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April 10, 2011

Key West……….My Way!

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Key West ……………. My Way

I have such a soft spot in my heart for Key West and I’m pretty vocal with my friends that if they are coming to this area that they need to see it …………. My Way!!! Whether it’s solo travel or travel with a group, I tend to gravitate towards the unique and unusual places and things that are just on the edge of where the tourists hang out. The more secret the find, the better! So it gives me great pleasure to share this with my fellow travelers.

I’m rather directionally challenged on a good day, in an area on a grid; it becomes worse when I’m on The Rock! So I’ve created my own method using landmarks. There “The Sloppy Joe’s” end and “The Beach” end. These places are opposite of each other on Duval Street so it makes sense to me.

So as we take a short tour of Duval Street from The Sloppy Joe’s end towards The Beach end, these are some of my favorite things:

  1. The sunsets in Key West are extraordinary. You can be guaranteed a spectacular sight each day. Mallory Square is a gathering place for people to have a cocktail, watch the sky turn lovely shades of pink, red, and yellow and be entertained by the street performers.
  2. Inside a resort called the Pier House is a treasure called The Chart Room. It’s small, dark, and wooden; has considerable charm and history, not to mention a popcorn maker and peanuts. If you can find it, it’s worth it!
  3. One day I was wandering aimlessly by the marina looking for a place to have breakfast. I accidently found The Schooner Wharf, an outside restaurant with a 7:00 a.m. to noon happy hour. The locals frequent this place for a morning cocktail and are very friendly. Belly up to the bar and have a screwdriver with your omelette and plan to make a few friends!
  4. One of the most famous bars in Key West is Sloppy Joe’s. It’s where you will find the best traditional cover bands and lots of sunburned tourists. The food’s not too bad either.
  5. The original Sloppy Joe’s is reported to be what is now Captain Tony’s Saloon. Captain Tony’s is a small quaint place that is complete with a huge tree growing through the middle of the bar and also serves as a grave marker for some famous local, the ceiling is plastered with bras from Captain Tony groupies, and the Pirate’s Punch is yummy!
  6. Feeling a bit hot and stuffy from the warm and humid tropical air? Take a break, leave your inhibitions and walk the many steps to the rooftop of The Bull and visit The Garden of Eden. Day or night, clothing is allowed but not required. I’ve never participated but have had some enjoyable voyeur moments. The typical rule, “those that shouldn’t do” is in place here but people are really having a good time. You’re lodging has no pool; wanna get your body painted? Garden of Eden is for you.
  7. I’m not a smoker but occasionally I can enjoy one of those skinny cigars that taste like chocolate or Amaretto. These can be found at The Key West Cigar Club and Smoke Shop. The shop is a bit like being in your own home, complete with a backyard patio, leather couches and a flat screen TV. It’s a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, a great place to chill and you don’t really notice the cigar smoky smell. I’ve had some great memories of sitting in the barber chairs in the front of the store at night and playing with the people as they walk past.
  8. Looking for the unusual but cute, cute, cute trinket to take back to your jealous friends and family back home? Fast Buck Freddies has many options to choose from.
  9. Every time I have taken friends or family to dinner at Blue Heaven I have been a hero! It’s a relaxed open air restaurant and bar, some light live music, incredible food and key lime pie with a 6 inch meringue. If yellowtail snapper is on the menu you have to get it, mouth watering.
  10. The only place to end the evening after the traditional Duval Crawl is at The Green Parrot. It’s a bar where the locals hang out to escape from the tourist so you must respect that. The music is so unique and eclectic and it stays open late. If you are lucky, a band called Xperimento will be there. I’m not sure what genre they are but I describe them as hip-hop reggae!! If you are bored one night, check out the live webcam to get a peek of what you might be missing; (www.greenparrot.com/webcam.htm)

While this is the end of my tour, it’s certainly not the beginning or the end of the great places and fun times to be had at Key West. After all, life’s not about just finding those experiences, it’s about creating them.

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