Andrew and I were in Miami last week attending a conference. We were lucky enough to have a suite at the JW Marriott in Turnberry which is a magnificent property with its own water park and golf course. Once the conference finished we had a couple of days to spare before heading home to Basel. Having visited Miami many times in the past, we decided to look out for something different – somewhere we hadn’t been before.
There are quite a few options close to Miami – the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico for example. In the end, we opted for a drive rather than yet another flight. So at 10 am we collected our hire care from National (love the Emerald Aisle!) and started the drive down to Key West. The drive itself was fairly pedestrian with a lot of stop-start traffic, with the exception of 7 Mile Bridge, an iconic bridge that has featured in many a Hollywood movie.
We decided to stop for lunch at Key Largo and sample what had been described to us at the “best Key Lime Pie” in the whole world. The restaurant in question was the Fish House where we enjoyed blackened Mahi Mahi and some delicious Yellow Tail Snapper before ordering the pie in question. I found it too sweet. Although Andrew's not much of a sweet-tooth, I must say that it didn’t bother him. I’m not sure that it qualifies as the best in the world, but it is certainly worth a try if you’re stopping in Key Largo.
As a diamond Hilton member, I opted for the Doubletree Resort Key West which I thought initially may be a bit out of town. That turned out to be a bit of a blessing to be honest because the downtown area around Duval Street gets really busy. So, to be a little out of the super touristy areas was a relief. The resort itself whilst not super luxury, has a decent pool area, restaurant and bar areas, and the rooms are comfortable. We had a nice suite which gave us a bit of extra space to decompress after the conference week in Miami. Another benefit of being a diamond member is that the breakfast is free. An interesting feature of this hotel is its resident Iguana population whose sudden movements tend to startle and then delight with their vibrant green colour and prehistoric looks.
For dinner on our first night, we decided to stroll down Duval Street to see what took our fancy. We opted for the Grand Café which is right across the road from the Hard Rock Café. One of the benefits of this was that we got the live music from the Hard Rock, but were still able to hold a conversation without shouting at each other. If you enjoy people watching, sitting on Duval Street on a Friday or Saturday night, you will get to see pretty much one of everything. Andrew opted for a filet with a lobster tail which was very nice, and I took some Thai style mussels which were also very good. The price point of the Grand Café is a little above many of the other eateries along Duval Street which, while still having very decent traffic, kept it a little more reserved and sophisticated – which we appreciated.
On Saturday, we made a circuit of the obligatory points of interest in Key West: the Southernmost point of continental USA, the Hemmingway Home the Mile 0 marker and the Little White House. To be honest, it was a really relaxing way to spend the day. None of these are particularly taxing – either mentally or physically (apart from the heat!!) – so it was a great way to wind down and relax after a work week. There is enough here to keep you amused for a day or two, but it really is a nice place just to chill and relax and do not much of anything. We took a break at midday and we simply had to try the Stone Crab at Stoned Crab. They steam their crab immediately when it comes ashore and this ensures that it doesn't stick inside the shell. This makes it super easy to eat and super tasty! We highly recommend it!
After a relaxing swim in the pool, we were given a tip that the Hogfish Bar & Grill was the place to go for dinner. We are not huge fans of bars as a general rule as we typically go for a more refined atmosphere. But we thought we’d give it a go. The location certainly left a lot to be desired, nestled between a trailer park and a power substation. And the bar itself is not much to look at. However, if you are looking for an authentic Key West dining experience in an iconic local bar, then this is the place. They serve up lashings of Hogfish in all manner of forms - ceviche, tacos, sandwiches, grilled and fried. I opted for the speciality of the house - the Hogfish sandwich - while Andrew tried Hogfish fillet and scallops. Not haute cuisine, but worth trying for the experience.
Sunday morning we departed at 9 am in order to avoid any potential traffic snags and catch our 4 pm flight back to Switzerland. You need to budget for about 4 hours assuming there are no weather or traffic issues. The traffic is better in the lower Keys and starts to build again the closer you get back to Miami. The time in the car gave us plenty of time to discuss our next trip in a couple of weeks where we will visit the Stans! So stay tuned!
Lynn and Andrew Mitchell are 50-something travellers who enjoy travelling in comfort through some pretty interesting places. We started Einhorn Travel Accessories because of our passion for travelling the world, seeing amazing things and enjoying unique experiences together. We believe our extensive travel gives us a unique perspective, and we understand how important it is to have the right gear. We source travel accessories from around the world and offer them on one site. We would really appreciate you visiting our store and making a purchase or two.
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Travel Date: 21 June 2019