There are a couple of companies that run tour trains around Key West. I prefer the Conch Tour Train. In about 1 1/2 hours you can get an excellent introductory tour of Old Town, which is the historic "touristy" part of Key West. About 50 minutes in, they stop for a restroom/snack/cigarette/fudge break.
The tour covers most of Old Town, and the drivers are excellent tour guides. They point out places to visit, like Hemingway's House, architecture and history , and odd tidbits (why do they paint the porch ceilings blue?)
The cost is $20 for adults, $10 for kids, but I think it's worth every penny. At least you're not walking for a while.
I KNOW THE CONCH TRAIN TOUR IS A TOURIST TRAP BUT IS A MUST IT'S YOUR 1ST TIME IN KEY WEST.YOU GET ALOT OF HISTORY ABOUT THE PLACE AND FIND OUT WHERE THE DIFFERENT PLACES TO GO WITHOUT HAVING TO WALK AND TRY TO FIND THEM ON YOUR OWN.
Similar to the Conch train. You tour all the main points of interest, only with the trolley you have the option of hopping on and off. So you can buy one ticket, and use it all day as your own taxi to all the interest places!
Sit back and enjoy the view aboard the 45 foot HERITAGE. The tour is narrated and departs everyday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm from the Hilton Marina next to the Custom House.
The HERITAGE also makes a sunset tour. Parking is available at the Hilton parking garage.
Call for exact times on sunset departures.
Photo: Michael Sullivan
We spent most of one day riding around on the Trolley Tour. We picked the Trolley Tour over the Conch Train so that we could get on and off at any of their 12 stops all day.
We really thought this was worth the money as we did not know our way around the island and it is difficult to find parking at most of the stops. Not to mention that parking is fairly expensive.
There was a conch train and a trolley tour stop two doors north of our hotel so we were able to walk over and leave the car at the hotel.
We saw the Southernmost Point, East Martella Museum (home of Robert the Doll), Hemmingway home, Duval Street and Mallory Square from the Trolley.
I recommend that you get on right when they start running in the morning if you want to have time to make the whole circuit. We did not get started until close to noon and had to skip about five stops.
Key West was one of the best vacations I have ever had. I think my reasoning for this is I did so much here for the first time................snorkeling, ocean kayaking, seadoo riding, and swimming in the ocean. Yes, I guess I have lived a sheltered life, but I am getting out there now. I have always had a fear of the ocean. You know the whole "sharks are everywhere" mentality, well that's me. We took many trips with Fury..................Ultimate Adventure, GlassBottom Boat, and Sunset Sail. The ultimate adventure runs around $130 per person on average. The trip included snorkeling, parasailing, jet-skiing, kayaking, swimming, rock climbing on the water, and lunch. They provide everything. You will need to bring your own sunscreen and towel. This trip takes all day from 10am til 4-5pm. Arrive early to complete paperwork!
My tips: bring a waterproof camera, SUNSCREEN!!!!! ( keep applying ), bring a towel, cash they will appreciate tips ), maybe a jacket or t-shirt for the sail back.
A good way to get an overview and a potted history is to take the conch train. The cost is now $22 for adults unless you get it discounted through a coupon or package deal, and free for children 3 and under. Daily departures are every half hour and it takes 90 minutes. You can take the Bone Island Shuttle more cheaply (see Bone Island tip) but the Bone Island Shuttle is more transportation and less tour. I have not taken the Trolley tour, so I don't know how that compares.
When we lived in Key West in the late 60s the Conch train was just starting up. I remember that it used to go all over the island. Today it just covers the Old Town area.
We found CityView Trolley Tours online and booked our tickets OPR (old person rate - or active duty military) for $18 each -- $29.95 for the same tour option if bought through the Cruise line! We had printed off the route line and knew that the first stop was right in front of the Key West Museum of Art & History (the former Customs House - it's red, you can't miss it) at Pier B where we were to dock. It is a very short, flat walk to the first stop. If you buy online you can't just board the bus, you have to get your ticket validated. They will give you a 'hop on' sticker to ensure ease of entry whenever/wherever. The sticker is good for the entire day so you don't have to feel rushed. The CityView shopfront is directly across from the museum, as is the bus. Push the 'easy button'.
A bit about the buses - they were clean and the seats were comfortable. They are open air with very little obstruction to prevent good picture taking. We had three different drivers during the day and they were all wondrful. My personal favorite was Captain Heather. She is funny, smart, and engaging. What a delight! I really feel like I know quite a bit about Key West now. The drivers work for tips so you'll be dropping dollars in the basket on a regualr basis if you 'hop on and hop off'. You might as well be prepared - it's definitely worth that little extra. Not the same old boring blah, blah, blah.
Our personal agenda took us to the Butterfly Conservatory first, then we walked a few blocks to the Southernmost Point, and then to Hemingway's House. We could have ridden to all of these as each of these locations are stops on the line, but it would have been such a short ride that we preferred to walk these several blocks. Once we left Hemingway's, we caught the bus back to the dock area - seeing a lot of new places as we went. We did a little shopping and had lunch at Sloppy Joe's. Then we got back on the trolley at Stop 1 and did the entire route to make sure that we hadn't missed anything.
I've been to Key West twice before and have even done the Conch Train. This tour by CityView was BY FAR the best way to see Key West in my opinion. Lots of information, lots of laughs, comfort, ease of entry/egress - all positive. If I'm ever in Key West again, I'll go with CityView and just hop off at different places. Good job, CityView!
So called World Famous Conch Train tour. Its not really a train, but looks like one. You get to see a lot and the driver calls "All aboard" like a real train. You get on at Mallory Square, stop at Flagler Station and one other place as well. Otherwise the 'train' moves slowly enough so you can get a look at places and know where to go later. Key West is bigger than it looks (actually the original island was enlarged by landfill to create New Town)!
If you've never tried it this would be a good place to start . There are lots of choices, sailing , cats , power boats and booze cruise. Most cruises will circle around in the area of Key West Harbor, just outside of the main shipping chanel. They'll go in front of Sunset Key, and go back and forth making large circles for a couple of hours.
You must take a glass bottom boat tour, I took mine during the day but you may see more sea life if you take the sunset tour. You get a narrated tour of the coast of key west and the staff are very friendly and they offer light snacks. When you are further out to sea you are allowed to go downstairs to the glass bottoms and you sit near a window where you get a view of the coral and sea life. Dolphins followed our boat out to sea. I caught a shot of a barracuda (but it didnt eat any fish). So be sure to bring your camera, you never know what may swim up to your window.
The Conch Tour Train offers tours everyday from 9:00am to 4:30pm. The tour is approximately 90 minutes long with a pit stop at the half way point at their train depot (aka gift shop). The guides are very interesting and funny! They pass by all the major points of interests, like Hemmingway's house and Duval Street.
If you don't take the Conch Train tour, the main alternate possibilities are the Bone Island Shuttle or the Old Town Trolley.
Of the three main trolley tours, the Old Town Trolley is the one that I have NOT taken. This appears to be slightly different from the Conch Train in that it allows 9 places where you can get on and off, and the Conch Train has only 2. Adult Price - $18.00 which I think is more than the Bone Island Shuttle (Price includes tax and fees)
Boarding Locations/Stops: (1) Mallory Square, (2) Historic Key West Seaport, (3) Simonton Row - Simonton and Greene St, (4) La Concha Crowne Plaza, (5) Bahama Village Market, (6) Key West Welcome Center, (7) Wyndham Casa Marina Resort, (8) Southernmost Trolley Stop, (9) Truman Ave. & Duval St. (10) Angela & Duval Streets.
For cheap transportation, we bought Bone Island Shuttle tickets - they were at that time (2001) $5 each. Now they are $7 each.
They don't have a canned tour like the Conch train does, but for tips (or if asked) the driver will tell you about the place. There are many more stops and they go out into the rest of the island (and to all the major hotels), which the Conch train doesn't do.
It is enclosed, so it can be A/C, but it is harder to take pictures through the window. The different little buses/vans are painted with different aspects of Key West.
This was a very entertaining tour. The guide, Jay, was a very good story teller and obviously really enjoyed doing the tours. He wore a period costume and told ghost stories and ghoulish tales with a great sense of humor and a flare for theatrics. If you want somebody really serious, take the other tour or go to a museum. This is my second ghost tour and I have done many other walking tours, but this was the most fun by far. Key West has a lot of dark and morbid history you won't hear about at the Welcome Center or the tourism websites. In my opinion, you should really take in at least one "ghost tour" while in any city with a long history or you really don't get a well-rounded picture of the city.
You can either do a trolley which is better if it’s raining, or do the train which I liked because it’ more open. It’s about $20 a person, lasts about an hour & 1/2. The train tour (really a jeep in disguise) is a pleasant way to see the area and learn a few factoids about the history of the town. With mom not wanting to play in the water, this was an easy activity we could do together during the afternoon.
It leaves from downtown, Mallory Square every 30 minutes or so and the ticket stand is easy to find, or you can get them at your hotel.