Key West: Final Thoughts

 

One of my favorite pictures from this trip.

One of my favorite pictures from this trip.

 

All too quickly it was time to grab our last Cuban coffee and board our flight back to Kansas City. I had an amazing time and would love to go back. Here are some final thoughts in case you are planning a trip to the Conch Republic.

1. Leave the kids at home….maybe. Key West is a big “party” destination and there are a lot of retirees and honeymooners there. However if you do bring the kids there are a lot of historical sites and resorts that are family friendly. I would not recommend bringing very small children simply because there is a lot of walking involved and it is very HOT.

2. Step away from that Bahama Mama. I am certainly not against having a drink or several on Duval but there is a lot more to do and see in Key West than just party. Key West is old and has a wonderful and interesting history. Those intensely warm afternoons are the perfect time to take advantage of the air conditioned museums.

3. Spend one evening on Duval. Grab a drink (alcoholic or otherwise) and enjoy the cooler evening weather and some great people watching. Key West has always been a haven for the outsiders of society and even with all the tourists that still rings true today.

4. Eat some seafood, even if you think you don’t like it. Obviously if you are allergic you can ignore this but I had some of the best seafood of my life in Key West. Especially shrimp. Seafood in Key West is FRESH which makes it taste nothing like the seafood you normally get in grocery stores or restaurants. So try a gulf shrimp or yellow-trail snapper- you may be pleasantly surprised.

5. Go fishing! My father-in-law and husband secured themselves a spot on a boat and spent the whole day fishing. They had a great time and ended up with a lot of fish. At the end of the day the Capitan and the First Mate cleaned the fish for everyone so it was ready to eat. There are several restaurants on the island that will cook up your fish for you and they give you options on how you would like it cooked and what sides you would like with it. It was one of the best and most memorable meals we had while we were there.

This is the dock where everyone gathered before heading out to the ocean to fish. You can just show up or call ahead and reserve a spot.

This is the dock where everyone gathered before heading out to the ocean to fish. You can just show up or call ahead and reserve a spot.

 

This is the boat they went out on.

This is the boat they went out on.

6. Take a tour. There are several different tours that will drive you around and inform you of all the wonderful sites and history of the island. Its a great way to see more of the island, learn a bit, and take a break from all the walking.

7. Stay near Duval or prepare to walk a lot. Most of what you will want to do and see revolves around Duval Street. The further you get from Duval the less expensive accommodations are however, that also means you will have to rent a car and drive. With downtown being designed many years ago, parking can kind of be a crap shoot. Sometimes you will luck out, other times you will spend 20-30 minutes driving in circles hoping a space will open up. Also, 95% of the time the parking is NOT free. Its not super expensive but since most people vacation on a budget that expense can add up quickly. And speaking of parking, if you must have a car make sure the place you are staying provides parking. A lot of vacation rentals near downtown do not even provide parking spaces.

8. Timing is everything. Don’t get your heart set on going at a certain time until you check an events calendar to see what’s happening on the island. There are festivals through out the year and with those festivals come higher prices. Streets become packed, there are long lines at restaurants, and parking is impossible. We went in April- the holiday season was over, the people escaping their hometown winter weather were beginning to return home and it was too early for summer vacationers. Nothing was too crowded, prices were lower and during the day we had no problem finding parking. (night time was a different story).

I hope you have enjoyed reading about hearing about our trip. If you haven’t been I highly recommend you go! If you have been I would love to hear about your travel experiences.

-Christy

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Key West: The Historic Side

A lot of the older homes have been turned into businesses in Key West.

A lot of the older homes have been turned into businesses in Key West.

When you walk down the streets of Key West you are surrounded by history. Key West has a varied and fascinating history and although a lot of the island seems to cater to the partiers you can still find a interesting historical buildings and tours which is a nice break from all the partying.

Almost everyone who visits Key West stops by the Hemingway Home. At least it felt that way the day we were there. He’s famous, his house is famous but I didn’t really enjoy it that much.  I always feel like something is lacking when I have to fight masses of people just to look in a room. By far my favorite part of the tour were the polydactyl cats. But then again I love cats so not much a stretch there.

Sleeping Hemmingway kitty.

Sleeping Hemmingway kitty.

 

 

There's an extra toe there!

There’s an extra toe there!

My favourite historic place we went to was the Audubon House. First of all we were the only people in there for most of the time we were there. Also, it was air conditioned. But, historically it was a beautiful and interesting house and had lovely grounds. I loved learning about the family that had built it and their connection to John James Audubon. They had a lot of the original furnishings on display that give you a glimpse of life in Key West in the 1800’s.

One of Mr. Audubon's pieces.

One of Mr. Audubon’s pieces.

Side view of the Audubon House. The plants are so big its hard to get a good picture!

Side view of the Audubon House. The plants are so big its hard to get a good picture! I can almost feel the warmth of the sun in this picture.

My husband and I also walked around the Key West Cemetery. There are a lot of interesting gravesites there. Be forwarned there isn’t much shade so visiting it in the middle of the afternoon (like we did) will definitely shorten your exploring. I would love to go back in the morning when its cooler and have a longer look.

 

A cemetery rooster. Roosters and chickens were everywhere on the island.

A cemetery rooster. Roosters and chickens were everywhere on the island.

There are a lot of above-ground vaults due to flooding during hurricane season.

There are a lot of above-ground vaults due to flooding during hurricane season.

 

Lastly we went on a Ghost Tour. I realize that might not necessarily seem “historical” to some people but this one was. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a bit about Key West’s past and be entertained. It also was nice to be driven around to areas you might not see when you are just driving/walking to Duvall street. It was fun, educational and not very scary so it was right up my alley.

Overall I would suggest taking an afternoon away from the bars and get to know the historical side of Key West. After all, its past is what makes it what it is today!

Hope you all are having a good weekend!

Christy

 

Key West: First Impressions

Key West.

Key West.

Back in April my in-laws took my husband and I to Key West. They had vacationed there in the past but it had been awhile and I never had been so they decided it was time to revisit the island.

I have never been too interested in tropical islands. If given a choice I will always pick a city like London, over an tropical island but when someone offers you a free trip you take it! So I hopped on the plane to Key West with very little expectation of what I would find.

If you are flying into Key West, be advised that landing can be less than smooth. I felt like the pilot was slamming on the brakes to keep us from going in the ocean! Also, there are no “gates” that the plane pulls up to…you land and walk across the runway to the airport. It was weird but kinda cool.

The first thing I noticed was the air- thick and salty. It felt so strange to me (remember I am from Kansas). But I was loving the warmth of the air. It was about 85 the entire time we were there and after our nasty winter it felt pretty amazing.

We stayed in a furnished condo for the week. If you want to check it out you can find it here: http://www.henryspieceofparadise.com It was an amazing place to stay. We were in the penthouse which had a great (and large) balcony that you could see the ocean from. No matter how hot it got there was always this wonderful breeze so in the afternoon I would grab some reading or knitting and sit outside enjoying the breeze and listening to the ocean.

The only thing I didn’t like about the condo is it wasn’t in the city center. We were about two miles from “the action” and that’s a bit of a walk when you are in sandals and the afternoon sun is beating down on you. Luckily the in-laws rented a car and we really seemed to luck out on parking most of the time. I think the time of year we went helped too.

After the stifling, salty air, the next thing I noticed was just how beautiful it was there. Everywhere you looked there were huge ferns, blooming plants, giant palm trees, sparkling blue waters….”lush” was definitely the word that sprang to mind.

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Bananas! They were growing everywhere.

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A pinapple plant! I had no idea this was thow they grew!

Orchids literally grow on trees here.

Orchids literally grow on trees here.

Then after taking in the natural beauty and our condo we had our first meal. The food in Key West is, overall, amazing. It draws on several different cultures and uses what’s available which is fresh seafood! I think I might have eaten shrimp almost every meal. It was so good. The island life was beginning to grow on me…..

-Christy