Hello Everyone! We here at Global Itineraries just returned from a long weekend in Key West. Tropical Storm Debby kept the sun away most of the time, but it’s hard not to have a good time in Margaritaville! Here are our highs and lows from the last three days, with pictures.
Highs: Baby’s Coffee, Flying Monkey’s Saloon, Happy Hour at Alonzo’s Oyster House, Mr. Z’s, the amazing people at Fury Water Adventures, key lime pie at Blue Heaven
Lows: The Day’s Inn Key West, being on a catamaran in a rain storm, dinner at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill
Part of the fun of going to Key West is the drive down. There are so many things to see and all of the Keys look a little bit different. If your legs need a break from driving, stop at The Rain Barrel in Islamorada which is a funky artisan’s village. You can’t miss it from the road as there is a GIANT lobster in the parking lot to greet you. Stop again about a half hour outside of Key West at Baby’s Coffee. We may have just had the best frozen mocha ever.
Don’t stay at the Day’s Inn Key West. Our last experience at the Travelodge was a good one and you usually can’t go wrong with a national hotel chain. WRONG! The room felt really dirty with a lot of mysterious stains on the rug, chair, etc. The comparably priced Lexington Hotel next door looked so much nicer. At least it came with free shuttle bus service to downtown Key West every 15 minutes, but there was no free breakfast – only juice in the lobby every morning and coffee/tea/hot chocolate anytime. Also, don’t eat at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill. You may be tempted because it’s in the old Pan-Am building. You may be tempted because it was once owned by Kelly McGillis of Top Gun. You may be tempted by their happy hour. Don’t be fooled! The routinely run out of beer and everything we had was either cloyingly sweet or too salty. Just don’t do it.
I have to give a HUGE shout out to the people at Fury Water Adventures. We embarked on what was supposed to be a Rum & Reggae Snorkel & Sunset sail. It was already cloudy out at 5:00 so the chances of seeing a nice sunset were already slim. There was reggae music and an affable crew on the way out and then an abbreviated snorkel due to the impending storm. After seeing a lot of fish, including a barracuda(!), it was back on the boat for a quick getaway back to the dock. There was reggae and there was rum. There was also a big storm that soaked the entire catamaran before we could make it back. Despite the rough conditions, Captain Tony never made us feel unsafe. The crew was in great spirits and everyone had as much beer, wine and rum punch (did you know they still made Hawaiian punch??) as they wanted. If you want a to go on any kind of water adventure with a capable crew, definitely go with Fury!
Ok, ok, you’re probably wondering about all of the great things to do in the heart of Key West. See the entire island from the very fun (but somewhat bumpy) Conch Tour Train. Take a picture at the Southernmost point and the end/beginning of U.S. 1. Go to the beautiful Hemingway House to learn all about the author’s time in Key West, take in this historic home and see all of the six-toed cats. Then grab at drink at his favorite bar, Captain Tony’s, just of Duval Street. Finally, experience the beautiful sunset in Mallory Square with all of the tourists and eccentric vendors (when there isn’t a Tropical Storm, that is!).
Best Happy Hour? Hands down, it’s at Alonzo’s Oyster Bar on Front Street below the A&B Lobster House. The entire bar menu plus all drinks are half price from 4 to 6:30 everyday and you’re sitting right on the water! You cannot find a better deal, and our peel n’ eat shrimp and conch fritters were delicious.
Best Bar? Well, there’s just too many to choose from, but at least half of the bars on Duval Street give away 2 for 1 drink cards. Ask the concierge at your hotel! You will save a lot of money. Do not be tempted to follow the masses to Fat Tuesday’s. You’ll see a lot of people walking around with their insulated bottles, but the frozen drinks are far better at Flying Monkeys which is attached to Fogarty’s. The drinks are strong, cold and delicious.
Best Late Night Dinner/Snack? No question, it’s Mr. Z’s. Really, I think the cheesesteak we just had was better than the ones we had in Philadelphia which is a strong statement! The blend of meat, melting cheese, onions and mushrooms on a roll was just perfect. The roast beef sandwich was good too!
Best Key Lime Pie? Totally debatable, but we had a very good piece at Blue Heaven restaurant off of Whitehead street. Admittedly, the huge pile of merangue on top is probably not for everyone, but the tart pie was perfectly balanced out by the sweet graham cracker crust.
On our drive back, we stopped at the lovely Schnebly Redlands Winery. It’s off the beaten path in Homestead, FL, but the grounds are beautiful, the staff is nice and the fruit wines are very interesting. Dinner was at Scully’s Tavern in Miami, which was featured a few years ago on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Thumbs up to the Incrusted Dolphin Sandwich and Judge Judy on the tv. The famed Scampi Wings were tiny and somewhat dried out. Oh well – that’s another travel adventure for the books!
The Southernmost Point in the U.S.
Mile Market 0, a.k.a the end of U.S. 1
All photos courtesy of Global Itineraries