Skip to comments.Vanity Post--Travel Ideas for Key West
Posted on 05/31/2014 6:01:24 PM PDT by AbolishCSEU
Wondering if any Freepers have any advice for touring Key West.
Heading there in the weeks, so I’ll be listening in if you don’t mind.
Wear long sleeves in the evening and early night along with copious amounts of DEET.
Sloppy Joe’s. Rent bikes.
Depends on reason for going. Not much to do if family. There are other more family friendly places in Florida. Key West is about drinking. But you can see the Atlantic and see the Gulf.
See all the cats at Hemingway’s house!
Just there. We had a nice time staying at the NAS. (military ID required). Unless you are big into drinking, think about another place.
Was there a couple of years ago... It wasn’t cheap but it was worth it. We paid $240 a hotel. Go para sailing...
If you drop your keys, kick them to Islamorada.
Yeah, don’t go.
ask for Doc... https://www.facebook.com/ChefDistilled
“See all the cats at Hemingways house!”
They are pampered little furballs!
Yeah. If you stand in the right place, you can watch a piece of eelgrass move from the crappy looking water of the Atlantic into the crappy looking water of the Gulf. And back, if you've time the tides.
My wife and I were there last year.....unless you plan to fish or snorkel or dive, be prepared to do lots of walking....
Several famous bars are there, several local museums highlighting local history....people like Hemingway ...
If you are driving.... The trip down is pretty interesting....
You can see the railroad Flagler build about 100 years ago still standing almost all the down the highway....
We drove from Tampa to there....
We had a quick stop there at the end of a Panama Canal cruise we took (late April, early May). We took a bike tour & got to see the lay of the place. It’s nice & flat for biking, which was nice as I haven’t ridden in years. I keep a log when we travel, so I’ll just post what I wrote (info from our bike guide) & it may give you some ideas...
Our tour was a bike ride (approximately 5 miles) around Key West, where we would pass by, but not go into, the major tourist attractions. We saw the original Margaritaville shop & café, & also where Jimmy Buffett lived while he was still singing for drinks. We also saw his studio. We went by the Customs House, where we were told that Key West was at one time one of the wealthiest cities in the country its wealth made from ships that wrecked on the reef. (Key West has the third largest reef after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia & the one off Belize.) We saw the lighthouse which is now a museum, & Mel Fishers museum. He found the wreck Atocha, & recovered $5M worth of Spanish doubloons & assorted other treasure. We passed by the Little White House where Harry Truman (& other presidents) came to relax. And we heard a number of stories about the local goings on. For instance, every evening the locals go to the sea wall & watch the sunset. As it sinks below the ocean, everyone claps. That tradition was started by Tennessee Williams, the novelist.
Tobacco & cigars played a big role in the wealth of the Keys. If cigars were imported, a very high tax was levied. But no such tax was levied on the raw tobacco. Cuban cigar makers (no fools) moved to Key West & imported the tobacco, & made them here instead. One particular cigar maker, who had made a fortune, was enticed to move to Tampa. When he left, he bequeathed his home & property to the community, with the only proviso that it be used for recreational purposes. Now it is a park, called the Bay View Park, although there is no longer a view of the Bay. Too much building further on.
The best story was the last. Once the highway was built connecting the Keys to the mainland, drug runners started using it. So the Feds put up a road block & started searching EVERY vehicle that moved on it. The mayor got mad as this was a clear violation of Fourth Amendment rights. He went to Washington to complain, but got nowhere. So he told them he was going to secede from the US. When he got back a merry band went to the Post Office & were going to take down the US flag, but someone feared that might be considered treason. So they raised their own flag of the Conch Republic just under the US flag. Now every year they re-enact the battle that never happened. All the ships in the marina parade out into the bay, & the coast guard sends ships out to meet them. There are even bi-planes that drop environmentally friendly toilet paper bombs on the coast guard. Sooner or later, everyone comes back to port, where the coast guard ceremonially surrenders to the Conch Republic citizenry by handing them a sword, at which point the citizens hand it back & tell them weve defeated you for the past XX years, & DONT DO IT AGAIN! And they all go off to enjoy another day in paradise.
Last stop: we went to the Key Lime Pie Company for a piece of pie.
It was fun. I think I’d like to go back there & spend some time someday.
Beware the Homo Depot. Lol!
The old US 1 paralleled the tracks for quite a ways. Was stationed down there in the early '50s and made he weekend run to Miami on a three-day liberty. Lotsa fun dodging the fishing sinkers coming through the windshield from the guys fishing off the bridge. They'd swing the rod back to cast and often wouldn't look to see if a car was coming.
Five years ago we took a cruise that stopped at Key West. Enjoyed our few hours there...At the time they had golf carts to rent, which we had planned to do, but then it started raining, so we went into a bar and had some conch fritters, and something to drink. Conch fritters were not all that great, but my son sure enjoyed them. They do, apparently, have the smallest bar around.
October? Watch out for Fantasy Fest (unless you’re into that sort of thing). It gives the gay pride parades in NOLA and San Francisco a real run for their money. You’ll see people (of both sexes) running around in not much more than body paint, a few feathers and a smile. That said, the food and mojitos at the Conch Republic Seafood Co. are great and don’t miss breakfast at the Blue Heaven or Pepe’s. The others are right — KW (Duval Street, anyway) is pretty much all about drinking. I’d stay away from the t-shirt shops on Duval Street — they’ll offer you some sort of deal that will end up costing you double or triple. Margaritaville is an exception — their t-shirts are good quality, if a little pricey (but they’re more than just a t-shirt shop). If you’re there 10/29 - 11/2, the parrotheads (Jimmy Buffett fans) will be having their annual convention there, and there are some pretty good drink specials all over the place. There will be live troprock music in most of the bars, probably a street fest on Friday, and possibly Jimmy will show up (he has in the past, but no one really knows until he does). It’s loads of fun — like a giant pre-concert parking lot party with 3500 of your closest friends. Oh, yeah, don’t miss the pizza slices at Angelina’s on Duval ... yum.
Early October? I’d avoid Halloween at all costs if you’re taking kids.
I was actually married in Key West. Of course that might not work for you if you plan to take your husband;)
We found many interesting artsy-craftsy little shops and galleries; Fast Buck Freddies on Duval was wonderful, but now closed. I did enjoy the tour of Hemingway’s house.
Sunsets are spectacular, but I don’t advise joining the crowd at Mallory Square. We enjoyed watching the sun go down from the Pier House Resort, which has a pier where you can order drinks and perhaps even food.
If you are driving down, make sure you stop at the Key deer refuge on Big Pine Key.
Best way to get around Key West itself is by bicycle, by far. The sunset celebration at Mallory Square dock is a must - once, at least, it is crowded and noisy but immense fun. Just don’t carry a wallet and make sure you have a fair number of singles on you for the performers. And for the Lord’s sake - make sure you pay attention to the actual sunset!
There is a GREAT all you can eat seafood restaurant on Duval Street. I believe it is 212 Duval. If not it is very close to that address.
The drive down was very flat and it was hard to see beyond the vegetation to the ocean and the Gulf. We were there for Fantasy Fest, too. Didn’t know it was happening. The gays have taken over Halloween. I have a picture of my ex giving the “devil” a light. Did not find a place with a good key lime pie, which was my goal. There’s a park with canons; nice for a walk. I don’t remember a sandy beach. I saw kids in the bars. My souvenir was a giant beach towel, which I still have.
Recommended soundtrack: “Stepped on a pop top. Blew out my flip flop... in Margaritaville.”
Watch out for sexual deviants and diseases.
Find someone who has a boat so you can snorkel the reefs.
Add to trip
1000 Eaton St, Key West, FL 33040-6925
Because the Keys are essentially coral islands, their beaches aren't the greatest and they've had to import sand. Smathers Beach and a couple of others on the south side of Key West are about the extent of it.
Keep your eyes open and let us know if you see
James William Buffett amongst your rounds.
Best Restaurant: Santiago's Bodega (Not on Duval Street - Happy Hour 3 to 6 pm)
Best Day or Half Day Trip if you like history OR snorkeling: Dry Tortugas National Park
Lots a fags there. If you drop your wallet, kick it to Miami before you bend over to pick it up.
There’s a huge seashell shop in the center of town (you’ll know it immediately) that has some incredible stuff in it. Other than that, it’s no great shakes, if you ask me.
Want to see the real Key West? Well, it has been a while but:
See the Wrecker’s Museum(the major industry at one time making Key West the richest town per capita, was salvaging— and sometime causing- shipwrecks on the reefs).
See Stephen Mallory’s home (the Sec. of the CSA Navy) aka as Hemingway’s House (at the time the most expensive one on the island).
There is also a private tropical palm botanical garden in the area of Calvin Klein’s home (it may have been destroyed- but it was a project by a lady who employed only recovering alcoholics—and was a fantastic garden of major and obscure tropical palms and plants).
The Gato House which was a Cuban cigar magnate’s home. Learn about the cigar rollers in the factories in Key West, who were read daily newspapers by a lector.
Chandler’s Museum, The Custom House and of course Mel Fisher’s Museum of the treasure of the galleon, Nuestra de Senora Atocha.
Martello Towers. Fort Taylor Park.
Take a boat (not plane) to the Dry Tortugas 40 sea miles with Fort Jefferson there— which is a full day trip- and the best snorkeling. The fort which held Dr. Mudd (of the Lincoln Conspiracy). Also along the way— maybe one of the 1800’s era open ocean lighthouse towers.
Do your laundry at a Cuban/American launderette with an Espresso and Cuban sandwich bar included. Cafe con Leche.
Avoid anything with Buffett on it. Jimmy or Warren (cause neither of them was ever from Key West).
Lor-E-Lei’ should be the next Freepers road trip. We should all show up in our bikes and sidecars. And maybe someone can sweet talk the restaurant into giving their key lime pie recipe. I hear that it is froze with a mango sauce.
Thank-you for clarifying why it was hard to find a sandy beach.
your new-found gay friends in KW will love it.
Here is a PBS video on the Hemingway House featuring the precious kitties!
I will second the Conch Republic Seafood, Inc...I had the Hog Fish dish..and it was timely and excellent!!!
I recently went to Key West on a mini-vacation (December ‘13). The only gays I ran into drove the cabs. They seemed nice enough, well anyways they go me to my destinations. Key West is great for chilling with a drink and enjoying doing nothing. I went offshore fishing one day and backcountry fishing the next. Both experiences were great. Black tuna and dolphin one day and snappers and sharks the next. I stayed in a townhome some friends of mine rented for the week in the Truman Annex. Right next to the Truman Southern Whitehouse. Rent a bike. I wish I did. Conch Republic is a fun bar. Hog’s Breath. Just about anywhere close to the water. I seemed to avoid most of the touristy places and had fun anyways.
My family has been down to the Keys and Key West a couple of times. While Key West has a reputation as a drinking destination, neither my husband nor I drink and we’ve had fun down there with our very young son. We’ve done combined trips with Disney World and the Keys (may as well go all the way to the end if we’re in Florida anyway), so when we go to Key West it’s a great time to relax and enjoy not having to wait in theme park lines.
With that said, one of my favorite things we’ve done down there was spend a day at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. It’s very cheap to get in. Take a cooler with drinks and food, get there early, pick out a picnic table under a palm or pine tree and just enjoy doing nothing for the entire day. The water is beautiful, but be prepared for the jagged rocks that you have to walk over to get into the water. The rocks are brutal on your feet, but the water is also warm and calm (not like a regular ocean) once you get past the rocks. We bought snorkel sets at the Walgreens on Duval St. and LOVED snorkeling around the rocks at the state park. There were tons of fish. While there weren’t beautiful reefs or anything like that, we still did this for hours and had the sunburn to prove it. It’s relaxing swimming with fish in their natural habitat.
Also, while we were there we saw what looked like possibly Navy Seals doing training. A boat was in the water in the distance and there were dive flags out. The boat had been out there for a while when we finally saw the guys rising from the water and coming ashore in full gear and arms. That caught everyone’s attention and was really interesting!
Everyone says Mallory Square is the place to see a Key West sunset, but I don’t think it’s the best. The street performers there in the evening are cool, but walk around until you find a place to see the sun where small islands aren’t blocking the sun setting on the ocean.
Our favorite restaurant down there is the Conch Republic Seafood Co. My husband is partial to their Cuban Sandwich. He craves it still! It’s also neat to eat at the original Margaritaville that Jimmy Buffett opened if you happen to be a Parrothead.
One thing to definitely consider doing is a sailboat ride. We did a sunset sail with this company (http://www.sail-keywest.com/) and it was like heaven on earth. There are many companies that offer sunset cruises and things like that in Key West, but this one is great if you aren’t wanting the “party atmosphere”. There are many catamarans and boats that blare music and have rowdy people on it, but this one is different. You get out there on the water to enjoy the OCEAN and only the sound of the waves and flapping sails. They offer sodas, water, beer and light snacks (cheese, crackers, shrimp cocktail). The sunset was beautiful and it was fun seeing the crew raising the sails. Some of the best money we’ve spent on any of our many vacations!! Absolutely AWESOME and the crew was as friendly as could be!
Oh, also check out the huge Banyan tree at the Banyan Hotel. If you’re just out walking and exploring it’s a cool thing to see.
Honestly, the thing I like most about the Keys though is the drive down. Seeing the blue and turquoise waters on each side of the highway is surreal and beautiful. You can’t see that anywhere else.
My advice is to just go down there and enjoy relaxing. Don’t feel like you have to plan a bunch of touristy things to do. Walk around and enjoy the island life. Just enjoy the laid back atmosphere and let your worries go. :) Enjoy your trip!
P.S.- DO NOT go to Smathers Beach. It is smelly and covered with seaweed and questionable people. Absolutely disgusting. If you want to go to a beach, just go to Fort Z. Taylor State Park.
Conch Republic had this sea salt scrub in the bathroom that I was obsessed with. Every time I walked near that place I went to the bathroom just to scrub my hands. They smelled so good.
I will second going to Fort Z. Taylor State Park. There was a pirate convention when I was there. Pretty cool festival in the actual fort. Just make sure to have water shoes for the rocks on the “beach”.
But the Square Grouper Bar & Grill...in Cudjoe Key was awesome!! As was Mangrove Mama's and The Wharf Bar and Grill....I would send my best friends to those places.
I’ve been once and can’t say that I was too impressed...but I’m often in the minority on such issues.The one thing I recall clearly is the drive from Miami and the night we spent on Marathon Key.The drive was amazing...as was Marathon.
Avoid the pricey hamburgers. There’s a Five Guy just off Duvall at Truman.
All the eateries on Duvall are WAY overpriced.
The Double Tree is my favorite stay. They have a guy who plays steel drum dub step and mumbles the lyrics in the afternoon, by the pool. A pleasant way to sun, drink and read.
Renting a bike is a good way to get around.
I understand it’s a good place for charter fishing.
Try to ignore the faggots.