BIG PINE KEY
●Old Wooden Bridge Guest Cottage & Marina – 1791 Bogie Drive; 305-872-2241; oldwoodenbridge.com; 14 efficiency cottages.
●Big Pine Kayak Adventures – 1791 Bogie Drive; 305-872-7474; keyskayaktours.com; on edge of 9.2K-acre deer refuge, 4-hour kayak fishing trip.
Sights & Sites
●Bahia Honda State Park – 36850 Overseas Highway (close to west end 7 Mile Bridge); 305-872-3210; bahiahondapark.com; lower Florida Key island; virtually uninhabited, park occupying most of island; channel at west end among Florida Keys’ deepest natural channels; plentiful marine life for snorkelers (small reef fish, as well as rays, barracuda, and even occasional small nurse shark); only known natural Miami blue butterfly colony; Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway once ran through present parkland to Key West (destroyed by 1935 Labor Day Hurricane); old Bahia Honda Bridge portion still accessible from park, offering panoramic islands view; 2.5-mile natural, white sand beach; nature trail near park’s oceanside beach skirts tidal lagoon before passing through coastal hardwood hammock; Great Florida Birding Trail location.
●Blue Hole – Key Deer Boulevard (off US 1, Mile Marker 30); 305-872-2239; fws.gov/nationalkeydeer; National Key Deer Refuge property; abandoned limestone quarry, existence thus dependent on rainfall and from salt water; alligators, fish, turtles, and occasional wading bird (green heron, in particular).
●National Key Deer Refuge – 28950 Watson Boulevard; 305-872-2239; fws.gov/nationalkeydeer; home to diminutive key deer; Jack C. Watson & Fred Minnillo Trails, in particular, are easy, short, and offer tremendous bird-watching opportunities.
●Hawks Cay Resort – 61 Hawks Cay Boulevard; 305-743-7000 or 888-313-5749; hawkscay.com; West Indies-themed accommodations; kayak rentals.
Sights & Sites
●Dolphin Research Center – 58901 Overseas Highway; 305-289-0002; dolphins.org; even can hug sea lion.
ISLAMORADA (located on Lower Matecumbe, Plantation, Tea Table, Upper Matecumbe & Windley Keys)
●Eagle – off Islamorada.
●Moorings – 123 Beach Road; 305-664-4708; mooringsvillage.com; blue-shaded Mango House is 1st choice; 20 paces from palm-shaded beach; 2 bedrooms; expensive.
●Florida Keys Fly Fishing School – 81888 Overseas Highway; 305-664-5423.
●Key Dives – 79851 Overseas Highway (at Bud ‘N’ Mary’s); 305-664-2211; keydives.com; specializes in guided dives.
Sights & Sites
●History of Diving Museum & Library – 82990 Overseas Highway; 305-664-9737; divingmuseum.org.
●Robbie's Marina – 77522-B Overseas Highway; 305-664-9814; robbies.com; can feed game fish from pier.
●Cheeca View – Horseshoe Reef.
●Christ of Deep – shallow dive.
●USCGC Duane – outside reef line; divespots.com/scuba-diving-spots/florida/florida-keys/key-largo/spots/uscg-duane; 329' cutter decommissioned August 1, 1985, as oldest active U.S. military vessel; intentionally sunk November 27, 1987, to create artificial reef; can have ripping current; for advanced SCUBA divers with wreck-diving experience; many consider perfect wreck dive; sits upright on sandy bottom at 120'; on clear days hull outline visible from far above; hull structure completely intact with original rudders, screws, railings, ladders & ports; some very large fish such as barracuda, amberjack & cobia.
●Molasses Reef – hawksbill turtle.
●Spiegel Grove – enormous.
●Coconut Palm Inn – 198 Harborview Drive; 305-852-3017 or 800-765-5397; coconutpalminn.com.
●Pelican – 99340 US 1; 877-451-3576; hungrypelican.com; clean and comfortable cottages; kayaking.
●Florida Bay Outfitters – 104500 US 1; 305-451-3018; kayakfloridakeys.com; half-day guided tours into Everglades National Park.
●Horizon Divers – 100 Ocean Drive; 305-453-3535; horizondivers.com.
●Jacob’s Aquatic Center – 320 Laguna Avenue; 305-453-7946; jacobsaquaticcenter.org; 3-pool complex.
Sights & Sites
●Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge – 10750 County Road 905 (North Key Largo); 305-451-4223; fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=41581; visit by appointment only; important nesting area for remaining 1.4K threatened American crocodiles (along with other fauna); among other endangered species, Key Largo Woodrat, Key Largo Cotton Mouse, Schaus Swallowtail butterfly, Stock Island Treesnail and Eastern Indigo Snake.
●Florida Keys Wild Bird Center – 93600 Overseas Highway (Tavernier); 305-852-4486; flwbc.org.
●Harry Harris Park – Mile Marker 92.5; 305-852-7161; thefloridakeys.com/parks; Tavernier Beach is within this small park with lagoon fed by ocean.
●Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park – County Road 905 (North Key Largo, at Loquat Drive); 305-451-1202; floridastateparks.org/keylargohammock; important habitat for threatened Key Largo Woodrat and Key Largo Cotton Mouse, found only here and in adjacent Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge; also, major bird-watching during fall-winter migrations (especially raptors).
●John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – 102601 Overseas Highway (US 1); 305-451-6300; pennekamppark.com; world’s oldest underwater park; sunken Christ statue.
KEY WEST (includes Stock Island)
Bars & Nightclubs
●La Te Da – 1125 Duval Street; 305-296-6706; lateda.com; drag shows; features Randy Roberts, famous for performing as Bette Midler, Cher, and Lady Gaga.
●Louie’s Backyard Afterdeck Bar – 700 Waddell Avenue; 305-294-1061; louiesbackyard.com; large wood-planked patio facing ocean and setting sun.
●Orchid Bar – 1004 Duval Street; 305-296-9915; orchidkeyinn.com; tiny bar; Art Deco space that overlooks illuminated pool and draws mellow, sophisticated crowd; try St. Germain 75 (Hendrick’s Gin, St.-Germain, fresh lemon juice, and Champagne).
●Point5 Lounge – 915 Duval Street (Nine One Five’s 2nd floor); 305-296-0669; 915duval.com; small bites and drinks; late-night dj.
●Porch – 429 Caroline Street #2; 305-517-6358; theporchkw.com; artisanal beer and wine bar in gorgeous Victorian mansion, just off Duval Street.
●Christ of Deep – shallow dive.
●Haystacks – Western Sambos; shallow dive; lobster, neon gobies, star coral, and stoplight parrotfish.
●Joe’s Tug – ship sunk upright in 65'.
●General Hoyt S. Vandenberg – former missile-tracking ship turned world’s 2nd largest artificial reef; scuttled in 2009 in 140' water.
●Alexander’s Guest House – 1118 Fleming Street; 305-294-9919; alexanderskeywest.com; stylish B&B that is “straight friendly” but attracts primarily gay crowd; gorgeously refurblished 1901 home.
●Casa Marina Resort – 1500 Ranch Avenue; 305-296-3535 or 888-303-5717; casamarinaresort.com; Waldorf-Astoria property; radically modernized, former Cuban Missile Operations base.
●El Patio Motel – 800 Washington Street; 305-296-6531; elpatiomotel.com; Art Deco hotel in Old Town.
●Gardens Hotel – 526 Angela Street; 305-294-2661; gardenshotel.com; prettiest hotel in Key West.
●Palms Hotel – 820 White Street; 305-294-3146 or 800-558-9374; palmskw.com; handsome, affordable accommodations.
●Santa Maria Suites – 1401 Simonton Street; 305-600-5165 or 866-726-8259; santamariasuites.com;
●Abbondanza Italian Restaurant – 1208 Simonton Street; 305-292-1199; abbondanzakeywest.com.
●Alonzo’s Oyster Bar – 700 Front Street; 305-294-5880; alonzosoysterbar.com.
●La Creperie Key West – 300 Petronia Street; 305-517-6799; lacreperiekeywest.com; both savory and sweet; try red velvet (dark Belgian chocolate, strawberries, and English custard).
●Flaming Buoy Filet Co. – 1100 Packer Street; 305-295-7970; theflamingbuoy.com; nouveau seafood; 10 rustic hand-painted wood tables.
●Grand Cafe – 314 Duval Street; 305-292-4740; grandcafekeywest.com.
●Hogfish Grill – 6810 Front Street; 305-293-4041; hogfishbar.com; close to shrimp docks; try World Famous Killer Hogfish Sandwich.
●Nine One Five – 915 Duval Street; 305-296-0669; 915duval.com; Asian-inspired seafood; great people-watching.
●Onlywood Pizzeria Trattoria – 613½ Rear Duval Street; 305-735-4412; onlywoodkw.com; steps away from Duval Street mayhem, on tiny half-street, tightly wedged between 2 buildings; modest space with tranquil garden area (basil & oregano plants, anole lizards); pizza baked in wood-fired oven shipped from Naples; fresh mozzarella (made daily in-house), along with herbs, sometimes plucked from garden, and thin-crust; Kesté features mozzarella, arugula, Parmesan & prosciutto; signature chicken wings, deep-fried, are finished in oven and served with punchy dip (mascarpone, key lime juice, barbecue sauce, etc.).
●PT’s Late Night Bar & Grill – 920 Caroline Street; 305-296-4245; dinner and drinks served until 4:00 a.m.
●Salute! – 1000 Atlantic Boulevard; 305-292-1117; saluteonthebeach.com; colorful restaurant sitting on Higgs Beach; among island’s best lunch views (some sand and salt spray on windy days); dinner menu includes inventive homemade pasta dishes; very good fresh-fish sandwich.
●Sarabeth’s – 530 Simonton Street; 305-293-8181; sarabethskeywest.com; late night eats in what was once Key West’s 1st synagogue.
●Bad Boy Burrito – 1220½ Simonton Street; 305-292-2697; badboyburrito.com; delivers Kobe beef burritos and/or fish tacos poolside.
●Dive Key West – 3128 North Roosevelt Boulevard; 305-296-3823; divekeywest.com.
●Eaton Bikes – 830 Eaton Street; 305-294-8188; eatonbikes.com; daily bicycle rental with several drop-off locations around town.
●Geiger Key Marina – 5 Geiger Road; 305-296-3553; geigerkeymarina.com; kayak rentals; live music on weekends and weekly barbecues.
●Lazy Dog Kayak – 5106 US 1; 305-295-9898; kayakthekeys.com; trips from Hurricane Hole Marina, including 2-hour guided paddle into mangrove creeks.
●Lost Reef Adventures – 261 Margaret Street; 305-296-9737;
●Re-Cycle – 5160 Overseas Highway (US 1); 305-292-3336; recyclekw.com; daily bicycle rental with several drop-off locations around town.
●Ski Key West – 617 Front Street; 305-296-2210; skikeywest.com; jet-ski rentals.
●Yoga on Beach – Fort Zachary Taylor State Park (Southard Street, at Truman Annex); 305-296-7352; yogaonbeach.com; every morning, yoga on beach; $18 fee covers state park admission, muslin drop cloth, and yoga mat.
●Besame Mucho – 315 Petronia Street; 305-294-1928; besamemucho.net; old world general store.
●Gallery on Greene – 606 Greene Street; 305-294-1669; galleryongreene.com; art.
●Jan George Interior Design – 600 Frances Street; 305-509-8449; jangeorge.com; home furnishings.
●Lucky Street Gallery – 1130 Duval Street; 305-294-3973; luckystreetgallery.com; art.
●Studios of Key West – 600 White Street; 305-296-0458; tskw.org; former Armory; airy, art-filled space with rotating exhibitions.
●Wanderlust kw – 310 Petronia Street; 305-509-7065; wanderlustkw.com; boutique.
●Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach – Atlantic Boulevard; can rent chairs at Salute! (see above.)
●Dry Tortugas National Park – off Bush Key; 305-242-7700; nps.gov/drto; almost 70 miles west of Key West lies remote Dry Tortugas National Park; 100-square mile park is mostly open water with 7 small islands.
●Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum – 907 Whitehead Street; 305-294-1575; hemingwayhome.com.
●Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy – 1316 Duval Street; 305-296-2988; keywestbutterfly.com.
●Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden – 5210 College Road (Stock Island); 305-296-1504; keywestbotanicalgarden.org.
●Harry S. Truman Little White House – 111 Front Street; 305-294-9911; trumanlittlewhitehouse.com.
●Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society & Museum – 200 Greene Street; 305-294-2633; melfisher.org.
LITTLE TORCH KEY
●Little Palm Island – 28500 Overseas Highway; 800-343-8567 or 305-872-2524; littlepalmisland.com; kayaking available.
MARATHON (located on Boot, Crawl, Fat Deer, Grassy, Knight’s, Long Point & Vaca Keys)
●Marathon Kayak – 7849 US 1; 305-743-0561; marathonkayak.com; paddle into Bahia Honda State Park.
Sights & Sites
●Curry Hammock State Park – 56200 Overseas Highway; 305-289-2690; floridastateparks.org/curryhammock; 1K acres stretched over 5 islands; great for camping, kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming; white sandy beach on Atlantic Ocean; largest concentration Florida Thatched Palms in world; 1.5 mile nature trail.
Sights & Sites
●Siesta Beach – 948 Beach Road; 941-349-3800; scgov.net; 3-mile long, crescent beach; known as among world’s most beautiful beaches; even on hottest days, sand so reflective that feels cool underfoot; shallow water depth in near shore area together with year round lifeguard protection, makes this among county’s safest beaches; great for small children.
●Reelax Charters – US 1 (Mile Marker 17); 305-304-1392; keyskayaking.com; 24-foot boat charters to remote beaches and mangrove islands.
●Sunset Key Guest Cottages – 245 Front Street (10 minutes from Key West by launch); 305.292.5300 or 866-236-1900; westinsunsetkeycottages.com.