South Florida Sunshine

Guest Post for the Real Housewives of Oklahoma – Gone Too Far South

Some great girlfriends of mine have given me the great honor of being the very first guest to post on their blog.  I had to share a little of what I wrote for them with you.

I bet none of you would have ever guessed that there is a way for a Southern girl to go TOO far south. But it seems that’s just what I’ve managed to do. Honey, Texas just THINKS they’re a whole other country. It’s a wonder I don’t need a passport down here in Palm Beach County, Florida! Heaven help me, I know I need a translator. And half the time the translator is needed to make other people understand this SOUTHERN girl!

What cracks me up most about these people are the true locals. There is a tiny minority of people who where actually born and raised here in South Florida. Some of them mistakenly believe that due to the extreme southerly location that they are southern. But if you try to get them talking about fried okra and shellin’ peas they look at you like you just walked off a spaceship from Mars. I miss home an awful lot sometimes, y’all.

A friend of mine from Texas (I know, I know, but bless their hearts they’re still southern) sent me this list of “Southern-isms” that helps me get through those homesick days.

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don’t ‘HAVE’ them, you ‘PITCH’ them. I don’t know maybe it’s the tropical paradise vibe with the sun and sandy beaches, but I think it’s starting to affect me. I’ve been here nearly 8 years now and I KNOW I’ve pitched far fewer fits lately. Tell ya what, though, I can still spot a child’s hissie fit coming from a mile away.

Even Southern babies know that ‘Gimme some sugar’ is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table. Oh my word, how many times did I hear my Grandmama say just that. “Come here, babe, and gimme some sugar.” Or better yet, how many of your children have had their sugar STOLEN while sitting in Grandma’s lap? Not much sugar gets spread around these parts, and I’m fairly certain that may just be what’s wrong with ’em.

For more giggles and “Southern-isms” please stop on over at to read the rest of my post “Gone Too Far South.”


Tour Key West by Jet Ski

Summer is officially here! Of course here at the Southernmost Point of the continental United States, it has felt like summer for quite some time. When it heats up like this, I start searching for ways to cool off.

One way in particular will not only cool you off but I promise will be the ride of your life. Taking a jet ski out into the gorgeous waters off our little slice of paradise is a total blast, but I need to give you a few tips to make sure that you have the time of your life.

There are a LOT of companies here in Key West that offer jet ski rentals, but beware, not all jet ski companies are created equal. Unfortunately there are some “fly-by-night” folks around here that truly are here today and gone tomorrow. It’s always best to educate yourself so that you spend your time and money wisely.

Things that you should be on the look out for:
– If the deal seems a little too good to be true; it most likely is.
– Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Make sure that the equipment is in good shape and well-maintained.
– If you are going to rent a jet ski to ride on your own, be sure you understand how big a riding area you are allowed to navigate in. Several places won’t let you out of sight of their operations base and give you a very limited area to ride in.
– If you decided after arriving here that you want to go for a ride, don’t be shy to ask around about where to go. The locals know which companies will treat you right.

Having said all that, I do have 3 companies that I like very much. They aren’t the only reputable jet ski businesses in town, but these 3 do have a very consistent track record.

In no particular order:

Barefoot Billy’s

Billy’s now has two locations. They are located at the south end of Simonton Street, on the Atlantic side of Key West, right next to The Reach Resort and at the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel on the North Western tip of the island on the Gulf side. They provide both jet ski rentals and an amazing jet ski tour. Billy prides himself on making sure that his guests have a great time. To that end, all of Barefoot Billy’s staff are helpful, friendly, and very knowledgable. I have had several guests come back and tell me that the tour exceeded their expectations.

Check out this video to get an idea of what it’s like to go for an adventure with Barefoot Billy’s:

Fury Water Adventures

Fury is located at the far North end of Duval Street very near Mallory Square. They have surf shops and kiosks all over the island, so trust me, you won’t have any trouble finding them. They offer a ton of great activities and I have to say that they have a unique twist on jet ski fun.

They offer a day trip called the Ultimate Adventure that includes jet skiing, parasailing snorkeling, and kayaking. The trip sets sail on a 65′ Catamaran at 10:00 AM. They serve breakfast while you make your way out to the reef for snorkeling. Then another sail takes you to Fury’s adventure island for a picnic lunch and jet skiing, parasailing, and kayaking. This trip is a total blast, especially if you want to try out several water sports.

Island Water Sports

This group is located in the marina at the Westin Resort, not far from Fury. Like Barefoot Billy’s, they offer jet ski rentals and an island tour. What’s really cool, in my mind, is that since they are located on the other side of the island from Billy’s you can get a great view of the sunset as you wind up your afternoon cruise. Again customer service is top-notch and they will take great care of you.

For more information about planning any Key West activities as well as bookings please just ask me either by leaving a comment, by email, or on Twitter. I would be happy to help!

Related articles of possible interest:

Key West Beaches
Key West: The Family Friendly Side

Key West – Blue By You – Photo Walk Guest Post part 3

Bio picToday we continue with part 3 of our 5 part special photo walk feature of Key West as presented by our friend, photographer, designer, and blogger Lynda Quintero-Davids.  Join us as we share Lynda’s inspiring viewpoint in this installment entitled: Key West Color Blocks Blue By You.

Just a play on words for Hurricane Season and the color of the season: BLUE … A color block post packed with so many blues to discover down in Key West: Caribbean and cool water blues, Gulf and pool aquamarine blues, navy and news blues, teals and turquoise blues, baby and sky blues, and peek-a-boo-blue … And mind you, this was unintentional. I was … (click to  read more and see the rest of Lynda’s photos for this segment) Key West T-Shirt Factory doors Key West colors
For more information about planning your Key West activities as well as booking them please just ask me either by leaving a comment, by email, or on Twitter. I would be happy to help!

Key West Beaches

By now you’ve had time to browse the blog and find the perfect cup of morning coffee, several bars and restaurants to check out, a great deal on getting around town in an electric car, and the perfect book to read. You’re all set with your beach towel and sunscreen. Which Key West beach are you going to pick to kick back and relax? For such a small island, we have several to choose from.

Smathers Beach

Smathers Beach - Witold Skrypczak, Lonely Planet Images

This two mile stretch of white tropical sand is the largest public beach on the island. Offering wide views of the Atlantic Ocean, this is a beach you could spend the whole day enjoying and if the sand between your toes feels like it did on your last trip to the Bahamas; you’re right!  As with all the sand on our beaches, it was imported, this one from the Bahamas.  Smathers offers volleyball, snorkeling, and other water sports right from the beach.   There are picnic areas to enjoy a snack from the local beach vendors. Public restrooms can also be found nearby. Several moderately priced hotels can be found all along this beach, making it a favorite of the Spring Break crowd. As with parking anywhere in Key West, be prepared to pay a meter.

Higgs Beach

This beach is located ½ mile further south of Smathers on Atlantic Blvd. near White St. This little beach with its shallow water and beach side playground has much to offer families with small children. Along with swimming and water sports, you can find a pier, restaurant, volleyball, tennis, and handball courts nearby. Dogs are welcome at the dog park across the street. There is even a civil war era fort and garden to enjoy with your children. A limited amount of free parking is available for this beach.

Dog Beach

Located on the southern end of Vernon & Waddel Streets this is the only beach in the Keys were dogs, as well as other pets, can go to freely swim and play.  It is a favorite of families with pets but don’t plan on having the kids build sand castles or laying out on your towel to catch some rays while Fido is frolicking with Fifi; it is a dog’s beach!  It is not cleaned by the city; just by responsible pet owners.  This parcel of land is squeezed between Louie’s Backyard and The Reach Resort.  To make sure I don’t steer you wrong I called our friends at Louie’s Backyard and confirmed your pooch is still welcome at the bar during lunch hour so you can grab a delicious bite to eat while your dog catches the waves.

As a side note: if you want to go to Louie’s for dinner and bring the dog, to be on the safe side, you should give the manager a call first to see what the crowd is like.

Rest Beach

Located next to Higgs Beach, Rest Beach is wheelchair accessible and where you will find the White Street Pier.  This is a great place to fish, relax, and enjoy the natural vegetation.

Fort Zachary Taylor

This 54 acre state park is where the Atlantic meets the Gulf of Mexico and home to probably the all around best beach Key West has to offer.  If you prefer to sit in the shade; no problem.  If you like to roast under the sun; no problem.  If you want to swim or snorkel; no problem.  If you’d rather sit on a beach chair but forgot to bring one; no problem.  If you like to bike or walk along the wooded park; no problem!  I think you get the idea.  In addition to all that there is also the Civil War fort which you can get a guided tour  of and fishing is allowed on the western end.  It is a wonderful place to see the famous sunset views Key West is known for.  Public restrooms, a food and drink kiosk, chair rentals, picnic tables and BBQ grill pits are there too.  The beach can be a bit rocky so I advise bringing your flipflops.  There is an admission fee.  To get to the beach you enter through the Truman Annex at Southard Street.

South Beach

Despite its name the beach is not related to its Miami namesake.  This small and open area is a favorite of locals.

Sign at South Beach

The beach is nice and sandy and the water is fairly shallow allowing you to walk out quite a way.  There is also a concrete pier.   There are no restrooms or facilities but there is a snack bar and you can easily walk to nearby restaurants.  The beach is located at the south end of Duval Street on the Atlantic Ocean.

Broken Glass Beach

At first glance this probably was not the best choice in names for a public beach area in a tourist town, however; there was method to the madness and it has to do with a bit of Key West history, albeit the less exciting side.  This strip of the Atlantic shoreline is best accessed at low tide and getting to it does require steeping down off a retaining wall. The terrain is somewhat rocky and thus this not my first recommendation for beaches.  The name Broken Glass Beach stems from when the local garbage dump used to be situated on the site many years ago and it has been obviously well cleaned up since.  Well some of the broken glass remained and after years of being pounded by the surf and being rolled back and forth over the rocks, corral and sand, these glass pieces are now nicely rounded and are much sought after by jewelry makers!

Simonton Beach

We love our town and all its charm to bits and I want you to enjoy every part of what I share with you, however; suffice it to say Simonton Beach is not really a place you need to visit.  We added it here to cancel any doubt about not having included it, just in case you wonder why when you see it on a map.

Sunset Key Beach

* * This just in! * * Our apologies go out to the Sunset Key Westin – they have a great beach and we neglected to include it originally, so here goes…

Sunset Key Beach - a Starwood Hotels property

Sunset Key is a 27 acre island just a bit more than a stones throw off the end of Duval Street and is easily accessed by a 24 hour ferry service.  About 1/4 of the island is home to guest cottages belonging to the Westin Resort and dedicated to the sophisticated traveler.  An exclusive residential community covers much of the rest of the island.  The beach, made of soft white sand, is so inviting it makes you want to just sit and stare out over the water all day long!  Cabanas, lounge chairs and attendants complete the scene.  Slightly back from the water you’ll find a lovely pool, whirlpools as well as two tennis courts.  To round out your day of relaxing don’t forget to stop by the Flipper’s Pool Bar for a cool drink before heading off to a beach-side dinner at Latitudes.  For a different view of Key West, give the Sunset Key Westin a call to book your next stay here!  Tell them Sunshine Michelle referred you 🙂

Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas

Fort Jefferson - National Park Service file photo

Dry Tortugas - National Park service file photos

Articles like this wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the most inaccessible national park in America, 70 miles off the shores of Key West, out on Garden Key.  This group of seven small islands, first discovered by Ponce de Leon, is home to the largest coastal fort; the majestic Fort Jefferson.  The only ways to get there are by high speed ferry or seaplane, both of which depart from Key West and since seating is limited on each trip out you are best advised to book in advance.  The trip is worth it though.  The palm lined beaches are pristine  and snorkeling over the living reef is an experience you’ll never forget!

For more information on getting out to Fort Jefferson or about planning any other Key West activities and bookings please just ask me either by leaving a comment, by email, or on Twitter. I would be happy to help.

Related articles of possible interest:

A Key West Local’s Favorite Bars

Key West: Where to Find The Perfect Beach Book

Key West and a Local’s Favorite Bars

We are happy to present our good friend & Key West local Laura Murphy with another guest post on our blog.  After much begging on her part we finally caved in and agreed to have her write another article for us.  Local flavor is what we want to present so why not?!  Plus she is a pretty darn good writer as well!  Please share your thoughts by leaving us a comment after reading.

Back home we all have our favorite bars.  We fall in love with them for the great location, warm atmosphere, cheap appetizers and great selection of beer! But you’re not at home…you’re in Key West.  Now what?

Well; you’re in luck!  There are more bars in Key West per capita than in the entire USA (and churches too; figure that one out).  As someone who appreciates a nice bar to frequent, I’ve compiled a list of great places for you to enjoy while visiting this island paradise.  Even better, I offer you this comparative; we’re not made of money, and so we try to keep our outings reasonable.  Here are some of the places we frequent:

If you’re a music lover, The Bottle Cap Lounge and Liquor is the spot for you!  This hotspot is like getting three in one: a standard pub complete with pool table, an outside patio and, my personal favorite, the lounge.  It hosts dim lighting, couches and chairs for that night club feel.  If you come before 9 pm, you’re likely to find music videos playing on the bar TVs.  After 9 the live music or DJ kicks in.  You can find micro brews here as well as great martinis.

Looking for cheap domestic beer?  Guy Harvey’s is the spot for you.  It’s a short step away from Duval Street and offers $2 taps.  The food here is good, though quite ‘spendy’.  Guy Harvey’s own artwork covers the walls and you can almost always catch a game on their flat screens.

Beer connoisseurs: look no further than The Rum Barrel.  They have an outstanding selection of brews, both on tap and in the bottle.  If you arrive by ship, it’s just a few short steps away from port and the food is fantastic!  I highly recommend any menu selection containing fish.  On a warm night you can sit on the quarter deck and enjoy some fabulous live music.

Half Shell License Plates

Half Shell License Plate Collection

If you’re looking for oysters you won’t find a better deal than at Half Shell Raw Bar.  You can order them steamed or raw at less than $1/oyster and the seafood doesn’t stop there.  They also offer clams, shrimp, crab, lobsters and lots more.  We like to treat ourselves with a special combo of lobster, clams and shrimp.  And don’t pass up the potato salad; it’s fantastic!

Just mere steps away from Half Shell you’ll find Turtle Kraals.  My personal favorite on the island is home to a wood fire grill and The Tower Bar which overlooks the Historic Seaport and offers a great view of the sunset.

Tower Bar Sunset

Tower Bar Sunset

Daily happy hour appetizers are inexpensive and taste delicious; just be sure you’re sitting at the bar or in The Tower Bar, or you won’t get happy hour pricing.  You’ll find a good selection of brews here as well, though only a few are on tap.  You can sometimes catch live music, though if you’re upstairs you’ll miss out.  TK’s is becoming a Friday ritual for my husband and me.  I greatly enjoy some happy hour nachos or wings, a fresh crisp side salad and that fantastic view of the sunset from The Tower Bar.

These are just a few of my personal favorites…there are plenty of great places in Key West to drink and be merry. Thanks for choosing to come to our island!

If you’d like to see and read more of Key West from a local’s perspective, check out my blog at, or if you need quick local advice and @SunshineMichele isn’t available, feel free to tweet me @TheMrsMurphy.

Laura & her husband moved to Key West last summer from some place up north called Minnesota and have no plans on leaving any time soon.  If not watching a game on a big screen or taking a well deserved break at one her favorite spots, Laura can sometimes be heard singing backup for some of the bands in town.  Be sure to ask for her autograph – it will be worth a fortune one day!

Please take a moment to leave us your thoughts on this article, or perhaps on something you would like to learn more about from down here in our little part of paradise called Key West.

SCUBA Diving Key West — A Guest Blog

Photo by Boomer McFall

This article was originally posted by on May 8, 2010 and reposted here with their permission.

There is more to Key West than dive bars. Most people don’t realize that one of Florida’s biggest party towns actually has a lot of scuba options if you can stay sober long enough to seek them out. Key West’s largest and most pristine reefs are located several miles off shore, making a dive boat a must. Those willing to venture a little further still can also enjoy the dive opportunities in the Lower Keys, especially pristine Looe Key Reef, a protected site teeming with sea life that know nobody is going to eat them. Interesting sites include:

Looe Key Reef – The coral reef of Looe Key has been afforded special protection since 1981. Since then, all spearfishing, coral collection, and even lobstering have been banned there. The site’s namesake, the frigate H.M.S. Looe, accidentally ran hard aground there in 1744; remains of the ship lie between two fingers of coral near the eastern end of the reef although only the ballast and anchor are visible. One unusual aspect of Looe Key is that a complete reef ecosystem is found there, from a rubble ridge of ancient fossilized corals, to a reef flat comprised of turtle grass, to a fore reef made up of large star and brain corals arranged in a spur-and-groove coral formation sloping from 20 to 40 feet. There is even a deep reef which slopes to more than 100 feet, providing a great opportunity to view the pelagic species of the Florida Keys, including eagle rays, turtles and every once in awhile a whale shark or manta ray. But don’t miss the main attraction looking for big game: more varieties of tropical marine species are found at Looe Key than perhaps anywhere else in the hemisphere, placing most of the of action right in front of your mask.

Adolphus Busch – This former island freighter was purchased by the local dive community with the generous assistance of Adolphus Busch IV, and sunk upright and intact in just 100 feet of water some seven miles southwest of Big Pine Key in December 1998. Before sinking, the ship was well cleaned and prepared for divers, including the opening of several large holes for penetration. The ship is 210 feet long and the maximum depth is 110 feet, making it an Intermediate to Advanced level dive. There is some marine growth on the wreck, but the highlight is the ship itself, as well as the schools of fish that are starting to use it as a playground.

Sand Key – From the surface, Sand Key looks like a pile of shells topped with a jaunty red lighthouse hat but, underwater; the view gets much more idyllic. The reef itself consists mostly of rock fingers and gullies with sandy bottoms between cliff-like structures and extensive areas of staghorn and elkhorn coral. This site reaches to 65 feet and teems with endless expanses of colorful tropical fish and macro photography opportunities. Though popular, this location is so large that dive boats can spread out, and fish always outnumber divers.

Alexander’s Wreck – commercial salver Chet Alexander purchased this ship from the Navy and sunk it to form an artificial reef. The wreck lies on its side and is broken in half, with the stern section lying 150 yards or so north of the bow, which is awash on most tides. The hull is covered with Leavy oysters and the surrounding waters teem with what seems like unending schools of tropical fish.

Photo by Boomer McFall

Joe’s Tug – This classic tugboat sits totally upright in just 65 feet of water, and offers a great opportunity for close encounters with goliath grouper, spotted morays, barracuda, and horse eye jacks. Open access to the wheel house and aft deck make this an enjoyable dive.

The Cayman Salvor -This 180-foot steel hulled buoy tender, also known as the Cayman Salvager, was intentionally sunk as an artificial reef in 1985. She now sits upright with cavernous open holds providing refuge for bait fish and grunts, as well as a resident jewfish and green moray eel.

Hoyt S. Vandenberg – So, how long to do you plan on staying in the Keys to dive? At 523 feet in length and 10 stories high, the Vandenberg, the Key’s most famous artificial reef, will take you some time to explore. The Vandenberg sits upright approximately seven miles off Key West in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, its keel buried at 145 feet. The tops of the bridges, the communication center and the ship’s dish antennas are 40 feet from the surface of the water, perfect for beginning divers or deco stops. All dive spots along the top structure are open, free from obstruction and are easy to maneuver over and around during a dive. The decks are 45 to 90 feet below the surface. There are holes cut measuring 8×10 feet on each side to allow divers to penetrate the decks horizontally. There are 18 stair towers, 11 elevator shafts and cargo hold shafts to give divers vertical access to the wreck. The 25 foot tall rudder and prop is a great deep dive at 150 feet for the advanced diver.

Since being sunk to the bottom in under two minutes’ time on May 27, 2009, the second-largest ship in the world to be sunk as an artificial reef sits encrusted with species of soft corals. Some 48 different species of shallow water and reef fish have taken up residency, such as parrotfish, goliath grouper, yellow and blue tangs, barracuda as well as deeper water dorado and the occasional sailfish attracted by clouds of bait that frequently school around the wreck. Gray angelfish and butterfly fish are routinely seen circling the anchor chain, while arrow crabs treat the whole thing like a jungle gym.

For more great articles on SCUBA diving please visit the blog at

For dive charters in Key West and more information on how you can experience these places for yourself check out Sunshine Key West’s Activities and let me help you book your dive adventure!

Key West – My Top Ten Eateries

My good friend, Key West local, and fellow blogger, Laura Murphy put together a fabulous blog on some of the amazing restaurants in Key West. I am so happy to host her guest post here.

Laura’s Favorite Places to Eat Out and Why

It’s no secret; hubby and I like to go out. There’s something fun about winding down from a stressful week with a meal and some drinks out of the house. Okay: sometimes we go out more than that…but who’s counting?

We’ve scoped out many new places to eat here on the rock of Key West. During this culinary adventure we’ve gained some favorite places. Here’s our top ten eateries (and a little memory of places come and gone that we miss terribly) in the city of Key West.

*Disclaimer* These are in no way listed in order of favorite. To do so would be the impossible; each place has something different to offer!

1 Turtle Kraals

My favorite thing about this place is the tower bar! It sits above the entire restaurant and overlooks the historic seaport. This fantastic view sets the perfect mood on a sunny Friday night. Happy hour appetizers are fantastic, though you have to sit in the bar or tower bar to enjoy these specials. The staff is very friendly. Any meat you order here is fabulous thanks to the wood-fire grill. Their salads are generous and oh-so-delicious with fresh veggies! Easily, one of my ultimate favorite places to eat in Key West!

2 Half Shell Raw Bar

This is one of my husband’s favorites; it’s very nostalgic for him! Our favorite thing to eat here are steamed oysters with a side of dill potato salad. If you like potato salad, you must order it here! Fantastic! It’s only a few dollars for a nice serving. We have tried the oysters elsewhere and these taste the best and seem to be one of the best priced options for oysters. They are also located in the historic seaport right on the water. The hundreds of license plates that decorate the walls are fun to gawk at.

3 Rum Barrel

The dark interior of this place makes you feel like you’re aboard a pirate ship. We have yet to experience the quarter deck up top, but it’s definitely on our list! The bar has the best atmosphere in this establishment with plenty of microbrews to sample. The first time we ate here I fell in love with it. Everything we’ve eaten here has been good: from salads , nachos, fish sandwiches, tacos and yes…potato salad.

4 Santiago’s Bodega

This was an incredible dining experience; by far the fanciest place with the best tasting food I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. We were treated to Santiago’s by our previous landlord in Minnesota who did very good research and sent us a gift certificate as a thank you for being good tenants. The key to remember here is that they serve tapas: a light appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. At first glance of the menu you’ll think the place is very inexpensive. But the portions are small, so you’ll want to order several rounds for two people. It is a very small place; our best guess was it seats 40 people maximum. Needless to say, this makes for a very intimate environment. It’s perfect for a romantic date.

I was so moved by the experience of eating here I wrote a blog post about it. You can view it at my other, purposely neglected, blog at:

5 Blue Heaven

A co-worker of mine recommended this place to us; she said it was Heaven. She was right! Described as a local’s favorite, the unique outdoor atmosphere is very relaxing. Chickens wander the lot and will often “beg” for food at your feet. The food here is fantastic! It’s on the more expensive side, but well worth it. We enjoyed our Christmas family dinner here – unforgettable!

6 Angelina’s pizza

We stumbled across Angelina’s, likely on a rum-filled adventure. I instantly fell in love with it. While you can order an entire ‘za here, we often opt for single slices and some wings. The staff is nice, but you have to dig. I was quite shocked when they practically screamed that our order was ready. To complete the 1950’s feel, they have several arcade style games.

7 Jack Flats

Great for football! They claim to have more TV screens than we were able to find, but it’s pretty much wall-to-wall screens. Again, everything we’ve eaten here is good. We discovered they have very yummy sliders and wings! Appetizers and salads are my favorite selections from this Duval St restaurant.

8 China Garden West

I had to include just one delivery place. We’re frequent customers here! They have a very large menu with decent prices; seafood is generally not much more than chicken or beef options. Overall, they are decently priced for the portions you get. Whenever we order, we’re pretty much guaranteed two meals each out of the deal!

9 Old Town Mexican Café

Okay – we’ve eaten here once; in 2007. However, the atmosphere and meal was so good, we’ve vowed to go back. It’s hidden on Duval between Key Lime Square and a building. Trees overhang above you, so you don’t feel smushed, but rather relaxed in this outdoor venue. I recall the shrimp fajitas and guacamole were good! Our favorite feature: bucket of coronas for a very good price!

10 Upper Crust

Tasty pizza indeed! You can order some fantastic specialties here. We had the chicken fajita pizza and were very impressed! They have free delivery! Just be prepared: on any given night you can pretty much guarantee to be shoulder to shoulder in this little shop!

We’ve reviewed all our favorite eateries here on the island. But a blog post about Key West eats wouldn’t be complete without leaving fond memories of a few places that have left us.

Crabby Dick’s

Distinguished by the big white balcony overlooking Duval St, we adored this place so much we visited daily during our 2007 visit to the island. The happy hour appetizers were unbeatable. The statue of Crabby Dick, the pirate, was my good friend (it’s true; do a Google image search on “Crabby Dick’s” and the 2nd photo is myself and Crabby Dick himself. At least that’s what we called him). During our 2007 trip we got engaged and our bartender was kind enough to buy us a few rounds of drinks to celebrate. We were so pumped for our 2009 pre-move visit that we planned to visit Crabby Dick’s every night during our stay. To our great disappointment, they shut their doors some time before we arrived. There was another restaurant that moved in a few months ago, but they too closed their doors after only a few weeks of business.

The Iguana

We met Steve the bartender here! Terrific bartender, wonderful friend, and close neighbor to us! There is a row of bar stools facing Greene Street, which makes for some fun people watching. My absolute favorite food here was the hog wings and tots. Hog wings were tender pork on the bone carved down to look like chicken drummies. So fantastic! However, this past winter they, too, closed their doors. It’s rumored they’ll open their doors again….but the most important question is still unknown. Will they ever serve hog wings in Key West again?

RIP, guys. We miss you terribly!

Now it’s off to find some dinner. What should we eat tonight? 🙂

Key West: Where to Find the Perfect Beach Book

I was recently asked by a friend of mine, Sujatha Hampton,author and fellow blogger, about independent bookstores

Author Sujatha Hampton

in Key West. Since the release of her book, “As It Was Written”, she has been very busy and looking for chance to get away.  A little book promotion island style was just the excuse she needed.  I passed on several links and addresses and I quickly decided that this was a topic worth expanding on.

South Beach, Key West, FL

For such a small, out-of-the-way place, Key West has a very rich literary heritageErnest Hemingway wrote nearly 70% of his published work from the home that has recently been named a literary landmark.  Tennessee Williams would come down to the beach at the southernmost point of the island to swim every morning before he started his writing day.  Even now, Key West still draws the notable and the hopeful alike.  Every year the island community hosts the Key West Literary Seminar, an event that draws readers and writers worldwide.

This year a new literary event is coming to the Key West social calendar.  SeaStory Press is hosting it’s first annual Key West Authors’ Book Fair.  Local authors will be gathering in the courtyard of the Key West Heritage House

Heritage House Museum

to exhibit, sign, and read from their works.  This event will be a fantastic opportunity to meet with authors who find inspiration in paradise on a daily basis.

Even if you aren’t a writer, but a bibliophile like me, there are plenty of places to tickle the reading fancy.

Photo by Laura Murphy

One of Key West’s up and coming authors, Michael Richie, highly recommends Key West Island Bookstore for picking up a great beach read.  Located at 513 Fleming Street, Key West Island Bookstore is stuffed with gems you would have never guessed you wanted until you started browsing.  Locally owned and operated, the shop captures all that is Key West, even some of its quirks.

The Key West Library should also be a stop for all book lovers.  Like Key West Island

photo by Laura Murphy

Bookstore, the library is located in Old Town at 700 Fleming Street.  Along with standard library fare, the Key West Branch of the Monroe County Library system has an extensive collection of books on Florida history.  They also host a regular lecture series, weekly programs for children, and the One Island One Book program.  Be sure to check out their tropical palm garden while you are there.

Voltaire Books at 330 Simonton Street is an independent bookstore that has a

photo by Laura Murphy

more Barnes & Noble feel.  They specialize in Hemingway, Williams, various Key West authors, and IndieBound bestsellers.  For visitors seeking the comfort of the familiar, there is a Borders Express located at 2212 N Roosevelt Blvd.

So be sure to save a little room in your bags for a few new books and take home  a bit of Key West.

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