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Key West -- first real time -- need suggestions, confirmations

KProuty

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We are staying at the Hyatt Beach House on a trade mid-March. Adult children are staying at our house at home taking care of the cat so we are first staying in Orlando for a week and working and then driving down to Key West. We are actually driving from MA since my husband uses a scooter, we drive in a van that has a lift, and we get along really well together, even in traffic. (Of course, we avoid traffic for the most part by going the Cuomo bridge and either going through PA, VA or NJ, DE. Never again on 95 the whole way!)

Driving down to the keys on Saturday morning from Orlando.

A few more things:
  • We love joints, as my mom calls them. She is not so fond of them and would prefer lots of upscale places. We like downscale and good food with just a few upscale places. Because of Covid and the fact that she won't have her second shot by this time, she is staying home.
  • We like live music, but we don't like LOUD live music. Hubby was sound man for my daughter's band for years and he has had his fill.

Key Largo Lodging
Marriott Courtyard, on points (trying for fewer points!) for a Saturday night.

Key Largo Restaurants (checked out on Trip Advisor)

  • Snook's Bayside Restaurant & Grand Tiki
    • Only get drinks here and the view is great
  • The Fish House Restaurant & Seafood Market
    • Only order the fresh fish here.
  • Fernandez the Bull Cuban Grill
  • Mike's BBQ 101

Key Largo Activities

  • Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
  • African Queen Canal Cruise
    • This might be dicey because there is a big step down into the boat. I called. Of course, we have to watch the movie before we go!
  • There is a glass bottom boat cruise as well, has anyone been?

Marathon for lunch on the drive down on Sunday?
  • King Seafood- Market & Restaurant

Key West Lodging
  • Hyatt Beach House (not in the downtown area, but that is OK with us) I read some units don't have ovens. No one has contacted us about rooms yet. Heard that it can be noisy. Would love a top floor with good Internet. We are quiet!
  • We aren't big drinkers or partiers, our limit is 2 drinks and hubby likes to go to bed on the early side, 9 or 10.
  • We usually cook breakfast in our room.

Key West Activities
  • I checked with Dry Tortugas, and the ferry is fully handicapped accessible, but it is full! :( Next time for our bucket list.
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
  • Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
  • Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
  • The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
    • will only be able to go to the first floor) but it has cats. Hubby LOVES cats.
Stock Island Restaurants (close to the Hyatt Beach House)
  • Yahman's Authentic Jamaican Jerk Shack
  • One Love Food Truck
  • El Siboney Restaurant Stock Island
  • Hogfish Bar and Grill

Key West Restaurants:
  • We have a reservation for lunch at Latitudes on Sunset Key
  • Garbo's Grill
    • On Diners, Drive ins and Dives, Food Truck
    • Also can listen to live music and get drinks from Hanks
  • Blind Pig
  • Green Parrot Bar
  • Seaside Cafe at the Mansion
  • Blue Heaven
  • Hurricane Hole Restaurant & Marina

What am I missing? Anything on here that shouldn't be?
 

Bailey#1

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In Marathon, right before going over the seven mile bridge towards Key West there is a nice little parking area that we found to be relaxing. We went in 2016 so things may be different today.
 

KProuty

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Go fishing or do something on a boat.
I was looking at Lazy Dog Kayaking, and I think I wrote them a message because hubby has great upper body strength. He used to run biathlons, he still works around the house and even chops wood on his knees. I asked them about any experiences with folks like him, but they haven't answered. I think he would love it.
 

Gypsy65

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Hogfish Bar and Grill
Blue Heaven
Both very good

If you like salsas or hot sauces there’s a place called Peppers just behind sloppy joes
Sorta like cheers bar but no booze ( you can bring your own in from the bar next door )

They give you a bowl of chips and then start giving you samples of different sauces. Glazes etc
We have spent a few hours there and usually a few $$$


Also fishing in the Keys up to Ft Lauderdale is great

If you plan on stopping in Ft Lauderdale check out the water taxi if you are able to get on/off a boat easily
They take you to several stops and narrate while your onboard about the houses etc

 
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Eric B

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We love joints, as my mom calls them.
Maybe it's just because I grew up in Southern California, but this confused me since I had some friends back then that also loved joints, as their mom's called them. Probably meant something different, though....
 

pedro47

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Key West is very nice. But was just to warm/hot and just to much humidity for me to enjoy.

The drive from Orlando to Key West is very long, about 6 1/2 hours.

You can purchase some great cigars in Key West and the sport fishing is outstanding.
Enjoy.
 

KProuty

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Maybe it's just because I grew up in Southern California, but this confused me since I had some friends back then that also loved joints, as their mom's called them. Probably meant something different, though....
OMG, this is hilarious! Yes, definitely something different. She is 88. More like this below.

424714588-of-all-the-gin-joints-in-all-the-towns-in-all-the-world-she-walks-into-mine-quote-1.jpg
 
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KProuty

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If you like salsas or hot sauces there’s a place called Peppers just behind sloppy joes
Sorta like cheers bar but no booze ( you can bring your own in from the bar next door )

They give you a bowl of chips and then start giving you samples of different sauces. Glazes etc
We have spent a few hours there and usually a few $$$
THIS has us pegged! I love posting in travel forums because I always get ideas that I might have missed!
 

AJCts411

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Music and eats...Smokin Tuna is my favorite. Banana Cafe is a must stop for a crepe for me. Just a FYI there is a Key West forum on Trip advisor you could look up with many great recomendations on resteraunts, must sees, things to do, music.
 

KProuty

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Key West is very nice. But was just to warm/hot and just to much humidity for me to enjoy.

The drive from Orlando to Key West is very long, about 6 1/2 hours.

You can purchase some great cigars in Key West and the sport fishing is outstanding.
Enjoy.
We could drive 6.5 hours for an excellent loaf of bread or a good ice cream cone. My daughter had a rock band and we drove all the time.

I think the humidity is better in March than in July, but we will see.
 

JanT

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Sara Beth’s, if it’s still there. Just really loved the food.

Also, at Mile Marker 20 there is Mangrove Mama’s. Great food!

Wonderful food! Love Key West so much we purchased two additional weeks at Sunset Harbor late last year. Can’t wait to get back there! Have fun!
 

Sugarcubesea

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Sara Beth’s, if it’s still there. Just really loved the food.

Also, at Mile Marker 20 there is Mangrove Mama’s. Great food!

Wonderful food! Love Key West so much we purchased two additional weeks at Sunset Harbor late last year. Can’t wait to get back there! Have fun!
For sure go to Mangrove Mama’s, my sister in law retired to Islamorada and we always go to Mangrove Mama’s, I love that place and they have a good happy hour...
 

jjluhman

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We love Lorelei (https://www.loreleicabanabar.com/) for lunch in Marathon on the way to Key West. Best cracked conch in the keys!
Joints in KW that we love are B.O.s Fish Wagon http://www.bosfishwagon.com/ and
Schooner Wharf Bar for food and live music out on the docks. https://www.schoonerwharf.com/

We have stayed at the Hyatt Beach House several times and have not found it to be loud. We really enjoyed the property.

You cannot go wrong with any meal at Latitudes, that is certainly our favorite upscale restaurant in Key West. Also Blue Heaven, and Louies Backyard https://www.louiesbackyard.com/
 

alexadeparis

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We always stop at Harriettes for breakfast on the way back to Miami
 

JanT

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A second for Blue Heaven and Louie’s Backyard. Not sure why I didn’t include them in my post. Excellent places!!
 

MrockStar

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The sunset grill in Marathon is great also the stuffed pig is great for breakfast.
 

KeyWestSuz

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I was looking at Lazy Dog Kayaking, and I think I wrote them a message because hubby has great upper body strength. He used to run biathlons, he still works around the house and even chops wood on his knees. I asked them about any experiences with folks like him, but they haven't answered. I think he would love it.
I tried sending them several messages a few years back and finally gave up. Couldn't get a call back either. People rave about them, but we chose to go with Danger Charters to do our kayaking.
 

Gypsy65

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Just a thought
We are going to New Orleans this year and are making all our dinner or activities reservations now and maybe it’s a good idea for your trip also???

My reasoning is that those who have stayed locked down will be in Mad Dash mode when they come out to play and it might be difficult to get to certain venues
 

AJCts411

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Just a thought
We are going to New Orleans this year and are making all our dinner or activities reservations now and maybe it’s a good idea for your trip also???

My reasoning is that those who have stayed locked down will be in Mad Dash mode when they come out to play and it might be difficult to get to certain venues
Just an FYI. The Key West forum on TA posts about all restaurants/bars being open. And depending on how comfortable (masked/unmasked) you are with crowds it is not too bad to get into the most popular venues. Certainly those that you need to get reservations for before covid is still true now.
 

Suzannecm

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So, how was your trip? We are headed to Key West next month; it will be our first visit as well. I'm making note of the suggestions that you were given and hope to hear what your favorite restaurants and activities were! Thank you.
 

KProuty

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@Suzannecm ,

It was great. We LOVED the resort. I wrote a detailed review on Tug of the resort.

Some highlights right now of the Keys in general (remember, we do a lot of joints):

Key Largo

BEST BARBECUE on our way down was
Mike's BBQ 101

You eat outside on picnic tables. We always travel with a cooler, so we were staying at Key Largo driving down. We put it in the fridge at our Key Largo hotel and brought it with us to Key West. We purchased a lot. For our return trip to MA, we bought a ton of it and ate it for lunch all the way home. It was THAT good. Really, really, really!

Key West

Garbo's Grill

The fish tacos were divine. We had some great drinks from the bar next door. We enjoyed the outside atmosphere. It wasn't crowded when we went but there were people there.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34344-d14069205-Reviews-Mike_s_BBQ_101-Key_Largo_Florida_Keys_Florida.html#REVIEWS
Maybe the best pizza I have ever had was at:

Seaside Cafe at the Mansion

It also has great outdoor seating. My hubby had a scooter and we had no problem seating. Just be aware, when it is really windy they can't put up the umbrellas so there is limited seating in the shade.

We had reservations at Latitudes (not a joint), but we couldn't go because, while the boat is accessible, it couldn't accommodate my husband's scooter. His scooter looks more like a motorcycle versus the low four wheelers you usually see. It is 28 or 29 inches wide. The ramp was too small.

If you stay at the Hyatt Beach House (not downtown) you can walk over to Stock Island and eat at an outside restaurant and maybe see some Manatees.
Hurricane Hole Restaurant & Marina

It was fun.

We also got takeout at
One Love Food Truck

on Stock Island. (Drove) The jerk chicken was really good. We brought it back to our place.

We ate at the Beach House. Their hamburgers/cheeseburgers are fantastic and the drinks are great too. View from the timeshare pier is wonderful.

We were kind of disappointed with the food at
Blue Heaven

although the ambience and the live music was very very good. (Limited menu because of Covid?)


Places we went:

Hemingway House (loved it, but we love cats too! You gotta like cats if you go there.)
Parks
Lots of walking around the streets (hubby scootering)
Relaxing by the pool and had drinks brought to us.


Soooo... we didn't do half of what we wanted to do. (We also worked for a few days down there.) When we go back, we would love to do the Tortugas (get reservations right away!), go to some museums, etc.

For a very detailed review of our room, read my review on Tug in the review section.

Thanks to you all. Hopefully we will get to try the wonderful stuff we missed.
 

Suzannecm

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@KProuty

Thank you so much for your reply and for all of the valuable information! Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation.

Yes, we are staying at Hyatt Beach House; we were fortunate to get an exchange. Initially I was concerned because it isn't closer to downtown; our preference is to be within walking distance of restaurants and bars. However, being able to walk to Stock Island sounds perfect. We are also planning to rent bikes for the week so we can ride to town in the day and will Uber in the evenings if we want to go downtown. Hopefully Ubers/Lyfts are easily accessible.

Yesterday I tried to make reservations for the half day seaplane trip to Tortugas; however, they are all booked. I'm not sure I want to spend a full day doing the ferry option even if it is available. If anyone wants to weigh in if it's worth spending an entire day or not I would love to hear your opinion. So much to do and so little time!

The Hemingway House sounds interesting but since I'm allergic to cats I think we will pass on that. I will check out your review and the links you provided as well; thanks again for your reply! I'm really looking forward to this trip.
 

Gypsy65

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That’s too bad Blue Heaven was a bust

It’s been great for us in past years but maybe it’s a covid and help thing?
 

KProuty

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@Gypsy65 , no, the service was wonderful! Our server was really nice and the type of person that you end up liking immediately. It was the actual entrees that weren't great. They were just OK. And there wasn't a lot of choice. This was for lunch. That might be a Covid thing, although it was very busy and we had to wait. The music was VERY good though. Not too loud, which we liked. Very talented musician.

@Suzannecm , if you don't go to the Tortugas, you can substitute with
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34345-d104136-Reviews-Fort_Zachary_Taylor_Historic_State_Park-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html#REVIEWS
like we did. We enjoyed visiting the fort there, although I have heard from my brother in law that the Tortugas is something that shouldn't be missed.
 
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