Key West, A Tropical Paradise

Key West, A Tropical Paradise

Key West is a magical, mystical place I’ve been told, and after my recent visit I have to agree. Situated at the outermost tip of Florida, Key West is 90 miles from Cuba, a 3 hour nonstop flight from New York on JetBlue and Delta, or a 3 &1/2 hour scenic drive from Miami through the charming Keys.

Key West has beautiful beaches, incredible fishing, sailing and all sorts of watersports in abundance. A sunset cruise is a must, and ours on Captain Denis’ the Breezin, an intimate 42 foot sailboat, was breathtaking! But party boats, booze cruises and floating tiki bars are also an option. And don’t miss the Mallory Square nightly gathering to watch the sunset, a revered local tradition, and joyous celebration with buskers, artists, mermaids and musicians. 

Key West, A Tropical Paradise

The best way to get an overview of Key West and cover the many local places of interest, historical sites, monuments and museums, is to take the Conch train or the Old Town Trolley, and hop on and off. The drivers are excellent guides who provide local lore and history you won’t get on your own.

Key West abounds in history and my must see was the Hemingway House, being an aficionado of the writer and cats. You can tour the beautifully preserved House and studio where Papa did most of his writing, wander the lush gardens and pet the 60 plus, well cared for polydactyl felines, who have full run of the place. Hemingway loved his cats, and named them after famous movie stars. Most are descendants of a 6 toed white cat named Snow White, given to him by a sea captain.

Key West, A Tropical Paradise

Duval Street, running north to south the length of the island, is the main drag. The southern, quieter end, is dotted with galleries, boutiques and nice restaurants, and becomes increasingly more lively as you proceed north with bustling bars (11-7 happy hours) and live music. For those who succumb to the Duval Crawl, there’s even a Hangover Hospital, which offers in house or on call visits.

Restaurant options are endless, ranging from casual to fine dining, and I was surprised at the abundance of excellent, innovative cuisine. Do try the conch, hogfish, spiny lobster and pink Key West shrimp. Two of my favorites were Santiago Bodega, which has an great selection of tapas, a fine wine list and happy hour specials, and La Grignote, a French artesian cafe, open for breakfast and lunch, offering incredible pastries, eggs and the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, plus generous pours of Prosecco. I would have happily eaten here every day! 

Key West, A Tropical Paradise

The spirit of the Conch Republic, aka Key West, with its storied past, relaxed lifestyle, great food and friendly, quirky locals who know how to enjoy life must be experienced to understand its spell. Grab a mojito and start planning.

I’m definitely going back!

After graduating from Bard College with a major in languages, Roberta spent a year in Germany and France before joining Trans World Airlines in the early 70’s. At TWA she became the Ambassador and Constellation Club supervisor at JFK. An interest in food fostered by her international travel lead to “Deliciously Dunn”, her catering and gift basket business for 20 years, while still working at TWA. After the demise of the airline, Roberta became the North American sales rep for La Source, a 5 star resort in Grenada. When hurricane Ivan destroyed the island, she went on to work for Airport Press. Most recently Ms. Dunn is the Skating Director at the City of Long Beach, NY skating rink. Roberta is a US Figure Skating Gold Medalist in ice dancing and has skated since she was 17. Another of her passions is photography and her photos have been used in several publications. Roberta still travels extensively, enjoys cooking and entertaining and skates practically every day.


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