There's a lot going on at Mallory Square! Shopping, museums, the aquarium, history, art, food, goofy photo ops, unusual people & incredible sunsets. We did not see it all. We skipped the indoor activities - the aquarium, shipwreck museum & shopping but we had plenty of fun and learned a lot in the process.
The Fun Stuff
Before we visited, my thoughts of Key West only brought to mind the fun stuff. You always hear about the Duvall Street partying, kooky people & crazy island lifestyle. I never really thought about the history beyond Key West's "secession" from the U.S. to become the Conch Republic. Mallory Square is full of interesting history!
U.S. Naval History
"Remember the Maine!"
"The Wreckers" is a tribute to the sailors that patrolled the waters off the keys in search of ships wrecked along the coral reefs. Wreckers were the first responders of their day credited with saving many lives and precious cargo. Salvaging cargo from shipwrecks, or wrecking, was profitable and significant to Key West's history.
Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden
The Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden opened in 1997 and features 36 cast bronze busts of notable historical figures that have made the most impact on Key West. The busts were created by artist James Mastin.
Mallory Square Sunset - Thanksgiving 2020
Mallory Square Sunset - "Black Friday" 2020
"It is almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream."
Rest up. Tomorrow is a new day full of adventure and there's much to explore.
For two days we explored Key West by foot. There are plenty of places to rent bicycles, mopeds, Segways & carts. We thought about it but not for long. We had just arrived & had already observed several "accidents waiting to happen." Key West is congested. Cars, pedestrians, tourists, mobile tiki bars & too many inexperienced riders on rented wheels. We played it safe & decided to hoof it.
Key West had the highest COVID density of all the places we visited in Florida. We decided early on that we would stick to outdoor spaces and walk the less congested streets. (It doesn't take long for Duvall Street to fill up.) There are many places I would like to go back & tour when it's safer to do so. For now, we were content with an exterior view. We decided to wander without a map & managed to find most of the locations we had hoped to see.
Southernmost Point Buoy - 90 Miles to Cuba
Emma Carrero Cates Pier - Southernmost Pier
Our next stop was the Emma Carrero Cates Pier, the southernmost pier, just down from the Southernmost Buoy. Absolutely nobody there but us Pillywiggins. Go figure. We thought it was a much nicer spot.
I love architecture & we're both history buffs. Had it not been for Covid, we would have toured each of these historic landmarks. I was bummed to miss out on the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Next time. It was too hot & muggy for me to want to don a mask to enter a glass house.
Same with the Audubon House & Tropical Gardens although we were able to catch a glimpse from the sidewalk. There was still plenty to see outside. We went in search of the Banyan Resort to admire their huge banyan tree. Later, we stumbled upon a Kapok tree too.
Famous Watering Holes
We did not visit any of Key West's famous watering holes. We were too busy exploring to stop for cocktails. But, we did pop into the gift shops at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville & Sloppy Joes to pick up souvenir koozies & shot glasses for Grandma Pillywiggin's collection.
I would have loved to visit The Key West Museum of Art & History and experience more of the local art scene. It didn't take long to realize, if you want to see it all it's going to take more than 2 days. We caught a performance artists in Mallory Square & spotted some cool artwork on our walks though.
Little Red Roosters - Everywhere!
I was terrorized by a mean ol' rooster named Dominic when I was a kid growing up on the farm. That dang rooster stalked me. He'd pop out of nowhere & chase me around the barnyard, scaring the bejeebers out of me. I haven't been a fan of chickens since but the Key West roosters are protected and they seemed fairly docile...
Wrong! In a tree just beyond the resort boundaries, a flock of roosters crowed nonstop well past midnight. Then, those buggers started up again between 4:00-5:00 am. Needless to say, I'm still not a fan. We didn't get much sleep on Key West thanks to the roosters. I'm not sure how the locals keep their sense of humor with all that racket... but they do!
Jason was on a mission to find the best seafood in Key West. He handled everything including our reservations. He chose A & B Lobster House for our last night on the island. Hands down, A & B Lobster House served the best meal we have EVER eaten! We dined outside on the balcony overlooking the harbor. We watched huge tarpon swim through the green light under water. The service was excellent & our meal was beyond compare. If you visit Key West, we highly recommend A & B Lobster House.
We rolled out of Palm Beach Shores at 8:00 Thanksgiving morning hoping to beat the holiday traffic. We were headed to Key West for the next two nights. Leaving early was a good idea. Traffic was light through Miami, even lighter through the keys. It was a relaxing cruise with incredible views. Our excitement grew as we traveled from key to key. Could we live the crazy island life? I guess we were about to find out.
When I booked in October, resorts were still offering lower off-season rates through November. Available rooms were going fast. Best to do your research first & make your reservations as far in advance as possible. Check online reviews, visit resort websites & read all of the info provided so there are no big surprises. Some resorts have limited onsite parking or no parking at all. Others are clothing optional.
I booked a room at the Pier House Resort & Spa. Located at the end of Duvall Street on the Gulf of Mexico, the Pier House offers guests a surprisingly quiet place to relax in the heart of all the action. Everything on Key West was pricey even at off season rates. Our stay at the Pier House was worth every penny. Everything was top-notch including the resort's COVID procedures so I'll spare you the details and get right to the pictures.
We booked a Spa Junior Suite, wow! Two French doors opened to a private patio with access to a pathway leading to a jacuzzi area a few steps away. Plush robes, spa quality shampoos, soaps & lotions, a coffee bar, bottled waters & multiple USB charging ports built in to the night stands were nice touches to our very comfortable room. The patio was a great place to start & end each day. It's a shame we didn't have more time to spend enjoying our room & the resort's spa & pools.
We unloaded our gear then set out to explore the grounds & dining options. Again WOW! The resort has incredible landscaping. It's absolutely beautiful. Pathways lead through the interior courtyard connecting all buildings to the pool area, private beach, onsite dining & lounge areas. All provide incredible views of the Gulf. If you're looking for a tropical paradise, the Pier House Resort & Spa delivers.
We decided to have Thanksgiving dinner at the resort's restaurant, One Duvall. We requested a table on the patio overlooking the Gulf of Mexico & the resort's private beach. What a view!
We planned to eat seafood but wouldn't you know, we both ordered the special. A traditional turkey dinner with all of the fixings. Delicious! We shared a goat cheese & beet salad too. Everything was so good we had no room left for dessert.
After dinner we found a quiet spot to reflect. We called & texted our loved ones to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. We had much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, many blessings, despite a difficult year. Our world, like everyone else's, had been turned upside down. Yet, here we were. Sharing a perfect moment together. I could have spent the next 48 hours sitting right here. Lost in my own thoughts and this gorgeous view. It wasn't easy but we managed to tear ourselves away.
We still had an island to explore.