Friday, February 12, 2010

Let's Celebrate the Sunset . . .

Another week of terrible weather in the Northeast!  To escape the snow, ice and general misery, this weekend's virtual getaway is to the eclectic Florida town of Key West, Florida.

Photo courtesy of

After arriving at Miami International Airport, let's pick up a rental convertible and start the trip south.  Driving to Key West takes about four hours from Miami on the Overseas Highway (Route 1).  This road follows the route in which Henry Flagler built the Florida East Coast Railway in the early 1900s to link the US to ports such as Cuba.  The tracks were destroyed in a massive hurricane in 1935; it was rebuilt as a highway and was completed in 1938.  Driving from Miami to Key West, you drive over 110 miles of road and 42 bridges, including the well-known Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon.

Photo courtesy of Florida Keys News

Key West has many great places to stay, from large hotels to small guesthouses.  The Chelsea House,
located at 709 Truman Avenue, would be my choice for accommodations.  Part of the network of Historic Key West Inns, The Chelsea House offers a few different room styles.  My choice is The Junior Suite, which has double doors that lead to a private porch - a great place to enjoy your morning coffee while planning out the day's activities!

Photo courtesy of The Chelsea House

Our first stop after finishing our coffee will be the Truman Little White House located at 111 Front Street.  Key West was one of President Truman's favorite vacation spots (he even joked with Bess that he would like to move the Nation's Capital there).  The museum houses artifacts he used frequently during his stays there such as his poker table and piano.

Next stop, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum located on Whitehead Street in Old Town Key West.  Hemingway lived here for more than ten years, and wrote some of his best works while a residing in this colorful town.  One of the unique aspects of the Hemingway House - cats.  More than sixty kitties call this place home!  They wander freely through the grounds, so if you are allergic to cats, bring your allergy medication!  If you visit the website you can see photos of them.  Make sure to print it, so while visiting you can identify them by name.  My favorite:  Hairy Truman!

One of the most popular events in Key West, for both tourists and natives, is the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square.  Thousands of people come to view one of the most picturesque sunsets in the World.  About two hours before sunset, the celebration begins.  It is a festival that hosts local artisans and street performers, which culminates in sight of the sun gracefully dipping into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now that the sun has set, it is time to think about having dinner.  Seven Fish, located at 632 Olivia Street, is renowned for having some of the finest seafood in Key West.  After perusing the menu, I have decided on the Crab Cake with Garlic Sauce for an appetizer, and Sea Scallops over Mashed Potato with Pureed Peas as an entree.  For dessert - Key Lime Cheesecake with raspberries seems to be an appropriate choice!

Key West is famous for its crazy nightlife - so go big or go home!  First, let's have a drink at The Bull and Whistle, located at the corner of Duval and Caroline Streets.  It is home to Duval Street's only "clothing optional" bar , The Garden of Eden, which is located on the rooftop of this establishment.  While the weather most certainly will be warm enough to go "au naturel", I'm going to pass.  Let's sit downstairs and watch the world go by as we enjoy our martinis in Key West's oldest open air bar.

Duval Street, Key West

Before it gets too late, let's move on to our final night-time destination.  Remember, we are in Key West, one of the most open vacation destinations on the East Coast.  What combination can almost always guarantee fun?  How about cocktails, good music . . . and drag queens!  The Aqua Club on Duval Street has the famous "Aquanettes" featured on weekends; their current show entitled "Reality . . . What a Drag", looks like it would be entertaining - and nothing like anything I will find at home (I think my town should book something like it - we sorely need entertainment options!).

After a good night's sleep, it is time to jump back in the convertible, grab a coffee at Island Joe's and head back to the mainland!

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