Our trip to Florida was AMAZING. I got to see where my boyfriend Estefan was born and raised, meet more family members and friends of his, and honestly learned so much about him in a week’s time. Every bit of the trip was amazing; but hands down, both of our favorite parts of the trip was our overnight in The Keys to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. It’s his favorite place in the world, and I quickly learned why. Keep reading to see how we spent our two days in The Keys.
If I were to describe The Keys in a few words, I would say it’s like a tropical New Orleans. Being that we had just traveled to New Orleans a few months ago, it was interesting to be in The Keys and notice all the similarities. The architecture, laid back vibes, party scene, and general kookiness were all super similar, except The Keys is obviously a series of islands covered in palm trees. I loved that The Keys felt like we had traveled back in time, and to another country. Everything was at a slower pace, and nothing was updated or modernized. Also, there are TONS of species of animals EVERYWHERE. (If you know anything about me, you know I’m obsessed with animals, so I loved this aspect of The Keys.)
Getting from Miami all the way to Key West is about a three hour drive, but there are tons of spots sprinkled along the way, so it ends up being quite a bit longer. You definitely need a car to drive down, and since my boyfriend’s number one passion is cars, we decided to rent a BMW convertible to drive down in style.
In his element
Here were our favorite spots in The Keys we stopped at:
Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen is a cute little touristy spot. We each got our own meal for brunch, then split a slice of classic Key Lime Pie. It wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had, but I did love starting the trip here, as it’s at the beginning of The Keys, and I instantly felt transported to vacation mode.
My boyfriend owns about 10 of the same fishing shirt, but wanted to collect a couple more from the Bass Pro Shop at Islamorada Fish Company. It turned out to be a pretty cool stop for me too, because there were tons of animals living in this little bay area. We walked around and checked out the wildlife, shopped in the store, and took pictures by the water. In the store, they also have a replica of Ernest Hemingway’s famous boat you can walk around in.
Tarpon Feeding at Robbie’s
Robbie’s is a super casual place that sells food, but the main attraction is the tarpon feeding experience. If you’ve never seen a tarpon in person, it’s a HUGE fish… and at Robbie’s you get to feed them. We spent probably a max of $10, and will literally have memories for a life time. You grab a bucket of small fish, and walk out to the docks where hundreds of tarpon are swarming everywhere. You choose a spot on the dock, lay down on your stomach with a fish in hand, and reach your hand down about a foot above the water. Soon enough, one of the tarpon will jump out of the water and snag that little fish right out of your hand! It’s a pretty wild, hilarious, and addictive experience once you get over the initial fear!
Bahia Honda State Park
We desperately wanted to get in the clear, beautiful ocean, so we made a pit stop at Bahia Honda State Park on the way in. It’s a very quiet beach with some families and friend groups casually hanging out. The water is so clear you can see your feet, and is the perfect temperature for cooling off. It’s pretty shallow, and there aren’t any waves to fight, so it’s very relaxing. The coolest thing about our experience was the amount of diversity at the beach. I probably heard 5 different languages spoken all around me, which I loved! There’s also a really nice changing and shower area available.
Southernmost Point Monument
This is a must see! I had never thought about it until we literally drove up to it, but the tip of Key West is considered the southernmost point of the Continental US! There isn’t much to it other than a marker to take a photo with, but it’s cool to say that you visited it!
Terrible quality, but it didn’t happen unless you have a random dude take a photo at 10:30pm, right?
For my boyfriend’s birthday dinner we went to Louie’s Backyard in Key West. It’s an old, beautifully maintained home sitting right on the beach, which I learned is pretty unique in The Keys. We first sat outside right by the water, but then a huge storm blew in forcing us onto the covered porch. We didn’t mind watching the storm roll in one bit though, as we both love storms. Every single thing we had was absolutely delicious and we had a great time. I highly recommend checking this place out!
The storm brewing behind me
Theater Under The Sea
The last thing we did on our way out, was visit the Theater Under the Sea for a couple of hours. At Theater Under the Sea, they have opportunities to experience all sorts of sea creatures all throughout the day. We saw a sea lion show, rode on a bottomless boat ride to watch dolphins, and experienced a fish and reptile educational tour. (Did you know you are more likely to get struck by lightning than bitten by a shark??). We could have stayed here for several more hours!
Staying at The Perry Hotel
We LOVED The Perry Hotel and would definitely stay there again. It was a very stylish hotel with a great restaurant downstairs, beautiful pool, water views, comfy bed, and nice toiletries. I called ahead of time to arrange for balloons to be placed in the room for my boyfriend’s birthday and they were super helpful finding a company for me to work with. When we arrived, not only were the balloons placed exactly like I asked, but they also provided a bottle of champagne for us. I loved that extra touch.
We wished we had several more days to spend exploring The Keys. Here were the things we would have done with the extra time:
- Bar hopping on Duval Street – Duval Street is home to tons of divey/hole in the wall bars. We only had time to drive through and people watch a bit, but it looked like a ton of fun! Similar to New Orleans, you can walk around with alcohol here.
- Fort Jefferson – this is one of the largest forts ever created, that you can only get to by boat or seaplane
- Turtle Hospital – here is where many of the injured turtles from around The Keys go for rehabilitation
- Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum – you can see where Ernest Hemingway lived for about a decade. Plus, there are about 40-50 polydactyl cats, which are cats with 6 toes. That, in itself, makes me wants to go.
- Harry S. Truman Little White House – you can tour the location where President Truman would go to recharge. We walked by it, and it’s so beautiful with tons of chickens running around the grounds. (Obviously.)
- John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park – this was the first protected underwater park in the US. You can scuba or snorkel to see the reef, plus experience the famous Christ of the Deep underwater sculpture.
Looks like we’ll just have to go back again soon!
See you next time, Florida!
Have you ever visited The Keys? What was your favorite part? Where is your next trip?