Key West Revisited!

So we took a little trek to Key West on our holiday....I hadn't been in, oh....20 years. Yikes! How old am I?! ;-0 I had blurry memories of steel drums and sunsets, and a longstanding desire to return, and so finally we bit the bullet and went on the mahoosive road trip from my Mom's in Bradenton (It's like a 6-7 hour drive, traffic not withstanding). It's a long trip, but then you get to the Keys...and it's still three more hours! But it looks like this:

Old Bridge

Then you get to Key West, and it all feels like you've been transported to a Caribbean island. It's so tropical feeling and laid back. (SO tropical, it was record breaking/pushing 100 degree heat while we were there!)

We stayed at the Authors of Key West Guest House, which was a bit off the beaten path (about a 20 min. walk to the center of town, which doesn't sound like much but in 90+ degree heat felt a bit longer!) but I'm really happy we stayed there and not above the more, erm, rowdy Rum Bar which I was also looking at!

 We stayed in the (former Key West resident) Tennessee Williams cottage, which was decorated appropriately...

The bed was comfy, my Mom had a fold out futon (lest you think I am a terrible daughter we did we sleep on a futon at her house ;-). There was a small kitchen and a teeny tiny bathroom. For a small family it would be fine, the bathroom being in the bedroom wasn't really ideal for us sharing though we coped! It was cheap by Key West standards though so I can't really complain too much! There is a continental breakfast included which is served in the property's garden which is pretty, which of course I forgot to take a picture of!

There are two cats on the property, this one was being friendly with me but really he was just thirsty/wanted some of my water!

And Ernest Hemingway's house! (more on that later)

Random pretty wall/photo op spot!

And if you wander away from Duval Street, which tbh has become a bit tacky the closer to Mallory Square you get, you find all sorts of cute Andy's Cabana - best fish tacos and cheap beer on the island! (Um there are no pictures of the tacos, we are put the tacos in our mouth people, not take a picture first people ;-)

Mummy with the cheapest beer we found on on the island!

Mural, Andy's Cabana

We then wandered towards the harbour...

This cruise ship was HUGE

You are reminded that you are literally at the end of the road in Key West....

Southernmost Point of U.S.

Cute sign outside someone's house... 4389 miles to Edinburgh!

Ramshackle charm or fixer upper?!

Wild chickens!

Thar be pirate ships....

And breathtaking sunsets that put everyone in the mood to party (apparently!)

Mallory Square: Boy with machete is handing out coconuts!

And basically after a couple of days you start to think "I could get used to this island life lark!"

Classic pirate ship coming out of head shot!

Key West is definitely more of a party town than I remember. There were a lot of (late ;-0) middle age tourists living LARGE, sooo I mean it's rowdy-ish, but the age group keeps it a bit tame compared to say, a British town on a weekend night! It is louder, because there is live music emanating from most establishments (it was a bit surreal to hear various versions of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles (I'm gonna be) everywhere we went!). That said, if you wander a few blocks away you find some really great restaurants and more quietude. We had delicious dinners at Keyviche (sadly now closed!) and Onlywood Pizzeria (I know, pizza in Key West, but it was so good!).

The further down Duval Street you walk away from the hub, the more cute and "Old Key West" it gets, with posh shops interspersed with quieter gay and drag bars, which is more how I remembered it. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great place to visit, and I'm sure if you live there you would know where the cooler/less touristy places are hidden, but I do think they've gone a bit overboard with the honky tonk vibe/ Hard Rock Cafe and its ilk establishments.

We were there a week or so after the big Halloween parade "Fantasy Fest", which still had remnants of gay pride decor on various houses, which to me felt like when Key West must really come alive. Traditionally it was a haven for the artists, bohemians and gay community, which is what made Key West so full of culture and charm. It's still there, underneath the chain stores and tourism, I think you just have to search a tiny bit harder. It is still unquestionably a beautiful place to visit, and I feel we only scratched the surface of things to see there -our time there went by too quickly and I think when/if I go back I would probably stay a night or two in Miami first to break up the trip. And I would definitely get into the island way of life and rent a bike, everyone you see there is riding bikes, which makes sense, especially in the scorching heat!


  1. Looks like such a lovely trip! I watched a dirty jobs episode where there is a team that is suppose to try to catch all the stray chickens... they are not that successful, ha. chickens are hard to catch!

    Any vacation with tacos and alcohol is a win in my book :)

    1. Thanks! The chickens were everywhere, my pictures don't do them justice! Yes, I reached peak fish taco on this particular trip!

  2. I am not a fan of Florida, and you made it sound so excellent! Sun, water, good food, good company...(PS - your mom IS adorable!) - so great. And the pics you took are beautiful. So lovely.

    1. Thanks! I lived in Florida one summer (my Mom has moved between Florida and Mass. a few times in my life....we are gypsies basically!), anyway I really hated the heat, never went to the beach, worked the early bird shift at a seafood restaurant, and was like "Ugh when can I live in NY?". But going back, as a tourist, esp. in the Fall when it is (generally, not this trip though!) 70-80, I have really come to love it.

    2. I find many places are better experienced as a tourist. Especially if you are familiar with them. TC is a tourist town and it's all great and people are partying it up and going to the film festival and cherry festival and hanging at the beaches all day and shopping and eating the local food and partying it up at night and going to the carnival and the fair and the rest of us who live here are going insane from the influx of people and also we're like: no, we don't have a tan because we have to work. But if I came here as a tourist, I would probably have a ton of fun during the summer time.
      And NY. I'd love to experience New York. Except, with money. I always say I wouldn't mind living in NYC - as long as I could do it a la "Friends." :)