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This horrible, extended winter may have you daydreaming of a vacation to somewhere warm, sunny, and surrounded by blue waters. Just about every recreational body of water will have at least one business offering personal watercraft rentals and, as such, it's important to be familiar with the basics before turning the key on something like a jet ski.
Jet Skis are a highly maneuverable form of personal watercraft that can easily reach speeds of 65 mph, so they do not come without their risks. Recently, while staying at Waldorf-Astoria's Casa Marina Resort in Key West, we zipped out on some jet skis to hop waves and review skills. Here's what you need to know:
Road Trips / Florida Travel / Florida Keys Travel / Subaru XV Crosstrek / Cars / Key West Travel / → All Tags
There's a good chance that, if you're reading this, you're well aware of the seemingly endless winter weather impacting much of the United States. And you're probably also wishing for some sun and warmth right about now. An easy remedy comes in two words: Key West.
We recently made the popular drive along the Keys in a new 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and discovered a few things along way, aside from the fact that fresh air and sunlight does a previously snowed-in traveler a world of good.
The Overseas Highway (part of US 1) runs from Key West to Miami and allows access to the Keys in between. Consisting mainly of leftover bridges and road sections from the original railroad system constructed by Henry Flagler, the completed highway opened to traffic in 1938. It is a destination of its own, and allows vacationers easy access to the sandier beaches south of the state's continental limit.
Nothing says Spring Break shenanigans like a trip to court, and that’s why one spot in Florida is getting ready for a special kind of justice in time for the holiday. As you probably can guess things can get a little wild, as college kids from around the nation gather to let off some steam. That’s why Key West is ready for their visitors, and that includes those that may or may not follow all of the rules.
In Key West they’re cracking down on drinking—we’re thinking especially underage drinking—in and around public beaches, and there’s even an initiative to bring something back they call Spring Break Court. Unfortunately this isn’t a reality show of any kind. Although we call the rights to it right now.
Travel Contests / Southwest Airlines / Southwest / Florida Travel / New Routes / Key West Travel / → All Tags
Southwest Airlines is getting ready for yet another travel contest, and this time they’re calling on you to show off your hidden talent. Thankfully there will be no reality show competition involved, but you will need to perform for the judges thanks to the magic of the internet.
All the fun and games are to celebrate Southwest’s recent arrival down in Key West, Florida, as they’re clearly ready to share the love for the fun and sun with travelers from across the country. As far as new routes are concerned it's a pair of daily flights from both Tampa and Orlando to the top of the country, so after you are done visit the theme parks—or Grandma—you’ll be able to head down to the Keys.
Summer-Signature-Cocktails-Map / Beer Travel / Drinking Travel / Key West Travel / Florida Keys / → All Tags
While the summer is at its peak and you're no doubt tired of chugging bottled water under the sun at tourist sites, we're going to hit some of the world's best watering holes and down their famous summer cocktails. Bottoms up!
When one thinks of an evening spent in Key West, sipping some of the more alcoholic local flavors, drinks like Key Lime Martinis or the Key West Cooler come to mind, but at local favorite Green Parrot Bar, the regulars tipple something decidedly more down-home.
For one of the cheap, but tasty Root Beer Barrel Shots at the Green Parrot, you must first bypass all of the tourist-trap bars along Duval Street. The Green Parrot isn't faronly a couple block away on Whitehead Streetbut it's divey, Florida Keys laid-back ambience is a world away. Sure you can get key lime drinks here as well, but if you've been scarfing key lime pie all day anyways, we'd recommend the Root Beer Barrel.
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Wanting to do something active to counterbalance all the beer and pie, we bought tickets for an adventure cruise on a big catamaran called Island 'Ting. Casting off from the docks at 10:00 a.m. under the guidance of Captain Johnny, we broke our fast with scrambled eggs and juice and headed to an offshore reef for snorkeling. As was the case with the previous evening's sunset cruise, it was interesting to get to know the crew, which generally consisted of lifestyle junkies who take fun, low-paying, seasonal jobs around the world. Our snorkeling instructor Misty, for example, alternated between sailing jobs in Key West and Maui, and a fire fighting job in Oregon.
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Of the few cultured things we did in Key West, the best was our visit to the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum on Whitehead Street. Hemingway lived in the handsome colonial mansion from 1931 to 1939, penning some of his greatest works from a detached study. An animated and somewhat prickly tour guide took us through the rooms and explained how Hemingway's wife Pauline had all the ceiling fans removed for aesthetic purposes, and spent extravagantly on installing one of the island's first in-ground swimming pools, prompting Ernest to surrender to her his "last penny."
As for Hemingway's famous cats, their descendants are still there roaming around and getting underfoot, and they do indeed have six and sometimes seven toes. It makes them look like they're wearing little catcher's mitts on their hands.
We just got back from a blissful spring vacation and the old trope is true again: it went by all too quickly. We were in dire need of rest and recreation, so instead of planning an ambitious and brainy trip to Angkor Wat or Ottawa or something, we decided to press the easy button and head to Key West, Florida for four nights. We took the Acela from Penn Station to Washington D.C. (nice train ride, decent microwave cheeseburgers), dropped Zachary off with his grandparents, and then flew unencumbered to Key West via Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, which is unbelievably huge.
The heat hit us as soon as we stepped on the tarmac of the island's tiny airport and it felt great. We had left the chill of the north far behind and escaped to the subtropics. Before long we were in a shared taxi van with a gregarious local driver who provided a running commentary on all the sites we were driving past, pointing out the capsized sailboats in the water, unmoored in a recent storm.
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Attention, snowbirds: starting this week, you can kiss the airline terminal of your youth goodbye at Key West Airport. Citing the tourist traffic and second-home owners in the area, Key West has built a newer, spiffier terminal to replace the 1957 original building, although that too will eventually be remodeled and combined to double the size of the airport.
According to the press release, the 30,000-square-foot new terminal which opened yesterday now features a large restaurant with windows to watch the flights arrive and depart over the water, and all the concessions, baggage and security areas needed to support a healthy flow of passengers through Key West. It is also very possible that this large of an improvement will convince visitors and locals to go through their home airport instead of adding the commute up to Miami International.
Expect the entire fresh terminal (including the renovated 1957 but) to be completed rather soon in June, prime time for early summer vacations but safely shy of the bulk of hurricane season.
[Photo: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau]
The fate of Ernest Hemingway's cats has finally been decided. The fifty or so descendants of Snowball - who was given to Hemingway in 1935 - will be allowed to remain at the late writer's Key West home, provided they never stray from the property. The cats - some of which have six toes - have been a fixture of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum for years, but Florida authorities had recently threatened to remove them from the property, claiming the museum didn't keep the animals properly contained (they were free to leave the grounds if they felt like it) and lacked an animal welfare license.
The recent agreement between the parties comes as a relief to the many tourists who pass through the verdant gardens and Spanish colonial house where Hemingway wrote "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "To Have and Have Not." To some, the furry critters represent a living legacy of the writer, and the threat of eviction seemed like another tin-eared move from by-the-book bureaucrats who wanted to spoil the fun for nothing. Still, we can't help but wonder why it took five years of negotiations for the museum to install a fence around the perimeter. It seems like the obvious thing to do. Fortunately for the cats, an independent animal behaviorist came to the same conclusion.
[Photo: AP/Florida Keys News Bureau]
Writer Ernest Hemingway spent many happy years holed up in his Key West house, translating his experiences on safari and at war to print. After his suicide in 1961, his two-story bungalow became a pilgrimage spot for all of Jake Barnes' friends the world over -- and a refuge for the descendants of his six-toed cat, Snowball. But if the Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has its way, Snowball's relatives are about to get the boot.
Curators of the museum promise the Hemingway cats are well fed and happy, but according to the state of Florida the site doesn't properly contain the animals, nor does it have an Animal Welfare license. Can visitors still "enjoy the whimsy" of animals that just can't be caged? It's times like this that we ask ourselves: What Would Papa Do?
Key West may have as many as 3,000 chickens running free, and so far worries about bird flu haven't put a cramp in their style. In the past, the city has made periodic attempts to round them up, but support from chicken-lovers (of the live birds, not their rotisseried brethren) kept the wild birds around.
"Face it, they're pretty filthy.They're a nuisance," said Holly Shea, who works at a Key West restaurant. "But there's something very islandy and Third World and magical about having wildlife roaming, even if it's only a chicken." Magical, maybe, but magically delicious when breaded, fried, and served with a side of slaw.
[Image from Towleroad]
· Key West Chickens Raise Bird Flu Fears [CBS]
· Massive Cock Hunt to Start in Key West [Towleroad]