#297: Go to Key West

Southern most point

Southern most point

LOCATION: Key West, FL

This post is part of my Miami Trip Series

Considering I was visiting my friend Shiran in Miami, a visit to Key West was definitely in order. I must be honest, I have technically been to Key West before. In 2007, Dad and I took a scuba diving trip to Key Largo. However, hurricane Gustaf decided to make the trip to the Keys at that very same time. Needless to say, it definitely rained on our parade. One of the days, we were so bored sitting in the hotel room that Dad decided we should just drive to Key West and back. It was so rainy and windy that we didn’t even get a chance to get out of the car. We drove straight down to the end of Highway 1, turned at the iconic buoy and drove straight back. In other words, I’m not counting it!

Shiran and I decided to make it a day trip since overnight hotel costs were extremely expensive and we wanted to experience just the main touristy attractions. I managed to find a parking garage a few blocks from the main attractions, but it was a very good choice. Parking in the middle of everything was hard to find, and pricey. The garage I picked ended up being only $13 for 24 hours and it offered a park and ride to the main areas. The walk was only about 15 minutes, so it was well worth every penny.

Map of Key West

Map of Key West

After parking, the first place we decided to go was the old cemetery. Along the way, we passed several roosters. Shiran had said she heard there were chickens all over Key West and she was right! We never understood why they were everywhere though. After a few passes at Google, I found the origin. Apparently in the 1800s, chickens and cockfighting were big business for Cuba. Eventually Cubans made their way to Key West in the 1860s and brought all the chickens with them. The chicken population began to grow rapidly with the increase popularity in cockfighting. In 1970, cockfighting became illegal and thus, the chickens were released out onto the streets of Key West. Today, these gypsy chickens roam free along Key West and have become quite the tourist attraction. Begs to question…why DID the chicken cross the road?

Roosters in Key West

Roosters in Key West

Anyways, back to the cemetery. We finally arrived and it was a beautiful sight. The cemetery was made in the 1800s, but later moved in 1847 due to a hurricane. There was a lot of history there and I’m sure made for a great ghost tour. It was interesting to see all the tombs from the 1800s. They stacked graves outside of the ground which is something I haven’t seen before. Well worth the view.

Key West Cemetery

Key West Cemetery

After the cemetery we walked along till we reached South Beach near the Southernmost point. The beach was very tiny. Since Key West is an island, I really expected to see beaches everywhere and that was not the case. This beach was cute, but if you want to lounge on a beach all day, I would venture to say Key West is not the ideal place to do it. The Southernmost point buoy was directly next to the beach which made for a top tourist picture to take. We actually waited in a line just to get close to the thing. I could have had it all to myself if Dad and I had stopped during that hurricane. HA!

Shiran and me at the Southern most point beach

Shiran and me at the Southern most point beach

After the buoy, we walked up Whitehead Street where we passed the Hemingway house. It was $13 to get in, and we decided not to do it. However, we were able to see one of the Hemingway cats sitting outside. The cats are unique in the fact that they have six toes, or are also known as polydactyl cats. The house contains 50 cats so far.

Walking further up, we came across the famous bar The Green Parrot. I was interested in seeing this bar due to its vast history. The place opened in 1890 and was originally a grocery store that allowed local musicians to play in the small back room. After the Great Depression, the place turned into the Brown Derby Bar and was a known bar for Sailors. Eventually, in the 1970s the bar turned into a place known for hippies and free spirits and thus took the name The Green Parrot. This history made it the first bar on US 1.

The Green Parrot Bar

The Green Parrot Bar

After the bar, we decided to stroll along Duval street all the way to the other side of the island. If you want action, stay on Duval. There were so many restaurants, shops and bars along the way. Duval street made me realize that I really need to come back here and experience its night life. One particular bar that is a known spot to visit is Sloppy Joes, which also has a large historical presence dating to the 1930s. I definitely want to party there! Next time. Next time.

Sloppy Joe's Bar

Sloppy Joe’s Bar

We ended our tour at the North Western side at the Mallory Square Market. The market contained several restaurants along the water and shops to visit for typical touristy gifts. If Key Lime Pie is what you’re looking for, they have it! The official Key Lime Pie Company that is infamous is actually located right near the market on Duval and Greene Street. I’m not a big fan of key lime pies, but they did look super delicious!

After just a short 4 hours in Key West, it was time to say goodbye and make the trip back to Miami. Leaving the quaint and laid back island made me realize how much I want to overnight vacation there. Next time will be lots of friends, laughs, music and really great drinks!

*Thank you Shiran for joining me on this adventure.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?:

Absolutely!! Staying overnight next time for sure just for the awesome nightlife.  I also really would love to do one of their night ghost tours.

HOW TO DO THIS:

Key West is located about 3.5 hours away from Miami. There is one main highway in and out of the Keys, so getting lost should not be an issues. Bike rentals are available, but the width of the island in the main attraction area was only about half a mile. Walking was easy everywhere.

Parking Garage: $13 for 24 hours.  Old Town Garage located at 300 Grinnell Street, Key West, FL.

Key West Cemetery: 701 Passover Lane, Key West. Off Passover and Angela Street.  http://www.keywest.com/cemetery.html

The Green Parrot Bar: 601 Whitehead Street. Key West. Off Whitehead and Southard Street. http://greenparrot.com/

Sloppy Joes Bar: 201 Duval Street, Key West. Off of Duval and Green Street. www.sloppyjoes.com

The Key Lime Pie Company: 511 Green Street, Key West. Off Duval and Green Street. http://www.keywestkeylimepieco.com/

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