jaunt chats: key west, florida

katie and jason at the southernmost point in the us: key west, florida

katie and jason at the southernmost point in the us: key west, florida

i honestly do not know how my friend, katie, does it.  between working, hosting open pool days at her house, being a social butterfly, and preparing for a new baby (soon!), she still finds the time to travel.  and travel often!  she is always an inspiration to me, and i love scrolling through all of her vacation photos (spoiler alert: she always has a blast).  so i’m thrilled that she was willing to share with me a couple of her recent trips.  first up: key west, florida, one of my own favorite trips (many, many years ago) that involved key lime pie, hemingway’s six-toed cats, and a whole lotta blue water.

jb: when did you travel to key west?

katie: my husband, jason, and i traveled to key west from dallas over memorial day weekend 2014. we took the trip as a “babymoon” when I was 22 weeks pregnant with our first child (due 9/25 – it’s a girl!). i had been to key west previously for work but jason had never been there. we were able to fly into key west (through miami) thus avoiding the 4 hour drive and getting our vacation started a bit earlier. the flight from miami into key west was literally up and down, 45 minutes max.

view of key west from the (short) flight from miami

view of key west from the (short) flight from miami

jb: how did you plan for your trip?

katie: we used both yelp and trip adviser reviews to research resorts and restaurants (mostly yelp). We found a great resort/boutique hotel called the parrot key resort that was a bit off the main drag (i.e. duval street – more on that later) and we thought that it looked very calm, peaceful, and relaxing – just what this mama-to-be was looking for in the hustle that is so often key west!

one of the four pools at the parrot key resort boutique hotel

one of the four pools at the parrot key resort boutique hotel

jb: what are some of your favorite moments from the trip?

katie: we had some great dinners, the best of which was at latitudes, located on sunset key island which is just a quick ferry ride out (tip: you are supposed to show up to the ferry at the time of your dinner reservation). you can sit right on the beach, but be cautious of where you sit depending on the time of day and sun. we ended up moving our table from right against the water back a little bit into some shade where we still had a spectacular view of the water and sunset.

the sunsets in key west

the sunsets in key west

for something more casual, you must stop at dj’s clam shack on duval street for the lobster roll and mahi mahi fish tacos (share with a friend so you can try both). this place was featured on diners, dives, and drive-ins on the food network and the hype is real.

the famous lobster roll from dj's clam shack

the famous lobster roll from dj’s clam shack

we did an excursion with sebago water sports – the morning reef snorkel. key west has some of the most expansive barrier reefs in the world. to protect the ecosystems, they are very serious about not touching any of the reef as you go out and explore. the sebago team was great, and they suggested that we grab breakfast at the cuban coffee queen (photo below), a little shack popular with the locals, serving up giant breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, and of course coffee creations of all kinds. this was a great find and there’s a little shop adjacent or benches out front to pass the 10-15 minute wait time.

for more on those and my other favorites via my yelp reviews, click here.

jb: any crazy things happen in key west?

katie: a college friend of mine was there at the same time and we were able to meet up with him for drinks each night. he’s a private pilot and had brought a client down for the weekend and was there just hanging out. it’s always fun when travels bring you close to friend, especially when it’s unexpected!  also, we really enjoyed spending time at RICK’S  where they had a live performer singing and telling dirty jokes. he pretty much picked on anyone and everyone, whether you walked into the bar or just were walking by on the street. not for those who are easily offended (then again, KW is not for those who are easily offended).

running into friends in key west!

running into friends in key west!

jb: ha!  i would be too nervous for rick’s, i fear.  or i would need to take you with me when i go.  anything else cool?

katie: you may be interested to read up on the history of the u.s. presidents who spent time in key west (truman, eisenhower, kennedy, carter, clinton). i found out about this when we stumbled upon the harry s. truman little white house and explored a bit further.

duvall street - the main drag in key west

duvall street – the main drag in key west

jb: so how was the weather?  i hear horror stories of the florida humidity.

katie: it was hot and a bit humid with lots of sunshine! perfect for being poolside by day but a little warm for extended walking around and exploring during the day. the evenings were not as bad humidity-wise and i was more comfortable walking the streets in the evening (not like a hooker…make sure your readers know that!)

jb: katie is “not” a hooker.

snorkeling in key west!

snorkeling in key west!

jb: ok, so what’s the overall vibe?

katie: key west is definitely an adult scene. i was surprised by how many kids i saw (and strollers), much in the way that you may be surprised by seeing young children up and down the las vegas strip. duval street is a party scene for those not easily offended (be prepared to be called out for anything by local performers in the bars up and down the street). that being said, duval street also has great people watching! there’s also a big LGBT scene down the way on duval.


jb: packing essentials?

katie: must pack a bathing suit, flip flops, sunscreen, casual outfits for the evening – whatever you’re comfortable in.

jb: any tips?

katie: stay on or near duval street if you want to be part of the scene. this will cut down on your cab fares and allow you to get around very easily by foot for the most part. if you’re going with a group and want something upscale and a bit more private with easy access to the duval scene, check out sunset key where the westin has private cottages and is just a short ferry ride from all of the action.

jb: what did you read while traveling?

katie: well, it had nothing to do with key west, but i read we the eaters by ellen gustafson and i highly recommend this book. *disclaimer: my cousin wrote this book and it was recently released (may 2014)!

reading "we the eaters" poolside - check it out!

reading “we the eaters” poolside – check it out!