Key West Journals

Key West - the best way to wind down

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A May 2003 trip to Key West by jaybroek

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum Photo, Key West, Florida More Photos
Quote: A short tale about two 30-somethings escaping from theme parks for a few days of livin' it up and relaxing in the unique atmosphere of Key West.

Key West - the best way to wind down

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Overview

Key West street scene Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
The Blonde and I were holidaying in Florida with my family who were focused on Disney-oriented wonderment. My Mouse threshold is not high so we mixed it up a bit and cruised down to Key West for a 'holiday within a holiday'. There are a heck of a lot of people crammed on to that small Key, but it is surprisingly easy to find peace and sultry calm -- just step one or two blocks away from Duval or Truman. Wandering the residential areas and lazily picking out our favourite conch house or Victorian mansion was the perfect early evening ritual. I have no doubt that the English would be a more contented bunch if we just had covered porches -- hollerin' to the neighbors and invitin' them on to the sw...Read More

Mermaid & The Alligator

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Hotel | "The Mermaid & The Alligator"

Mermaid & The Alligator Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
This place is to die for. I may have limited experience of quality accommodation, but for less than the Pegasus International, we got to stay in an incredible, Victorian-period Key West home. The garden is organised around the deck and small pool, shadowed by fine tropical plants. Songbirds in cages add to the ambience created by Dean, one of the joint-owners and an experienced garden designer. A relaxed breakfast is served here from 8:30 until 10am with a different, home cooked hot dish served every day alongside yoghurt, muffins, fruit and coffee. Also in the garden there is a covered porch where lemonade is served in the afternoon and wine available for guests in the early evening. These guys...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 12, 2003

Mermaid & The Alligator
729 Truman Avenue
Key West, Florida 33040
(800) 773-1894

Seven Fish

Restaurant

Quote:
The qualities of this restaurant may well be exaggerated by its close proximity to (and contrast with) tourist central, but if you're looking for great food in a quiet setting, this is the place. Seven Fish is in a residential street, easily reached from Duval or Truman (the main drags). It's small, extremely stylish and discrete (we walked straight past it) and feels far from the madding crowd of Duval street despite being less than ten minutes away. The decor is modern, minimal and knowingly tasteful. Clean lines are the order of the day and, although the dining area is very small, this helps to maximise the feeling of space. The menu is fairly short with 7 or 8 starters a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2003

Seven Fish
623 Olivia Street at Elizabeth
Key West, Florida 33040
+1 305 296 2777

El Meson de Pepe on Mallory Square

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Restaurant | "El Meson de Pepe"

Quote:
Meson de Pepe is that noisy, warehouse-like place on the edge of Mallory Square. If you've been to see the sunset, you'll know where I mean. Our attention was drawn by the Cuban music blasting out on our first evening (Saturday) in town. The place was packed - obviously drawn in by the dancing and live music. We returned a few days later and found a slightly quieter but still appealing restaurant. The restaurant has three main areas - 'the Cistern' and 'Patio' outside and 'the Historium' inside what was presumably a dockside warehouse. The walls are decorated with Cuba-oriented murals, old photographs and paraphenalia. It's slightly cavernous nature made it feel a little less than intimate. We ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2003

El Meson de Pepe on Mallory Square
410 Wall Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 295-2620

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square

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Attraction

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
Every evening we intended to go and watch the sunset . . . and every evening our inability to get our act in order meant we were eating/drinking/chatting to that nice (slightly tipsy?) couple from Jersey City . . . and then it was dark. So the last evening, in plenty of time, we took a meandering walk through shady residential streets - heading purposefully west. The streets away from Duval and Truman are so quiet - lined by larger Victorian houses with their inviting shady porches and tree-filled front yards mixed up with the narrow, brightly painted conch houses. You know the sort of conversation you start having - "We could work from home . . . easily. I could do some bar work. It w...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 17, 2003

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square
1 Whitehead Street, Mallory Square
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 296-4557

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

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Attraction | "Ernest Hemingway House"

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
As with most of Key West, you don't have to walk very far to get here - one block across from Duval Street. One of the few stone buildings in Old Key west, glimpses of the very distinguished facade can be glimpsed from the pavement through the tropical trees and bushes in the front yard. As with many of the larger Victorian properties in Key West, the house is an impressive testament to a wealthy period in the City's history. The porches that encircle the two floors of the house and the lush gardens initiate a(nother) bout of "Why don't we live somewhere warm? . . ." "We could live here . . . " The inside of the house is interesting with period and antique furniture that belonged to Er...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 17, 2003

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
907 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 294-1136

Bull & Whistle

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Attraction | "The Bull and Whistle"

Quote:
On the corner of Duval and Caroline, these bars have a New Orleans appearance to them (I am assured by my much more travelled partner!). The story is the same for most bars along Duval -- dark wood, large central bar, live music, big groups getting steadily drunker and louder -- it's just what you want on a holiday night out!! The big advantage of the Whistle (upstairs, above the Bull) is it's long, wraparound balcony from which to watch the assorted goings-on of Duval. People wave at their friends who weave across to the middle of the road and try and have a shouted conversation . . . you may see the guy with the snake walking up from mallory Square and parting the crowded sidewalk like the Red...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 18, 2003

Bull & Whistle
47 Caroline St
Key West, Florida 33040
+1 305 296 4565

Captain Tony's Saloon

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Attraction

Quote:
So . . . being the sort of tourists who don't want to appear to be tourists (as if you can avoid it with the pink skin and camera) . . . we decided to honour Captain Tony's with our presence over Sloppy Joe's. The reason for this? Because this is where Sloppy Joe's was originally when old 'Papa' Hemingway was propping up his old pal's bar (a great story is told at the Hemingway House about the removal of the urinal when Sloppy Joe moved to Duval Street -- take the tour!!). Of course, Captain Tony's haven't cashed in on this claim to fame . . . ??? Not much. I guess you could buy a year's worth of bar-themed T-shirts in Key West and never wear the same one twice -- including one from Captain Tony...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 18, 2003

Captain Tony's Saloon
428 Greene St
Key West, Florida 33040
+1 305 294 1838

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

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Attraction | "Fort Zachary Taylor"

Quote:
The Fort is found within an historic State Park which is itself inside a military base of the same name on the western end of Key West. For $5/day (less on foot or cycle) you can take your car out to the Park which consists of the beach, a stretch of pine woodland and the Fort itself. The Fort was built in the mid-19th century to guard the Florida coastways from expected trouble from the English. If the English had been a bit sharper they could've had an easy route in because the fort took a good twenty years to build - progress being slow because of inconsiderate builders dying of Yellow Fever and the like. The final construction was then manned through various conflicts including the Civil War...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 11, 2003

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
601 Howard England Way
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 292-6713

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

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Attraction | "Fort Zachary Taylor Beach"

Quote:
Fort Zachary Taylor beach is part of a state park on the western end of the island. You have to pass through the military base itself to get to the beach and, as the beach is part of a State Park, there is a charge ($5/day for cars - less if you walk or cycle). The beach itself is a half mile (approx) stretch of white sand between a belt of pine trees and the Gulf of Mexico. The beach and sea are both very clean and not particularly crowded compared to Key West's other beaches. The shallows stretch for about 5 yards before the water gets too deep for paddling. The cafe serves mainly snacks and soft drinks including fine hotdogs and the area for eating is kept pretty clean. T...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 11, 2003

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
601 Howard England Way
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 292-6713