Logic dictates that the closer you get to the equator the warmer it is going to become. That is true for the most part, but there is one singular exception that attracts people year round to enjoy the tropical breezes, sandy beaches, fresh seafood and exciting nightlife. That exception is Key West, Florida.
If you were to look at a weather map of Florida and track the temperatures during the summer of various tourist destinations, you would find something quite unique. At the height of the summertime, while the rest of the state is sweltering, the southernmost city is typically eight to ten degrees cooler on average. That's right, you cannot get any farther south in the country than Key West, but it actually manages to be cooler there than almost anywhere else in the mainland part of the state.
There are a couple of good reasons for this, and both have to do with geography. Part of the reason places like Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale have higher temps during the summer is because they are surrounded by land and have been built up a lot over the years. Land in general, and pavement, concrete and steel specifically, retain heat much longer than open water does, so the temperature does not have a fighting chance to cool off overnight before the next day rolls around.
Key West sits almost one hundred miles from the mainland, smack between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Not only does being surrounded by all this open water help to keep it cool, it also benefits from being in the proper latitudes for the trade winds to blow all summer long. These cooling breezes keep the air moving and help to push off some of the humidity, making for an unexpectedly pleasant summer weather pattern.
Just to rub it in of course, when the winter rolls around, the opposite is quite true. Key West manages to be one of the consistently warmest places in the country, with temperatures rarely making it into the low sixties. In fact, it is the only place in the continental United States to have never experienced a frost, which explains why winter is still considered high season on the island.
All of this good weather news is a perfect reason to discover Key West as the perfect summer vacation destination. Luckily, not too many people think about this, which means your favorite Key West restaurants and the most popular activities are all waiting for you with fewer crowds and less competition. This makes it the perfect way to rediscover the island and learn what it feels like to truly live in Key West the laid back island style way.
Jack Terry is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who lived in Key West for several years. http://www.rooftopcafekeywest.com