In this older blog I talked about my itinerary around Miami and Southern Florida, but now I’ve been I can say that the Florida Keys are like no other place in the US, or at least that I’ve been to. Key West played a role in what was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. Here’s why…
We drove around 500 miles in a Ford Mustang and if, like me, you’ve not got the chance to drive a convertible before – very likely if you’re British! – just do it, it’s definitely worth it. We left Miami on a sunny Sunday morning which was ok traffic-wise, and headed down south. If you’ve got a rental car, check their policy on tolls as some (like ours) charge a fee for every day you have the car after passing through an e-toll. For the sake of $20+tolls we spent an extra 25 minutes in traffic along the 1 (that’s the highway that goes from Miami to Key West). A satnav is all you need to make this a stress-free diversion.
Now you may only fancy going halfway into the Keys but if you take one thing from this read it’s to go all the way to Key West. It’s electric and relaxing at the same time – more on that a bit later on. It’s about a 4 hour drive and a good tip I got from someone else was to stop in Marathon for lunch on route to Key West. We went to a place called Porky’s which was a great spot for bird watching and also gave a flavour for local ‘Keys life’.
Key West is great for foodies, water babies and party-goers. The seafood and Key Lime Pie (is there anything better than picking up a slice from Kermit’s on the way back to the hotel?) in particular were worth the trip but we also had a brilliant day out on Fury’s ultimate adventure trip, which included jet skiing, parasailing, and reef snorkelling. It was fairly quiet (it was a Monday in February after all) and the website’s promise was pretty accurate in that it involved good breakfast and lunch, a hospitable crew, and a jam-packed day of fun! It also went really quickly which is always a good sign.
In the evening Duval Street comes alive. It’s like a more sophisticated or ‘adult’ Spring Break (if the movies are correct!) with so many bustling restaurants and bars to choose from. We hopped around a few places but really enjoyed Amigo’s tortilla bar (which always seemed to have a queue) and people watching during the choice of happy hour venues.
I got the impression that Key West is the type of place you could spend much longer than we did. We did pack a lot in, barely spending any time at our waterfront hotel (Hyatt Centric – a solid hotel from what we saw of it!), including a trip to The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (average) and a walk down to the Southernmost Point of the US. Fort Zachary Taylor was a pleasant way to spend a morning and had we had longer, we’d have probably found one of the beaches and spent the day there.
After Key West we went onto Islamorada, which had a different vibe altogether, before staying with some friends in Key Largo and taking a trip into the Everglades. More on these adventures soon!