11 March 2015

Going For A Walk: Key West, Florida

Key West seems to be one of those bucket list places for a lot of folks. And why wouldn’t it be – where else can you get your photo snapped at the southernmost part of the continental United States, visit Hemmingway’s house, see six-toed cats and  watch the sun go down at Mallory Square? Actually, we didn’t do any of those things, but we did go for a nice walk in Key West the other day. 

We’re frugal travelers (some might call us cheap), so we did some research on the transport and parking options for Key West from Marathon (where we were staying at the Jolly Rodger Travel Park). We had heard from folks that traffic is a nightmare and parking costs $30 for the day. You can get an Ethiopian meal for two people for $30, seems crazy to spend that kind of money on parking. We looked into taking the bus from Marathon ($8 round trip), but it doesn’t run all that often. After discovering a city parking garage for only $13 a day right in the historic district, we headed off early in the morning to avoid the traffic. Like crazy early – 7:00 am. Found the garage no problem, parked the car and off we went. 

First stop the city docks. Lots of pretty boats to look at, as well as lots of boat bums hanging around. 

Key West Marina

Then we walked along the water over to Mallory Square where we had big plans to watch the sunset that night. A rite of passage for all tourists who come to Key West. 

Key West Mallory Square

It was nice walking along the waterfront – quiet, peaceful and no one about. I loved looking at all the bright colors at the bars. I’m guessing the drinks are pricey, but taking pictures is free.

Key West Colorful Bar

Key West Birds On Lines

Then the cruise ship started offloading people and it got crowded. A young couple asked Scott to take their picture. I think they were on their honeymoon. It was pretty cold and windy while were were there and the woman had sleeveless top on. She looked cute, but freezing. I almost starting channeling my mother to tell her to put a sweater on. 

Key West Cruise Ship

We continued meandering along the waterfront. After getting tired of dodging folks from the cruise ship, we took a random side street and found ourselves in the Truman Annex. You can visit the Little White House while you’re there. Truman used it as his winter pad. It costs money to tour, so we skipped it. 

The last thing in the world we need to do is buy a house, but I was so tempted by these picturesque homes with white picket fences. Of course, even if we did want to buy a house, we sure couldn’t afford one here. They probably wouldn’t want us living there either – we’re probably a bit too weird and quirky for the neighborhood. I imagine they have a lot of rules about what color you can paint your house, how often you have to mow the lawn and what kind of car you drive. We’re not very good at following rules.

Truman Annex

There are a lot of chickens wandering around Key West.

Key West Chicken

You literally get to the end of the road in Key West – Route 1 that is.

Key West Route 1

Although we had a map of Key West, it was in the backpack, so we basically just wandered around aimlessly. Imagine my surprise when we stumbled across this famous landmark. There was an orderly line for folks to get their picture taken at the southernmost point of the continental United States. We’re not a big fan of having our picture taken, so we skipped the line and the photo op.

Key West Southernmost Point

You can see the Naval base from there. A reminder that you’re only 90 miles away from Cuba. I think the giant golf ball they have there is mean to intimidate the Cubans. One wrong move and they take a swing and drive the ball across the water straight into Castro’s house. 

Key West Naval Base

Look at all the people at the beach. It’s freezing and windy folks – go put a sweater on!

Key West Beach

We happened across this amazing public park at Higgs Beach. And it turns out there was plenty of free, all day parking there. If only we had known, we could have saved $13. They have an interesting memorial for the African cemetery, AIDS memorial, a dog park, a fishing pier and bathrooms. When you’re walking around all day, public bathrooms can get to be a pretty important thing. Especially if you’re middle-aged. And of course, you can watch the sailboats go by.

Key West Sailboat

Despite our packed lunch of sandwiches and carrots, I was still hungry. I’ve been having a craving for soft-serve ice cream for a while now. It seems like whenever you’re craving soft-serve, then you can never find a Dairy Queen. Well, it was really getting to the point of desperation, so after a quick Google search on my phone, we set off for the Key West Dairy Queen and splurged on a couple of hot fudge sundaes. That’s me walking with purpose to get our sundaes before they ran out of soft-serve. Yes, that’s what keeps me up at night – worrying about Dairy Queen running out of soft-serve.

Key West Dairy Queen

I had been getting pretty tuckered out from all of our walking, but after an injection of sugar in the form of soft-serve, we hit the sidewalks again and found ourselves at the cemetery. 

Key West Cemetery

Key West Cemetery 2

We came across this memorial to the USS Maine. Scott seemed intrigued. I was never good in history at school, so although it sounded vaguely familiar, I really didn’t know what it was about. I faked Scott out by going, “Oh wow, look at that, a memorial to the USS Maine.” He probably wasn’t fooled. Okay, I’m feeling stupid now, so I just Googled it. She was sent to protect US interests when Cuba revolted against Spain when she exploded and sunk killing two-thirds of the crew in 1898. Good, I feel smarter now.

Key West Cemetery 3

Having soft-serve ice cream sure can make a girl thirsty, so we headed up to Duvall Street and somehow found ourselves at the Bull & Whistle Bar. While the beers were overpriced (although probably not for Key West), the views from the balcony on the second floor made up for them. I can just spend hours people watching. Turns out if you go up to the third floor, clothing is optional. We stayed on the second.

After a few PBRs, we made our way back toward Mallory Square. Saw some more cool things along the way, like this old theatre with Marilyn Monroe out front.

Key West Tropic Sign

By the time we got to Mallory Square, it was only 4:00 pm and we had 2-1/2 more hours before sunset. 2-1/2 more hours sitting in the cold and wind. Keep in mind we had a very early start and a lot of walking around Key West. Scott had been to Key West before and seen sunset there so he wasn’t to fussed about whether we stuck around or not. I wimped out and we headed back to Marathon. I never did see that sunset or any six-toed cats or Hemingway’s house, but we still had a great day out.

We got up way too early, tuckered ourselves out and missed the sunset at Key West on 13 February 2015.

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  1. Would love to visit Key West one day! I had no clue it was that close to Cuba, knew it was close but not 90 miles!

    1. I know - it is so bizarre to think that it is so close!

  2. Sometimes when I'm reading your blog, I feel like your experiences could easily have been ours . . . except the part about carrots with your sandwich -- we're definitely chip people.

    1. I'm not sure what happened with the carrots. We must have been out of chips that day. I think Scott went on a semi-hunger strike when he saw the carrots and demanded that I give him chips.

      We really hope that our paths cross one day and we get to meet you guys. I have a feeling from reading your blog, that it would be a blast!

  3. Thanks for your always enjoyable story and pictures. I was surprised by your description of cold wind there. Why was it cold there?

    1. I've heard that there has been a lot of unusual weather down in the Keys this year with a lot of fronts and windy weather. We're back down in the Keys again just now and the weather is much better this time - almost too warm :-)

  4. You definitely seem to be our kind of traveler! Always looking for a way to save a buck or two. I have been to Key West on a cruise through my work at the time but Kevin has never been there. It is about the only place in Florida that I would like us to go. We have never been from Miami to the Keys and I think that would be a neat drive but other than that, I don't think we would ever return to Florida just because it is so crowded and busy and expensive for the most part.

    1. I'm actually surprised we're still in Florida given the costs, crowds and traffic nightmares. But Florida does have a few things going for it - like amazing sunshine! So we're still here and enjoying it :-) It probably doesn't hurt that we found an amazing free camping site in southern Florida and stayed there for 14 days. More on that tomorrow...

  5. Love your blog! If you are still in the Keys don't miss Burdines in Marathon. Great food and sailing community. Are you guys going to start looking for boats near Miami and Ft Lauderdale? Lots of decent boats for sale.

    1. Thanks for the tip about Burdines. We're back in the Keys now at Curry Hammock in Marathon. We check the listings daily for boats in Florida - haven't hit Miami/Ft Lauderdale yet, but may do at some point. Thanks for the nice feedback about our blog!

  6. What lovely photos, with great photos

  7. What a great, if a bit unfulfilling day...I love a good sunset...but like you I probably would have opted out of being cold...no fun!

    1. We were back in the Keys this past week and ended up seeing the sunset at Key West. It was a bit crazy and crowded, but now I can tick that one off my list.

  8. I'm on of those people for whom it's on my bucket list. Thanks for the tips! I always wondered how good the beaches actually are on the keys; they seem small but nice -- calm water?

    1. The water depends upon the wind I think. When we were there earlier this week, it was quite choppy.

  9. Oh, key west! After my friend told me of his time there just recently, it's moved to the top of my list. My friend just sent me the very same pic of the southernmost point of the US... but just like you, I agree with skipping the photo op. I'm not a fan of having my pic taken next to things.

    1. Key West is definitely worth a visit! I think our blog is one of the few out there that pretty much doesn't have any pictures of us :-)


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