Florida Keys Journals

Discovering the Lower Florida Keys

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A June 2004 trip to Florida Keys by airynfaerie

Endangered Key Deer Photo, More Photos
Quote: Many don't even notice Big Pine Key on the way to Key West, but it is well worth a stop!

Discovering the Lower Florida Keys

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Overview

Endangered Key Deer Photo,
Quote:
When most people think of the Florida Keys, crowded streets, margarita-sipping festivals, and half-naked Parrotheads come to mind, but not when you learn about Big Pine Key. This natural haven is home to over 84,000 acres of the endangered Key Deer refuge area, mangroves galore, the launching point for world-class reef dives, and the much-needed peace and quiet for a relaxing holiday. We visited for a long weekend and discovered why more and more people are making this island their final destination in the chain of keys.There are only a handful of accommodations on the island; we stayed at a lovely, unique bed-and-breakfast and enjoyed canoeing through the shallow waters and mangroves of the wetlan...Read More

Barnacle Bed and Breakfast

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Hotel | "Barnacle Bed & Breakfast"

Barnacle Bed and Breakfast Photo, Big Pine Key, Florida
Quote:
If you're looking for a unique, small, and beautiful place to stay while in the Lower Florida Keys, the Barnacle Bed & Breakfast is the place. Self-proclaimed as an "intriguing home that nature designed," the Barnacle is an architectural rarity with open-air courtyards, nautical embellishments, and roof showers. Sitting along a residential street that backs up to the ocean and is across the street from the mangrove-filled wetlands. Lush landscaping makes this retreat feel like a private home in the Caribbean. As you pull up onto the gravel driveway that winds by a tropical pond and hanging vines, you may spot several key deer wandering the premises. We enjoyed the wildlife around our room including de...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 3, 2006

Barnacle Bed and Breakfast
1557 Long Beach Dr.
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043
(305) 872-3298

Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill & Brewery

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Restaurant | "Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill & Brewery"

Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill & Brewery Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
We just happened upon the inviting outdoor patio area of Kelly's Restaurant while we were strolling through the streets of downtown Key West, so we ended up stopping for dinner. Owned by Kelly McGillis (actress from the movie, Top Gun), the restaurant did seem quite "touristy" but overall was a nice experience. Located in the original home of Pan American Airways, this restaurant is a type of museum as well, along with an upscale, but casual, dining room, a relaxing brick-paved patio, and a classy bar.The dinner menu varies from apple chicken, blackened fish, and meatloaf with a Caribbean flair, to crab ravioli, the local yellow-tail snapper, and coconut shrimp. Not many vegetarian options, ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 28, 2006

Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill & Brewery
301 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 293-8484

Key West Aquarium

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Attraction

Key West Aquarium Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
One of the oldest aquariums in the nation, and rebuilt in the 1930s, the Key West Aquarium is a fun experience for the entire family. Began as an open-air aquarium, many of the original structures and design is still intact, although the entire exhibit has been added onto over the years. The overall design is very unique with indoor petting ponds, to outdoor holding tanks that back up to the ocean/gulf. There are many regional fish, such as reef sharks, Jewfish, yellow-tail snapper, iguanas, local birds, and sea turtles, as well as more exotic varieties of animals such as eels and sea horses.There are exhibits to interact with the wildlife, such as feeding shows for the barracuda, sharks, an...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 28, 2006

Key West Aquarium
1 Whitehead St.
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 296 2051

Bahia Honda State Park

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Attraction

Quote:
One of the most exciting experiences we had while visiting Big Pine Key, was a snorkel trip out to the world-famous Looe Key (about 12 miles off shore of Big Pine). Looe Key is renowned for the well-preserved reef with extensive sealife and coral. We arrived at the docks for our scheduled tour departure time and were greeted with a friendly staff and were given our equipment. After chatting with several other excited tourists, we boarded the boat and took a seat for the half hour ride out to the reef. During the ride, the guides explain a little about the sights we pass as we travel out, and some facts about Looe Key. The reef is a national protected area and a "no-take" zone, so we are stri...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 28, 2006

Bahia Honda State Park
36850 Overseas Hwy, Mile Marker 37
Key West, Florida 33043
(305) 872-3210

About the Writer

airynfaerie

airynfaerie
St. Augustine, Florida