I'm now living for long weekends. I never realized how much one can pack into a few days in a new city. Two weekends ago, my husband and I spent 4 days in Key West, Florida with our friends Lauren and Arjun. They had been there before and were gracious guides.
In addition, the weekend coincided with the 7 Mile Bridge run, a very popular run in Key West that starts at around sunrise over the 7 Mile Bridge. The online registration sells out in minutes. My husband and Lauren were able to register back in February. Check it out if you are interested, but be prepared to wake up early for registration.
- Arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 10am local time for our layover
- After two delays our flight to Key West was eventually cancelled. Bummer! However, thanks to the quick thinking of everyone else in the group, we were able to use the airline's shuttle service and took a van to Key West. Drive was approximately 4 hours. and we arrived at around 3:30pm. I had brought some snacks from home: assorted nuts, bananas, grapes and my cup and was able to get coffee to go so that helped with hunger.
- Checked in at one of Key West Vacation Rentals on Amelia, close to Duval
- Had late lunch at DJ's Clam Shack
- Walked around Duval and saw the sunset at Mallory Square
- Dinner at The Cafe which had fresh and excellent vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian options
- Had to be up early for the early morning run across the 7 Mile Bridge. A spectacular run right around sunrise over the Keys. Very busy on the day off as we had to drop off my husband and Lauren and get over the bridge before they closed it for the run.
- After the run, we headed to the Cuban Coffee Queen which is a little food truck close to the Cannery Museum. Cuban food and coffee were excellent. They have two locations and this became our go-to spot for coffee. I had the Cuban Mixed Sandwich. Large for me, but worth it. Sandwiches are wrapped in paper. Unfortunately, coffee are in to-go cups, so bring your mugs. I had brought one re-usable cup and was able to get my smoothie in my own container. Yay!
- We got some sun at Marathon beach. The water was so shallow and warm. You could walk out for a good 20 feet and the water would still be waist deep. One thing to watch out for is the Florida sun. While the breeze keeps it cool, that sun does a number on you and we definitely got some burns so watch out. I tested out some natural sun screen products during this trip and you will see those reviews posted in the next few weeks.
- We had dinner at Latitudes which is located at a small island on Sunset Key. It was an EXCELLENT view of the sunset. Trust me, this is the place for some ambiance.
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- Day 3 started out late as we needed to get some rest
- We had brunch outside at Blue Heaven. Famous for their Key Lime Pie, but the ambiance again was excellent. You can't beat sitting outside with the tropical breeze. It was also Arjun's birthday and you can't beat key lime pie with a candle in the tropical breeze.
- After brunch, we scheduled an afternoon excursion with Danger Charters.
- We kayaked in the keys and got up close to the mangroves. Interesting fact about Key West that I did not know was that the water surrounding it is actually very shallow and you will see lots of markers indicating these shallow areas. As the tide was getting low, you starting seeing sand and sea grass. The mangroves were also very cool to learn about. They actually don't like salt water so they have a mechanism to purify the water before it reaches a certain point in their branch system and they expel the salt out. The water by the mangroves is also very clear as the sea grass purifies the water constantly. Mangroves help reduce erosion and protect the inland from large tides and waves.
- The Danger crew was excellent. Very knowledgeable about the area. Funny or at least they tried to be. I don't we were such a good crowd.
- There was also a snorkeling portion, but I did not do this. It was just too cold and my fear of the water started settling in, but others enjoyed being able to see fish and stingrays in the clear water.
- After that, we were able to watch the sunset again (3x on this trip) as we drank some alcohol.
- Dinner was at El Siboney. Excellent Cuban food. You can't beat the Cuban food in Key West. I mean it's so close, it should be just as good.
Our time was winding down. We packed and headed for brunch one more time at Blue Heaven and for one last slice of pie. Blue Heaven can get busy at times especially when the cruise ships are docked. Get there early and put your name down. You can then walk around the explore the town while you wait. Or you can also just stay there and enjoy the cocktails.
Low/Zero Waste Tips
- Don't forget your water bottles. Key West tap water is safe to drink. Just pop it in the refrigerator overnight and you are good to go. Also, many of the restaurants/bars have water dispensers that you can use to re-fill. It's hot there so stay hydrated.
- Use your coffee mugs or reusable containers. Some places "allow" you to take drinks (i.e. alcohol) to-go so it's worth asking if it's ok to put it in your own cups.
- Don't ask for straws as most restaurants will include it by default.
Overall, I think Key West could do a little bit more to promote less waste. Some of the garbage bins were just full of trash, specifically coffee cups, water bottles and plastic cups. Some of the restaurants are casual and pretty low key, but I think they can also try to reduce their waste by offering reusable cutlery and glasses. Key West and the surrounding areas are so nice, it would be a shame to ruin all of that because of over consumption and trash.
It's a fun place to be for a long weekend so check it out.