Key West a Year Apart – Part 1 – 2016
[Key West, FL, Dec 27, 2016]
Even though our trip to the Dry Tortugas in 2016 got cancelled, we still did a day trip to Key West. B knew how much I’d looked forward to the trip and he felt bad that it fell apart. He suggested that we get up early one day, explore Miami and its environs and, if we still felt like it, head to Key West and come back that night. We knew that we might be here again next year (as it happened), but I am not one to pass up an opportunity to travel, so on Dec 27, 2016, we left Boynton Beach at 5 am and headed South on I-95.
Our first destination was South Beach, Miami’s party neighborhood. It’s a major entertainment destination with hundreds of nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels.
We arrived on Ocean Drive just after 7 am – the neighborhood was just waking up and there was no sign of the party that had gone on here the night before. The streets were still getting swept and hardly anyone was out and about yet. In no time at all, we got to experience everything South Beach had to offer:
- A gorgeous beach as the sun was just coming up
- The well-preserved Art Deco architecture the neighborhood is known for. The first picture below is the Colony Hotel – one of the most photographed buildings, it’s made appearances in scores of TV shows and movies.
- The famous 24-hour News Cafe
- The Art Deco clock
- Italian fashion designer’s Gianni Versace’s mansion (now a luxury hotel). It’s hard to believe this was the gruesome scene of his murder 20 years ago.
No visit to Miami is complete without experiencing Cuban cuisine. We went to Cafe Versailles, where I had a cortadito (cuban espresso) and a pastry. It was yummy!
With our bellies full and caffeine kicking in, we headed Key West around 11 am. US 1, the highway that goes all the way to Key West, narrowed to 1 lane each way shortly after we left Miami. Winter is high season in Florida, especially the days between Christmas and New Year’s, and we encountered a ton of traffic as we headed South. What is normally a 3-hour drive from Miami took us more than 4 hours. We got to Key West just in time to do a quick visit of the Ernest Hemingway house, which I will cover in the next blog post. Afterwards, I squeezed in a selfie at the Southernmost point in the continental US (the Southernmost point in the 50 states, which I’ve also visited, is Ka Lae on Big Island of Hawaii,) before watching the sunset on Mallory square. We drove back that night and didn’t get to Boynton Beach until almost midnight. It was crazy, but we did it! 🙂
When we booked our tickets to Florida for Christmas 2017, we weren’t sure whether to make a second attempt at the Dry Tortugas. I wasn’t going to ask B to make that whole trip again, but he knew I would love to check that national park on my list and graciously offered to go again. And that’s how we ended up in Key West almost exactly a year later – that blog post is coming soon!