Starting the trip from the south tip of Florida sounded like a good idea. Spending a couple of days in Key West doing nothing but exploring the small town, no hurry anywhere, was exactly what was needed to wash away the tension and stress that had built up during the weeks leading to the deadline of my last project. The town surprises with its friendly, laid-back atmosphere. The restaurants are crowded with people who clearly enjoy their visit; the same cannot be said about the drivers who desperately try to find a parking spot for their cars. I visited the mandatory buoy of the southernmost point of the continental US, walked through the rooms that Ernest Hemingway once lived in, and ate in the Deuce’s Off the Hook Grill. The food was excellent in general even though I really loved their hummus platter. The whole town has managed to hold on to the real small town feeling even though massive amounts of tourists visit it every year.
The drive along the chain of the Keys is not exactly full of new experiences but rather quite redundant. However, switching to the attitude of paying attention to details helps a lot in conquering the boredom that may linger around. The ocean is, after all, really beautiful, and short stops here and there offer opportunities to notice things that do not necessarily stand out at first. Like, for those who love fishing but are not familiar with the ones in these waters, this sign:
Everglades: Swamp and alligators? Definitely plenty of both, but also beautiful birds, turtles, panthers, and stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. Both the Ernest Coe Visitor Center and the Flamingo Viewing Center are worth a visit, but the closest to the animals you can get at the Royal Palm Visitor Center. The guides there are really knowledgeable and tell interesting facts about the animals and the history of the Everglades National Park. The tour is perfect for both adults and families with children, because there is something for everyone to see. There is quite a lot of parking space, so even that is not an issue. All year round, a water bottle is a must!
Top three picks in the area:
- The whole small town of Key West
- Deuce’s Off the Hook Grill
- Royal Palm Visitor Center