Tell Me About Vacationing in Key West

Earlier today I made the hotel reservations: my SO and I will be in Key West from 10/16-10/22. Hopefully there will be no hurricanes or tropical storms then. :wink: I can’t wait for this trip! It’s our first vacation since last October, and we could both use it.

So is there anything we need to know about Key West other than it’s laid back and no one misses the sunsets? grin I took a cruise in 2003 that had Key West as its first port of call, so I’ve been to the Hemingway house and the Wyland gallery, but my SO has never been there. Is there anything else we should try to see/do? We both like aquariums; is the Key West Aquarium worth a visit? Or will simply drinking all night and sleeping most of the day be time well-spent? :slight_smile: Neither of us is into snorkling or other water activities, but we’ll definitely put in some beach time.

We’ll have a car, if that makes a difference. At first we were going to fly into Key West, but when my SO started researching flights he said that the times and the cost both really sucked. So we’ll be flying into Miami, renting a car, and driving the 3.5 hours to Key West. We’ll go right to Key West the day we arrive (10/16), but we’ll spend the night in South Beach (10/22-10/23) before the return flight.

I’d also really appreciate any restaurant recommendations, especially for at least one really good (i.e., expensive) steak place. We definitely like to eat well on vacation.

(. . . and I don’t suppose there’s any floating poker or blackjack down there? :D)

Thanks in advance!

I can’t remember the name, but I think it’s called One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Rockin’ breakfast. Try the eggs benedict with key lime sauce.

I haven’t been there in far too many years, but I love Key West. Where are you staying?

The Aquarium is good for a couple of hours, but I believe there are better “see aquatic creatures” attractions up and down the keys. If you have a car, visit some of the other keys.

If you *do *decide to try any snorkeling/water stuff, or if either of you is a nature of history buff, a trip out to the Dry Tortugas is nice.

Of course, sleeping all day (as long as it’s on the beach… ) and drinking all night are always worthwhile activities, as far as I’m concerned.

I can’t recommend a steak place, but I will tell you not to miss Blue Heaven for breakfast.

I love Key West!

The aquarium is cute - it’s small, but cute. I think we did it in an hour, maybe an hour & a half. In the nature vein, there’s also the Key West Butterfly Conservatory - it’s pretty cool to see hundreds of butterflies just flying around you, possibly landing on you as well. There’s also some kinda ecology center nearish the Aquarium, I think.

Really, for a relatively small island, there’s a ton to do: There’s anything from pubcrawling down (and back up) Duval to seeing Ernest Hemingway’s home (and the descendants of his polydactyl cats) to taking a boat out to the Dry Tortugas to stuffing yourself, etc.

If I may, one hint before the restaurant recommendations:

For the love of all that’s holy as well as for the sake of your sanity, please don’t try to drive in Old Town. I mean, drive your car to the hotel and off the island, of course, but trying to park anywhere in Old Town other than your hotel’s parking lot is an exercise in frustration. Oy. And walking is much lovelier.


Blue Heaven - good breakfast, good jerk chicken salad, (live) chickens in the backyard

Blondie’s - Key Lime pie is awesome, man

Duffy’s Steak & Lobsterhouse - I’m no steak expert, but I enjoyed the filet mignon I had

Finnegan’s Wake - pubby, Irish specialties, cozy; it’s not in Old Town, unlike the others I’ve listed

I’ve heard good things about Damn Good Food to Go & El Siboney, but I’ve not eaten there.
Take me with you! :stuck_out_tongue:

Home of Carl Tanzler (aka Count Karl von Cosel, one of America’s greatest necrophiles!

The Key West authorities’ willingness to put the defiled corpse of Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos on public display in a local funeral home popularized Keys tourism in the years just preceding the Second World War!

Start *your *Tanzler/Maria Elena collection today!

Key West…meh.

I don’t drink, and I was there at a medical conference all by myself, so I got bored pretty quick, after one stroll up and down Duval street. The treasure museum was nice, as was the southern white house, but otherwise I had enough of overpriced T shirts real fast. Some good food was had, but it wasn’t that great.

But do get out to Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas if at all possible! I took a seaplane there, and spent the day snorkeling and wandering around the fort, and loved it all. Day trips by boat are available too.

We loved Key West, and we both have a tendancy to hate cities, crowds, touristy places and shopping.

(I have to ask, and you can answer in PM if it suits, but what genders are you and the SO? It makes a difference in what you might find fun there.)

Thanks for all of the replies and suggestions so far! I’m keeping a little file. :slight_smile:

I guess I probably should have mentioned that we’re not breakfast people. In the least. Pancakes and waffles and bacon rock, but not in the morning! :wink:

I don’t want to name the hotel, for paranoid reasons, but it’s on North Roosevelt Boulevard (if that helps at all). It claims to be just 0.4 miles from the center of Key West.

That sounds neat. :slight_smile: Is it near the aquarium?

Oh, no worries there. As I said in the OP, at first we were planning to fly right into Key West, and we wouldn’t have bothered renting a car in that case. We’ll do as much walking and cab-taking as possible. :slight_smile:


Oh, but we do. :slight_smile:

An extremely fair question! We’re hetero: I’m a she, the SO’s a he. We’re definitely family-friendly, though, so if any of your suggestions involve establishments with a significantly gay clientele please mention them anyway (as long as they’d welcome us!).

Well, have fun anyway, but I’m afraid you can’t stay at a truly delightful resort I was going to recommend. :smiley: (OK, YOU could, but he probably couldn’t. Which might bum you right out.)

I wish I could remember the names of the great restaurants we went to - I think Blue Heaven may have been one. Eat fish, everywhere. If you are from a land-locked state like me, the fresh fish is a treat.

If you like art, there were some decent galleries in town to do some shopping.

Have a Margarita for me!

Ivylad and I are going to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary next year. We went there for a weekend when we were dating, and stayed at the Ramada Inn.

We’re going to do it up right this time, and stay here.

This site has a lot of neat stuff to do, including a sunset sail and a flight to the Dry Tortugas.

I do remember, when we went there before, trying to get into a bar called the Copa, but we couldn’t get in. Duval Street is a lot of fun.

First off…Fantasy Fest is occurring while you are there, if you didn’t know. Might want to bring a costume? :stuck_out_tongue:

Croissants de France French cafe
It’s been about 3? years since we’ve been there (been birthin babies). Real french guy that makes real french pastries, OMG best food ever. We’d walk there every morning from the B&B we were at to get them and take 'em to the beach or our place to eat. When we were last there in 2005 they were renovating and had moved to a side street, but definitely if they’re still there go there!

Caroline’s Cafe - right across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe. AWESOME black bottom key lime pie and cajun pasta. The key west pink shrimp appetizer was yummy too.

Margaritaville - The cheeseburger in the paradise, really was yummy and with a beer even better! I know, so cliche. :smiley:

Fogarty’s was good.

Butterfly place - MUST see and MUST have a camera, it’s so beautiful. Hemingway’s House was really neat the first time, second time I guess it was just too hot. Sunset Cruise on a tall ship - lots of fun, hubby saw the green flash when the sun went down.

Mallory Square at Sunset - Lots of fun, and great to people watch. We loved the fire dancers. (made for some great photo ops). Mustafa plays some great music there too (hope he’s still around). We bought one of his CDs before he went on tour. I wonder if it’s still Batman’s birthday (guy with some cats). Or get a temporary henna tattoo from the plethora of vendors.

Have fun - let us know how it goes! Man, hubby and I gotta get back there. I feel a babymoon comin…

I just noticed you’re staying somewhere on N. Roosevelt. We stayed at a Courtyard by Marriott the first time we went there. We used the concierge a lot for dining rec, but we were still quite aways from downtown Key West. You might want to see if the hotel or your place of staying has a shuttle that you could take. Even though Key West isn’t all that big, it’s still a lot of walking! Middle of the day walking was really hot if there was no ocean breeze. Have some good walking shoes on.

I’m not really sure what the weather will be like, but since it’s south of us I’m guessing mid to upper 80s during the day (if not warmer). Drink lots of water and wear sunscreen too.

Ahh Sloppy Joes had some good food too, I’d go back there again and again.

Just stay loose and expect the unexpected. Key West is home to much general weirdness.

I was a Miami boy, back in the day, and never quite got used to the “nobody gives a shit what you do” attitude that defines Key West.

It’s always hot there. If it ever gets down to 65 degrees, they lock up the stores and everybody goes home until the thaw.

If your team beats Key West high school in a football game, they will throw big coral rocks through your car windows, so don’t take your local team with you.

If you run into a chick named Lucille that hangs around Sloppy Joe’s, tell her I said she should burn in hell.

Have a BLAST! :smiley:

Rent a scooter. They’re the bomb for getting around–and parking. Parking a car there sucks big-time.

Also, I absolutely adored the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

Thanks for the continued replies, and sorry for being AWOL yesterday: work is simply unreal this week, and I’ve been working at home nights, too. In what downtime I have I tend to prefer TV to the computer (I work as an editor), so I’m a little behind. I have comments/questions for some folks, but I won’t be able to really write a “good” post for a little while. Please bear with me; I swear I’ll be back (with [virtual] pie). :slight_smile:

Since you’re going to have a car, I’d recommend a trip up to Bahia Honda State Park. There’s a nice beach there (something they don’t have at Key West), and snorkeling, etc. I reckon it’s about 30 miles up the highway from Key West.

We were considering getting away for a few days next month, and Key West is high up on the list. I was there twice in med school, nearly ten years ago :eek: and loved the hell out of it.

This time we were talking about renting a car and exploring the rest of the Keys, since both times I’ve been there I didn’t leave the island the entire time. Is this worthwhile?

Aside from that, we’ll probably bum around town, eat a lot of fresh fish and conch, and spend as much time as possible at The Green Parrot.

The Aquarium is within walking distance of the Butterfly Conservatory; I’m not sure of the distance, but it’s not awfully long.

I have a time share in Key west. I have been going there for 18 years.
If you like music almost every bar has live entertainment. They change through the day. Most start at go and go til 4. Duval street has Hogs Breath Saloon. Captain Tonys, Sloppy Joes. Margaritaville, Dirty Harrys, The Bull etc. You can go from folk, to country and western ,to rock and any other kind of music.
Restaurants of all kinds. Breakfast from Cuban to French. This Key West paper will give you menus for various restaurants. Try Louies Backyard.
Fantasy Fest is wild. It is like a mardi gras with less clothes. Floats and marching bands are from dusk for about 4 hours. The town is totally jammed and bars are lined out the doors. Women can have their bodies painted for a costume.
It is usually in the 80s that time of the year.
We park our car and walk everywhere. The Turtle Krawls is fun. BOs Wagon for fresh fish sandwiches and beer. My wife likes Fat Tuesdays. They have frozen drinks that taste like tootsie rolls or lollipops or whatever you want.

I’m finally back! Thanks for the patience; hope some of y’all are still around. :slight_smile:

Yes, unfortunately it would. Heh.

Here is where I admit that, despite having mostly grown up in a Baltimore suburb, I do not like seafood. My SO does, so we’ll definitely check out a good seafood place or two (they usually have something non-fishy for us heathens), but it won’t be our focus.

Holy crap, that place looks awesome! :slight_smile:

I’ll admit that this gave me pause at first: not because of the festival itself, but because of the impending crowds (we deliberately vacation off-season in an effort to avoid crowds). But I told my SO about it, and we checked the Fantasy Fest schedule, and we’re not changing our plans. :slight_smile: Seems like there will be some fun stuff going on while we’re there, but that the festival really picks up steam the day we leave. Plus it would be really hard for us to pick another week at this point. So Fantasy Fest, here we come!

Meh, screw it: that’s where we’ll be staying. :slight_smile: They didn’t have a shuttle? Were taxis easy to find? What did you think of that hotel in general?

Miami’s more uptight? We’ll be spending one night in South Beach.

That part I know: when I was there before the temps were in the low 70s (they said it was unseasonably cool, even for January), and I swear I saw some locals in parkas.

I will keep that in mind. :smiley:

Thanks for both suggestions!

Wait, there are no beaches in Key West? Or just no nice beaches?

Great, thank you! I’ve mentioned both places to my SO, and they’re on our list.