|Key West Baby!!|
However, Key West also has a very stateside vibe to it as well. Yea, yea, I know. It IS a part of the USA. What I mean is, restaurants, shops and attractions exist almost everywhere you turn in Key West. The vibrancy of Key West reminds me of the city that never sleeps, yet it is not at all like NYC. To be perfectly honest, Key West reminds me very much of New Orleans. In fact, Duval Street would definitely rival Bourbon Street or any other street in the French Quarter on any given day.
Both New Orleans and Key West are two of the most charming, vibrant, and culturally rich cities I have ever visited. A part of my heart belongs to both places.
There is something for everyone in Key West, no matter if you are 18 or 83. There are beaches like Ft. Zachary Taylor Park. One of the most photographed wooden sign posts in the world happens to be located in this park near the snack bar. You may recognize it in the photo below. I will say, it is even more lovely, and colorful when viewing it in person. It's also enormous. There are also several other famous wooden sign posts and wall murals scattered throughout the island of Key West.
|The famous mile post in Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West|
During my visit, I noticed art is a very prominent characteristic of Key West culture and the artistry does not disappoint at all. In fact, next time I visit, I would love to photograph as many of the signs, murals and sculptures as possible because they truly are so much fun. I enjoy the colors, the details and their uniqueness. The Key West Art and Historical Society does an amazing job of not only promoting but also conserving the art and history of this beautiful island. Below are just some of the treasures I had the pleasure of seeing on my tour of the island.
|Gorgeous, gigantic recreation of the most famous kiss.|
|Quirky metal sculptures|
|Colorful metal rooster sculptures in Mallory Square|
|Barnacle art. Quirky and Eye catching!|
A view of the waters from Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park
|The color of the water just boggled my mind.|
Near the Southernmost Point Buoy, which I gush about here, there are several beaches to enjoy. I hope to go back and visit them all. As for lush, tropical nature, you definitely get to witness some beautiful, exotic eye candy of the botanical type on this island.
We visited Harry Truman's Little White House and found it to be a beautiful part of the city to stroll around and enjoy gorgeous trees, plants and flowers. The buildings were breathtaking as well. Not far from the Little White House is The Audubon House. It was also full of stunning, lush foliage that draped it's entire perimeter. In fact, everywhere we turned, there was another charming property with gorgeous landscaping and beautiful architecture. I honestly had no clue what types of of plants and trees were adorning this little island, but I do know they were all wonderful and enchanting.
|Little White House|
|I believe this is a ficus tree. Stunning!|
|The fountain and courtyard of the Little White House|
|The grounds of the Little White House are insanely gorgeous.|
We also visited the Hemingway House which I wrote about here and The Key West Butterfly Conservatory which I wrote about here. These two places are MUST SEE attractions if you are a lover of nature. They are both spectacular, fun attractions with some of the most beautiful botanical displays I have ever seen. Also, the admission prices for both places were most definitely fair in my opinion. They were a bargain for the lifetime memories we made.
Strolling along the city we came across Whitehead Street. It's a great street. It also gave us an opportunity to take a photo at Mile 0. If you visit, you can choose to have a photo shoot at the beginning of US Route 1, the ending of US Route 1 or both. I of course, chose both. The signage for the beginning of US Route 1 is a much nicer than the ending but both are still way cool.
I took a slew of selfies there and made my son pose for about 15 photos as well. It's what I do. I enjoy every single sight and every single moment of my vacations, adventures and experiences. I do not miss anything taking my photographs. But, I will most certainly spend some time preserving the memories I am making via photograph as well. You never know when you are going to lose your mind. At least I will have pictures for when that occasion arises. Always be prepared!
The beginning and end of US Route 1 in Florida. The only other place you will see this is Maine.
|Fun Stuff in Mallory Square|
Back to Mallory Square. I was a baller in Mallory Square. Well, not really. The only place I am of baller status is at the Dollar Store. I'm like a boss in there. But I was almost like a boss in Mallory Square. I purchased a pretty little flower necklace, souvenir patches and a few other cute things to bring back to Pennsylvania.
The Sponge Market, Shell Warehouse and Conch Store were like walking into a mermaid's lair. These stores were filled with such enchanting and gorgeous maritime anything and everything! I was awestruck by all the merchandise available. I spent a good amount of time in there browsing and cursing because I wanted to take everything home with me. I so much am going back to buy a conch shell next visit. I was too chicken to buy one this trip because I was afraid of my checked bag being overweight. I was so pissed when I found out I was actually 30 pounds underweight. Such a newbie to flying I was.
Mallory Square is also home to the Shipwreck Museum, Key West Aquarium, Haunted Trolley Tours and The Conch Tour Train Station. I did none of these attractions. Haha. But, they are there. The little conch train was actually really cute chugging through the streets of Key West. It takes visitors on a little tour of the city. I think the price is a little high but I also think it could be worth it. It kind of reminded me of a smaller version of the Tram Car on the Wildwood, NJ boards. It was also 100% less annoying than the Wildwood Tram Car.
|Thank you for welcoming us! Weeeeeeeee!!!|
Beautiful items from the Shell Warehouse and Sponge Market.
The Shipwreck Museum and Haunted Trolley Ride.
|All sorts of goodies for everyone all over Key West.|
As for food, well if you like Key Lime and seafood, they Keys are right up your alley. Key Lime Pie shops are everywhere. Chances are you will come across several in just a few blocks radius. My Key Lime experience in Key West was nothing short of wonderful I must say. I documented it here. Seriously though, Key Lime is a certainly a part of the Florida Keys culture but do not worry if you are not a fan of Key Lime. There is honestly just about every dessert known to man available on this island. All of it looked so delicious too. I would love to try Better Than Sex desserts on my next visit. They serve sensual desserts with very clever names. They do not open until 6pm though, so it was not in the cards this trip.
|The Six Toed Cat Cafe|
My family and I wanted to try Blue Heaven for breakfast but we happened upon the Six Toed Cafe a block away from the Hemingway House. We were planning to tour the house so, to me, this was a perfect starting point for a day of Polydactyl encounters. Also, a friend of mine highly recommended this cafe. He was dead on in his recommendation. While the meal, like most meals in Key West, was not cheap, every single thing we ordered was made from scratch and the portions were beyond huge!
|Steak and Egg Burrito. The best I ever had!|
My son ordered the biggest breakfast sandwich I had ever seen, along with fresh squeezed orange juice and my daughter's pancakes we not only huge, but they were not regular flour pancakes. They were more dense with an almost potato like flavor to them. Again, I have no clue what was in them but they were arguably the best pancakes I had ever sampled.
Cupcake Sushi and Cupcakes. Key West is a dessert lover's dream!
Now let's talk seafood. Hogfish, Tilapia, Mahi Mahi, Grouper and Tuna are just a few of the popular fish dishes in Key West. I tried none of them. Haha. Maybe next time. Also, almost every menu I gazed upon had Key West pink shrimp and conch offered as a meal or appetizer. Pink Shrimp and Conch are also a big part of Key West culture. Again though, no worries if you are not a seafood fan. There are so many restaurants in Key West that have a wide variety of chicken, pork and beef dishes. There are also Italian, Cuban, Bahamanian, Thai, Chinese and Mexican restaurants on the island. In other words, just about every food known to man can be found in some form or other in Key West.
Just keep in mind, you are going to pay more for hamburgers and other beef dinners in the Keys since it costs more to bring the beef down from the mainland. Cows grazing on the side of the road are an everyday sight when driving along the roads of Pennsylvania. They are everywhere. In the Keys, not so much. I did not gaze upon one cow during my visit. Not one. There may be cows in Key West but I certainly did not see one. I saw roosters.
Roosters are as much a part of the Key West culture as sunsets, Hemingway, bicycling and Key Lime Pie. Roosters, hens and baby chicks are EVERYWHERE. I mean everywhere. And they are well loved by locals and tourists alike. God bless the person that messes with a Key West rooster. Most of the birds are used to being around people. We were a little nervous at first walking by some of the roosters because, like I said, they are everywhere. We didn't want to be attacked. And we weren't. They could care less about us walking by them. Only the babies were a little skittish around people but they are babies so it's understandable.
I found it so unbelievably cool to see these birds living in harmony with their human peeps. Too fun!
Roosters of Duval Street! Tres Chic
Some of the many roosters we encountered on our trip.
In closing, my visit to Key West was everything I imagined and then some. I will certainly be visiting Key West again. I fell completely in love with it. Even if I go down alone for a long weekend I will definitely be visiting again. I found my place to stay in Sugarloaf Key. It is only ten minutes north of Key West and 15 minutes south from No Name Key. There is so much I have yet to experience there. I would like to put some extra dough aside to really dive in and make it a total culinary adventure! Maybe I will even ride the conch train and try some hogfish. Who knows?
Until then, it's not goodbye, it's just see ya later!
Key West Hot Spots