2023 was all about Hemingway, 2024 was about history and nature. I cant tell you how many people stick their nose up when I tell them we escape to Key West every February. As I have said in previous posts, there are parts of Key West that are wild and a little weird. However there is so much beauty here it’s hard to explain. We embrace a slow pace here with true relaxation. We ride our bikes daily for miles and miles along the path of Atlantic Avenue with the turquoise waters by our side the entire way. This year I walked it a few times, and for the first time since both my knee replacements over the course of 8 years, I walked 6 miles easily.
We also love riding our bikes through Truman Annex which is both a neighborhood and military installation. Formerly the Truman Annex Naval Station, this award-winning, mixed use redevelopment sits on 45 acres in the heart of the Key West historic district. This complex redevelopment project was completed in 1996 with 425 classic conch style, single family homes, high end condominiums, a hotel, parks, marina, retail, commercial and museums. The community includes several designated National Register properties and most significantly the Little White House, the former vacation home of President Harry Truman which is now a historic house museum. The homes in this community are stately, with beautiful attended gardens showcasing the most gorgeous orchids. Florida boasts a large and diverse population of orchids due to its climate, which ranges from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. Out of the roughly 200 species of orchids known to grow in the United States, about half of those are native to Florida, with about 50 of those growing only in South Florida.
From Truman Annex we head over to the Historic Seaport built in the early 1800s. We park our bikes, and start walking. There are tons of restaurants, most go back over 100 years.
Enormous yachts are docked here, and you will see people enjoying the sunshine from their decks. If you are taking a sunset cruise, this is where you will depart from. We have had many manatee sightings here too!
As far as lodging, for many years we stayed at the historic Casa Marina. Even though we stayed free on points, it had become quite dated, so the last two years we stayed in VRBOs in Truman Annex. Recently, Casa Marina went through a 90 million dollar renovation, so we stayed there again this year and will do so going forward. My husband and I are both Hilton Diamond Members, so in addition to staying free, we are always upgraded to a suite, which makes a week together much more comfortable. The property is beautiful, and so rich in history. Casa Marina opened Dec. 31, 1920, on the southernmost island city in the continental United States. Called Key West’s most glamorous resort, it was conceived by Standard Oil tycoon Henry M. Flagler, visionary developer of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad that stretched from the Florida mainland to Key West. Flagler envisioned his last project as a luxurious resort for wealthy travelers who could afford the train journey through the Keys, across the Seven Mile Bridge and down to Key West. A building of Spanish architecture with 22-inch-thick walls, Casa Marina was built with the same mix of German cement, sand and gravel used to build Flagler’s Seven Mile Bridge. Many famous names have stayed here. There are 311 rooms and suites, two private pools, Key West’s largest private beach, as well as a spa and fitness center. The location is ideal and an easy bike ride or walk to Old Town and Duvall Street.
The culinary scene is exciting. This year we tried some new places…..
Mangoes on Duval for lunch
Latitude’s Sunset Key for dinner
El Sibone for lunch
A&B Lobster House for dinner
Kermits for coconut Key Lime Pie
La Grignote Cafe for pastry and coffee
Key West First Legal Distillery for a Pina Colada
These favorites are always a repeat……
Martins for Schnitzel
Two Friends for the best coconut shrimp in the world, along with their watermelon, feta and arugula salad
Sloppy Joes for Hemingway Mojitos and smoked fish dip
Ricks for a Salty Dog
Salute on the Beach for Yellow Snapper ( they also own Blue Heaven so you can get their famous Key Lime pie here too)
Other favorites for us but not this trip….
Hot Tin Roof,
Im always a bit envious of the locals. They are happy with their slow pace of life, riding around on their beach cruisers and golf carts. They sport their tans and dress super casual. The pickle ball courts are full from sun up to sundown. You can just feel their stress free, healthy lifestyle and that is my ultimate goal.