Welcome to a new travel diary! In addition to being my favorite posts to write, they’re also my favorite to read. Today, I’m writing about my time in the Florida Keys, specifically Key West. If you want to check out earlier travel diaries, check here.
While staying in Orlando, my family chose to travel south for a weekend to visit the Florida Keys and Miami. Keep reading to find my recommendations for a trip to the Keys.
Let me begin by saying this drive is long. If you were only driving from Miami to the Keys, it’s doable. However, I don’t recommend making a day trip out of it and driving from Orlando. My day started at 5 AM with a six-hour drive to Key West ahead. Even a large Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee couldn’t save me–I wore insanely uncomfortable shoes while running on 5 hours of sleep. Hot tip: before a day in Key West, get a good nights sleep and wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be doing a lot of walking, especially with parking spots being so rare. Your best bet for finding parking is feeding the meters on the streets running parallel to Duvall Street.
DJ’s Clam Shack
Food was first on the agenda upon arrival to Key West. DJ’s Clam Shack is a tiny spot easily missed in the center of all the madness on Duvall Street. Despite being a total hole-in-the-wall, this isn’t a cheap eat. The lobster roll I ordered was a steep $18. As a side, add the conch fritters, which is essentially an upgraded hush puppy. Pass on the lobster roll and get the incredible mahi-mahi tacos.
After checking out Duvall Street, take a leisurely stroll past the Hemingway home in the direction of the southernmost point. The landmark marks the southernmost point in the continental US, only 90 miles from Cuba! During the afternoon, the line to take a photo will be long. Come early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe
A trip to the Keys isn’t complete without key lime pie. Try Kermit’s, a cute little shop near the water. Inside, you’ll find lime flavored treats galore–hot sauce, limeade, dog treats and of course, pie. If you’re still full from lunch, split a piece like we did!
Mallory Square Sunset
Key West is the home of the sunset, so if you’re there, you have to see what all the fuss is about. Photos simply cannot do the sunset justice. Mallory Square hosts the sunset celebration, a cute little strip with lots of vendors. After seeing loads of people walk around with pineapple drinks, I had to try one. The pineapple is a better photo-op than drink, but it’s still worth the try (even if it is just for a picture). Beware, if there’s a cruise ship docked, crowds will be thick.
If a hotel in Key West is out of the budget, head further into the Keys and stay on Long Key at Lime Tree Bay resort. This is a good halfway point between Key West and Miami, where we were headed next. The resort has a total island vibe, with a beach stocked with hammocks and chairs for relaxing. There’s also a dock extending into the ocean where you can see tropical fish swimming in clear blue water. Additionally, this resort offers free kayaks to row around the area. We loved staying here, so I would definitely recommend this spot for a night in the Keys.
Right before returning to mainland Florida on the way out of the Keys, you’ll pass Shell World. Stop inside to pick up some souvenirs for friends and family. This place is huge, and not your typical tacky tourist joint. Despite the name, they have more to offer besides shells. Inside, you’ll also find t-shirts, magnets, art, and home decor. Grab a few gifts and jump back on the interstate.
That’s all I had time for on my trip to the Florida Keys. I would have loved to go in the Hemingway House and check out Truman’s house. Duvall Street also seems like a lot more fun if you are of legal drinking age. Maybe next time. This was my family’s first time and we’re so glad we experienced it. Next up, I head to Miami for a day. Stay tuned for my Miami travel diary.
Talk to you then!