Miami, FL

Need a Vacation? Go to Key West!


Florida is a favorite for the northerners. They all flock down like birds as the winter months start to approach and they stay there until it is safe to migrate back to their more northernly homes. While Miami may be the first place in Florida that comes to mind, the Keys seem to be a close second for most people that we speak with even though it doesn’t necessarily see the same influx in seasonal nestings as places like Sarasota, Anna Maria and Bradenton do. The Keys are known for other reasons… reasons that brought us there in the first place.

I feel like Florida gets a bad reputation sometimes. More often than not it is assumed that the only people to travel there are old, frosty northerners, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, Q-tips (a nickname they have endearingly earned from having white hair and always sporting white New Balance shoes) travel there in the droves, but many of the coastal cities remain a haven for younger tourism. We visited Florida all the time when I was a kid because both of my grandparent’s had condos in Sarasota… imagine that, right? As a result I spent a lot of time in the cities that I mentioned above and got to know them quite well.

As the years went by and my grandparents stopped going to Florida as much I started going down there with friends to visit other areas that I had never experienced before. I was very surprised to find that there were still places there that didn’t really seem to get much tourism at all. Places like Manasota Key, for example. It isn’t associated with the actual Keys, though, and that may be why it is lesser known. Anyway, I will never forget the first time that Kelly and I visited Key West and I have been waiting for the chance to go back and visit again.

I recommend starting the journey in Miami for a couple reasons. Miami is a beautiful city with a ton of incredible restaurant options, beaches, activities and it also has a very vibrant nightlife that will entertain just about anyone. From there you have the perfect launching point to rent a car and drive the stunning Highway 1 down through the Keys. The drive can be done leisurely in 3-3.5 hours and has some of the most picturesque views you could ever ask a highway to give you. You do have the ability to fly to Key West, but the 7 Mile bridge is certainly a highlight and a drive worth doing at some point in your life so if this is your first time visiting, the scenic route is definitely worth it. It is honestly such a beautiful drive that you have to keep reminding yourself to watch the road.

Once you have made your way into Key West we would recommend finding a place to stay that is near to Mallory Square, something close to Duval St - this is where all the incredible nightlife is and also where a good amount of the excursions depart from in our experience. The area near the square is packed with restaurants and bars that all offer their own unique charm. One of the coolest things about this place was that you could leave the bars with your drink, walk down the street and hop into a new establishment without a problem. Some bars and restaurants didn’t allow this but the majority of the places we stopped in didn’t have a problem with us carrying drinks over. There is nothing worse than deciding you want to go to a new bar and you just got a new drink… here this is not a problem at all.

Every night in Mallory Square there are tons of unique and engaging shows put on by travelers, locals and entertainers. The shows are all free to watch and can vary from gymnastics to magic to music. They all take tips of course and it is how they all make their living. The shows were all so amazing that we went every single night we were there so that could try to see them all in their entirety.

If you want to have amazing food we would recommend that you check out Schooner’s Wharf, Latitudes, Better Than Sex Dessert Restaurant, Pepe’s Cafe and El Siboney. For bars we really enjoyed Sloppy Joe’s, Irish Kevin’s, Rick’s Bar, Joe’s Taproom and Green Parrot. All of these are either on or at least near to Duval St and you can’t go wrong with any of them. So many bars and restaurants have live music as well, which just adds to the overall excitement of the place.

If you are looking to take a vacation at some point this year and want to go somewhere tropical without leaving the United States, this will be worth looking into. You can wine and dine yourself, hit the beach, go sailing, go diving and snorkeling or just kick back and relax in the sunshine.

Til next time…

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