We travel the world full time together as a family in our sailboat, SV Rum Barrel. When we're not on our boat we are on our next adventure... exploring something new.
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We decided to make a trip to key west for the main reason of picking up a solar panel and charge controller from Sea Tek Marine. Once we made the decision to drive down Florida Turnpike to interstate 95, HWY 1 and lastly The Overseas Highway it was time to look for places to eat, stay and explore.
To start the trip off right in the middle of the worst two months for hurricane season I notice a tropical storm, Gordon off the coast of Miami. I think “oh no, are we going to be able to make it down to the keys?” so I monitored the situation. The storm was not forecasted to get any stronger a few days or the day before.
The storm did not get any stronger and we continued our drive right through Miami as the storm was spinning over the area. The amount of rainfall was heavy with about an inch or two of standing water on the Highway from Hollywood Florida to Rickenbacker Causeway. After arriving into the Keys it was back to “no worries maaannn”.
As we arrived on the island we noticed that having your personal vehicle is nice but can be hard to find parking. Using a taxi or city transit is faster and sometimes easier because the island is so small. Walking the island is fun and enjoyable because every turn has a new site to explore.
After taking a small drive around to take in the island view we entered the road to Dredgers Key. We stayed at the Navy Lodge Key West while we explored the island. The Navy Lodge is located within an area of military housing and military base privileges are required to enter this area.
So we usually find a few things that are a must see and plan for those items to be spread across the time we are in a location. We planned to be on the island for 5 days so we chose these three things below in advance.
The Hemingway House (museum) is famous for not only the award winning author Ernest Hemingway but for 6 toed cats. Hemingway has achieved the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature.
They have a guided tour that lasts around 30 minutes through the house. You are free to walk around the house grounds and explore the garden and tropical flowers on the property. This was the most exciting experience for the girls because they got to pet and get excited over the cats with 6 toes. The staff say there is around 60 cats on the property.
This was an awesome place to explore and experience because of the rich history of the island and the impact Hemingway has left on American literature.
The Light House museum is across the street from the Hemingway House. The lighthouse is 120 years old and has 88 steps to the top. You can get the best view of the island and the ocean at this location.
The girls learned about all the things a light house keeper was responsible for. Addy learned how the lenses were made different and why there are multiple lighthouse along the reef system in Florida. This knowledge would follow us to sailing down the Pacific Coast of the USA.
This spot makes for a good photo opportunity. There can be a big line that forms to get a photo so maybe try early in the day or when a cruise ship is absent from the island for the smallest wait.
We spent the day here to explore the reef, fort and beach. This beach has the idyllic vibe when you think island. Palm trees right on the beach for your hammock while you gaze at aqua blue water.
While at the beach for the day we tried to snorkel the reef but the wind was from the wrong direction making it really murky. We decided to hunt for sea glass and we were not disappointed by finding some larger pieces.
The fort was completed in 1866 and has the largest collection of civil war cannons. The fort also has other historical artifacts including swords and flint lock muskets on display.
It has awesome views and lots of room to run around and explore. It was a great stop to merge the beach and the fort together because they are close together and within the same fee area of the state park.
This area of town has been doing an off-the-cuff celebration daily since the 1960s for sunset. The sunset celebration has many street performers that come to the square 2 or 3 hours early to get the party started.
This is a local hang out spot and as the saying goes “see you at sunset” comes true. I have seen many worthwhile sunsets in my day but the Key West vibe and street performers make it the most enduring.
The key west aquarium has all the normal things an aquarium would have on a smaller scale. Great stop for the kids especially the girls because they love the ocean creatures. The touch tank had local star fish, hermit crabs and sea urchins. this is a good stop to experience the local aquatic animals that are native to the Florida Keys.
This was a fun tour to grab ice cream and hit the tour. You get to ride the train through the island and they give you a short description of historical and funky land marks.
I suggest doing this first. You will get an idea of where things are and how far apart everything is so you can use your time the best while visiting the island.
This was my favorite place!! Once a pirate always a pirate! The museum was all about the shipwrecks along the reef system and the ghosts that come with them.
Awesome place with historic artifacts and treasure! It will definitely keep the kids entertained. Don’t forget to climb the tower and signal the pirate conch horn!
Everyone that has been to key west knows all about the chickens! They have been here for centuries and most have originated from Cuba and/or the Caribbean.
The chickens are protected by law and you are not allowed to feed them either. The first offense for feeding them will cost you $250! There are about 2000 chickens on the island. Don’t worry you will see them anywhere you go.
This discovery center has a display and an educated learning experience on how to help coral survive and thrive. The other big element they learned was all about lion fish.
Lion fish are naturally in the Pacific Ocean. People bought them for fish tanks and they were released into the reef system in the Atlantic by disposing of them incorrectly. They are bad for the reefs in the Atlantic for many reasons and should be harvested when you see one.
This is the spot for breakfast. Good food and sitting outside in the jungle covered canopy was awesome. Get there early because this place fills up for breakfast.
This restaurant has the Cuban food and influence you are looking for when visiting Key West. Good carribean cooked food at no extra cost.
It is off the beaten path a tad bit. This is Definitely a local food fare spot.
We stumbled across this place out on a loosely planned day and was hungry for lunch. Did a quick google search for Cuban food and boom we landed here while walking around.
Very good Cuban sandwich with lots of flavor and not too expensive. Definitely would go back to this place.
By the time you have been driving all day, for us it was about 300 miles to this place and we stopped at Island Fish Company for lunch. Perfect place to stop by boat too. Big tables and no crowd is a double thumbs up for us. Perfect place to stop before you get into the crowded city hustle of key west.
The food was good and the girls loved sitting by the water. The palapa roof and open deck seating with crystal clear water for you to gaze upon was very soothing. The girls loved looking at all the fish in the water and trying to feed them.
We did snag some regular key lime pie when visiting. But I have never seen it frozen, dipped in chocolate and served on a stick! For this amazing contraption you have to go visit the Key Lime Pie Bakery.
After a whirlwind trip of only a few days it was time to head back north. If you have been to Key West drop a comment below on your favorite place and things that you did on your trip.