Key West: Where To Stay

There are so many options for accommodations in Key West. My recommendation, if you’re going to be there more than a day or two, is to do a vacation rental. Hotels are so expensive! Houses are more comfortable, about the same price and you’ll have a full kitchen which saves you on food costs. I’ve done vacation rentals in the Keys 4 times, and every time I’ve used Bone Island Vacation Rentals. Each stay was fantastic! They have several house options for all group sizes. This last time, we had ten people so we used the Seaport Suit which sleeps up to 12. (Take a closer look at it in my video) The house has three huge bedrooms with comfy king size beds. This makes for easy bunking with a friend, without having to spoon them all night to keep from falling off the bed.

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There’s a fourth bedroom that’s a bit smaller, but that just makes it cozy!

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The living room is huge! The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s got 2 couches and at least one is a foldout. The TV is great too, but c’mon… you’re in Key West! Don’t watch TV!

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I absolutely love the decor, perfect beach house feel. Other amenities include two bathrooms, hot tub, all stainless steal kitchen, a balcony that has a great view of Simonton and finally…

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A table in the hallway that’s perfect for a round of beer (or juice!) pong…

6X0A5149My interaction with the company has been nothing but positive. They have great specials in the off seasons and will give a decent discount for repeat customers. You should check them out!

Skunk Apes Eat Bigfoot for Breakfast

You’re driving through the the Everglades and you see a sign that says, “Skunk Ape Research Facility.” Do you stop, or do you keep going thinking, “What kind of person goes there?” The answer to that question is, “I do!!!” You are missing out if you don’t. The research facility is on hwy 41 in the middle of the Everglades. If you’re road-tripping down to the Keys, it’s the perfect place to stop for some leg stretching.

For those that don’t know, which is most of us, the Skunk Ape is the Everglades version of Bigfoot. It’s a large primate type thing, that allegedly lives up in the trees, feasting on deer liver and beans. I can promise you that I’m not advising you to stop to see a bunch of hazy pictures of grown men running around in ape suits. What you will see, though, is a lot of really cool animals and exceptionally helpful staff.

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That nice gentleman is the main caretaker for all of the animals. He will happily stand there and tell you about each individual creature’s personalities, quirks and preferences. He will also feed many of those large birds dozens of cashews right out of his mouth. His immune system must be impressive.

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We went through the whole animal tour without even a slight mention of the Skunk Ape. That was until I walked outside and asked a group of locals, “So who knows about the Skunk Ape?” Apparently, the world’s leading skunk ape expert was one of the men standing there when I asked. I got the full skunk ape tour complete with YouTube video clips, a book, personal stories of encounters from the man himself and more information than I could have ever wanted about a creature that almost certainly doesn’t exist. It was an adventure. I would recommend the stop 100%. Admission is only $5 and it’s worth every penny!

Bucketlist Item #10… Skydiving!!!

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Well, I did it and I lived to tell the tale. Bucketlist Item #10. Check! I can tell you there is no feeling quite like the rush of stepping out of a plane 11,000 feet in the air… on purpose.

We found a Groupon, so the jump cost was only $115. I say “only $115” because without the Groupon, it would have been much closer to $200. The weather was pretty terrible for our appointment time of 2:30, so we ended up jumping closer to 6 or 7. We occupied our time with some soccer…

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And mobile “Family Fued…”

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And in no time, we were off…

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Other than the initial terror due to stepping out of the plane, it actual wasn’t too frightening. Because of the delay, we ended up jumping right at sunset, which made it worth the wait. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone to try at least once. If you decide to purchase the video, be prepared to see some very bizarre facial expressions. Not from fear, but from the air pressure. I had giant cheekbones at one point, flapping lips at another and the side of my face moved in ways that ones face never should.

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Key West on the Cheap

I already posted about my favorite things to do in Key West. Now, for all the things that you can do on a budget…

1. See all the typical Key West landmarks.

The Southernmost Point. Get your picture taken with the famous monument, and grab a snow cone from the vendor that is always there on the street. Trust me, you’ll be hot enough to want one.

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Mile 0 of highway 1.

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The Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square.

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2. Shopping! Both window and otherwise.

There are plenty of touristy stores where you can find souvenirs and handy travel underwear..

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Or you can pop some tags in one of the many thrift stores…

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3. Go see the Key West Aquarium.

It’s tiny, but well worth the $15 entry fee. You can even get cheaper tickets if you pre-purchase them online.

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There’s a petting tank with stingrays and other ocean critters..

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You can feed some fish and see some pretty large sharks…

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4. Grab a cheap book for charity and do some reading in the sunshine.

On your way down the Keys, you’ll pass Baby’s Coffee…

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…stop in and grab a drink, I recommend the chai iced latte, but all the drinks are good..

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… then grab a book and give a donation. If you have any books with you that you’ve already finished, here is the perfect place to drop them so another traveler can enjoy them…

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… Then go sit by your hotel pool or the beach with your chai iced latte, read your book and work on your tan.

5. Play pool at the Green Parrot.

The Green Parrot isn’t right on Duval, which makes it more of a locals hangout. “Locals hangout” can also be translated too “full of strange Key¬† Westers who make for good entertainment via people watching.”

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I’d love to hear any other suggestions!

My 100th Post, Bucket Lists and Doctor Who

This my 100th post! Already! My goodness, how time flies. With this 100th post, I have a very exciting update, at least it’s exciting to me… I am going to the 50th Anniversary Celebration in London for Doctor Who! One of the nerdiest sentences I have ever written, but I am not ashamed! I don’t follow many TV shows, but I can’t get enough of Doctor Who. Maybe it’s because of the accents… Anyway, continuing on from my Bucket List Item #218 I have a few more quotes to add to my list. Here’s the Doctor Who edition…

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(New York City, near Lady Liberty)

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(New York City, Little Italy)

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(Switzerland, near Wengen)

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(Key West)

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(Key West)

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(Bradenton, Fl)

Whether you watch Doctor Who or not, those are some great quotes!

Top 5 Things to do in Key West

There is so much to do and see in Key West, and often with very little time, you don’t want to waste time and money while you’re there. Here are my top five touristy things that everyone who visits Key West should do…

1. Take a snorkel tour on the reef.

You can snorkel anywhere in the Keys, but you won’t beat the scenery on the reef. You’ll see so many types of plant and aquatic life. I have been a few times, but this last time was the best. I saw a nurse shark (not as scary as you’d think!), Barracuda (much scarier than the shark), Yellow Fin Tuna, Tarpon, Yellow Tail Snapper, Grouper, Blue Parrot Fish, Sheep’s head and so many more…

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It’s harder to find water that is more beautiful than what’s in the Key’s. When you’re passing along the south side of Key West, there’s a really well defined line dividing the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf. It’s pretty cool to see…

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Even cooler through one of the deck-hands expensive Costa sunglasses.. The tour costs around $45 per person, plus a tip for the staff. It’s the only thing on the list that is slightly costly, but it’s well worth the money.

2. Mallory Square

From costly to free! Mallory Square has a sunset celebration that happens every evening. The Square is right at the end of Duval Street and very easy to find. Just look for the crowd of people with random jugglers, tightrope walkers and acrobats popping up throughout them…

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“Look, Mom, I’m a lamppost.”

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The cat show is great, but also bizarre. You should also see Dr. Juice’s tumbling show. He’s been performing on Mallory since I’ve been going, which is well over a decade now. The tightrope walker is also a permanent fixture on Mallory. The rest of the performers rotate pretty regularly but they are all very good. It’s also a good place to buy souvenirs, with several artists selling locally made goods. The best conch fritters in Key West are sold there too, so order half a dozen and don’t forget a side of spicy mustard!

3. Paddle Boarding

Despite being an island, Key West only has one tiny beach. The beach itself isn’t particularly exciting, but Sunset Water Sports has a booth where you can rent all kinds of things like paddle boards, kayaks, mini sailboat things and beach chairs. The paddle boards are only $22 an hour and they’re so much fun! It’s hard at first, but once you get the hang out it, it’s pretty easy.

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Until your mother “accidentally” pushes you off…

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3. The Cuban Chugs Exhibit

I already wrote a post about it, but I think it’s worth mentioning twice. It’s really eye-opening to the hardships that other people are dealt and made me really thankful to live in the country that I do.

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5. Get some good Cuban food!

There are so many delicious places to eat in the Keys, especially Cuban places! Being only 90 miles from Cuban, I’d say it’s pretty close to the real thing. Sandy’s Cafe is one of my favorite places, but there are plenty of options and trying them all out is the best part…

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So there you have it. Those are my top five! Beyond that, the jet ski tours are a lot of fun and the ghost walks have a lot of interesting history. Really, you can do anything while you’re there and it will be great. You’re in Key West which is better than where you’d be if you weren’t on vacation!

“Cuban Chugs”

In the Key West Botanical Gardens, there’s an “exhibit” with a bunch of “Cuban Chugs.” I say “exhibit” because it doesn’t really look like an actually display of anything, more like a bunch of old boat parts sitting in a yard. It turned out to be one of the most interesting things that I’ve seen in Key West. A “Chug” is a term for the vessels used by refugees leaving Cuba.

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It’s hard to believe that some people are so desperate to leave their country that they’d risk their lives crossing 90 miles of open water in one of these things, just to get to America.

The motor below is actually¬† built from regular boat motor parts and the engine from a lawnmower, cleverly welded together…

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Many of the boats were just tarps and wood scraps that had been filled with some type of foam insulation…

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This boat actually used a tree branch as support for one of the seats. Not lumber, but a tree branch…

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Imagine sitting on this thing for an extended period of time…

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You don’t even have to pay the entrance fee for the gardens to see this exhibit (although I do recommend going into the gardens themselves), so there’s no reason you should miss out on this fascinating display…

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