By Maria Mora
As a Florida native, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Key West three times. For my first Florida vacation in the Keys, I piled into an SUV with six college friends and went looking for the ultimate spring break among lively Key West hotels; instead, we ended up renting a house in a lot next to a bunch of chickens, and watching far too many cooking shows. Later in life, and a little wiser, I was fortunate to return a few more times and finally experienced the tropical, authentic flavor of Key West.
If you’ve never been to Key West, what you might not know is that the area offers some of the hottest nightlife in Florida. Before you enjoy the bars and restaurants on Duval Street, shop for one-of-a-kind art, admire pirate treasure and learn about the area’s rich history. Don’t worry about packing the right shoes; stop by Kino Sandals for an affordable pair of incredible handmade leather sandals. (My cousin makes a trip down every other year to stock up on them.)
My favorite store is Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. I love unique seasonings and desserts and this place has them both, with a fun side of kitsch. As a former English major, I also make it a point to visit the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. (Did you know all the cats at the Hemingway House have extra toes?). If you’re visiting in July, check out the Hemingway Days festival and annual look-alike contest at Sloppy Joes (July 22-24).
While you won’t find many beaches in Key West, you can book a charter boat tour or rent a boat to go fishing or snorkeling. Look into guided tours for a chance to swim with dolphins or visit Dry Tortugas National Park.
As for Key West hotels, you’ll find any number sure to encourage relaxation and recuperation, including classy hotels with spa amenities and gorgeous pool decks. Nothing sounds more appealing to me than getting a massage and laying out on a comfortable lounge chair. Want to kick back at a Tiki Bar? Check out the Ocean Key Resort & Spa and enjoy unique island fare.
Maria Mora is a memoir blogger and wannabe photographer. She travels extensively throughout Florida and the Caribbean with her two young sons.
Tagged: Florida Vacation