7 mile bridge
Check out the license plate
Dreaming of a boat?
This past week we ventured on down to Key West for a few days. When we would vacation on Marco many moons ago our time was so limited that we would only do a day trip to the Keys, which doesn’t leave much time for really enjoying the area and all that Key West has to offer. Since we’ve moved to FL we love being able to take a few days and just soak in the ambiance and life of Key West! So if you’ve got 2-1/2 or 3 days to spare and are thinking of heading to the Keys, here is just a quick little 3 day itinerary that may just hit your hot button!
Live Music at Sloppy Joes
Sunset on Mallory Square
Sloppy Joes at night
The Rum Barrel
Arriving in the afternoon you’ll have time to check into your hotel, freshen up a bit and head into Old town for a night of beginning your Duval Crawl and all that KW has to offer in the evening. Catch an early dinner at Sloppy Joes to start your evening off. This time of the year is a perfect time to go since it’s pretty much off season there. Plus, sunset doesn’t happen too early, leaving time for a leisurely dinner before heading over to Mallory Square. But, back to Sloppy Joes. Start out with an order of conch fritters, something you just have to have at least once in the Keys. Of course, you must try their original sandwich, the Sloppy Joe! Sweet and tangy at the same time it truly stands up to it’s name- sloppy! Be prepared to eat it with a fork savoring each and every bite. Another must is the Greek Salad. I know you wouldn’t think this would be the place to get a Greek Salad, but it had to be the best one I’ve ever had! Both meals were huge, so if you leave feeling hungry it’s your own fault. Definitely a must to check out. After dinner head on over to Mallory Square. The Sunset Festival typically starts about 2 hours before sunset. Street vendors, food vendors, entertainment fills the square. If there isn’t a cruise ship in you can get a great view of the sunset from anywhere on the square. If there’s a cruise ship in you’ll want to wander on down past the Westin as far as you can go where the view is unobstructed. Make sure to get a mojito from the guy with the old truck bar. He’s been there 20+ years! After sunset take a stroll down Duval street, catch some music at Hogs Breath or anywhere else along the street, check out other spots you might want to try during your excursion, like The Green Parrot, Capt. Tony’s, Charlie Mac’s or Blue Heaven. A perfect ending to a perfect evening comes with a couple of drinks at the Rum Barrel. If you can’t find a rum you like there, then I guess you must not really like rum!
6 toes cat
Cruise in port
Custom’s House Museum
Frita’s Cuban Burger Cafe
Pork Street taco’s
Start your day off right with a great breakfast to last you through the day. Recommended by a local KW person, Pepe’s is the place to be. Mingle with the locals and check out one of the oldest restaurants in Kw. Two must try’s are the Goldman’s bagel with cream cheese- lightly toasted with creamy, cream cheese just tickles those taste buds. But, to die for, is their homemade bread of the day. The day we were there it was cinnamon pecan bread. Order it lightly toasted so it’s just warm enough to melt the butter that will ultimately melt in your mouth. Plus, there is nothing better than a good old fashioned “Chock Full o Nuts” cup of coffee from a real coffee mug to start your day. After this delectable start to the day head on over to the Hemingway Home. You may want to get there early in the day as it does get very busy, especially if there is a cruise ship in port. Catch one of the 30 min. narrated tours as your guide will give you more of an insight into Ernest Hemingway, his life and the house. Plus you’ll get to really know the 58 cats, 6 toed ones, living on the property as they tend to follow the tour guides around (treats included for the cats). After the tour you are free to roam the grounds and house for as long as you like. From the Hemingway House it’s not a far walk to the Southernmost Point. 90 miles to Cuba from there! It’s usually pretty crowded with folks lined up to get their pictures taken from the infamous buoy. But you really don’t need to stand in line for some great photo ops. Head on back toward Duval Street taking your time to stop in some of the shops and art galleries, such as Rockhouse Gallery on Julia Street. Time for lunch! Head back to Two Friends for a delightful lunch and some live music. One of our long time favorites where my husband loves their fried shrimp and I love the mahi. Just a great place to sit back, relax, regroup and refill before heading back out into the heat of the day. From Two Friends it’s just a short walk to the Custom House Museum. This definitely is a must see. There are a few permanent exhibits which are absolutely fascinating! Plan on spending at least an hour or so here. After spending some time here it’s time for an afternoon respite- head on back down to the Rum Barrel for a wonderful afternoon pick me up! At this point you can also spend a little time checking out some of the shops in the area. Head on back down to Duval Street to continue your Duval crawl, stopping in shops and galleries along the way. It’s hot, you’re on island time and there isn’t any need to hurry. End your day with a delightful light dinner at Frita’s Cuban Burgers! A cuban burger and pork street taco’s along with a side of rice and beans are a must. It’s just a small place, basically a food truck, so it’s easy to miss. But, most of the time these are the best places to check out. The night is still young and sunset is looming on the horizon. Take an evening stroll along Mallory Square, usually there will be a cruise ship in port, and just enjoy the atmosphere of the night and where you are!
Fort Zachary Taylor
Wasting away in Margaritaville
Cigar Bar-I have no idea who these people are
Our dinner guests at Meson de Pepe
Another day to start out your day right with a great breakfast. This time try Harpoon Harry’s, another recommendation from a KW local. A low key diner, off the beaten path, with breakfasts that will not break the bank, but will fill you up for your day ahead. In fact, ours was enough to last us until dinner time! After a ton of walking the last few days and absorbing the ambiance of Old Town, it’s time to head to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park . As many times as we’ve been to KW, this is a spot that we’ve not ever explored. Make sure to have some good directions as it is just a little difficult to find. But, it’s worth the trip. The Fort dates back to the Civil War and has quite a very interesting history. It also played some roles in WWI and WWII. It’s a short, self guided tour, but the views are incredible. Plus, if you want to spend some time away from town there are also picnic spots and a beach there. Headed back into town there is still plenty of time to continue shopping, browsing or whatever your little heart desires. Spend some time enjoying a margarita (or two) at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe. It’s always fun talking to the local folks there and learning about life on KW. Celebrate your last night in KW with a delightful dinner at El Meson de Pepe. Another one of our favs and some of the best Cuban food on the island. By now, you’re probably worn out, sun weary and your feet may be feeling the effects of walking more than 10 miles/day. Take some time to enjoy your evening in your hotel pool, reflecting upon your time in the Conch Republic and what’s on your bucket list the next time you return!
Oh- one more thing. If you’re driving you might want to check out the Islamorada Beer Company in Islamorada. Great spot for a cold beer before hitting the road. And the Bass Pro Shop down the road houses the sister ship to Ernest Hemingway’s Pilar, also names Pilar.