I am used to writing about our trips to Europe and keeping our 10 year old busy but recently we spent Spring Break in Key West and thought I would share our experiences and what we did there. I am always so grateful for the information I am able to gather via Trip Advisor so like to try to give back where I can. Key West was always a favorite destination of mine in ‘younger’ years. While I never thought of bringing my 10 year old son, many friends have told me how they spend break there with extended family and what a great annual vacation it has become so we decided, why not? A little about us – I like to think we are seasoned travelers – visiting many cities in the US and Europe…We love sights, history and keeping busy. Being Swedish and Irish, we tend to burn easily and quickly so the sun and pool are not our friends. While a little pool time is nice, we cannot and do not hang by the pool all day. We are definite foodies – we like the local’s favorites but are not averse to at least having a drink at the famous, popular “must go places”. Most of my research was via Trip Advisor but also used a few articles such as usatoday.com/story/…
We booked three tickets to Miami and decided to make the lovely drive from MIA to Key West for our Spring Break. We rented a Mustang convertible for some added fun – just a one way rental that we dropped at KW as no car needed for the week. We also booked a fantastic 1br/1bath (with bonus pirate loft) via VRBO.com in Truman Annex – ‘A Native Sun’ for the week. This was about 1/3 the cost of any centrally located hotel I looked into for the week. (http://www.vrbo.com/487678)
We arrived in Miami by 11:30am on Saturday, collected our bags and red convertible and headed down to KW! We stopped along the way for lunch in Key Largo at THE ORIGINL Mrs. Mac’s. (http://http://www.mrsmacskitchen.com) Enjoyed fish sandwiches and of course, their world famous – and greatest ever – Key Lime Pie. Continued south enjoying the view, reached KW with very limited traffic in a few hours and hit the Publix for some breakfast/snack/drinks and then headed to our home for the week.
Our first evening was a Saturday night and things can get pretty rowdy. We enjoyed a quick dinner at Fogarty’s on Duval. (http://www.fogartysofkeywest.com) We were pleasantly surprised – great food, Scott was a FABULOUS server and happy with our decision to eat there despite ‘winging it’. With the strands of beads my son was given to the great meal, it set a perfect tone for the week ahead. We headed back to our condo before the late night party crowd got drunk.
Day 1 (Sunday) Started our first full day there with a walk around the neighborhood which quickly led to a nearby with a tour of Harry Truman’s Little White House. (http://http://www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com/) Great tour, wonderful history and the 10 year old just loved it. Headed to good ole Hog’s Breath for a few cold ones and lunch. (http://www.hogsbreath.com/keywest) Then headed to the Shipwreck Museum (http://www.keywestshipwreck.com) for a tour and view of all of Key West from the tower. Headed back to shower and change and had reservations at Santiago’s Bodega for dinner. (http://www.santiagosbodega.com) This is a fantastic little tapas restaurant – we visited Barcelona and Portugal last summer so when I saw they had Patatas Bravas, we knew we must try! Did not disappoint – from the quesadillas to the brussels sprouts and recommended by our neighboring table –the dates wrapped in bacon and goat cheese – just fantastic! We enjoyed the small plates and some sangria and called it a day.
Day 2 (Monday) We had booked an 11am Key West Extreme Adventure Shark Tour. (http://www.kwextremeadventures.com) We met at the pier behind the Westin and set sail in search of sharks. Captain Ken and his son, Clay, were just amazing! Funny, knowledgeable and hands down – the best activity we planned for the week! We took a leisurely trip out to an area and within minutes, we were surrounded by lemon sharks! Saw firsthand a feeding frenzy and learned in detail about the habits of sharks and they environment. Everyone had front row seats and was just in awe over the sharks, their frenzy and Clay’s strength in keeping the bait on the line? Captain Ken got a call about nearby dolphins so we went in search of them and immediately found them and kept us all entertained for a while. Then headed out to another area to look for stingrays but they were not to be found and our time was up. Back at the dock, we were treated to some feeding of the nearby HUGE tarpon in the marina. Needless to say – they offer a fantastic tour and adults and kids loved it. We spent the rest of the afternoon roaming around –lunch and a littler entertainment at Irish Kevins, a little shopping for spices, t-shirts and souvenirs to bring home. Our Monday night was a real treat – we happened to be there during the 14th Annual Taste of Key West. (http://www.aidshelp.cc/taste.html)What made this even better – it was literally a block from our front door! We walked down to the Truman Pier area and over 50 local restaurants were there with some of their best dishes! You purchased tickets for $1.00 each and then each tent charged 1-8 tickets for their food, wine or beer. All going to the charity Aids Help and what a phenomenal evening! My son especially enjoyed some of the cupcakes! The event ran from 6-9 and a great time was had by all.
Day 3 (Tuesday) We started at the USCG Cutter Ingham. (http://www.uscgcingham.org) We saw it the night before while at Taste of Key West and my son was waiting as soon as they opened for the day at 10am. We spent an hour or two taking the self guided tour. The employees were there were just fantastic and recommended we check out the nearby Eco Discovery Center. (http://www.floridakeys.noaa.gov/welcome.html) We strolled over, enjoyed the free admission and air conditioning. Nice exhibits, great movie, great suggestion! We stopped for lunch a few blocks away from our condo at La Creperie. (http://www. lacreperiekeywest.com) My son is addicted to crepes after a trip to Paris so it was a must have on our list. We sat inside to watch the staff in action – from the savory to a sweet nutella and strawberry – they were out of this world! This is cash only establishment so must keep that in mind if you go to indulge. After lunch, spent an hour or two at the pool, we headed out to check out Mallory Square activities and someplace for dinner. (http://http://www.mallorysquare.com) We ended up with some pre-dinner drinks at World of Beer (http://www.wobusa.com/locations/Key-West) and then ended up at Solo. (http://www.keywestmenu.com/pdfs/Solo.pdf) We were the only people inside and a few tables taken outside. Very cool décor – very NYC, pretty good food, not great and service was lacking despite being her only table. Prices were a little high - was an OK meal.
Day 4 (Wednesday) We headed at opening time to Hemmingway Home (http://www.hemingwayhome.com) for a tour and to check out the grounds. Great tour guide, lots of information and lots of friendly 6 toed cats! A couple hours later – there was a line around the corner so we were happy we were there when they opened. We walked to the newer Key West Fire House Museum. (http://www.keywestfirehousemuseum.com) After a brief introduction, kids and adults are free to wonder and TOUCH EVERYTHNG! Try on the equipment, climb the trucks, sound the alarms and sirens. Nice guys running the place and so hands on, a fun hour or so. Nearby was a ‘must try’ Cuban restaurant a good friend told us we had to try – El Siboney. (http://www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com) We arrived right before their HUGE lunch crowd and enjoyed some of the best Cuban food we have ever had. The pork and hanger steak were outstanding and could have gone there every day for a meal! Later in the afternoon, we walked over to the Mel Fischer’s Maritime Museum (http://www.melfisher.org) to check out the treasure of the area. Dinner that night was recommended by friends – Caroline’s Café on Duval. http://www.carolineskeywest.com) Great service, great food and we enjoyed our meal very much.
Day 5 (Thursday) started with a must have breakfast 3 blocks away at probably the most famous restaurant in KW - Blue Heaven. (http://www.blueheavenkw.com)The eggs benedict, bloody marys, pancakes and roosters did not disappoint! We headed off in quest of famous tombstones at the Key West Cemetery. (historicfloridakeys.org/historicfloridakeys/…) At the entrance, you can pick up a very comprehensive and detailed map of the famous gravestones - “Told you I was sick”, stories of other ‘famous’ gravestones. As noted in some recent reviews, the woman who loves Julio Iglesias headstone does not say it. While we read there were large lizards, it was still a shock when the first 2-3 foot beast appeared in front of us and ran under a lifted grave area. After paying our respects, we again found ourselves walking around Duval street and headed to the Hog’s Breath for some drinks and afternoon music. Made our way home to shower and change for our ‘fancy’ dinner of the week at Latitudes on Sunset Key. (westinsunsetkeycottages.com/latitudes-key-we…) We went to catch our ferry at 5:15 and headed over to Latitudes for an outstanding dinner. Mind you, drinks at $15.50 and entrees from $39.00-$79.99 are not for the light of heart. But the view, service and food were outstanding and lived up to their reputation. We left no room of dessert but enjoyed our meal and took in the sights at this private oasis. We headed back to dry land and home since we were so full from our excellent meal.
Day 6 (Friday) Our last day in KW took us to the Southernmost Point for pictures. (http://www.southernmostpointusa.com) There was only one cruise ship in town so the lines were not that bad. We waited about 5 minutes, snapped our pictures and headed back to the Duval area. We stopped to see the original home of PAN AM airlines where Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and restaurant are now housed. We walked around for a bit more and went back to the condo to shower and relax. We decided to try Kelly’s Caribbean for dinner – we passed it earlier in the day and it is owned by Kelly McGillis of Top Gun fame. (http://www.kellyskeywest.com) We opted to go upstairs for their live entertainment, half price drinks and appetizers. A fantastic idea since the beers were cold and the appetizers were outstanding! Especially worth a mention are the quesadillas. My son enjoyed the $5 pasta special of the night – ziti with bread and a big plate – he barely finished the portion. We headed to The Hard Rock for a final drink. My son has had a quest to visit them in all cities and countries we visit so had to indulge him.
Day 7 (Saturday) – We packed up, checked out and left KW by 9:30 to drive back to Miami. We picked up our 1 way rental from EWY to MIA rental car. We hit no traffic whatsoever and reached Islamorada by lunch. I had read a recent article on USA today about the best places to eat in the Keys. One of them was a place called M.E.A.T in Islamorada (http://meateatery.com ) – don’t blink, you might miss it but we found it and went in for some outstanding burgers! My son and I actually split a medium rare burger with bacon and cheese and my husband indulged in the chorizo burger. From great beer on draft to the root and birch beer to the fries! Homemade ketchup and probably the best coleslaw I have had, did not disappoint. A few miles up the road, we passed Mrs. Mac’s and all agreed we had to stop for a final piece of the best Key Lime Pie anywhere. This time we stopped at Mrs. Mac’s II and ordered 3 waters and 3 slices of pie at the bar. Worth every bite. We headed up to MIA where we had an 8am flight Sunday. We stated at the Marriott Airport so we could return our rental car there, have a free shuttle early Sunday and settled in. We were pretty tired from the week and decided to grab a bite in their hotel bar and settled in early for our early flight. Was home by 11:15am and ready to enjoy Easter with the family!
A great destination and would not hesitate to go back with family or friends again. I think Friday and Saturday nights might be a bit rowdy to be walking around the main area in town but with 1-2 cruise ships in port almost every day this time of year, lots of families and activities going on all over the island. We did not even get a chance to check out the harbor area or rent bikes – guess we have to save something for our next visit.