Ernest Hemingway Home
There was a long line to get into the Ernest Hemingway Home in February, so we went to the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters instead. I like lighthouses and you are rewarded with nice views of Key West from the top of the tower if you can climb up the stairs. This trip we were able to get right into the Ernest Hemingway Home and on a guided tour and I’m so glad we waited until it was less crowded. The tour is interesting but it gets pretty cramped with multiple groups going through the home at the same time. The house itself is architecturally engrossing and of course there’s also the polydactyl (six-toed) cats.
Afterward we went to Pinchers Restaurant and had the best fish tacos of the trip. I know—a chain—while in Key West, but the boyfriend wanted to go there. There wasn’t anything special about the grouper tacos but they were decent and seasoned well. There is no Pinchers chain in New Jersey so it was a treat. We were originally seated out on the balcony but rain started blowing onto the table so we had to move indoors.
Blue Parrot Inn
We walked around Duval Street and then went back to the Blue Parrot Inn and went in the pool until it started to rain again. Then we sat on the balcony and watched the rain while we pre-gamed with beer from CVS. There are numerous sitting areas at the Blue Parrot and it’s really quite pleasant and relaxing.
Alonzo’s & Conch Republic
Happy Hours are a way to live large while limiting your expenses in Key West and Alonzo’s Oyster Bar has one of the best, from 4pm to 6pm, but you need to get there early to sit outside. I had a Key Lime Martini and a Southernmost Sunset (yum). My boyfriend had two bourbon and Cokes and a Stella draft and we split the conch fritters and a fish dip and the bill came to $30. We then went over to Conch Republic Seafood Company because their happy hour goes to 7pm. They have some nice draft beers and our waiter served until 6:59pm! We walked back to Duval from the seaport and ducked into The Bull & Whistle after we caught a bit of the holiday parade. The Bull on the first floor is meh. I wouldn’t return.
We then walked back to the Blue Parrot Inn and spent the rest of the evening drinking beer on the balcony—lovely and relaxing.
Overseas Highway & Galley Grill
By 11am the next morning, we were on the Overseas Highway heading back to the airport for our 9:45pm flight home, with a plan to be in Key Largo watching the sunset at 5:32pm. The first stop was Galley Grill in Summerland Key for lunch. My boyfriend had blackened Mahi and their conch chowder, which I tasted and it was delicious. I had a lobster Reuben that was good, but a little greasy. It came with a chick pea, soybean and dried cranberry salad, in a light sweet sauce that was unusual but tasty.
About an hour and a half after we hit the road again, we needed to stop for a restroom break, so we pulled into a little strip mall where the Old Tavernier Restaurant and Old Conch Harbor Caribbean Gift Shop are located. We went around back to the dock and saw a woman making coffee at a little kiosk so we sat down and ordered two sodas. When the woman didn’t charge us, we realized that she was making coffee for HERSELF and that the little kiosk was not a business! We eventually found out that the gift shop was flooded with ankle deep water from the storms and they were cleaning up the damage. They are going to open a breakfast and lunch place and a bar on the first floor in the future. We were able to use the very nice bathroom of Old Tavernier Restaurant on the second floor. We felt like we had wandered into somebody’s house. What nice people.
Our next stop was Sundowners in Key Largo. The restaurant gets mixed reviews and is expensive but we went there to try their famous Key lime pie. It was fantastic—so light and flavorful without being too sweet. It is $8 a slice but worth it. We sat and looked out over the water and took pictures of some pelicans which were right on the dock.
We then went back down the road to Breezers Tiki Bar to watch the sunset. What a gem and you can’t beat the happy hour prices.
We left Breezers at 6pm, hit traffic and were completely frazzled when we dropped off the rental car and arrived at the airport, only to find that our Southwest Airlines flight was delayed for what amounted to two hours. They broke out complimentary snacks and beverages at the gate and gave us a complimentary cocktail on the plane, but that was little consolation to my boyfriend, who got an hour and a half of sleep and went to work that morning! It was worth it though, and we’d do it again in a heartbeat, to spend the most time possible in the Florida Keys.
Also, be sure to check out Part 1, 2 and 3.