Key West

“Why did the chicken cross the road? – To get to the bar”. This scene is typical in Key West, often we see one crossing over the road to a Pizza shop, hanging out by the local bars as well as to the Courthouse. Key West with the population just over 25,000 is only about 8 square miles, and at one point, about ten percent of the city’s population were chickens! Why? Because there are protected by law in Key West! 

Besides the local chicken or also known as Key West Gypsy Chickens, another creature roaming the streets is the Iguanas. The big ones aren’t afraid of humans, but the little one often scurries away when in contact. I’m not sure about whether they are protected or not because some say you may kill it if it’s within your property, and other say in Florida you are allowed to hunt them down, but not in the Keys.

Aside from the animals in Key West, there are plenty of activities and sightseeing can be done on this beautiful island. Our party of four increased to nine now that Lona, Zach, Michelle, Trevor, and Cole joined us, and we have a whole lot of families fun time during our six days and five nights stay in Key West. We stayed in the new town, about 2.7km away from the historic district, and our mode of transport was either with the hotel free shuttle, taxis ($4.50/pax), Ubers, and we also tried the golf carts, which was fun — courtesy to Zach and family who rented the six-seater which cost $150 for a day.


Accommodation

Parrot Key Hotel & Villas – Two-Bedroom Suite Waterfront

When we first arrived at Parrot Key Hotel & Villas, it was still early for check-in. Having nowhere to go, yet, we sat waiting at the poolside hotel restaurants, The Grove. However, the waitress was a bit rude. She told us there weren’t many shaded seats in the restaurant, and if we’re not ordering anything, we won’t be allowed to sit there. Mum and Dad ordered something, and once Mike and I finished the welcome drink, we left the place to nearby Overseas market. 

The check-in time was 4 pm, but we got our villa fifteen minutes early. It’s a corner unit, and precisely like the pictures we saw online, and better! We have two balconies, one in the master room and another one in the living room, which was on the same floor. However, there’s nothing much to see but other villas on the second balcony.

Mike and I took the room on the top floor, and we have a window facing the sea, which offered a great view of the waterfront. We couldn’t find fault in the villa; it was a fantastic choice. The bed was comfortable, big screens on the rooms and in the living room, and most importantly, both bedrooms with bathrooms. 

The bathroom amenities were what I liked the most; they stocked it with luxurious Lóccitane bath products. However, as they are 100% non-smoking hotel, smoking within the hotel grounds will be charged with a fee of $250, and if you’re a smoker, it would be a hassle to get to the designated smoking area near the parking lot.

Amenities & Facilities

  • Straw Beg with two flip flops, Iron + Ironing board, Sand Toy Bucket, Yoga Mat, Hair Dryer, Mini Bar, bathrobes, extra pillows, pillow mist, Coffee Tea, etc.
  • Parking – $16.13 per night with valet service
  • Gym and business centre – 7:00 am ~10:00 pm
  • Lounge Chairs and Hammocks
  • Free shuttle service to Smathers beach and the town
  • Four Pools – The Grove, The Gallery, The Oasis & The Sanctuary (Adult only)

Food & Drinks

Five Guys Burger

Although I didn’t see five guys serving food, it doesn’t matter, because the Bacon cheeseburger we ordered was lovely. This place was more like takeaway restaurants, and they have many choices of fizzy drinks you can choose from, but I wasn’t sure if it’s refillable? What’s the point of selecting your cup size when you first order it then?

Denny’s Restaurant

Enclosed in the Overseas Market, Dennys was the place where we had our breakfast twice. They served large portions, and it lasted until dinner! I also learned more about the type of eggs served, which was alien to me, especially the Over-easy and Sunny-Side-Up, silly me. 

Lumberjack Slam @ $12.49, All Amer Slam @ $12.49, Grand Slam Slugger @ $10.99

Yellowfin Bar & Grill

Besides Denny’s, we also have our breakfast at Yellowfin Bar & Grill before getting on to the Pontoon boat at Key West Harbour. It was the only place that’s open for breakfast in the area, and this bar belongs to Oceans Edge Resort & Marina Key West. The service was excellent, and although we didn’t stay in the resort, upon knowing that it was Cole’s 8th birthday, he presented him with a cake, which was a nice gesture.

Hurricane Holes

We had the fish from the fishing trip cooked in this restaurant bar, and the battered was great. We also ordered some conch fritters, Iguana Draft, and Yuengling. The outdoor seating, which was next to the marina, was fabulous. However, the mosquito was a nuisance. Don’t forget to spray your leg with mosquito spray before coming to this place, or you may opt to sit inside.  Beer price: Draft Iguana @ $6.50 & Yuengling @ $5.50.

P/S: I had my Conch Fritters here, one of the ‘Must Eat’ food while in Key West. 

Shimp Daddys Sports Pub

A local pub located about 400metres away from the hotel. We had our first night out drinking in this place. It’s a smokey bar, where you could smoke freely inside the pub. The server, Joe, was amiable. He welcomed us and made us feel comfortable. He also told us if we need food, there’s Big John’s Pizza opposite where we could order food and have it in the bar. 

We ordered a pitcher of Budweiser and Yuengling cost $11 per jug, and later on, feasted on Buffalo and Meat Pizza as well as BBQ Chicken wings. On our way back, we saw bat swarming the sky overhead, and not long after we reached the hotel, it started to rain heavily. 

Green Parrot Bar

This bar located in Whitehead street opens seven days a week from 10 am to 4 am. It has a great atmosphere, live band, jukebox machine, exciting stuff such as the hanging bicycle (ET go home), and Elvis Presley Slapped Hemmingway plaque. 

Don’t forget to look down on the walkway to catch on these beautiful sentences, located opposite of Green Parrot Bar. 

Key West Afternoon
Captain Tony’s & the Hog’s Breath Saloon, Ice-Cold beer on a hot afternoon. Pink shrimp with hot sauce, Conch fritters too. & down at the Parrot They’re singin’ the blues.

The Bull

This bar located in Duval street is an open bar concept and open seven days a week from 10 am to 4 am. What caught my attention was the beautiful hand-painted murals, and also live music happening on stage. However, the beer served in a plastic cup wasn’t a great deal, but great for takeaway, I guessed. 

Key Lime Cider & Bud Light @ $10.40

Sloppy Joe’s Bar

I had my ID checked in this bar! The server wasn’t friendly, but the live band was entertaining. Again, the beer served in a plastic cup, which wasn’t environmentally friendly! In this bar, you can have meals, purchase souvenirs, and gift cards, and it’s a famous bar in the area!

Sandbar Sports Grill

It’s an excellent place for gathering; we had our first reunion with the families in this bar. Great selection of beers and food, friendly servers, plenty of flatscreens to catch your favourite sports matches, play pool, as well as to watch the Gypsy chicken casually entering the bar, pecking of non-existent food on the floor.

Smallest Bar Inn Key West

We didn’t have any drinks here, but while walking along Duval street, this bar caught our eyes. The name and appearance matched the bar’s name, which was so cool! Built-in between two establishments, this bar is about the size of a jail cell, measuring about 72 square feet. 

While in the hot summer month, don’t forget to stop by any store selling drinks on the street. We bought Rasberry drink selling at $7 in a store along Duval street. 

El Siboney

A Cuban restaurant located in the Key West historic district. The food here was delicious but too bad I couldn’t recall the food name and the price for it. However, I remember the noisy group sat at the corner. 

P/S: I had my Key Lime Pie here, one of the ‘Must Eat’ food while in Key West. 

Old Town Mexican Café

Our last night here in Key West, and we had our dinner in this Mexican restaurant. It’s a lovely restaurant located in Duval street with great ambiance, suitable for family gatherings, as well as for birthday celebration – for Cole’s 8th birthday. The servers were attentive, friendly, and the food tasted amazing.

The food and drinks prices, not in particular order: Pork Chimi @ $16.50, Beef Quesadilla @$ 12.50, Carne Ajocoda @ $19.50, Salmon Fillet @ $20.00, Beef Burrito @ $15.00, Steak Fajita @ $17.50, Baja Tacos @ $16.50, Crazy Lady Draft @ $6.00, Especial Draft @ $6.00, Dos XX Lager @ $5.50 and Modelo Negro @ $6.00.


Attractions in Key West

Founded 1891 Souvenir shop – Former Wachovia Bank Founded In 1891 

This building caught my eyes when we first got off from our shuttle bus. Although it wasn’t something that you must see when you’re here, it’s still a lovely looking building with its bright red bricks.

Duval Street

Named after William Pope Duval, the first territorial governor of Florida, Duval street starts from the top of the island to the end in the span of 2.01 km street. We started our walk from the top – Key west conch tour train, and along the street, we saw many bars, restaurants, boutiques, chickens crossing the road, cigars shop, church, and historic houses. When we got to the end, we continued our walk to the Southernmost Point.

Oldest House Museum

While strolling along Duval street, we stumbled into this oldest house museum. We didn’t go inside tho, but for those who are interested in old stuff, the admission fee for the house, including the garden, is $5.00 per person. 

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Again, we didn’t go inside the church, but it’s one of the beautiful churches in Key West. This church, according to the website, will mark its 100th anniversary in February this year. 

Strand Building

Strand building was the old Strand Theater that Walgreens renovated into a store several years ago but kept the exterior design and left some original parts inside as well. The historic Strand Theater was one of Key West’s great old-time movie houses, and today it’s a Walgreens pharmacy.

The Southernmost Point

This place was once part of the Spanish empire before John Simonton purchased the island on the 21st of December 1821 for $2,000. Located at the corner of South Street and Whitehead Street, this landmark is one of the most visited places in Key West. Marking the distance of 90 miles to the next country, Cuba, the queue to have a picture taken in this spot was ridiculous! 

Ninety Miles
Oh, Havana
Coffee-colored dreams of rainy streets
Boys playing with balls
La Playa Santa Maria
If only I could get to you
And your people could come to me

Key West Lighthouse

It’s the first lighthouse built (1825) on this island near the Southernmost point. From the tower, visitors would be able to see a picturesque view of Key West and also learn the history of the Key West light station. 

US1 – Mile Marker 0

Though it’s merely a marker, it’s still one of the famous landmarks in Key West. Depending on how you view it, this mile marker is the beginning/the end of the 2,390 miles of roads connecting the Keys to the northern terminus in Fort Kent, Maine. 

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Before I visited Key West, I did some research on this island and found out about this museum. One of the books that the famous author Ernest Hemingway wrote while he resided in this house was Green Hill of Africa, and although I didn’t visit the house, just walked past it, I read his book but didn’t like the content. It wasn’t the author’s fault that I disliked the story; it was my own doing for reading the book that’s not in the circle of my usual genres. However, I did like the way he described the places and the peoples he met, it’s very detailed, and I could picture myself in his situation.

Mallory Square

A famous place where countless of visitors gathered around to watch the sunset. This waterfront square with restaurants and stores, known for its nocturnal festivals, hosts shows with art, craft and food merchants, performers, and entertainers such as the famous Catman of Key West – Dominique Lefort. 

Video of street views in Key West, the attractions, and Bars in Key West: 

The Conch Tour Train, Duval Street, The Oldest House Museum, The Southernmost Point, Key West Lighthouse, US1 – Mile Marker 0, Harry S Truman Little White House, Custom House, Dominique’s Circus Cats, Mallory Square Sunset, The Bull, Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Sandbar Sports Grill.


Activities

Fishing Trips

On our fourth day here, we went on a half-day (2 pm ~6 pm) fishing trip with Tortuga IV. It costs $45 for children and $65 for adults with license, bait, and fishing equipment. While waiting for our boat to arrive, we hung out around the marina, bought some food, and saw big Tarpon swimming near the dock. 

This 64-foot long x 24-foot party fishing boat departed from Conch harbour. Onboard, they have snacks and cold drinks, including beers, two toilets, sundeck for the view, and in the cabin, it supposed to be air-conditioned, but it didn’t work during our trip.

At the start of our journey, the crew member briefed us on the safety rules before he let us wander around the boat. It took about forty minutes before we finally arrived at the destination chosen by our captain, and during the journey, we spotted dolphins swimming alongside the boat as well as while we’re fishing.

Mike was the first one to lower down his line, and he immediately fighting with a shark! He almost riled it up, but it managed to snap the line. Besides our party, they were other peoples on board too. Everyone who participated in the fishing caught some fish, well, except for me! I swear the fish hated me ☹ 

At the end of the day, when we got back to the dock, the crew filleted the fish for us to take back, and while waiting for him to complete the job, we stood by the pier and watched some bull sharks and tarpons eating the fish guts.

Pontoon Boat

On the 04th of August – the fifth day we’re in Key West, we went out to the sea again for one last time before leaving this island the next day. It’s also Cole’s 8th birthday today, and we rented a 30ft pontoon boat with captain Zach stirring it. 

Equipped with GPS for navigation, a little changing room, two coolers box, and one slider, this double-decker pontoon boat also has sweet compy seats and bean bags on the upper deck. We left Key West harbour at almost 12noon. Captain Zach took us to the sandbar, and we spent nearly two hours there. Our next stop was snorkelling but didn’t spend much time there because the water was a bit murky. Lona told us that she saw a coral shaped like a cup!

Sanbar

Our last activity was fishing, and it took up most of our time. Besides Yellowtail caught by the boys, our captain Zach won the fishing award for his weird looking fish, which later on we identified it as a Lizardfish. Oh, by the way, I finally caught something too, not fish tho, but sunburnt on my shoulder blade for hanging out on the sundeck without sunblock! 

Lizardfish caught by Zach

Travel Date: 31st July ~ 05th August 2019

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