On the other hand, if you hope to dive and snorkel but hate cold water, don’t go in the winter.

And, of course, a violent hurricane (which can hit between June and late November each year) can really dampen your plans, but at least you’ll get several days' notice to make other arrangements.

I took a bus trip from Miami to Key West for $50. It was a great way to see the island for a day, but it wasn't perfect.

Travel I took a bus trip from Miami to Key West for $50. It was a great way to see the island for a day, but it wasn't perfect. Facebook ...

Travel

I took a bus trip from Miami to Key West for $50. It was a great way to see the island for a day, but it wasn't perfect.

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As someone who lives in Miami, I don't visit the Keys as often as I'd like.

So, I decided to take a day trip via bus from the city to Key West. I'd done it nearly five years ago when I first moved to Florida, and I remembered I didn't hate it.

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Although a few companies offer this bus trip, I booked my $50 round-trip ticket with Key West Tours.

Here's what it was like.

My day started early.

Pickup times for my Monday trip ranged from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

This start time made sense because reaching Key West would take three-and-a-half hours without traffic.

If we left any later, we wouldn't have had much time to explore the island before heading back for the evening.

I had to leave my home even earlier to get to a bus pickup location, which I chose when I booked my ticket.

Like many things in Miami, this day trip felt geared toward tourists. Stops were only located on Miami Beach, downtown, and near the airport — where most tourists stay.

As a local, this was a little inconvenient. I chose a stop on the beach closest to me and where I knew I could safely park my car for the day without spending too much money.

The bus stopped a few times to pick up passengers, and we ended up having to switch vehicles.

The bus picked me up at my stop, and then we continued south to pick up more passengers along Miami Beach.

However, our guide told us there was a mechanical issue with the bus, so we had to switch vehicles once we made it downtown.

This was inconvenient, but I was glad our driving team noticed the issue before we left the city.

Once downtown, we hopped on another bus that was partially full with a different tour group when we boarded.

This second bus felt older than the one we'd been riding, but I still found a comfortable seat on the second level.

We spent over an hour picking up riders in different parts of the city.

About an hour after we left Miami, we stopped in Key Largo.

Once we passed Homestead and Florida City, we stopped at a small plaza for breakfast. This was the only stop we made on our drive.

Even though I was eager to get to Key West, I appreciated the break to grab food and a coffee before we started the long trek down the Keys.

After that, we went straight to Key West.

The ride along the Overseas Highway, which connects mainland Florida to Key West, took us across 42 bridges.

The time passed quickly, probably because it was such a scenic ride.

Although I have a car and could easily drive myself to Key West, I wouldn't have been able to appreciate the views as much if I were the one behind the wheel.

During the trip, our guide told us about the different excursions we could do in Key West.

We received a guided tour on the way down to Key West.

Our guide gave us some good, general information in English and Spanish about where we were on the islands, which I appreciated.

While we drove through the Keys, our guide took orders for excursions like snorkeling, parasailing, and riding a glass-bottom boat.

They also sold tickets for the island's famous Conch Train, which travels by many Keys attractions.

This was a good opportunity for people who weren't sure how they wanted to spend their day to make plans before we arrived.

When we made it to Key West, the bus dropped us off on the northern side of the island.

Once we arrived, I had about six hours of free time in Key West.

We were told to meet back at the same spot in the evening so we could board the bus and head back to Miami.

First, I headed out to my snorkeling excursion and spent about an hour exploring the water and seeing tons of fish.

I had to take a 45-minute catamaran ride to and from the snorkel site, so it took up a lot of my day.

After snorkeling, I didn't have much time left on the island, so I got lunch.

By the time I finally returned from snorkeling, I had about two hours left on the island before I needed to return to the bus.

I headed to Amigos Tortilla Bar for lunch. It didn't disappoint.

The service was quick, and I scored a peaceful counter seat by the window. The quesadilla was solid, and I especially enjoyed the elote.

On my walk back to the bus, I tried different types of Key-lime pie.

I headed back to the bus after lunch.

Since I'd visited Key West before, it didn't bother me that I didn't have time to explore more of the island's highlights.

However, if this were my first time visiting Key West, I probably would've skipped the snorkeling and booked a ticket for the Conch Train. That way, I would've seen more local attractions, like Hemingway's House and the Southernmost Point Buoy.

Still, I had time to stop for a slice of the area's famous Key-lime pie on the way back to the bus.

All in all, taking the tour bus was an affordable way to visit the island, and I'd do it again.

The ride back to Miami felt even quicker than our ride to Key West. There was almost no traffic, and we were back in the city at about 9 p.m.

Since we'd combined two buses at the start of the day, drop-off took longer than pick-up.

We spent about an hour dropping everyone off at their locations, and I made it back to my stop at about 10 p.m.

But even with the delays at the start and end of the trip, I enjoyed my day in Key West. I especially appreciated the convenience and affordability of taking the bus.

Even though this option isn't necessarily geared toward locals, it's an easy way for Floridians to visit Key West without driving.

Next time I visit Key West, I'd definitely consider taking the bus again.

'Red Shoe Drop' with new star highlights Key West New Year's Eve

KEY WEST - New Year's Eve revelers in Key West marked 2024's arrival by watching the "drop" of a super-sized red high-heel shoe carrying female impersonator Christopher Peterson, the shoe's new "passenger" who succeeded drag queen "Sushi," a veteran of 25 previous drops.Thousands of people gathered outside the Bourbon St. Pub complex on the island's Duval Street for the Red Shoe Drop, a lighthearted takeoff on ...

KEY WEST - New Year's Eve revelers in Key West marked 2024's arrival by watching the "drop" of a super-sized red high-heel shoe carrying female impersonator Christopher Peterson, the shoe's new "passenger" who succeeded drag queen "Sushi," a veteran of 25 previous drops.

Thousands of people gathered outside the Bourbon St. Pub complex on the island's Duval Street for the Red Shoe Drop, a lighthearted takeoff on New York City's Times Square ball drop.

Peterson assumed the event's starring role after Sushi stepped down as a New Year's Eve icon following last year's celebration. Peterson is renowned for his longstanding one-man cabaret show, where he portrays famous women including Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Joan Rivers, and Lady Gaga.

Dressed in a glamorous self-designed gown, he presided over the night's festivities and entertainment - all while perched in the giant ruby slipper, suspended high above the crowd from the complex's second-story balcony.

Then, as the final seconds of 2023 ticked away, Peterson was lowered in the shoe toward the street below. The audience erupted in cheers as he landed and raised a bottle of champagne to welcome 2024.

Revelers also celebrated in Key West by watching several other "drops" including that of a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys; and a "pirate wench" who descended from atop a tall ship's mast.

Activities elsewhere in the Keys included waterfront fireworks, beach parties, and galas to greet 2024.

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A Perfect Night in Key West

The passing of Jimmy Buffett hit me weirdly hard. For me, as with millions of others, his music was the soundtrack to summer—whether you were physically in July or, more often, longing for it. Pencil Thin Mustache takes me back to Monday bingo and cold Painkillers at the Flora Bama. Feeding Frenzy fueled road trips through the Mississippi Delta and my college years at Folly Beach, where I lived a lifestyle closer to broke pirate than attentive student.There’s something I find darkly poetic about Buffett d...

The passing of Jimmy Buffett hit me weirdly hard. For me, as with millions of others, his music was the soundtrack to summer—whether you were physically in July or, more often, longing for it. Pencil Thin Mustache takes me back to Monday bingo and cold Painkillers at the Flora Bama. Feeding Frenzy fueled road trips through the Mississippi Delta and my college years at Folly Beach, where I lived a lifestyle closer to broke pirate than attentive student.

There’s something I find darkly poetic about Buffett departing at the close of summer, on the tail end of a big hurricane. After hearing the news, I fired up Spotify, streamed Come Monday, and sourced an old paperback copy of Where Is Joe Merchant? I also reminisced about a recent trip to Key West, a place where Jimmy Buffett’s memory was no doubt being ardently toasted by many a margarita.

Buffett had a long love affair with the Florida Keys. He was one of those lucky souls who discovered the island chain in a dreamier heyday in the 1970s, when it was more fishermen and wacky writers, less traffic jams and sunburnt snowbirds.

On a visit to its southernmost isle this summer, I didn’t step on a pop-top, but I did cruise on back home with a belly full of great meals, fond memories, and a bit more Buffett on my playlists. If you’re headed to its southernmost isle, Key West, any time soon, here’s where to savor the local flavor.

3:00 p.m.

Check in to the Kimpton Winslow Bungalows, where you’re just far enough removed from Duval Street to hear birdsong instead of bar songs. The hotel is a string of petite white cottages connected by lanes filled with flowers and towering palm trees. There’s complimentary breakfast and not one but two swimming pools.

5:00 p.m.

Start on the corner of Duval and Louisa Streets and head north past a strip of great art galleries. There’s Alan S. Maltz, a renowned photographer who captures the timeless light of Florida waters and landscapes. Archeo is next door, featuring tribal pieces like carved totems and woven tapestries. At Ilvedson Brothers, whimsical takes on life in the Keys arrive in the form of minimalist prints—like my favorite of an alligator eating a Key lime pie.

6:00 pm

As the sun slides behind grand Victorians, the filtered light turns Key West the sweetest amber hue. It’s time for a beverage. General Horseplay is a saloon in appearance—dark curtains, leather stools, and a pool table—but a serious cocktail spot too. The Root of All Evil (absinthe, root beer, fernet, and mint) is divine, and at happy hour, they hand you dice. Certain rolls win discounted tabs.

7:00 pm

No shirt, no shoes, no problem. B.O.’s Fish Wagon is exactly the type of place you might run into Buffett himself. Greeted by an art-covered, rusting car, you enter an open-air bar decorated in fishing nets, graffiti, license plates, and likely some regulars with real good stories. Get an order of conch fritters and a cold lager.

8:00 pm

From there it’s just a few feet to Pepe’s. Open since the 1930s, Pepe’s is the second oldest restaurant in Florida. It serves a mean ribeye—available since Teddy Roosevelt dined here—and does so correctly: salt and pepper, expertly charred on the outside, medium rare within, with a nice fat marble throughout. Get a few raw oysters, splash ’em with a little hot sauce…and that’s just about heaven.

10:00 p.m.

The next time I get down to Key West, I’m heading straight to Frita’s Cuban Burger for a traditional Cubanito sandwich. Frita’s is also a favorite spot for tossing a few back after dinner, given the great selection of frosty Latin beers and the rotating house-made sangria. In the ramshackle courtyard, chickens root around in the dust and musicians cram onto a small stage area. The seating is mismatched, pillows are strewn on painted benches, and Frita’s exudes a warmth and hospitality that’s authentically “island.”

‘Zombies’ on Wheels to Prowl Key West Oct. 22

EY WEST, Florida Keys — On the offbeat island of Key West, even the zombies defy stereotypes. Instead of eerily prowling wastelands in tattered garments, as often portrayed in films and TV, Key West’s zombies are to hop on their bikes and cheerfully pedal beside the Atlantic Ocean Sunday, Oct. 22, during the island’s annual Zombie Bike Ride. A pre-Halloween tradition for visiting and local families and groups, the ride typically draws several thousand creatively costumed men, women and children &mdas...

EY WEST, Florida Keys — On the offbeat island of Key West, even the zombies defy stereotypes. Instead of eerily prowling wastelands in tattered garments, as often portrayed in films and TV, Key West’s zombies are to hop on their bikes and cheerfully pedal beside the Atlantic Ocean Sunday, Oct. 22, during the island’s annual Zombie Bike Ride.

A pre-Halloween tradition for visiting and local families and groups, the ride typically draws several thousand creatively costumed men, women and children — and even a few animal companions. They cycle along the island’s shores and streets sporting everything from chalk-white face paint and tattered rags to quirky “zombified” tutus, pirate garb and wedding gowns.

The wacky event is to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday when “Zombieland” opens at Fort East Martello Museum, a reputedly haunted historic site overlooking the Atlantic at 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd.

The afternoon’s attractions include food and beverage vendors, music, and on-site face and body painters to help attendees unleash their inner zombies. An expanded kids’ zone is to be set up at the fort with age-appropriate activities.

At 6 p.m., “the biking dead” are to depart on their ride. The 4-mile route takes them down South Roosevelt Boulevard beside the ocean, past Higgs Beach and into parts of Key West’s picturesque Old Town.

Among the standouts in the 2022 trek were a supersized sorcerer, a “zombie ambulance” and a cemetery escapee propelling a pseudo-coffin. Other participants portrayed everything from zombie prisoners and superheroes to sinister clowns.

The 2023 cavalcade is to travel down Key West’s famed Duval Street, likely startling unsuspecting pedestrians, and head for the ZombieFest After Party at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater, 21 E. Quay Road. Admission is free and scheduled attractions include food vendors, a full bar, dancing, prizes for best zombie ensembles, and tunes spun by DJ Sanaris.

The Zombie Bike Ride takes place on the first weekend of Key West's annual Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival, a 10-day extravaganza scheduled Friday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 29.

Registration to ride in the zany zombie ramble is $10 per person and includes admission to “Zombieland” at Fort East Martello.

Zombie Bike Ride event and registration information: zombiebikeride.com

This article was updated on October 22, 2023 at 2:41 PM

Discover the 7 Irresistible Reasons to Travel to Key West

words Alexa WangNestled at the southernmost point of the United States, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean, lies the enchanting island of Key West. Known for its laid-back atmosphere, vibrant culture, and breathtaking sunsets, Key West beckons travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable escape.In this article, we’ll explore seven irresistible reasons why Key West should be at the top of your travel bucket list.1. Rich History and Old Town CharmKey West boasts a rich history that dates back ...

words Alexa Wang

Nestled at the southernmost point of the United States, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean, lies the enchanting island of Key West. Known for its laid-back atmosphere, vibrant culture, and breathtaking sunsets, Key West beckons travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable escape.

In this article, we’ll explore seven irresistible reasons why Key West should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

1. Rich History and Old Town Charm

Key West boasts a rich history that dates back to its early days as a haven for pirates and shipwreck salvagers. Today, the Old Town area stands as a testament to the island’s past, with charming Victorian architecture lining the streets. Visitors can explore iconic landmarks like the Hemingway House, where the famous author once resided, or stroll down Duval Street, a lively thoroughfare brimming with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. The historical charm of Key West provides a captivating backdrop for a journey through time.

2. Tropical Paradise and Pristine Beaches

One of the primary draws of Key West is its idyllic tropical setting and the abundance of pristine beaches. Smathers Beach, with its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters, invites sunbathers and water enthusiasts alike. For those seeking a more secluded escape, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park offers a picturesque beach surrounded by lush greenery and historic fortifications.

For a convenient and eco-friendly way to explore the beauty of Key West, consider opting for an electric car rental in Key West that will add to your overall experience. Whether you’re looking to relax under the swaying palms or embark on water adventures like snorkeling and kayaking, Key West’s beaches cater to every traveler’s paradise-seeking heart.

3. Vibrant Arts and Culture Scene

Key West’s artistic spirit comes alive through its thriving arts and culture scene. The island has long been a haven for creatives, drawing inspiration from its stunning landscapes and eclectic community. Visitors can explore galleries showcasing local artists, attend live performances at the Red Barn Theatre, or immerse themselves in the vibrant street art adorning the walls of the Bahama Village district. Key West’s cultural diversity and artistic expression create a dynamic atmosphere that captivates and inspires all who visit.

4. Unforgettable Water Activities

Beyond its beautiful beaches, Key West offers a playground for water enthusiasts. Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts can explore the vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life, while fishing charters provide an opportunity to reel in the catch of the day.

Adventurous souls can embark on sunset cruises, allowing them to witness the sky ablaze with hues of orange and pink as the sun dips below the horizon. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or prefer a leisurely day on the water, Key West’s array of water activities promises an unforgettable experience.

5. Culinary Delights and Seafood Extravaganza

Key West’s culinary scene is a delightful fusion of flavors, showcasing a diverse range of cuisine influenced by the island’s maritime history and cultural diversity. From fresh seafood caught daily to Caribbean-inspired dishes, the island’s restaurants cater to every palate.

Conch fritters, a local delicacy, are a must-try, and the vibrant Sunset Pier offers an exceptional dining experience with views of the nightly sunset celebrations. Exploring Key West’s culinary landscape is a journey for the senses, offering a taste of the island’s unique blend of flavors.

6. Festivals and Events All Year Round

Key West is a destination that knows how to celebrate, with festivals and events happening throughout the year. One of the most famous is Fantasy Fest, a vibrant and eccentric ten-day celebration that takes over the streets with elaborate costumes, parades, and lively parties.

The Hemingway Days festival, dedicated to the iconic author, brings literary enthusiasts together for a week of readings, contests, and even a look-alike contest. Whether you’re drawn to music, art, or literature, Key West’s diverse calendar of events ensures there’s always something exciting happening on the island.

7. Quirky and Unique Attractions

Key West is renowned for its quirky and unique attractions that add an extra layer of charm to the island. The Southernmost Point Buoy, marking the southernmost tip of the continental United States, is an iconic photo spot. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory offers a serene escape into a tropical paradise filled with colorful butterflies.

Visitors can also witness the nightly Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square, where street performers, local artisans, and breathtaking sunsets converge to create a lively and unforgettable spectacle.

In conclusion, Key West beckons travelers with its irresistible blend of history, natural beauty, cultural vibrancy, and unique charm. Whether you’re a history buff, beach lover, art enthusiast, or foodie, Key West has something to offer for every type of traveler.

The island’s laid-back atmosphere, combined with its diverse range of activities and attractions, makes it a destination that promises an unforgettable and enriching experience. So, pack your bags and discover the magic of Key West – a paradise waiting to be explored.

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