Families from Houston: 4 parents and kids ages 25,21,12,7 are in love with KW!
1.Best pre-planning: reading this forum every day! Also from Amazon, the book: Key West Explained by Marsh Muirhead. Actually very informative and fun to read. Amazon also has a cool map of KW – it's fabric and won't fade and you can wad it up in your pocket. My gang made fun of it at first, but by the end they were all fighting over it.
2.Had packed a collapsible cooler, and on the way from FLL on the Turnpike, took exit 19 and went to the Kendall Costco only 1.5 miles out of the way. Stocked up on sliced meats, breads, cheese, salami, fruit, & snacks. Smartest thing we did considering our hungry bunch. This location has a liquor store - so we got the mojitos, beer, and wine here too. (Forum advice had been to just wait to get groceries on N.Roosevelt. But I can navigate Costco in my sleep, and we were in and out in under an hour.)
3.Rented a house in gated Truman Annex - gorgeous, private pool, lush garden, 5 porches, plenty of space for chillin'. Would do this again in a heartbeat. The walk through the Annex to Front Street was beautiful and shady.
4.Best forum tip: We arrived at exactly 6:30 on Tues, so we headed straight for Sunset Pier and the shrimp/corn/slaw. Thanks to photos posted, I knew exactly what to look for. Dinner and drinks for 5 for $50? Priceless! View was awesome - perfect intro to KW.
5.Highlight: Meeting the TA gang at CTH on Friday! Such a friendly bunch - Tim( Seabus) should be the mayor! It was great to put faces and names together - my family was relieved all my TA friends weren't just figments of my imagination - I got hugs and photos of all. Wish we could have visited more.
6.Ft Zach beach - took beach chairs, swam, snorkeled, read & napped under the pines. Did this 3 days! Totally relaxing. ( I gave up on Hemmingway, and read a Tom Corcoran book. All his books are murder/mysteries set in KW so it was kind of fun to note the streets, bars, etc. The book store on Fleming pointed me to this.) The walk is actually long and hot (no shade), especially on the way back home. We took our car the next two times with coolers and the chairs – waaaay better!
7.Favorite HH: Kelly's for key lime margaritas and wings – yum!
8.Outings: We all loved the Butterfly Conservatory – breathtakingly beautiful. You won't want to leave. The Mel Fisher Museum was cool – the guys especially like this. Took the younger kids to Nancy's Secret Garden – so secret we almost couldn't find it! The kids were infatuated with the talking birds. Had to do a Ghost Tour – totally campy and fun. Some stories are really creepy – Robert the Doll? Eeee....
9.Favorite stores: Fausto's and the book store across the street.
10.Favorite food: El Siboney! I'm trying a Cuban pork roast recipe and sangria for tonight! Also B.O.'s Fish Wagon was fun – great fried shrimp/ice cold beer and very friendly folks!
11.Funny moment: Waking to “When You Wish Upon A Star” played loudly by the Disney cruise ship horn! It had been a late night....
12.We picked up key lime pie slices from all over town and had a “tasting” contest at our house. Had a hard time getting the chocolate dipped pie on a stick - blame it on the Disney cruise ship wiping out the town! Blond Giraffe with meringue was the favorite.
13.The older kids and adults enjoyed the abundance of bars and craziness of Duval. We seemed to end up at Hog's Breath ( Moose's blues/awesome), Sloppy Joe's, and Irish Kevin's a lot. My 21 y.o. daughter enjoyed flashing her brand new legal I.D. She loves to dance and her favorite spot was upstairs at Ricks ( a younger dancing crowd).
So much to do, so much to see, so much to eat, so much to drink.... we'll have to go back! Key West definitely has something for everyone! Big thanks to all the folks on this forum for great, friendly advice. Our trip would not have been the same without you!!!