Exploring the Florida Keys

This past week my family, my friend, my two dogs,my 18 year old cat, and I visited the beautiful Florida Keys. School had just ended for both my sister and I, and our family decided to take a small vacay before our summer classes started.

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Ready for an adventure! Buddy, Holly, and Kitty Whiskers

Our journey started in what seemed to be a clown car; suitcases bursting out of the trunk, minute leg room, and of course, the smell of the litter box. My cat, Kitty Whiskers, is beautiful. Tuffs of fur graze her neck as she sits comfortably in the nest of pillows in the back seat. She is a world traveler, and has seen many states and sites. As an eighteen year cat, Kitty Whiskers requires special attention of her diet and her daily patterns. It just seemed easier to bring her along, rather than drive a house-sitter crazy with her night howling. ( She gets a bit confused and meows in the middle of the night. Sometimes while she is lying on your stomach. Talk about a wake-up call!)

Our journey took us to Miami on the first night, admiring the culture of Little Havana, and the lights of South Beach. I wished I could have visited South Beach in it’s heyday– The 80’s. I expected flashing lights, flamboyant bars, and eccentric fashion. I guess I was really expecting to walk onto the movie set of “The Bird Cage” starring Robin Williams. Now that would have been fun.

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Street Painting in Little Havana

The next day we enjoyed our ride to Key West, with a pit stop at Key Largo for lunch. There, we got our first taste of Key Lime Pie. It was tart and creamy, with a crumbly graham cracker crust. It was the perfect piece of pie.

Since I discovered and learned a lot in Key West, (Way too much to describe in this post) I’ll share a list of 10 of my favorite memories from Key West

 

 

Places You Must See!

  1. Ernest Hemingway House
  2. Truman White House
  3. Sunset Water sports
  4. Key West Aquarium
  5. Duffy’s
  6. Higg’s Beach
  7. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
  8. Dante’s Key West Pool Bar & Restaurant
  9. Mallory Square Sunset
  10. Tennessee William’s Exhibit

My list contains some of the main sightseeing sites, but I added some of my own personal favorites, and the best part is — Most of them are free or dirt cheap!

Ernest Hemingway House

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Hemingway’s Writing Desk

My absolute favorite part of the trip was visiting Hemingway’s home. I had just finished “The Paris Wife” a few weeks ago, and had a sense of the man he was. It was eyeopening to see how this amazing author lived.What fascinated me most was the six-toed cats. My sister, friend, and I searched the entire grounds to find cats, and we ended up counting about 38 of them. One even climbed up in my lap and curled up with me during a portion of the tour. After walking around in his house, we decided to step farther into Hemingway’s shoes by visiting a few of his favorite bars. It was a spectacular day. The ticket to see the house and receive a tour was quite reasonable, and was even cheaper when we packaged the tickets with the aquarium. It came out to be around $25 for both tickets combined.

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Polydactyl (six-toed) cat

Truman White House

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Truman’s Presidential Home in Key West

True Key West architecture takes center stage while one walks through the Truman Annex to the White House. Located near the downtown area, The Truman White House, is a historical house is which housed President Truman during his working holidays. We learned about his presidency in a free exhibit, but priced tours are brought into the house, which is filled with Truman’s original furniture.

Sunset Watersports

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Enjoying the water slide

On my sister’s birthday, we decided to book an excursion with Sunset Watersports. The best deal?…The birthday girl got her ticket for free, a $169 value. Unfortunetly the day we took the tour, the wind speed was high and we were unable to parasail or participate in a variety of activities which were included in our package. My sister, friend, and I decided to kayak, and the current decided to take us further into the sea. I was humiliated when a rescue boat had to take us back. It’s a really great trip…just check the weather beforehand.

Key West Aquarium

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They bite!

This open-air aquarium is quaint and easy to navigate. Plus it’s dog friendly. Touch tanks are plentiful, as are feeding demonstrations.

 Duffy’s Restaurant

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

This was our favorite restaurant during the trip. It’s reasonable and hosts a variety of fresh seafood and steaks. Large portions — large enough to share. I had a meal of Cream of Mushroom Soup and shared a Prime Rib Entree with my mom. We gobbled it up, along with their warm bread.

Higg’s Beach

Key West is not known for their beaches. Something to do with their location and how the Gulf meets the Atlantic Ocean. This beach, however was our favorite for snorkeling. A wooden dock leads swimmers to a deserted broken dock filled with tropical fish and coral. We spent at least an hour in the water marveling at the fish. I really adore snorkeling and felt so at peace in the water. All you hear is the sound of your own breath. It’s simply fascinating. Oh, and free parking is a plus too.

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

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The “Kids”

This free museum housed information regarding the reef, the environment, and how scientists study the diverse ecosystem of the Florida Keys. A short informational video repeatedly plays, informing guests about the mangroves and the reefs which make the Florida Keys so spectacular.

Dante’s Key West Pool Bar & Restaurant

This hidden gem is a great spot for lunch and to cool off. Just by ordering a drink or lunch, guests have full use of the pool to splash around and cool themselves off. A hidden mirage near downtown Key West.

Mallory Square Sunset

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Juggling fire, sword, and a machete…while on a unicycle

Key West is known for its beautiful sunset, and its “Green Flash”. Every night, street performers dazzle audience members with their skill as tourists flock to this sunset celebration. It was fun to watch the amazing talents some of these men possessed, but the real show was the sunset. Hues of pink and orange circle the sky as the sun sets for the day.

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Key West Sunset

Tennessee Williams’ Exhibit

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Tennessee Williams’ works

Hemingway wasn’t the only famous writer on the island. Williams’, author of “A Streetcar Named Desire” resided in Key West until his death. The free exhibit honors William’s work.

I enjoyed my trip with my family and enjoyed making all of the memories…ones I will cherish for a lifetime.

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another” – Hemingway 

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