Key West Journals

Key West Kudos

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A February 2004 trip to Key West by two cruisers

Southernmost crabs Photo, Key West, Florida More Photos
Quote: Books and movies have lured us to the Florida Keys. The astonishing color of the water, the panache, and the history will bring us back.

Key West Kudos

Overview

Southernmost crabs Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
Key West is a small island that leaves a big impression. In a 2 night/3 day stay we visited a variety of attractions, observed the party-hard crowd as well as the quiet neighborhoods and live-on-board community. Surprisingly there is very little of the coastline in the form of beaches. Where they exist, they are crowded and parking nearby is an awesome challenge. We stayed in a bed & breakfast within walking distance of most of the attractions. Our car remained parked throughout our whole stay. For part of our sightseeing adventures we rode the Old Towne Trolley (about per adult). There are other similar tours but this one had the advantage of multiple boarding privileges. We would ride on it for...Read More

Garden House Bed & Breakfast

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Hotel | "Garden House B&B"

Garden House Bed & Breakfast Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
I was so enchanted with the architecture, plants, and local color, I turned the wrong way on Elizabeth. Oh, well got some sight seeing done while we located The Garden House. We had searched the Internet looking for just the right place to stay in Key West. My first choice was a hotel adjacent to Mallory Square. At $400 per night we quickly ruled that one out. Some of the affordable places were on the east end of the island. Knowing about the parking problem, we decided to find a place within walking distance of the attractions we were most interested in. We had read that parking spots were at a premium. In fact, our bed and breakfast didn’t provide parking spaces. We had to use a small parking lot...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Garden House Bed & Breakfast
329 Elizabeth Street
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296-5368

Billie's

Restaurant

Quote:
It was late afternoon. We wanted to be around for the sunset ceremony, but we didn’t want to try to get into a restaurant afterwards along with the entire tourist population of the island. Bill read posted menus and picked a chicken restaurant called “Billie's”. It was located close to the walkway to the Mallory (Sunset) Square. Good ideas, huh? However, the service was extremely slow. The food had a high grease content. Altogether, it was a bad choice. By the time we finished eating and settled the check we found the square so packed with people we couldn’t see the water let alone the sunset!

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Billie's
407 Front St.
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 294-9292

Quote:
Jimmy Buffett is or has been a resident of Key West. His music certainly is strongly influenced by the members of the Conch Republic. They make a good fit. The café menu is not outstanding, but it offers good meals with catchy names. I enjoyed a Cheese Burger in Paradise. During the course of the meal I heard most of my favorite songs. Like the rest of Duval Street, where it is located, the emphasis here is on drinking and camaraderie. The building is a typical Key West frame construction with high ceilings and lots of whirling paddle fans. Jimmy’s Margaritaville in New Orleans has much more fanciful décor. This one leans more to the functional. Next door is a well stocked gift shop with T-shirts...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville
500 Duval Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 292-1435

Two Friends Patio Restaurant

Restaurant | "Two Friends Patio"

Quote:
We needed caffeine and I needed to sit down. A stop at the Two Friends Patio, 512 Front Street solved both problems. This was an open air restaurant with decorative bamboo poles supporting grass shack roof. We picked a table near the street so we could watch the parade of tourists. Lots of tattoos out there. Lots of trophy wives. I am keeping my eye on Bill. We had intended to return here for a meal as the menu showed good fare and reasonable prices for breakfast and lunch. The evening meal is higher. Didn’t make it back this trip, Key West has so many places to chose from and we had so little time.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Two Friends Patio Restaurant
512 Front Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 296-3124

Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum

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Attraction | "Harry S. Truman Little White House"

Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
President Truman's doctor suggested he retreat to a warmer climate to recuperate from bronchial pneumonia. He came without his family the first visit. He thrived here and soon had the house spiffed up so that he could convince Bess and Margaret to join him. He spent 175 days of his presidency here.We entered the Truman Annex at the Whitehead Street Presidential Gates at 111 Front Street. The Truman Annex previously was a military base. The building used for the Little White House was built in 1890 as a duplex to house the base commandant and the paymaster. In the early 1900s it was converted into a single family dwelling to house the base commandant. During WWI, Thomas Edison lived here wh...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum
111 Front St.
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 294-9911

Mallory Square

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Attraction | "Mallory Square-Sculpture Garden"

Mallory Square Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
We found the main entrance to Mallory Square. The tour trolleys start from this point and a number of attractions, like the Shipwreck Museum are clustered here. You probably could spend your entire stay in this small area and have a good time. The city has done a good job of placing objects of interest in the area. (and it's free, too) The best is a collection of sculpture busts of famous Key West citizens. We would try to guess who the person was before looking at the plaque. I gave up on this, because I only got Harry S. Truman right. It was free entertainment and educational, too. While we looked at the sculptures we had to kick chickens. Key West has a feral chicken population. Officials est...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Mallory Square
300 Duval Street At Front Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 296-4557

Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

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Attraction

Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
We both remember watching the news coverage in 1985 when Mel Fisher made his great discovery in the Florida Straits. He and his crew literally vacuumed up sunken treasure from the lost ship, Atocha. The first discovery of the “main pile” of treasure included 1,041 silver bars; boxes of coins 3,000 to a box; 65 pounds of gold; gold and silver artifacts; and almost 3,000 Colombian emeralds. There was considerable controversy over the State of Florida’s claims on the historic salvage. We had seen jewelry for sale made from coins from the Atocha. Today we got to see a lot more of the loot. In a substantial building near Mallory Square we toured a good museum in too, short a period of time. We arrived...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
200 Greene St
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 294-2633

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
Every night Key West celebrates the setting of the sun. We wandered down early and found the plaza empty so decided to have supper first. By the time we finished eating and settled the check we found the square so packed with people we couldn’t see the water let alone the sunset! Thanks to the invention of digital cameras, I was able to hold the camera above the heads of the people around me and look in the LCD view finder…and watch the sunset. It wasn’t a spectacular one and we didn’t see that fabled green flash.The party atmosphere was fun. People were just there for a good time. The art work and crafts for sale varied in quality as did the routines of the street performers. After sunset the c...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

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

Old Town Trolley Tours

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Attraction

Southernmost crabs Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
We bought tickets of the Old Town Trolley to tour the island. ($20/adult) We selected this one because we could get off at any stop and reboard later. We just couldn’t pass go and collect $200. Some of the tour drivers were better that others in being humorous and informative. Some got tips from us, some didn’t. We boarded at Mallory Square. We learned from our first driver that Tennessee Williams lived at the La Concha Hotel for two years while he wrote “Streetcar Named Desire”. After lunch and a little shopping we rode to the next stop, about 3 1/2 blocks…but they were uphill. Poor excuse, Key West rises all of 5 feet above sea level. This stop is called the Bahama Village Market, just half ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

Old Town Trolley Tours
6631 Maloney Ave.
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 296-6688

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

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Attraction

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
The house was built by Asa Tift on the highest point on the island. It was built from coral blocks that were cut from the property. The hole in the ground where the blocks were cut from became a basement, a very rare thing to have in Florida. The house is virtually hurricane proof and the basement is always dry. Hemingway had visited Key West often before he bought this house at a tax auction for $8,000. He lived here from 1931 until 1940 with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer and their two sons. He was absent a lot. Short absences were to the bars on Duval Street. Longer ones were to Cuba. During one of those trips, Pamela had a $20,000 swimming pool installed. He was so furious at the expense, he...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 20, 2006

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

Duval Street

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Story/Tip

Dog-cat-mouse. Photo, Key West, Florida
Quote:
Duval Street is the colorful street tourists crowd during the day and the place where serious party-types gather at night. Drinking is an institution in Key West accompanied by load music. There are three types of music: Loud, Extremely Loud, and Instant Ear Damage. Pub crawls are a common activity. We were told there are three all nude bars, gay bars, lesbian bars and for Parrotheads...Margaritaville. We walked the street after sunset, but stayed out of the bars.Dog-Cat-Mouse, nationally renowned Sunset Ceremony street performers had relocated to Duval Street. Bill had seen a street performer on TV being interviewed by Tom Brokow. This guy's “act” was to have his pets form a stack...do...Read More

Getting There and Back.

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Story/Tip

Spectacular aqua colored water Photo, Florida Keys, Florida
Quote:
There are three ways to get to Key West, by air, by water, or by the most gorgeous stretch of highway we have traveled in years. Homestead is the jumping off spot from the Florida mainland. Several years ago Hurricane Andrew devastated this region, particularly the town of Homestead. We did notice that many buildings, signs, utility poles and traffic lights looked “new”, or rather all seemed to be the same age. The community had done a good job of recovery.After Homestead we had a dramatic change of scenery as we crossed the swamp. At one time the Everglades National Park border was the west shoulder of the highway. Many sections of the highway were long no passing zones. Apparently thi...Read More