Posted: Jun 25, 2018
Key West Staycation

For the past few years I have been lucky enough and frugal enough to afford a modest trip to beautiful Italy. Off season and out-of-the-way locales ($). Delightful. This year a change.  Post Hurricane Irma repairs and strengthenings to my Old Town home; metal roof, HARC approved windows ($$$$ Dammit) and paint job, ate my travel allotment (and then some). I'll still head to mid-state NY in fall to visit family but otherwise - this summer - why not enjoy the pleasures of Key West.  Thousands of tourists do so why not me?!  And so, as The Great One would say - And Awaaay We Go -

In the Morning

Nothing kicks off the day like a real breakfast and a solid cup of coffee.  No, not granola and yogurp. Or some awful drive-through breakfast extruded.  I mean pancakes, eggs and bacon or power packing, fresh roasted coffee with a killer donut or dawn baked buns. Let us begin -


Harpoon Harry's. If you can't find something here to fill your ribs with goodness, best back to bed and wake up for lunch. For me, the 2 - 2 - 2 offers two buttermilk pancakes (best in town), two eggs any style and two pieces of bacon, or sausage (link or paddy).  Coffee is good ole fashion Chock Full of Nuts.  Bottomless cup.  Get there early, they open at 0700, bring a real newspaper and greet the crew.  Harpoon Harry's offers a full bar so if you need some hairy dog, they'll sa-tis-fy.  (Not my style but - this is Key West).


Banana Cafe.  Looking for something more debonair?  The Eggs Benedict can't be beat. This French style bistro serves breakfasts more continental with assortments of lobster, salmon, herbs, capers and cream cheese.  I pour their fresh roasted Red Buoy coffee over ice, add some real cow's milk (not that 1% rot) and the thirst slaking ice coffee goes down cool and refreshing. Their crew is delightful!  Say hello to Candance or Adriana and Monika on the weekend.


Two crepe hotspots - The Creperie and The Key Plaza Creperie. Creperie #1 is in Bahama Village at the corner of Petronia and Thomas Sts. Walk or pedal as parking no so good. Crepes savory or sweet to order full of freshness.  Sit inside or out.  Open at 0730.  Creperie #2 is a super clean local eatery, a little uptown in the Key Plaza by Publix and across the street from Home Depot. They open at 0700; though for me, it's more of a mid-late morning treat. Crepes all style (I like the quattro formagio with walnuts or the salmon).  Get a pot of drip coffee. Way nice staff.

I'm just looking for some coffee and pastries.

Just need some jet fuel to start your day?  You're in luck.  Key West has some excellent home brew coffees.  And thank God - some great pastries to match.  Glazed Donuts (drool), Five Brothers (Cuban style), Duetto's (Italian Lavazza), La Grignote (Artisan french bakery, Oh man!) Cuban Coffee Queen (JP-4) and a local's local Key West Cakes where tantalizing cupcakes and cookies beg to be D-voured!


Biometrically speaking, coffee is best for your constitution in the late morning or early afternoon but, I'm less a science guy and more favoring economics-history-policsi. So grab a real newspaper and enjoy a cuppajoe while reading something worth remembering.


Now that you're loaded with go power.  Let's get going ...

Water, water, every where

He prayeth best, who loveth best

The Rime.


The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.


For eleven+ of my twenty Navy years I flew in limitless blue skies over endless blue seas. From carrier flight decks 60' above the water line amazed at porpoise and flying fish and caught sea shards smack on the kisser.  The ocean is an ever changing arena of pleasure and terror. We are blessed with Gulf and Sea in Key West and the Keys.  Do not delay in playing in her.

Scuba and snorkel

All of the below dive shops, these are just a sample, provide equipment and training for both novice and experienced divers.  If you are snorkeling just show up.  If you are diving you will certainly need to show your PADI or NAUI dive card.


  1.  Dive Key West was the first dive facility in the Lower Keys to quality as a Blue Star Operator. This designation is awarded to operators who are dedicated to coral reef education and preservation.
  2. Key West Dive Center provides top quality Key West Diving from their state-of-the-art dive boats including a custom built 50' Newton Diving Boat - the newest and fastest in Key West.
  3. Captain’s Corner has been in operation since 1985 as a PADI 5 star Dive Center and has Key West’s only on-site training pool. They offer a full range of scuba diving courses from Discover Scuba Diving and Open Water Certification all the way up to Dive Master.


Head out to the reef for dives and snorkeling at 20' or to artificial reefs such as the USS Vandenberg or other smaller sunken ships.  These ships offer reasonably deep water dives (60' - 90') in clear waters with minimum current and abundant sea life.


Another really cool dive spot is Looe Key.  Looe Key is a beautiful stetch of coral reef about 25 miles up US1 in Ramrod Key.  The reef is less traveled than Key West so the sea life there is more plentiful.  I've snorkeled and dived with both Looe Key Dive Center and Captain Hook's.  Great fun both!


On the way back to Key West, stop at Mangrove Mama's for a tasty lunch of fresh caught seafood, home made cole slaw, some sweet ice tea and, if its at the end of the day, some jaming live music. Max relax.


Eco-Discovery Center

Summer in Florida follows an easy recipe.  Get going early.  I do my outside stuff like a buffet - first come, first serve.  So get to these sites before noon.


  1. The Eco Discovery Center features over 6,000 square feet of interactive and dynamic exhibits showing air, land and sea life throughout the Florida Keys including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory.  There is also a very interesting 20 minute movie in their theater.  BEST OF ALL - ITS FREE!  You don't hear that very often in Key West.
  2. The Hemingway Home and Museum.  The house dates to the mid 1850's which the Hemingways bought in the early 1930's. Grand ole home.
  3. Across the street from Hemingway Home is the Key West Lighthouse.  The original lighthouse was constructed in 1825, went down in a hurricane and was newly constructed on a more inland site in 1848. Climb the 88 steps to the top for a 360 degree look of Key West and surrounding waters.

After lunch

Marilyn strikes a pose

My friends complain - Damn its hot!  I reply - Hey.  It's Florida.  It's summer.  It's suppose to be hot.  So how to chill?  My favorite afternoon chill spot is - The Tropic Cinema.


The Tropic Cinema is the hippest place in town.  Carved out of a mostly abandoned furniture warehouse around 2003 - 04, the cinema has four theaters; one with 150 seats and three with 50 seats. First-run blockbusters, limited release indie and foreign movies plus the best darn popcorn this side of Pluto. Run by volunteers. Got a party coming up?  Rent a theater for your own private showing!  Also, kids movies on Saturday mornings. Kids $1. Adults $2. Can't beat that.


Across the street is The Saint for food or drink before or after a show.  They have an excellent early-bird dinner every day.  Paul runs the bar.  Say hello.


Or, do what I often do mid-afternoon - an hour's yard work, hop in the pool, cool shower, dry off, siesta baby.

Close out the Day

The Top of La Concha Hotel

During the summer, the sun goes down between 7:45 and 8PM.  See the fading rays from everywhere; Mallory Square, a sunset cruise, a water front pub, there are so many ... start at the Half Shell Raw Bar (my favorite) and work your way each day around the waterfront.


Sunset cruises can be quiet glides through the bay or party boats a-rockin'  Make sure you ask which is which. 


Many downtown eateries serve dinners 30% - 50% off for Key West residents in the summer.  I eat out throughout the year but if you don't and you want to treat yourself and your sweetheart to an evening out, summer is the time.  Be generous to the wait staff.  It takes just as many steps to/from the kitchen to your table when carrying a full price meal as it is one that saves you 50%!

Live Theater

Key West Theater

For a small town, Key West has some fairly decent live theater. I've seen some really good performances and been well pleased with the diversity of entertainment. Summer slows down a bit but this year two venues keep it going.


  1. The Red Barn Theater will host the eight season of "Summer Stage" with live performances through the end of July.  As is its philosophy, productions will spolight original plays by local writers as well as productions of hits from Broaday to LA. Intimate and full of character. Every seat shows you "the whites of their eyes".
  2. The Key West Theater is a newly renovated performing arts center that is home to the Key West Theater & Community Stage 501(c)(3) non-profit and Rams Head Promotions, as well as the Back Room performance space, state of the art dance studio and recording studio. Productions feature the best of local and national touring talent for in-theater and outside-amphitheater performances. Good stuff!

Last Call

When you're on staycation last call can range from 10PM to 3AM.  And certainly, there are plenty of places to choose within that range.  As always, party with a buddy, or buddette, cause late, lost, drunk and solo is not where you want to be. 


And pleeeeze.  If you're on a bike at night have a LIGHT!


If you have any comments or questions, please contact me here.


Good luck!