Spring Break in Key West

Looking for a week-long, relaxing, fairly cheap, fun vacation in a beautiful location, we (four 20-something girls) set off for Key West with open minds and high hopes.


Spring Break in Key West

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by lisanti on March 19, 2001

Flying into Miami, renting a minivan (hey, four girls = lots of stuff) and driving down the coast and through the keys is well worth it. It's cheaper than flying directly to Key West, it's a scenic drive with lots of neat places to stop, and you get to have a short "car vacation" which always yield more memories than a plane ride! :)

Hemingway's house is a must! I'm not an avid reader, but the guides also offer insite into a little Key West history, which was cool. The house itself is neat also.

There are lots of bars and clubs on Duval. We made it a point to try and visit all of them. They each have their highlights, and I recommend at least trying a few!

The weather in Key West is awesome! We began to wonder if it ever rains! A local assured us that it does, but rarely. I think he's lying because all the restaurants, bars, clubs, and many shops are open air with decks and outside patios. We only saw a few clouds during our entire stay!${QuickSuggestions} Ask for locals suggestions for cheap places to eat - eating in KW is not cheap, but the locals have to eat somewhere!

Key West is famous for their sunsets and yes, you have to see one from Mallory Square. BUT, another (less-crowded) location is from the tallest building IN Old Town, The La Concha Hotel. It's on Duval, only 6 stories tall, but it's a great view of the sunset and the town.

A great thing about Key West restaurants: There is almost never a wait! We would never eat till 7 or 8, and where I'm from, this would mean waiting for an hour. Not in Key West! We were always seated promptly. (with the exception of our 20 minute wait at Hard Rock Cafe). ${BestWay} Mopeds, bikes, and walking are the best ways to get around.

We had rented a car to get down there, but then returned it to the airport. Our 3 mile cab ride for the 4 of us? $28!! It was $7 per person! As for having a car, there is nowhere to park near the main drag (Duval). Most of the parking on the streets near it is reserved for residents. There is no parking on Duval, and none of the restaurants have parking. There is a parking garage at one end (by Mallory Square), but I'm not sure how much it costs. Most everyone on the island is on mopeds (~$5/hour, $30/day, $99/week), bikes ($7/day, $30/week), Harleys (for which there is parking), little moped-engine cars (~$100/day i think), or just cruising in their convertibles on Duval (and not parking).

We rented bikes. They were great, but we were only a few blocks from the beach and half a block off Duval (easy walking distance). We enjoyed the exercise and the fun of renting the bikes.


Jasmine House

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by lisanti on March 19, 2001

We were looking for the perfect location, the perfect amenities, for a perfect price. We found what we were looking for here.

Jasmine House is relatively "new" to the Guest House World of Key West. In looking for accomodations, we found that most guest houses were unwilling to house SpringBreakers, but the Jasmine House people listened to our explanation (We''re ages 22-25, only one is still in college, and we''re nice, good girls who wouldn''t wreck the place... apparently guest houses had some problems with SBers in the 80s).

The owner gave us a break on the price since we got two rooms for 5 nights.

We arrived in Key West on a Sunday night. We followed the simple directions and found ourselves on a quaint little street with a little yellow and white house with all kinds of greenery out front and sparkling little lights in the bushes. It was like going to my grandmother''s house, but in paradise. We were greeted by a personal note from one of the owners on the door, telling us where the keys were and to have a good night.

There are three guest rooms in the house, two regular rooms, and a suite. We had the two regular rooms, which were the first two rooms as we passed the carribbean-colored-tiled porch and walked through the screen door. The two rooms each had a double bed, personal details, hand-picked furniture and knick-knacks, a (tiny) bathroom, a small refrigerator, and a TV. The hardwood floors had a rug covering them in each room (good in case of a "sand" accident on the wood floor) . The rooms were exactly what you would want to find at a relative''s house: clean, personal, with fresh towels and sheets and sunny yellow walls. French doors were our entrance to each room (and each had their own key) from the hallway.

We spent a few mornings sitting on the porch, enjoying the nice weather, greenery, and blue skies. It was wonderful. There was also a small pool at the guest house (Olivia) across the street that we were allowed to use, but never did.

Every night, we would walk the 7 or 8 blocks down Duval home from the bars & clubs, turn onto our little QUIET (we were amazed at how quiet it was, being only a half block from Duval), and go to our little house! We loved it. There were also convenient bike racks out front, and (for those with cars) a reserved parking space. It''s a very safe, quiet neighborhood, and we never were worried about coming home late at night. It''s a short bike ride to almost anywhere on the island.

As we were leaving, we told the caretaker that staying there was "like coming home to an aunt''s house every night." and that we felt "right at home." She said that was the kind of stuff they loved to hear!

Jasmine House
817 Center Street
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 296-7105

Crowne Plaza La Concha

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by lisanti on January 29, 2004

The La Concha Hotel is not only a hotel, but a great place to watch the sunset (it's the tallest building in KW) and it's also on the National Register of Historic Places!

Last time we went to KW, we stayed last time near the 900 block of Duval, and although we LOVED our guesthouse, we decided to try somewhere different and closer to the bars and the action. It was so convenient that I doubt we'll ever stay anywhere else again. It was the perfect location for everything.

Upon arriving at the hotel, we walked into the lobby. It's an older hotel, but it has been restored, and it has a very "vacation-y" feel. It almost feels like you are outside, but you definitely feel like you are on vacation. Checking in was a breeze, with our pre-paid voucher.

Our first room had an odor that even the bellboy detected upon walking in. He made a call, and we were moved to another room.

All the rooms' windows look out to the street or (in our case) the parking lot, but right out our door was the door to the patio and pool area, which was nice. The pool is on the second floor, but there are landings leading down to it from even the fourth floor. Our room was a good size. Two queen beds, nightstand, table with chairs, armoire with a TV, and about six feet of room between the beds and the far wall. There was plenty of room for four girls. The bathroom was average. Our only complaint was there was only ONE plug in the bathroom (four girls!). At night, we found the hotel surprisingly quiet, and we all slept very well.

We had drinks at the the Crown Room restaurant a few times. The drinks were not cheap ($6-8), but they were good, and we could charge them to our room.

BONUS: Since this IS the tallest building in KW, it's also a great place to watch the Famous Key West Sunsets! Take the elevator up to the sixth floor (follow the crowd), and with your Hotel Keycard - you get in free! In the past couple years, they have started charging non-guests $5 (plus free drink ticket (beer/wine)) to watch the sunset. Grab a pina colada ($8, but worth it) and head outside to the amazing view of KW. There's also a guy with a guitar up there that plays music accompanying the sun setting.

Overall, the room was great, the service was great (we used the bellboy, and the concierge, and checked our bags there on the last day), the price was reasonable, and I would stay there again.

(I found the room for a pre-paid rate of $184 (including taxes)/night for three nights (in January -- "peak season"). Not too bad.)

Crowne Plaza La Concha
430 Duval Street
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 296-2991

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by lisanti on March 20, 2001

This restaurant just looks FUN. Walking in you notice all the Key West/Jimmy Buffett memorabilia, street signs, and all the bright, loud colors covering the walls. The upstairs has the "shade" windows that make it look sort of like a house and then parts of the ceiling are covered in black plastic with holes to look like a "starry night". The music is, of course, Jimmy Buffett, and it's blaring from speakers encased in wooden crab traps suspended from the ceiling.

We were promptly seated at a table upstairs with a nice view of the people below. We really liked one large booth downstairs with a 3D-like painting of a field of yellow flowers. Looking over the menu, I decided that since we were "in paradise" and it's "MARGARITAville", that the Margarita would be a good start. At $6, I was highly dissappointed at the sour concoction that I received. However, the food made up for it.

Three of us ordered the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" which came with fries, and one ordered a fish (Mahi Mahi?) sandwich that came with cole slaw. The cheeseburgers arrived hot, fresh, and big. Very, very good. My friend finished hers in about 4 bites, she just couldn't put it down! The fish sandwich was obviously good, judging from the clean plate at the end of the meal.

I definitely recommend going there for a cheeseburger!!

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

The Deli Restaurant

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by lisanti on March 21, 2001

This place was recommended as a really good, cheap place to eat breakfast or lunch by our guest house owner. She was right.

After finding many places to have $10 hamburgers and $15 caeser salads, it was nice to find somewhere with good home-cooked food at reasonable prices located within walking distance of our guest house, as well as Duval. The place is mostly filled with locals and a few tourists.

We went there twice for breakfast. Breakfast is served all day here, which is good, considering we were there at noon. The first time I got the belgian waffle that came with a side of one egg for $4.95. It was very down-home cooking, including the a little-burnt-on-the-bottom waffle. It was still good, and what I wanted - a good home-cooked breakfast. My friend said that their eggs were "the best I've ever had." One thing: Soft drinks are a little expensive: $1.50, no refills. Orange juice is a better deal @ $1. OJ was better anyway!

The next time we went, I got the "Deer Key" special. It came with two eggs, two pancakes, and two sausages. It was very good, and a great deal at around $5.

The restaurant itself has an interesting story, which is on the back of the menu. It opened in the 50s by a couple out of their garage using the kitchen in their house. The story goes into detail about how every one of their children and grandchildren have worked there and a few of the waitresses have been there for 20 years. It also talks about the physical changes and renovations that the restaurant has undergone through the years.

Overall, it was a relatively cheap, good breakfast.

Deli Restaurant
531 Truman Ave
Key West, Florida, 33040
+1 305 294 1464

Our Place

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by lisanti on March 22, 2001

All we knew was this place had "large portions", and you could order a "half portion", it had "good home-cooked food", and locals ate there. From the outside it looked a little dark, but we thought it might be a quaint little local's restaurant. The name "Our Place" also intrigued us.

One night, we were all famished, and running out of money, so we thought this place might be good. We walked in. It was a BAR. Well, that's what it looked like - it was dark, there were several pool tables, lots of smoke, and a bar. We just thought it was a restaurant! As we walked in a little further, with everyone in the "bar" staring at us. Past the bar, we saw some booths and tables, looking a little more like a restaurant...

We were the only people in the restaurant, and were tempted to leave, but sat down at a booth anyway. The waitress came out and brought some menus and we took a look and decided that their prices were cheap (if you got the half-portions), and the descriptions looked good. So we stayed. The whole place seemed "stale," like the kind you'd find on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere filled with truckers.

We all ordered half portions: 1 chicken scampi, 2 shrimp scampis, and a pork chop meal with mashed potatoes. The waitress assured us that these half portions were big!

We were famished, and we noticed that another table of people who had come in had bread, so we asked, and got bread and butter. It helped tide us over till our food arrived…. the three of us who had ordered the scampi were pretty disappointed - the half portions were not very big! All four of us cleaned our plates, and only the one who had ordered pork chops was satisfied with her food. The scampi was ok, taste-wise. And I'd have to say that the chicken was better than the shrimp, but only because the shrimp scampi only came with TWO shrimp!

To combat our hunger pangs, we decided dessert was in order. I had the chocolate cake and my two friends had the pecan pie. They said the pecan pie was good, but I was once again disappointed by the chocolate cake. It tasted dry, like it had been left out for a couple days with no cover. The whipped cream on top was just disgusting... like eating whipped eggs.

I hate to sound so negative about this place, because I'm sure they do have some good food (the salads we saw other people order looked HUGE and good), but we apparently didn't order it. I guess we should know better than to order Italian food at a down-home cooking kind of place, but then again, why is it on the menu? I would have at least expected their desserts to be down-home good, but they failed again there!

Our Place
1900 Flagler Avenue
Key West, Florida
(303) 292-4002

Banana Cafe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by lisanti on March 25, 2002

Key West is the meeting of many cultures and many cuisines with a Key West twist. Banana Cafe serves up French food with a tropical flare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

At breakfast and dinner, their specialty is crepes. They serve over 40 different kinds. Entree-type crepes include everything from the simple crepes made with cheese or meats and cheese, to the "La Mer;" a crepe with Sea Scallops in White Wine & Cream. The large portion of their crepes are their dessert crepes, from the delicious black and white chocolate crepes, to the fruity pineapple, cinnamon, apple, strawberry, and honey and lime crepes; you have many to choose from! I had the black and white chocolate crepe and also tried the chocolate and almond crepe... both were out of this world!!

Not wanting a crepe? They also serve up a menu full of other French and American cuisine. For lunch, they offer an extensive menu consisiting of several different types of salads and sandwiches. I think their dinner menu offers quite a bit more.

Of course, being in Key West, there is an outdoor balcony to dine on at the front of the building. If it's full, try the side deck.

Banana Cafe
1211 Duval Street
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 294-7227

Blond Giraffe

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by lisanti on March 26, 2002

The first Blond Giraffe on Duval was opened in 1999. After taking first place in the first Key West Key Lime Pie Festival, a second Blond Giraffe was opened on US 1, at the entrance to Key West.

The second location is more of a "shop," where customers can sit at a table and enjoy their dessert. The first location, on Duval, is more of a "to-go" place. This is where we stopped in to grab some of their famous Key Lime pie after dinner one night. It's basically a little shack on one side of duval... you stop in at their pick up counter and order your dessert. "To-go" is the only option - there are no tables! There is a counter, if you really desire to eat your dessert there, but we opted to take it home and enjoy it on the porch of our guest house.

Key Lime pie is the quintessential Key West dessert (i.e. you have to try some!). It's offered at almost every restaurant in the city. Made from those tiny little tart limes that you sometimes see at grocery stores, Key Lime pie is said to have originated in Key West. The recipe is basic (egg yolks, key lime juice and sweetened, condensed milk poured into a graham cracker crust), but there are many variations of it. At the Blond Giraffe, the recipe that is used was handed down from the owner's grandmother. It features a delicate pastry crust, a tart custard filling and a rich, downy meringue. Delicious!!

You can also shop the Blond Giraffe online at http://www.blondgiraffe.com/.

Blond Giraffe
1209 Truman Avenue
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 293-6667

Willie T's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by lisanti on April 24, 2001

Our first night in Key West, we were walking down Duval and noticed how fun and Key West-ish Willie T's looked. The main portion of the restaurant is a large outside deck right on Duval, covered in mini-white sparkling christmas lights lining the trees that provided a lot of the atmosphere. There is also a covered bar area to the side and the back. We decided we would have to eat there!

So, on our second night, we went there. It was crowded when we arrived around 7, but we were immediately seated at a big umbrella-covered table. We thought the 10 person table was a bit large for our party of 4, but we enjoyed the room. Bread was quickly brought to our table and drink orders taken. As we browsed the menu, we decided that this would be our "expensive seafood meal" and we would get whatever we wanted. The waitress announced the specials, and my friend and I both thought the lobster tails sounded good (4 lobster tails for $26). We also ordered an appetizer of fried calamari with marinara (my new favorite seafood - YUM!).

However, after we ordered, the waitress came and said "I have some bad news." At first I was afraid that they were out of lobster or something terrible. But, no, a large party had come in and she asked if we would mind moving to a smaller table. Of course we didn't mind, but the waitress felt terrible and offered to buy us a round of drinks! Two of my friends had pina coladas, I had some kind of Key Lime sangria, and my other friend had a strawberry something. The drinks arrived with fun umbrellas and sparkly garnishes! My friends enjoyed their drinks, but I have to say the Key Lime Sangria was just not all that great. (I think I'm learning that Sangria is only good when it's homemade or from Spain!)

Our food arrived soon enough, and the lobster tails were VERY good dipped in melted butter. But, the best part of my meal was the green beans. They were the best green beans I've ever had - they were totally fresh and crisp and salted perfectly. My friend that ordered the same thing agreed, and she doesn't even like green beans!

Overall, I'd have to say that it was one of the best meals I had in Key West. The atmosphere was great, the waitress was cool, and the food was delicious!

Willie T's
525 Duval Street
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 294-7674

Diva's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by lisanti on March 25, 2002

Our first night in Key West, we ate dinner at Crabby Dick's, from the balcony overlooking the entrance to Diva's. Out in front was a drag queen, trying to entice passer-bys into the club or at least hand them a brochure advertising the two nightly drag queen shows. Many people also stopped to have their picture taken with her.

After several nights of passing this place on our way to other places further down Duval and having collected a few brochures, we finally decided to take in the 11 o'clock show one night. We got there a little early, paid a $2 cover, and hung out a while, taking in the atmosphere. When you walk into the dark club, there's a bar to your left and a raised platform area to your right, with lots of tables and another bar. All the tables were taken, but the rest of the bar wasn't very full. Just in front of you is a concrete dance floor, illuminated with a disco ball and different colored lights. A few people were dancing to the techno music they played. In front of the dance floor is a curtained stage.

The crowd there was mostly tourists and spring breakers, cameras in hand, waiting for the show.

The show opened with a drag queen, dressed in black leather from head-to-toe, singing a Cher song. After another song, another drag queen joined her, dressed in a red leather outfit. A fake fight was staged, and the first drag queen ended up backstage. The second proceeded to sing an Adam Sandler song, and a few others, changing outfits as she went.

Each drag queen sang one song while walking through the audience. They were followed by a spotlight and many patrons gave them dollar bills and took pictures. They would also make comments about the audience and grab people.

It was a fun and unique experience and for $2, it's definitely something you should check out in Key West.

Diva's
711 Duval Street
Key West, Florida

The Bull and Whistle

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by lisanti on March 25, 2002

This place really should be more popular. I wanted to check out all the bars on Duval, so we headed here after midnight one night, and there really weren't that many people there. The place was decorated in old-timey bar signs and real wood panelling. The building itself is of historical value to Key West, having opened it's doors in 1912 as Carlos Recio's grocery.

The first floor is "The Bull." It has large windows that open to the outside, keeping the insides cool from the breeze. It supposedly features live music, but no one was playing.

From the outside, we had noticed a balcony, so we each grabbed a beer and headed upstairs to the second floor. Upstairs, there is another bar, and several pool tables. On our way out to the balcony we ran into an older topless woman. What the? Well, turns out, the third floor of this bar is a "clothing optional" dance club/bar, called "The Garden of Eden." We decided to just go out to the balcony. The balcony was more crowded than the actual bar.

Grabbing a stool, we sat down to watch the action on Duval Street. It's a great spot. Tons of people walking around, beads being thrown, a miniature Mardi Gras.

The Bull and Whistle is a great place to grab a beer and people watch from the balcony.

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

Green Parrot

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by lisanti on March 25, 2002

Welcome to the first and last bar on US 1. Just outside of the bar is the MM 0 sign - the beginning (or the end, depending how you look at it) of US 1. The building itself was built in 1890, making it part of Key West history.

Continuing our quest to go to every bar on/near Duval, we wandered into the Green Parrot one night, just to see what it was about. After paying the small cover and getting a wristband, we grabbed a beer and sat down at one of the tables in the small bar. We soon realized that we were some of the youngest patrons of this bar. Everyone our age was down on Duval. The crowd was mostly locals with a few bikers and Parrotheads. Rumor has it that when Jimmy Buffett comes to town, he comes here to hang out.

The jukebox played music that was mostly rock, with some blues thrown in. Mixed in with all the portraits, and the large wall mural of the Garden of Eden, were signs all over the walls advertising the zydeco and blues bands that play here on the weekends. The beer was cold. The bar offered darts, pool, video games, pinball and a dance floor.

Green Parrot Bar
601 Whitehead St.
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 294 6133

Wax

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by lisanti on March 27, 2002

Tired of the Rick's/Rumrunner's/Spring Break atmosphere at the main part of Duval, we ended up heading towards Epoch at the other end of Duval. Along the way, we met a couple of fascinating local guys who (after complimenting us on our shoes and polished toes...) informed us that Epoch was not a fun place to go, and that we should try this little club around the corner, Wax.

Located on tiny Appelrouth Lane, a little ways off of Duval, you wouldn't know to look for this place. Our new friends knew the door man, and we all got in free. Walking in, we were immediately transported somewhere other than Key West. Somewhere more sophisticated and urban. The almost pitch black tiny club was only illuminated by the strobe lights on the dance floor. Adding to the dark feel were the dark red velvet covered walls and chinese laterns. The place really felt like a nightclub in a big city, complete with the techno-mixing DJ.

Surrounding the dance floor are several velvet covered booths & seats. The most coveted of all the booths are the two in the front near the windows. Get there early to get one of those. Like any techno dance club, it doesn't get real crowded until midnight, when it fills up with the hippest of the Key West locals and tourists that are in "the know."

Wax
422 Appelrouth Lane
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 296-6667

Higgs & Smather's Beach

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by lisanti on March 22, 2001

Higgs is the first beach you come across coming from Old Town (we were on our bikes). It's located between two jetties, so a lot of seaweed tends to collect on the beach. We were just looking for sun, so we laid out our towels and got some sun. Higgs wasn't very crowded. Later in the afternoon, we were annoyed by an old man in a van playing his guitar, so we headed down the coast.

Here we found the craziness of Smather's Beach. It was PACKED. There were people EVERYWHERE. Vendors all over the sidewalks, big RVs parked across the street playing music, pretty much what you'd expect at a popular beach on Spring Break. Two of my friends went kayaking here for a half-hour. They had fun and got to go pretty far out and have a nice view of the beach from the ocean.

Both beaches provided about 50 feet of cream-colored-ish sand from sidewalk to the nicely colored blue, seaweed-infested water. The water is very shallow (less than 3 feet) unless you get really far out. There are also patches of slimy goo and seaweed in random places as you get farther out. The water was perfectly cool for March, with the outside temps being in the low 80s.

Smathers Beach
South Roosevelt Blvd
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 755-7800

Rick's & Durty Harry's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by lisanti on March 20, 2001

Standing on Duval street near Sloppy Joe's (the most famous bar in Key West) amongst hundreds of Spring Breakers, you will hear the hip-hop/dance beats pouring out of Rick's, just begging you to come in and dance. There's a short line to get in and show the bouncer your ID (21 & up only), pay your $5 and make your way up the steep flight of stairs almost directly to the dance floor. The dance floor is PACKED, but you are drawn to it... the music just makes you want to dance. Everyone there is drinking, having a good time, and just out to have fun! There's a bar on the opposite side of the dance floor, but be prepared to push/dance your way through a lot of sweaty bodies to get there! It's easier to turn left at the stairs and go outside...

Once outside, there are two more bars, and it's a little less noisy. There are still tons of people, but at least they can hear you when you say "Excuse me" to get by. The bartenders are nice, but sometimes it's a little hard to get their attention. I can't tell you much about the drinks... I drank mostly bottled beer, which was once dissappointingly lukewarm. Past the outside bars and people is a set of stairs which will take you down to Durty Harry's where there's a live band (mostly belting out 80s rock tunes) and some more people. There's two bathrooms down here, which are sometimes less crowded than the ones inside Rick's. Part of this uncovered outside area overlooks Duval, so if you are taking a breather out here, you can people watch on the street below.

Another place to overlook Duval is on the covered balcony back inside (near the dance floor). This is where you can quickly escape the dance floor if you are on that side and just need some air.

I think from 6 to 11 PM, you can pay $10 to get in for "all you can drink." We never did this, so I can't tell you if it's worth it. They also had the same deal till 1 AM at Club Epoch, down the street for $6, and we heard it was only cheap keg beer and the line was so long at the beer stand, that it wasn't worth it. I can only assume that Rick's had sort of the same deal.

We spent most of the night on the dance floor, dancing with the hundreds of sweaty guys on the wet, dirty floor (be careful not to slip and fall like my friend!). They played mostly current hip-hop (Wyclef, Nelly, Jagged Edge, Shaggy) and some dance-techno (Daft Punk, Zombie Nation, Sonique). We were very happy with most of the music and the people there.

Rick's Bar
208 Duval St
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 294-3765

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by lisanti on March 20, 2001

Being one of the biggest attractions in KW, we knew we had to check it out. Our second night, we finally walked down there. As soon as we got near Mallory Square, I noticed a definite change in atmosphere. It all of a sudden looked like a TOTAL tourist town. There were old shops made to look like "old" buildings, and it just came off to me as a lot more "touristy" than the rest of the island. There were people, cars, and kids everywhere, and the crowds got even worse the closer we got to Mallory Square. The words "Tourist TRAP" came to mind.

There were entertainers and groups of people gathered around them, street vendors selling everything from candles to pina coladas to hot dogs. There was even a karaoke booth, where you could sing and get a free t-shirt. One entertainer that caught our eye was the Cat Guy in front of the Holiday Inn. He was either CRAZY or on drugs, but very entertaining. I don't think anyone really knew what to think of him, but everyone seemed entranced. The cats do some pretty neat tricks also. There is a another cat guy on the pier next to the hotel. He's a little more normal and has a few more cats that you can go pet if you like. We liked the cats named "Lisa" and "Batman". :)

Mallory Square itself is located in between/in front of some of the grandest hotels on the island and there's a nearby marina. It was neat to see all the boats out for a sunset sail.

We finally found a spot on a bridge with a big pole in our line of sight, but it was the best we could find. When the sun finally set, it slipped behind a cloud at the last minute, preventing it from fully reflecting off the water. There were no other clouds in the sky, so it was a little dissapointing.

It was definitely something you should do once on your visit, but there are better places on the island to watch the sunset. It's a free, entertaining, vacation-type event to do.

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

Sebago Catamarans

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by lisanti on March 27, 2001

We found the Sebago Watersports booth around the 600 block of Duval. During Spring Break, this booth was open all day and till midnight every night. The guys who work there are constantly recruiting people to go on the Sebago trips. They will throw out all kinds of sales tactics to get you to go on their boat.... They'll tell you they are giving you the best deal and that there's only a few spots left and the boat is filling up quickly, and of course flattery is used too ("all the guys will be hitting on you"). The night we happened to stop by, a well-tanned, friendly guy was working there (Dave). Dave first told us that the combination sail/snorkel was $45. I knew we could do better, and I told him, and he immediately dropped the price to $35. With the promise of a good crowd, free drinks, and a large boat, we signed up for a sail two days later.

On the day of our sail, we arrived an hour before our departure time, as requested. This hour was used to check in, board the boat, get our snorkeling equipment, learn the rules, and get a quick picture taken of our group. Some words of advice: get there on time to get checked in so you can be one of the first people on the boat, so you can get a seat and a table. The free "drinks" included draft domestic beer, wine, soft drinks, and water. Mixed drinks, bottled beers, and "premium" wines cost $4-$5. None of the alcoholic beverages would be available until after the snorkeling. The boat was a huge, fairly new catamaran, with a large covered area with tables and benches and the bar, and a deck around the outside of the covered area. On our particular sail (Weds from 1:30 to 4:30), the boat was filled primarily with college-aged girls, a few guys, and a few families.

It took about 45 minutes to get to where we would snorkel. Beforehand, we had a quick lesson on snorkeling with the provided equipment (mask, snorkel, flippers, and inflatable "buoyancy" vest), and how to get off/on the boat. At the snorkeling sight, we were allowed to snorkel for about an hour. The hour flew by as we saw many types of coral, underwater caverns, many very colorful tropical fish, and all kinds of neat stuff. The coral reef is very close (3 feet) to the top of the water in some places, so we had to be careful not to touch it.

Once back on the boat, we just relaxed. We were too exhausted to even drink beer. After we got back, the pictures they had taken were available for $10, with extra copies for $5. We all bought one... we couldn't resist. The other three girls in my group also bought Sebago t-shirts for $14 each.

Sebago also offers parasailing and some other stuff. Go to their website @ http://www.sebagocatamarans.com/.

Sebago Watersports
200 William Street
Key West, Florida
(800) 507-9955

Southernmost Point

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by lisanti on March 28, 2001

We knew we had to see it. It is after all, the southernmost point of the continental United States, and only 90 miles to Cuba. So, one day, we rode our bikes down there and there it was: a huge red and yellow concrete buoy surrounded by people. People everywhere: climbing on the buoy, taking pictures, driving by, tour groups, people milling around the table full of 'Southernmost Point' souvenirs.

It was late afternoon, and probably one of the most popular times of day to visit this monument, but still, we were not too impressed. It was just a tourist attraction, with not much else to offer. Sure it was neat to see, but there are much better places to waste your time and film in Key West.

Southernmost Point Key West
Whitehead And South Streets
Key West, Florida, 33040

Driving/Barhopping thru the Keys (from Miami to Key West)

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by lisanti on December 10, 2001

There's nothing like a road trip. Even a short one. After weighing the different options of flying to Miami and renting a car versus just flying to Key West, we discussed it with a travel agent and did some research and decided to fly to Miami and make the "3 hour" drive to Key West. It's a straight shot down US Highway 1 and you get to hit the all the Florida Keys along the way.

After our liquor store "fiasco" in Miami (see my Journal) we were in a silly mood as it was. A road trip and the excitement of getting to Key West only heightened the experience.

Once you get out of Miami, it's not too long (45 minutes) until you get to the Keys. From there, the road turns into a two lane highway and is marked by mile markers ("MM 101," etc. with MM 1 being in Key West @ the end of US 1). At first, there are trees on either side of the road, and we ran into a bunch of traffic getting on and off the island (remember, it's Sunday afternoon). It took us about 45 minutes, and then the traffic got better. Once you get going, make a stop at a gas station and get a free guidebook with a map, coupons, and a guide to the different islands. Our only real goal was to get to Key West before sunset, so we had about 5 hours to get there. Plenty of time to see some sights.

Key Largo - Coconuts A guy in Miami had told us that we had to stop at Coconuts in Key Largo and have one of their Pina Coladas. So, that was our first stop. You may see a sign or two on the way (it's in the Marina del Mar Resort), but it's kind of hard to find. To get there, turn off US 1 at MM 100 onto Laguna Avenue by Blockbuster Video. Go down a block and Coconuts is on your left. Once you pull into the gravel parking lot and park, you'll notice that it's a big place. We were there on a Sunday afternoon, and it was pretty empty, but I'm sure it's happening on the weekends. The entire place has wooden decks for floors and it's totally open to the outside pool and overlooks the marina. The restaurant is huge, with a dance floor room attached to it. We sat down at one of the plastic tables and looked over the menu, deciding to have a snack of conch fritters and pina coladas. The Miami guy was right! The pina coladas were Awesome! The shredded coconut on top made the drink. The conch fritters were served with cocktail sauce and were just ok. Nothing special. They seemed to have a wide variety of seafood, entrees, and a long list of specialty drinks for reasonable prices.

Islamorada - Holiday Isle Tiki Bar (not to be confused with any other Tiki Bar) This place is "world famous" and we had heard rumors of it before we even took our trip. This place is one big party. All the time. We got there about 4 PM on a Sunday, and there were people everywhere. Located just past MM 85, It's like it's own little thatched roof village; the parking lot is surrounded by the many bars and restaurants and two hotels. In the parking lot, there was a herd of Harleys and bikers (popular in the Keys), and people of all ages having a good time. We opted to go to what we came for - the original Tiki Bar. It's in the right corner of the "village." The floor of the bar was covered in sand, with people packed into any table they could find, dressed in bathing suits, shorts, summer clothes. I don't think the doors ever close on this place. Stapled to the ceiling were business cards from all over the world, dollars with messages on them - all declarations of what a good time had been had here. Ten minutes passed before the busy bartender waited on us and there was no time to ask for advice. Being the place where the Rum Runner (frozen rum & juices drink) was created, I had to try one. My friends opted for Key Lime daiquiris. Yes, my Rum Runner was delicious, but those Key Lime daiquiris were the best drink my friends "had ever tasted." I tried it - it was like drinking a creamy popsicle. Yum!

Since there was nowhere to sit, we took our drinks outside, and walked along the pier to the boat docks. Along the pier were souvineer shops and clothing stores. At the end of the dock was an open metal picnic table, so we sat there and watched the water and the people on their boats. It was a gorgeous view and none of us wanted to leave. Well, we hadn't realized how late it was, but we had to be on our way - the sun was beginning to set! So, we left Tiki Bar, taking a few pictures on the way out.

"Dammit Grassy Key!" Just outside of Fiesta Key, we got stuck behind a tractor-trailer going 55 MPH (and tons of traffic going the other way). With the sun setting soon, we decided that we would find a place on the side of the road to stop and watch the sunset. Well, the tractor-trailer had a different idea. Stuck between him, and the trees on either side of us, we missed our first sunset in the Keys while driving through Grassy Key (@ 6:30). Oh well.

We made it to our place in Key West just after 8.


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