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Key West Time
August 13th
5:03pm · 86°F

7 Mellow Ways to Beat the Key West Rainy Day Blues

Higgs Beach Rain 850 - straightenedClouds on the edge of a rain storm are dramatically beautiful as they quickly roll in near Higgs Beach, Key West.

You’ve arrived in Key West and it’s raining … and now the wind has picked up! This is not the weather you imagined when you were planning your island vacation.  You were looking forward to sunshine and island beach lounging, not afternoon cloud bursts let alone a tropical down-pour.

There, there, now don’t despair … wet weather need not dampen your adventuresome spirit.  I’d like to share a few of my favorite ways to make a rainy day memorable.  I’ll skip the usual suggestions, like shopping on Duval Street and hanging out in famous local bars.  I’m sure you’ll navigate your way to these popular places anyway, rain or shine.

Instead, I’d like to invite you to enjoy an unexpected opportunity to get laid back and discover some mellow things to do in Key West you may have never even considered if the sun had predictably shined all day long.  A couple of them are my personal favorites and the others are tried-and-true by other local rainy day pleasure seekers.

The first thing to remember, is that Key West is a tropical island 150 miles out to sea where rain  storms tend to pass-over quickly, usually within an hour, so don’t panic about the weather. It’s rare a rare occasion that it’s rainy or windy all day. The second thing to consider is that tropical rain showers are refreshing, not bracingly cold like what you’re used to if you live in a northern climate. Keeping in mind that the rain probably won’t last long, and that even if it does it won’t be cold, it’s time to get out your water shoes, rain parka, or umbrella, and make a rainy day plan and enjoy!

Beach and Pier Stroll

During summer months, you can expect short afternoon cloud bursts that bring a welcome cool relief from the heat.  I love to walk the beach path that goes along the south shore during the afternoon rain, starting at Higgs Beach. The clouds on the leading edge of the storm are dramatically beautiful as they quickly roll in. The air is fresh, the palm fronds rustle, and there are always pelicans and seagulls playfully riding the wind. Dodge into Salute Restaurant on the Beach for a coffee before you start the walk. Take a jaunt out onto the White Street Pier if it’s not too windy. Wear water shoes or flip flops, and don’t worry about getting your feet wet.  Part of the fun is sloshing in the puddles. A rain parka is best for this adventure, as the wind can grab hold of an open umbrella and turn it inside out. A word of caution that should be obvious – don’t go walking in the rain in a thunder storm.

Float in the Pool

Our family loves to dip in our swimming pool in the rain.  If you’re staying in a vacation rental that has a pool, try it.  There is something luxuriating about being in a warm swimming pool or Jacuzzi tub feeling the rain drops against bare skin. If you’re lucky enough to be staying where there’s a tropical pool-garden, enjoy the plants and flowers while you’re bobbing in the water and notice how their foliage gently moves in the rain.  Use common sense here too, and don’t jump in the pool in a thunderstorm.

Sleep-In and Order-In an Exotic Breakfast

You probably planned to sleep-in on your vacation anyway.  But there’s something especially romantic about lounging in bed during a tropical rain storm. There are often beautiful tropical flowers and plants to glimpse at out the windows, and ordering-in a brunch or maybe just some famous Key West Cuban coffee can make the experience perfect.  One of my favorite things to do is have coffee con leche and cheese toast delivered to the house from Sandy’s Café.  Most restaurants in Key West deliver.

Key West Porch Sitting

If you’ve rented a vacation rental house or cottage, chances are good you have a front sitting porch to enjoy.  The front porch is the perfect place to wait out a rain storm and watch the world of Key West go by.  When you’ve had enough of lounging around the house, you’ll find several establishments downtown that serve wine, beer, or cocktails on outdoor covered porches. Three of my favorites are the Grand Vin Porch on Duval Street for wine sipping, The Porch on Caroline Street for exotic beers, and Louie’s Back Yard on the ocean on Waddell Street for a cocktail.

Massage and Day Spa

Why not treat yourself to a day of health and beauty. Key West has some excellent massage therapists who will come to your vacation rental or hotel room.  I suggest you call a few of the health and beauty spas on the island and talk to them about what services you’re interested in. If you prefer to go to the spa, Caribbean Spa at the Pier House Resort is a beautiful full-service day spa. Prana Spa has also more recently become established and popular.

Visit Mysterious Pre-Civil War Fort East Martello

Something about a rainy-windy day makes a visit to the East Martello Towers Fort museum even more mysterious. Maybe it’s the lore of the infamous turn-of-the-century ‘ghost resident’ ‘Robert the Doll,’ who prominently sits in a glass case and has been visited by ghost hunters, psychics, and featured on television. An 1860’s national landmark, now run by the Key West Art and Historical Society, the fort is full of fascinating relics and folk art of Mario Sanchez and Stanley Papio. Located at ocean’s edge on the south end of the island it can be a walking destination if you enjoy longer strolls along the beach path.  An amazing piece of massive brick architecture, it’s one of three Civil War Forts built on Key West to defend against an assault by the Confederacy. The two others forts, that are best visited in the sunshine, include West Martello Fort (home of the Key West Garden Club), and Fort Zachary Taylor.

Matinee Movie at the Tropic Cinema

A rainy day in Key West is the perfect excuse to see a film at the Tropic Cinema.  This charming art-deco style theater is not your typical movie house which is apparent when you walk by and see the life-size sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, by Seward Johnson, outside the front door.  Open every day, it shows foreign films, Indie films, and Hollywood blockbusters in two screening rooms and a main theater that seats 150. I love the up-beat and beautiful art-deco style lobby and am always impressed with the delicious healthy homemade treats, espresso, wine, beer, and popcorn with all sorts of creative toppings. Run by members, this is a non-profit theater that has been voted by Florida Monthly Magazine as ‘The Best Florida Cinema’ for the last 4 years in a row!  Once you leave the theater, there’s a pretty good chance the sun will be out again and you’ll be positioned in the ideal location to turn left out the door and walk to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach, or turn right and head for Duval Street.

So embrace your rainy day of restorative relaxation.  Getting mellow and taking-in some of the quieter pleasures of the island just might completely change the way you love Key West.  After all, "life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about dancing in the rain."







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