An April 2005 trip
to Key West by notso62
Quote: I went to Key West in April of 2005 for a week on a business trip, but decided to mix in some sights and touristy things as well since it was my first visit.
Key West is full of great sights that might seem ordinary, but are unlike anywhere else in the world. The sunsets at Mallory Square were unbelievable, with the street performers complimenting the natural beauty of the best sunset you've ever seen going down over the ocean.
Key West is considered the "southernmost" point in the continental US, and it is fun to visit Mile Marker 0 on Route 1. The Southernmost Point is well marked, painted, and quite the tourist draw. There are several themed locations as well in the area: the Southernmost Restaurant, the Southernmost Hotel… you get the idea. It is fun to poke around this area for cute Southernmost souvenirs and other tourist paraphernalia.
Historical sights like the Hemingway House are unexpected and have very pleasant tours. I loved how there were over 70 cats there—most were descendants of Hemingway's cats from long ago. The house itself is one of the oldest in Key West (since many do not withstand all the hurricanes), and it has been preserved with all its historic artifacts intact. It is quite intriguing to visit the place where Hemingway penned some of his most famous novels.
The shopping along the main stretch into Mallory Square has a great selection of upscale goods, but do not expect to find any bargains. Here you can find upscale retailers like Coach, Marc Jacobs, and several places that sell David Yurman Jewelry.
There is plenty to do in the water as well, from jet skiing to snorkeling in the US's only coral reef! Many places have rentals and instructors to help novices get acquainted. There are also fun sunset boat tours that depart from several locations and give tourists the best view of the sunset.
Coupons could be found for many tourist attractions like snorkeling, Gulf cruises, and moped rentals at the concierge stations of most hotels. Key Attractions like Ernest Hemingway’s home are only to for admission and are well worth the inexpensive visit.
Hotel | "Hampton Inn"
The rooms were pretty standard for Hampton Inns, with two double beds that were clean, with the typical armoire, closet, and bathroom setup. The wireless Internet access that came free in every room was definitely a plus for me to make doing my travel work easier.
The hotel layout was in two wings with two floors on each wing. Each entry was from the balcony that overlooked either the Gulf side of Key West or the not-so-scenic parking lot. The outdoor pool was nestled in the middle of the two wings and had a very nice deck area that overlooked both the Gulf and the beautiful Key West sunsets.
The complimentary breakfast was very nice, serving a variety of hot and cold items. The poolside bar area also served drinks and lighter fare throughout the day. Come 5pm, the pool area was always very busy as the tourists came back to the hotel from their day of sightseeing.
The concierge was very nice and helpful to me during check-in and my stay. I had several business packages shipped to me during my stay, and they always informed me promptly upon arrival. Check-in and check-out were very painless.
The rate of this hotel was pretty standard for Key West around this time of year (about $129/night).
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 15, 2005
Parrot Key Hotel & Resort
2801 N. Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West, Florida 33040
The Blond Giraffe is set up like a small coffee shop/bakery with small seating areas and a large counter to place your orders. They sell a wide variety of hot and cold beverages- for an herbal treat you should try the "Yerba Mate" a delicious coffee substitute.
The pies and products made with key lime here are the main draw. The Blond Giraffe has earned many awards and rewards for their pies including the "Best in Florida" and "Key West's local favorite". Take their word for it, they are awesome.
If you can't make it down to Key West, you can order their famous pie dipped in chocolate on the Blond Giraffe's website www.blondgiraffe.com ; You can also order other key lime goodies here. For the ultimate experience though, you simply must visit this bakery for yourself in Key West!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 5, 2005
1209 Truman Avenue
Key West, Florida 33040
Attraction | "Shopping on Duval Street"
Some of the best and most au currant designers have boutiques on Duval Street. Coach and Burberry both have set up shop here and are popular stops for those who love these brands. The store Biton displays high-end sports wear and trendsetting gear from brands like Seven for All Mankind, Dolce and Gabbana, and Juicy Couture. Do not expect to find much in the way of deals in these designer destinations, though - this is not the land of discounts, and most of the patrons of these stores do not mind spending.
Duval Street is home of several shops displaying Caribbean arts and handcrafts. The store Cuba!Cuba! has handmade Cuban paintings, sculptures, and other creative gifts from Cuban artists.
For more kitschy gifts and souvenirs, Duval Street offers many fine T-shirt and shell shops for the tourist type. Among them are Key West Shells and Gifts and Bird in Hand Gifts, both of which feature plenty of small souvenirs that won't break the bank. Make sure you buy some "key lime juice" so you can recreate your own key lime pies once you return home from your trip.
Several good places to stop and grab a bite to eat during your shopping excursion exist right on Duval Street. Sloppy Joe's Bar and Grill is a tourist and local favorite. Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville is a great place to grab a cocktail mid-spending spree.
For the best Duval Street experience, you should start at the intersection of Caroline and Duval and work your way west towards Mallory Square. The most interesting of the shops are closer to the Gulf side, so plan your spending accordingly!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 29, 2005
Key West, Florida
Attraction | "Hemingway House"
I was never a big Hemingway fan (something about the womanizing, drunken rumors that always turned me off), but the tour guides completly played up these colorful parts of Hemingway's past and made them seem almost charming. From the tales of his ex-wive's taste in decorations and her penchant to drive Ernest crazy, to the reason why he selected this house (the lighthouse acrossed the street assured he'd find his way home from the bar). It changed my opinion of Hemingway quite a bit.
The tour guides here were very knowledgable and colorful, spinning tales and yarns about Hemingway as well as giving factual information about the premises. It was very entertaining.
Perhaps my favorite part of the tour was finding out that Hemingway, like myself, was a cat lover. Almost 70 cats inhabit the grounds today and are cared for by the caretakers. Some are descendents of Hemingway's lucky cats (they have 6 toes!) and they all have names after famous writers.
This was well worth the small price of the admission and I would highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Key West!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 4, 2005
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
907 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida 33040