A Visit to Key West

The Queen and her Throne. Key West, Florida

Several weeks ago Kathy & I finally made our journey to Key West. We had talked about going a couple of years ago, but instead decided to upend our lives for a year while we sold a house and bought another one. Last winter we had just moved in, were recovering from the move and our vacation budget was severely depleted. Things are pretty much back to normal for the time being, so when it came time to make our plans for 2015, we decided that this might be a good time to go.

Key West, Florida
Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida

Our original idea was to take a week or two and drive to Key West and back from North Carolina, stopping at a few places in Florida along the way. While we like Florida, the idea of using up a couple of weeks’ vacation time on a drive through Florida just to get to Key West might not be the best use of our time. Especially that early in the year when we have to make our meager allocation of vacation days last for a whole year! So we decided to take the money that it would take to drive there and just fly. We’ll get to see the rest of Florida another time, and as fun as I’m sure it would be to drive out through the Keys along Highway 1, that wasn’t high on my priority list. I’ll gladly wait for another time, and if the opportunity doesn’t arrive that will be OK.

The Southernmost Point, Key West Florida
View from the end of Spangler Street near the Waldorf Astoria resort in Key West, Florida

We’d always heard that Key West can be quite expensive, especially in the winter. But we learned a long time ago that the best time to visit a place was when it was best there, and not necessarily the best time to be away from home. Not being fans of heat and humidity, Kathy & I agreed that regardless of the higher rates in the winter season, that was when we wanted to go. So we did our research and went prepared.

The only time I wished for a longer lens.
Typical bar on Duval Street in Key West, Florida

As luck would have it, we picked a really good time to leave Charlotte, but it also corresponded with a pretty chilly time to be in Key West. The temperature on the day we left Charlotte was in the low 20’s, and the forecast for Key West called for temperatures in the upper 60’s and low 70’s. Not bad. We missed some very cold weather and some snow with lows in the single digits in Charlotte. Awww! The same front that brought the cold to Charlotte also came through southern Florida, and Key West experienced some unusually cold temperatures by their standards. It still felt pretty good to us, and we had one evening where the temperatures were in the low 50s and one day the high was in the low 60’s. We had hoped for it to be a little warmer but were glad we weren’t sweating!

She gets points for using the popup flash. Points deducted.
Remnants of an old wall at the end of Duval Street in Key West, FL

My impression of Key West is that it is pretty much like any other tourist town once you get out of sight of the water. Walking down Duval Street you pass the usual bars, restaurants, junky trinket galleries and T-shirt shops. There are a few really nice shops and galleries, but you have to look for them. Key West even has it’s own Diamonds International, in case you missed something during the last 20 cruise ship ports. During the day, and especially when the cruise ships are in port, it pretty much looks and feels like any other downtown shopping area. After dark is another story, but I usually didn’t carry my camera to dinner so I didn’t come home with any photographic evidence. Suffice it to say that there were sights we don’t usually see in our regular destinations!

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida
Yard Art Obsession, Key West Florida

We managed to do a lot of the usual touristy things while we were in Key West. My friends on Facebook will see that I have proof that Kathy & I visited the Southernmost Point, and we’ve decided that we need to work on getting to the other three points on the compass as well. We toured the Ernest Hemingway House, the Key West Lighthouse, the cemetery, took the Conch Train tour and a bunch of other stuff. The weather turned out to be too nasty for a trip to Dry Tortugas, so if that turns out to be the last National Park on my list of parks to visit I’ll just have to go back and get there. We also didn’t go to Mallory Square for what is supposed to be a nightly sunset celebration. We were pretty much pooped out by that time of the day and still needed energy to walk to dinner, plus the weather was nasty on a couple of the evenings so other than the people watching I don’t think there was much sunset to see.

Something for everyone in Key West, Florida
Around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida

We stayed at the Lighthouse Court Hotel, one of six properties owned by a group called Historic Key West Inns. It was an excellent place to stay and we would stay there again. I wrote a review of the place in an attempt to win a free return trip, and will publish that as a separate post.

Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

I need to wrap this up so I can get it posted, but suffice it to say that we had a great time, and it was nice to take a vacation that didn’t involve a cruise ship. We have a few more plans in store for the year, but this was a good way to kick things off. A lot of people have told me that Key West is on their “bucket list” and I am glad to say that I have been there.

Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

8 thoughts on “A Visit to Key West”

  1. I’ve had a couple overnights when flying but only one gave me enough time to do anything. I did eat at Conch Republic and of course walk Duval Street. I would like to go back sometime to spend more time and money. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I wondered about that with the crew on our flight. It sounded like they did a round trip every time with very few overnights. And one of the crews was based in Toronto. They definitely would have enjoyed a longer layover!

  3. This was a nice little trip down memory lane Tom. We were in Key West in the middle of summer. It was very hot and very humid but that’s pretty much any day ending in “y” for us so that wasn’t a problem. On the plus side the only people around were locals who were very friendly and laid back so it was a real blast. We enjoyed great food, cool music and nice conversations.

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed the memories, Cedric. We get a lot of humidity here in North Carolina, but nothing like they get in Key West.

  4. Tom, sounds like you guys had a good time — even if the weather was a little cooler then you’d have preferred. Nice series of photos to remember it all by.

  5. Great photos, Tom. We were considering a trip to Key West this year but life got in the way. We are now looking at next year and I hope we have as much fun as you did.

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