Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Hip + Urban Girl's Guide To Key West, Florida

If you're looking for a dreamy beach getaway, look no further than Key West, Florida. It's the sort of place where roosters run wild (no seriously, they do) and where you can park your car for the weekend and roam this cute little beach town by bike. Our rental car never moved from its parking spot and we scored bike rentals for around $18/day. 
Getting Around - I felt like I was 12 again, locking my bike up every time we stopped in front of a village of shops, to lookout at the ocean, for tacos or to stop in at a bar (ok that I didn't do when I was 12). It's hilarious yelling back, "!" while we navigated the streets on a breezy summer night. It's the best way to explore this town. Roads are generally flat and the speed limit for cars is 40 km/h, so you'll feel safe. Colourful Key West is full of charming shops (above) and a laid-back island attitude. You won't run out of things to do.
Happy Hour - is practically a religion here and best paired with Peel 'n Eat Florida Pink Shrimp. We had good luck with the food and drinks at Alonzo Berlin's Lobster House right by the water.

Steamed Clams with butter and bread
I highly recommend the Ginger Mojito, mixed with ginger ale and muddled mint with lime
Where to Swim - The water is warm like bathwater in the spring and summer months. You'll have no problem diving right on. It's not like tiptoeing into a cold lake. Cuba is only 90 miles away so the weather is tropical magic.
The Southernmost Beach Cafe and Bar rents out lounger chairs and umbrellas by the day. Washrooms, drinks and food are handily available through the restaurant.
Biking around town on my rental (above). If you do experience a flat tire - like I did, just call up the rental service and they'll show up in 15 minutes with a new bike for you. We used Eaton Bikes through our contact at The Key Lime Inn (below).
Where To Stay - If you're looking for a swishy resort where you can relax and not have to lift a finger, check our post on the Casa Marina ResortThe Key Lime Inn is an affordable alternative with clean and modern rooms, continental  breakfast included, free WiFi and an outdoor pool. It's also only a 10-minute bike ride to the middle of town.
Shop + Explore - On your way to the famous Key West Sunset Celebration, shop for fun souvenirs at Mallory Square. It's a collection of eclectic gift shops like the Sponge Market.
I couldn't resist. I bought a bath sponge.
Where The Party At - When the sun finally sets, the crowds head out to the bars and restaurants of Duval Street where you can drink, dance or watch a parade go by. It's like Main Street, USA with a side of party.
Dinnertime! - Finish the day off with some Old Fashioned Fried Chicken ($18.75 for three pieces, Sundays only) on the patio at Sarabeth's. It's down home American cooking with a James Beard Award in the heart of Old Town. It's the same Sarabeth's as the New York City original.
Lump Crabmeat and Key West Pink Shrimp Cakes ($22.50) are cornmeal crusted and sautéed, and served over baby greens tossed with jicama, mango and pineapple slaw. 
If you're still looking for some fun and a few more drinks, check out one of the many drag shows on the strip. Good times were had at Life's A Drag at Aqua Nightclub (above) where there are two nightly shows. Just make sure to pack lots of dollar bills for tips.

Loved This? Read more from our Key West Travel Series!

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