Floriday Keys Part 2: Key West – a couple of day trips between April 7 & 21, 2023

While we were staying at Bahia Honda State Park, we took a couple of day trips to Key West. We were happy to find a parking lot that would easily accomodate our heavy duty pick-up truck. Next year we will consider taking the shuttle bus that runs between the park and Old Town. We may even spend a night there, so we can experience the sunset festivities at Mallory Square and being on Duvall Street at night.

We used to go to Key West in the early 2000’s, before we bought our place on  Maui.  They were short, fun, care-free trips, usually with friends. We used to stay at the Ocean Key resort, with rooms overlooking Mallory Square, for about $150/night (now $400 – $800/nt). We would rent bikes, spend afternoons at the pool and evenings out on the town. At that time, we were flying somewhere 4 – 7 times a year, so a shorter trip allowed me to use fewer vacation days.

The first thing we noticed was how crowded everything was and how heavy the traffic was, compared to past visits. We actually limited our walking on Duval Street for that reason. We went to the famous Southernmost Point buoy for a photo, but were shocked to see people lined up on the street, waiting their turn for a selfie. Rather than stand in line for 25 minutes, we skipped it. I’m not sure what was more surprising – the amount of people waiting or the fact that they were politely waiting in line.

We spent some time in the historic seaport district. It was quite busy, but seemed less touristy than Duvall Street. We had a great dinner at the Waterfront Brewery. The first visit, we sort of wandered Old Town, around aimlessly. The second time, we mapped out an itinerary and made sure we saw some historic sights.

Note: The beaches on the south side of Key West were unindated with smelly  sargassum seaweed, I think it’s a pretty rare occurence, but I would recommend checking the seaweed status anywhere in the keys, or even Florida, before going.

Sloppy Joe’s Bar – Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar. We went there many times, about 22 years ago. We attempted to return a couple of times this year, but the place was packed, with no empty seats (even mid-day).

Irish Kevin’s Bar. We had a beer at Irish Kevin’s, which was not nearly as crowded as Sloppy Joe’s. We think the poor quality of the live music that day may have been a factor.  We also went to this place many years ago.
Ernest Hemmingway’s house. We toured it many years ago. The highlights for me were seeing his writing desk and the polydactyl cats, who descended from his original cats.
The Key West lighthouse, built in 1848, after the original one was destroyed in the 1846 hurricane. They raised the tower 20 feet in 1894 because the surrounding trees grew and blocked the light.
This Banyan tree is pretty small compared to some in Hawaii, but it’s still pretty impressive.
This historic building is now a condominium. It was The Marine Hospital from 1845 to 1943.
Cornish Memorial African Methodist Epicopol Zion Church, founded 1864, built 1885
Sunset Pier, Key West, FL
Built in 1890, this was a two-family residence for the Navy Commandment and Paymaster. In 1911 it was converted to a single family residence and later became the vacation home of Harry S. Truman
President Truman’s 1950 Lincoln Limo (one of nine in various US locations)
A Gumbo Limbo Tree at the Truman Little Whitehouse. We later saw this type of tree growing wild on a hiking trail in Curry Hammock State Park
This was the United States Weather Bureau building from1911 through 1951.
The Weatherstation Inn building served as residential housing for the U.S. Navy from 1952 until 1974, when the base closed. It opened as a hotel in 1997.
The Custom House, next to Mallory Square, built in 1891, is now a museum run by the Key West Art & Historical Society
The Whistle Bar, Upstairs from The Bull. We had to stop there for old times’ sake. We had a great time people-watching there many years ago with friends Paul and Nancy. I remember Nancy yelling “Look! It’s the silver guy!” and he looked up at her. He was riding his bike home from his sunset gig at Mallory Square, still completely silver, from head to toe.
The view from Geiger Key Marina. We stopped there on the way home one night for dinner. They had live music and fabulous tacos. I had hogfish and Dave had tuna.