24 Hours in Key West
Key West is less than 4 hours by car from Miami, so clearly it should be a very easy weekend destination. The thing is, our family is not big on long drives. The last time we went to Key West was when I was pregnant with Emma, so it’s been 7 years. But pair a couple of days off from work with a free night (using points) at a Key West Marriott property, and it was a no brainer.
In Key West, you can do as little or as much as you want. There are plenty of museums and sightseeing to fill your day with activities, but you can also just lay by the pool or beach and not feel guilty about missing the tourist hotspots. Although, I recommend you at least stroll down Duval Street to get a feel of the place. As most beach towns, Key West has that laidback island vibe. People are there to enjoy themselves and the locals mind their business, quite literally. And even though most people are bar hopping and there is definitely alcohol, and other things, in the air, I would say it’s a very kid friendly destination.
Our visit was very short, and ever since we had Emma, we’ve made sure not to jam pack our days to leave some room for rest and relaxation for the sake of everyone’s sanity. All in all we had 24 hours to enjoy Key West, and this is what we did:
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Key West
We checked in our hotel at around noon and went right down to the pool to spend the afternoon there. It was a beautiful resort style pool. We settled at one of the three cabanas to enjoy our homemade serrano and manchego croissant sandwiches since we were starving from the drive.
We headed to Duval Street around 6 p.m. using the shuttle service the hotel offered. A stroll down Duval Street is sure to be an experience. It’s full of shops, restaurants and bars, but I would say the best part is the people watching and all the roosters you find along the way. This is not a figure of speech, I’m talking about real chickens, they pretty much own the streets.
Southernmost Point Buoy
At one end of Duval Street you can find the famous buoy that marks the southernmost point of the United States. It’s also a bittersweet symbol for Cubans, as it also indicates we are only 90 miles from the island, reminding us of how close yet how far we are from our homeland. When I lived in Cuba, I remember we had a fridge magnet of this buoy, not sure how we got it, but it was always a reminder of the proximity to that desired yet far away destination. It’s crazy to think that from this point in Key West we are closer to Cuba than Miami.
On the other end of Duval street is this big open square that oversees the ocean on the west. It comes alive at sunset, where many people gather to watch nature’s daily show. It’s full with vendors and performance artists ready to grab your interest.
Dinner at Cafe Solé
There are so many nice restaurants to pick from, but we decided to have dinner at Cafe Solé. This is a cute little restaurant tucked away from the hustle and bustle of main street Duval. Our reservation was at 8 p.m. so by 7:30 p.m. we started to head there. We decided to go by foot and although it was quite the walk, it allowed us to discover some really charming Key West streets. The atmosphere of the restaurant is very cozy and the outdoor covered patio has a very European vibe. The best part is that they not only welcome, but encourage children and pets, as long as they come accompanied by well behaved adults. Oh and of course, the food, the food was also the best part!
Home & Museum
The next morning we had our complimentary breakfast at the hotel and headed straight to the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. I had come here many years ago but honestly didn’t remember a thing, other than the cats, of course. This is a beautiful Spanish Colonial house turned museum, where Ernest Hemingway lived for 8 years in the 1930s and wrote many of his novels. It’s open 7 days a week and they only accept cash to buy the entrance tickets, but the souvenir shop inside does accept credit cards. Aside from the 60 ft long pool and beautiful architectural features, this house is also unique due to its feline inhabitants. Today, there are around 58 cats living in the property and they freely roam and sleep in the house and gardens. Emma was sure to pet every cat she saw. Some of them have 6 toes, likely descendants of a polydactyl kitten gifted to Hemingway in 1935.
0 Mile Marker
This street sign marks the end of U.S. 1 and is merely a photo opp location, but it’s kind of fun to say you’ve made it to the end of the road.
At this point it was past noon so we headed back to the hotel to enjoy some pool time before our 3 p.m. check out. But first we made a stop for some delicious key lime pie!