Last summer (2015) was my first time visiting the Florida Keys.And I have to say that I had imagined it so differently when I was younger. I really do not think I had ever seen pictures of Key West, so for some reason I was expecting extensive beautiful beaches with shallow, clear water. But that is not at all what Key West is like! Haha, I was so surprised to find this out. It’s quite the tourist town and we didn’t spend that much time there, but it definitely has an interesting character. Of course we did all the touristy things none-the-less.
We stayed at Best Western Key Ambassador Resort by the airport. The pool there was great and it was perfect for what we were looking for. The rooms were simple and clean and we didn’t spend too much time in them because there was a lot we wanted to see and do!
Driving down through the Keys was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. The Overseas Highway was incredible! I loved being able to just gaze out the window and see stretches of beautiful, clear blue water and little islands every once in a while.
The first thing we did when we got to Key West was check into the hotel and relax. It had been a long drive down from the North and sightseeing was not something we wanted to do right away. So, since Smathers Beach was the closet beach to our hotel — you just had to walk or drive along the sidewalk next to the main stretch of road on that side of the Key, that’s where we went. I really hadn’t researched the Keys before this trip and I was beyond surprised to find out that there really aren’t beaches on Key West. They are pretty much all man-made as far as I know. So, for a man-made beach, Smathers Beach was nice! I thought the plethora of homeless people was a bit surprising, though. I guess there could be worse places in which to be homeless. Unfortunately, there was also that seaweed algae stuff that’s becoming a problem on a lot of beaches in the Caribbean. Not so cute.
My mom, sister, and cousin went parasailing from Smathers Beach and had a ton of fun! I watched from the beach and took very distant photos of their experience.
We had a ton of fun on our first night just walking around the downtown area, window shopping, and watching the sunset. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Luptia’s which was pretty good.
After dinner we meandered on over to Mallory Square to see the sunset. We didn’t see the infamous green flash, but it was a pretty stunning way to end the evening. And the entertainment was definitely… entertaining to say the least. The sunset shimmered with gold:
The next day, we did a bit of exploring (via car) as we stopped in front of Ernest Hemingway’s House for a quick photo. I didn’t even get to see the three-legged cats which was pretty disappointed. But our group wasn’t interested in visiting the house so majority rules. We stood in the little blocked off area haha:
And of course, we saw the Southernmost Point in the continental U.S., but thought it was silly to wait in the extremely long line just to get a picture in front of it. But we still wanted to get a picture with it so we got one from across the street:
Then we ventured aboard Coast Guard cutter Ingham:
Despite all the things we saw at Key West, the highlight of our trip to the Keys was most definitely Dry Tortugas National Park.