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Friday, July 19, 2013

Key West Escape

Our family vacation this year was to Key West. We had been there several years ago and loved it. Key West has a small town vibe with an island feel which is incredibly laid back. There are a lot of culinary stops packed into that tiny island and we had great meals the entire time. Though it rained every day, we still got some beach time in at the Casa Marina where we stayed. It was so nice to wake up to waves every morning and know that all I had to do that day was relax. 
The photo above is of Henry Flagler's Seven Mile Bridge that is slowly deteriorating along the highway. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and drove leisurely through the Keys, making little stops along the way for ice cream, to see interesting points of interest and spent our first evening in Marathon Key. 
Let me take you through the highlights of our journey, just in case you ever want to take this little trip yourself:

Bahia Honda Key has a beautiful state park, Bahia Honda State Park, where we stretched our legs. It is a great site for camping if you are into that. We walked through a butterfly garden, then up to a little outdoor chapel where tons of white butterflies were flitting around. It was so beautiful. 

The view from our room

Key West has so many great places to eat. We of course had to stop at Blue Heaven, Kermit's, and Jimmy Buffett's (for my dad and a fabulous burger). However, my favorites were (from top, left, right): Thai Life floating restaurant, supposedly the only authentic Thai floating restaurant in the US; Camille's, where I had Godiva white chocolate French toast that was to die for; our favorite meal was The Stoned Crab, followed by dessert at Better than Sex. This dessert only restaurant is sexy with incredibly low lighting, dim chandeliers, glamorous walls, and a really awesome menu that lit up when you opened it. I had the peanut butter desert and it was incredible. 

One of our favorite things to do was the Ghosts & Gravestones tour. We rode in an old, haunted looking trolley (top right) and got to see many of the haunts in Key West. Literal haunts, not just the bars. Key West is apparently the most haunted city in America next to New Orleans. The house on the left was just creepy enough to include, though the story escapes me right now. However, Robert the Doll is a story you don't forget once you hear it. This guy is seriously creepy. The split photo in the bottom right corner is two separate times I passed him and took his photo. The clear image is when I asked permission to take his picture...the blurry image is when I didn't. This happens a lot with Robert. Read about him here.

The Fourth of July Festivities for the island was at our hotel. We mingled with tourists and locals during a buffet dinner and settled into our beach chairs by the ocean to watch the fireworks from the pier. This was actually our first Independence Day in the United States in a while. We have normally been on cruises and haven't gotten to see fireworks, so it was nice to hear some patriotic songs and be proud to be an American. 

Our last stop in the trip was Mel Fisher's Shipwreck Museum, where we saw a lot of really cool stuff that was salvaged from The Atocha wreck. 78 carat emerald, anyone? Hello!

Some other fun things in Key West: (top left) Mallory Square's sunset celebration every day is so fun. Street performers, vendors and gorgeous sunsets. Banyan trees (top right) are everywhere and are the coolest, creepiest trees. We rented Mopeds for a while one day and explored the island like a local (bottom left). I met an new friend, Peaches, who was pretty awesome. I wish I could have brought her home with me! (bottom right)

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