Key West, Florida: Feeling 100 at Mile 0

What travel stories do you have?

Global travel blog that features travel stories on living, traveling and growing up in cities, villages and towns around the world!

key west

Key West, Florida: Feeling 100 at Mile 0

Why Key West? Well, I’m one of those people where, if I’m going on vacation there has to be a beach, I have to be in the water, and I am going to need a tropical drink in my hand.

Some people think I’m crazy, “PJ,” I can hear them saying, “Don’t you love the majestic beauty that is nature? Why not go hiking in the mountains or go somewhere with a rich cultural history? There’s so much more than beaches!” And to that I have to say that I’m glad that you’ve found vacation destinations that suit your travel desires, but for me, it’s not a vacation if I’m not hot and sandy.

That being said, when my husband and I were deciding on places to go for my spring break last winter, I would be lying if I didn’t say I based my entire decision on how far south we could possibly go and still be in the United States. A quick Google search of this criteria was done, and Key West was our new travel destination. 80 degrees in the middle of February? Sign me up!

Key West was a six-hour plane ride away, and the moment we stepped off the plane, I knew this vacation was going to be memorable. I had never exited a plane by stairwell in the middle of an open airway, but that was the norm at Key West’s tiny, tiny airport. My first interaction with a Key West employee was getting yelled at for stopping to take a picture of the plane we had just gotten off of. Welcome to Key West!

key west

Key West House

When we were waiting in the room to get our luggage (and yes, when I say room, I do mean the size of a typical living room), I caught a whiff of what was definitely not a kid-friendly drink. It was at this point in time when I realized that the people of Key West take partying seriously. The first thing I thought of when getting off the plane was snapping a photo, and the first thing this guy thought of was how fast he could acquire alcohol. To each his own!

A pink taxi picked us up and we were on our way to our resort. Being basic, the first thing I had to do was Snapchat a video of palm trees whizzing by our car with the temperature filter proudly being displayed over it at 80 degrees. My husband and I were instantly enamored by the rows of quaint pastel colored houses, one after another. It seemed as though the only other vehicles on the roads besides taxis were scooters. Looking at the townspeople it appeared that clothing (at least modest) was optional. I relaxed back in my seat with a smile, we had made it.

We arrived on a Sunday and the only thing we had planned for that day was a sunset cruise. Having about three hours to kill, we decided we would go get some Cuban food and troll around town for a while. The friendly workers at the local Cuban food joint handed us our delicious chicken empanadas (made without wearing gloves ah, vacation!) and we were on our way to explore Duval Street.

I would recommend going to this little slice of heaven to anyone....If you’re into sun, water and happiness then you need to look no farther than the Southernmost Point on the continental US.

PJ

I feel like I’m going to alienate a lot of people when I say this but, we didn’t like Duval Street. Maybe it was because the day we arrived was the last day of a popular art festival, so the major roadway was absolutely flooded with people, but we didn’t see the appeal. For those of you who don’t know, Duval Street is basically the Bourbon Street of Key West and it’s absolutely packed with bars, clubs and… art galleries? It’s confusing. All I know is that I never want to see a man dressed up like Batman painting a pregnant woman’s belly ever again thank you very much.

On a prettier note, Key West is known for its sunsets. Typically folks will gather at the popular shopping district, Mallory Square, and will fight each other for the best seat in the house. Since my husband is a sailing aficionado, we booked a cruise that would take us right out into the bay so that we would really have front-row seats to the show. And it was spectacular. I’ve never been able to actually watch the sun disappear below the horizon, but that was exactly what we were able to do aboard a schooner with complimentary margaritas in hand. (We also fulfilled our duties as millennials by helping an older group of people figure out how to use their phones to take a picture. Don’t thank us; we’re just doing our job.)

key west

Key West Sunset

Monday was our biggest day because that was the day my husband and I sailed three hours westward off the coast of Key West into the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re wondering why the heck we would do this, it’s because there lies a forgotten, half-finished prison built in the 1800s that over time has transformed into one of the most magnificent, island paradises I’ve ever seen. Random, right?

Once we stepped off the ferry onto The Dry Tortugas island, we knew the three-hour, vomit-inducing (thank you seasickness) trip had all been worth it. No words would ever be able to do it justice and I suggest you Google it. Turquoise water, white sand beaches, Spanish-inspired brick architecture and a horizon that goes on for days. The whole time my husband and I were there we just kept on saying, “Are we really here? Are we actually seeing this?” I snorkeled for the first time here and discovered how salty sea water is when I was gulping it down by the mouthful. Pro-tip: don’t do that. Not as exciting was the three-hour ferry ride back to Key West, but we knew that it had been so, SO worth it. Go to The Dry Tortugas! I honestly cannot recommend it enough, you have to do it.

We had planned a more chill day for Tuesday since we had filled our Monday and Wednesday to the max. I love all things tacky and touristy, so of course my husband and I made the trek down to the Southernmost Point to get our picture taken. Was it worth the 30 minute wait in the blistering sun? No, absolutely not. Would I do it again? Yes. I’m a sucker for a good picture! (As seen earlier by the airplane incident.) But one over-hyped historical landmark is not enough for this couple, so after this we found the “Mile 0” mile marker and took our picture with the famous green sign.

key west

Key West – Mile 0 Marker

After grabbing a key lime flavored slushee (sugar buzz!) we went and ate brunch at Blue Heaven. It was delicious and the chickens running around our feet were hysterical. We had made big dinner plans, so we chilled the rest of the day by the pool and used up our complimentary drink tickets. (Have I mentioned how much Key West drinks?)

Tuesday night came and I spent way too long getting ready for our romantic, torch-lit dinner on Sunset Key. To paint the picture for you, we got ready, took a taxi to Mallory Square, and then took a boat to a private island located off the coast of Key West (thankfully this one was only 10 minutes away). We were seated on the patio of Latitudes and I knew we were in for quite the experience when the first question the waitress asked us was “Tap water or bottled?” (There’s a difference? The free one, please.)

I’ve never been able to actually watch the sun disappear below the horizon, but that was exactly what we were able to do aboard a schooner with complimentary margaritas in hand.

PJ

We stayed on that island for three hours, not because the service was slow or anything, but because we didn’t want to leave. Keep in mind this is coming from a girl who finds McDonald’s Big Macs enjoyable, but the food was OUTSTANDING. Expensive, yes. But so worth it. We had a lobster and crab cake, seafood pasta, yellow-tail snapper, and key lime pie. (And tap water.) After our dinner we snuck around the rest of the island to check out the private cottages available for rental. After getting our fill of feeling like the rich and famous, we got on the boat back to the island and fell asleep dreaming sweet key lime dreams.

key west

Key West – Southernmost Point on the Continental US

Really wanting to get our feet wet (literally), our last full day at Key West was spent doing the Island ‘Ting with Sebago Tours. This was a full-day excursion that involved snorkeling, sailing and kayaking. I could not recommend this tour enough. My husband and I had an absolute blast! First, we sailed out into the Gulf of Mexico and leaped off our schooner into the depths of the ocean to go snorkeling. The water was clear and visibility was great as we looked at the coral reef and all of its tropical fish inhabitants. My husband even saw a barracuda!

After realizing we were the only two people still in the water, we got back on the boat and set sail for our kayaking adventure. We kayaked around an island and reveled in the beauty of seemingly being the only people on the planet, surrounded by water in every direction. After lunch on the boat, we anchored our ship and jumped off of it into the water to spend some time swimming in the ocean. The cherry on top of our experience was seeing dolphins jumping out of the water on our way back to Key West. This day was magical and I am never going to forget it, ever!

Getting back to the airport and going home was a miserable experience, if only because we were leaving behind the tropical paradise of Key West. I would recommend going to this little slice of heaven to anyone, but I will say that it’s definitely more suited for adults. If you’re into sun, water and happiness then you need to look no farther than the Southernmost Point on the continental US. Thank you Key West, Florida for showing my husband and I a tropical island destination in our own country’s backyard.

For other tropical getaways check out Bali and Honolulu.

Patricia Sallans

Patricia Sallans

PJ Sallans is an avid blogger and has ran the popular blog "Lab Coat & Pearls" for over four years now. PJ graduated from Grand Valley State University with her Bachelor's of Science in Biomedical Science and enjoys writing both professionally, as well as in her spare time.

1 Comment

  • Erika
    Erika

    I have only been to Orlando in Florida – it seems like I missed out by not going to Key West!

    May 8, 2017 at 2:20 pm
LEAVE A COMMENT