Hi guys! So I just returned from a lovely weekend getaway in beautiful Key West, Florida and I’m already missing the tropical vibes and plentiful sunshine. My boyfriend and I were lucky enough to stay with some friends who happen to live on the island, and who graciously gave us all the “local” insider tips which ensured that we hit all the best spots during our short escape to paradise.
I had been planning a tropical vacay for a while now, especially since this is my first time enduring winter in the Northeast and the gloomy, grey days have left me with an itch for sunshine and palm trees. Despite being a little chilly (60 degrees – which granted is NOTHING in comparison to the cold weather in NYC), Key West didn’t disappoint. The weather was gorgeous, the food was delicious, and the relaxed atmosphere was just what I needed to unwind.
If you’ve never been to Key West, here are a few things you should know:
- Roosters and iguanas are everywhere. Like, chickens will literally be crossing all the roads you’ll come across.
- Every restaurant claims to have the best Key Lime Pie – but if you really want the best go to Kermit’s or Key Lime Pie Factory.
- Biking is the most convenient (and most fun) method of transportation.
- There aren’t any good beaches – wait, what?! Shocking I know. But if laying out on the beach is what you’re looking for, Key West isn’t the place to be. They do however, offer a variety of amazing water activities like jet skiing, snorkeling, diving, boating, parasailing etc.
- It is hyper touristy, so be prepared for expensive meals and lots of tourist traps. If you want something more authentic do as the locals do and stay away from Duval Street.
- Most people are very “free spirited” which means clothing optional bars and Borat style bathing suits are common place – especially during Fantasy Fest.
- If you fly into Miami, be prepared for a long drive. I suggest stopping for lunch on one of the other keys, like Islamorada or Marathon.
Overall, there is so much to do on such a small island that you’re pretty much guaranteed a fun time no matter what you’re in the mood for. If you feel like Key West may just be your next vacation destination, the following are a few of my favorite restaurants that you should definitely check out!
Breakfast at La Creperie French Cafe
Whether you’re in the mood for sweet, savory, or something in between, La Creperie offers it all. Since I tend to have a major sweet tooth, I went with the Red Velvet Crepe with a side of eggs and bacon. OMG, it was like having dessert for breakfast – and the best part is, since you’re on vacation no one can judge you.
Lunch at Morada Bay Beach Cafe
Okay so this isn’t technically on Key West – but it’s so amazing I couldn’t leave it out. Situated in the heart of Islamorada, this eclectic spot on the water offers up some of the best views, fresh seafood and yummy cocktails around. Grab a Mango Mojito and find a spot at one of the colorful mix matched tables on the palm tree lined beach and enjoy the sunshine, good music and all the Caribbean charm they could pack into one location. I’m obsessed with their Beach Cafe Salad – seared Ahi Tuna over a bed of mixed greens, carrots, cucumber, seaweed salad, cherry tomatoes, avocado and soy-ginger vinagriette. Can someone say YUM?
Dinner at Santiago’s Bodega
Offering up a delectable assortment of tapas and pitchers of yummy sangria, this was one of my favorite restaurants on the island. In traditional tapas style, the dish proportions are rather small so it’s best to order 4-5 dishes to start and go from there. I highly recommend the beef tenderloin, dates stuffed with goat cheese & wrapped in prosciutto, and saganaki – fried cheese covered in herbs and brandy, served flambeed. So good!
Happy Hour at Bagatelle
Located near Mallory Square on Duval Street, this is the place to be for Happy Hour – which luckily is every single day between 4-6PM. It’s the perfect place to grab a few very strong cocktails for 1/2 price and $5 appetizers, including their amazing Lobster Mac and Cheese.
Dessert at Better Than Sex
Super kitschy but surprisingly delightful, this dessert only restaurant offers some of the best sweets on the island, including their signature dipped wine and beer (glasses that are rimmed with your choice of chocolate, caramel or honey), all in a low light, intimate setting for parties of 2 and 4. If you’re a lover of white wine, try the Caramel “Over Me” (told you it’s kitschy) – sweet white moscato with a caramel rimmed glass. It tastes just like a caramel covered apple! If you’re more of a beer drinker, I definitely recommend the Banana Hammock – Wells Banana Bread beer in a caramel rimmed glass. Maybe I just have a thing for alcohol and caramel…
Wishing you happy travels and good eats!