Posted by: ashburnreviews | February 4, 2009

Key West

A friend of my husband is going to Key West for holiday. This is one of our favorite places. We got married there and we like to vacation there. He is compiling a list of all the wonderful places to see and go to to while his friend is there. I thought I would help and start a list here.

When we go into Key West, we fly into Miami. We then rent a car – a convertible – and drive to Key West. The drive takes about 4 hours and is over islands and water and the view is gorgeous. In fact one part of the trip is taken over the famous Seven-Mile Bridge which is just over water for 7 miles. I love the drive. By the time we hit Miami we already feel like we are on holiday.

The two places that we have stopped to eat at on the drive to Key West (and back to Miami) is the Cracker Barrel in Florida City – which has excellent biscuits and jelly – and a wonderful place called Alabama Jack’s in Key Largo.

The main way to get to Key West is by taking Highway One the whole way there. But if you veer off slightly onto Card Sound Rd, you’ll be able to stop at Alabama Jack’s. And trust me, you’ll want to. It is wonderful. The food is fresh, the restaurant is open to the outside. And it sits on a mangrove-lined canal. you must get the conch fritters. They are the best.

Once in Key West, we like to stay at the chain of hotels known as the Southernmost Hotel Collection. We got married at the one on the beach, so they have a special place in our hearts. There are 5 (depending on how you count) places to stay with this chain. They are all right next to each other. When you make reservations, they like to say that the Southernmost Hotel is “across the street from the beach” and it is but until you see it you might expect the street to be a much larger obstacle then it is. You are plenty close to the beach staying there. It is like crossing a small alley way. Not an issue.

The beach right there by the hotel is a private beach. It used to be called South Beach. But now it is called Southernmost Beach. As an added bonus, there is a pier off that beach that is just wonderful for watching the sun set off of.

There is a restaurant that sits on the Southernmost Beach called the Southernmost Beach Cafe and we really enjoy going there for a quiet relaxing meal. The pancakes are especially good. My husband also likes the wings. He says that one of the the very best meals that he has ever had was the day after our wedding – when he had wings and beer at the Southernmost Beach Cafe. As an added bonus, the staff there is super friendly.

Right near the hotel, is the Southernmost Point of the United States. This area is marked by the Southernmost marker. The marker is built to resemble a buoy and is repainted all the time. It is worth a visit – if only to see it and take a photo.

Also near the hotel is also near the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. I love this place. For a ten dollar fee walk into a large greenhouse filled with butterfly and birds and turtles and frogs and fish and beautiful plants. It is such a unique experience and so fun to see. I have taken a lot of wonderful photos here as well.

When we are in Key West, we have rented scooters to get around on. It is very hard to drive in Key West as there is little parking. So for my husband and I Scooters fit the bill. There are Scooter rental shops all over. We rent scooters for the whole trip. You can also walk (or take a cab) to most places you will ever need to go in Key West. The island is only something like 2 x 4 miles.

My favorite place to be in Key West is a wonderful restaurant called Blue Heaven. The food there is spectacular and the atmosphere is even nicer. You can sit outside in big open courtyard surrounded by bright colors tiles and trees. And joining you for your meal will be the kitties and chickens that roam the grounds.

That is a funny thing about Key West, they have a large wild chicken population that roams around there. How often do you see that anywhere?

Anyhow we like to go to Blue Heaven as often as we can when we are in Key West. It is a great place to be.

One place you could go to see is the Ernest Hemingway Museum. Hemingway lived and wrote at this home in Key West for 10 years of his life. The highlight of the property for me is that there are a ton of cats that live in and around the museum. I saw one count at 60 cats. They are all well cared for and fed. And many are polydactyls. They aren’t very social cats but they are fun to see.

Another museum that is fun it see is Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. You may have heard about Mel Fisher watching a special on the history channel or some other cable channel. This is how I heard about him. Mel Fisher spent years believing that he could find the remains of Spanish galleons loaded with treasure had sunk somewhere off of Key West in 1622. For years he searched And then one day on July 20, 1985, he hit the mother load and found the treasure of the Atocha.

Every night at the other side of town, is the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square in Key West, Florida. This is a fun trip and worth seeing if you are in Key West at least once. Artists and street performers line the dock. You can buy lots of home made stuff and watch some great shows. One of the most memorable street performers for my husband and I is a street performer that has trained cats to jump through hoops and do other tricks. And then behind this big festival of activity are the most beautiful sunsets that you ever did see.

For a good quick meal in Key West, there is a Hot Dog Cart Vendor right near the Southernmost Hotel. His hot dogs are very good. But one day a week (maybe 2) he serves BBQ and it is wonderful and tasty and just a real treat. he is worth seeking out.

Near the vendor is a small coffee and tea shop called Coffee & Tea House of Key West. A great stop for morning coffee.

And speaking of great breakfasts, you must go to Croissants De France. This bakery made our wedding cake and it was so good. As it turns out though, at the enjoining bistro they have a wonderful breakfast too. Everything we have had there is good including the juice and coffee. We love it here.

Louie’s Backyard is another fun restaurant to go to. This one is a bit fancy and expensive but it is worth a visit. The views are lovely of the sunset.

Another great place withe excellent food is the Schooner Wharf. They have musicians and great local sea food. Schooner Wharf is located on the Historic Seaport harbor walk.

The main street in Key West is Duval Street. Duval is lined with tons of shops and bars and general happy kaos.

You may have heard of the Drag Shows (female impersonator shows) in Key West. There are a few. We have been to two of them. But the one that I really enjoyed was the one at 801 Bourbon Bar. It was funny and fun and the girls were so entertaining. Of course, like most of Key West, this place is not for children. But what a great time.

For karaoke, the Two Friends Patio Restaurant and Bar is a fun place to go. My husband and I manage to unintentionally convince everyone to leave the bar when we sing there. They have a Karaoke WebCam too so your friends can see you back home!

Of course there are also tons of bars in Key West. And most people in Key West love there drinking. Some of many there are:

Sloppy Joe’s

Irish Kevin’s

Rum Barrel

Captain Tony’s

Hog’s Breath Saloon

and plenty more….

If you have some extra time in Key West and you don’t mind a bumpy boat ride, taking a trip to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park is worth the day trip. This area is a beautiful stretch beach where you can sun bath all day or snorkel in beautiful clean clear waters.

I’m sure there are other places that I’m forgetting. Key West is well worth the visit. I miss it.

Current temperature here is 32 degrees. Current temperature in Key West is 65 degrees. *Sigh* I wanna be there.


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