Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Key West Travel Reviews

HotelCrowne Plaza Key West La Concha-We stayed at this hotel for 3 nights, and we were pretty happy with it.  No, it isn't as quaint as some of the cute little bed and breakfast inns and not as luxurious and some of the resorts, but it is a moderately priced hotel in a great location. It was located right on Duval Street, about 5 blocks from Mallory Square. Although it was right on Duval, it was still fairly quiet, especially after midnight. And it felt safe. We didn't worry about walking back late at night because it was on a (really the) main street and it was well lit and pretty populated. Our room wasn't huge, but it wasn't too small, and it was furnished nicely. The lobby of the hotel was very nice, and it had a restaurant, which we did not use. It also had a Starbucks, which opens at 6am, which was great for grabbing a light breakfast in the morning before we headed out for the day. The hotel also has a parking lot (with an extra daily fee), so we didn't have to worry about finding a parking spot for our rental car and a pool, which we didn't use. Here is my one complaint about the hotel: They are supposed to have a lovely view of the sunset from the rooftop bar since the hotel is the tallest building in Key West. When we arrive checked in to the hotel, I asked the front desk if the rooftop bar was open and what time we should go up there to see the sunset, and I was told around 6:30. When we got up there, however, we discovered that they had actually closed off the side of the roof that faces the sunset for a wedding. So I was quite annoyed that the front desk did not tell me it would be closed when I specifically asked him about it.

Restaurants: I really should have written these reviews immediately after I got home because I don't recall all of the restaurants that we visited, but I can name a few.

Blue Heaven-We went to Blue Heaven for brunch on our first full day in Key West. It is located near the Hemingway House and Lighthouse Museum. When we arrived at the restaurant, they told us that it would be about an hour wait, so we asked if we could give our name and come back in an hour, and they agreed. So, in that hour, we walked over to the Hemingway House and looked around. When we got back to the restaurant, we only had to wait about 5 minutes before they seated us so our timing worked out really well. Unfortunately, our waiter then forgot to put in our order, so we had to wait close to an hour for our food, but we really didn't mind because the weather in the backyard where we were sitting was gorgeous, they had a live guitarist/singer playing, and I was enjoying taking photos of the chickens. Plus, once they realized, our waiter brought us out a free serving of their delicious banana bread to hold us until our food came. And I have to say that the food was worth the wait. I had the pineapple pancakes and they were sooooo good. In fact, now I am salivating just thinking about them. My husband had the rooster special, which is two eggs, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, and more banana bread (which we wrapped up and brought back to the hotel for an afternoon snack), and I believe he was also very happy and very stuffed after his meal.

Here's a photo of one of the roosters at Blue Heaven:

Key West (15 of 43)

Roof Top Cafe-We ate dinner at the Roof Top Cafe on our second night in Key West. We didn't have dinner reservations, but it is very close to Mallory Square and Duval Street and we wondered over there after coming back from our sunset cruise. They were not crowded and we had our choice of sitting inside or on the balcony, and we chose the balcony because it was a lovely night. Even though it was only one block off of Duval Street, the restaurant feels removed from all of the craziness and pretty romantic. The food was very good as well. I believe that I had the herb crusted goat cheese and baby greens salad with mango vinaigrette for an appetizer, which was delicious, and the pasta basilico for an entree, which was good, but a little too garlicky for my taste. I really have no recollection what my husband had, but I believe it was seafood and that he enjoyed it.

Tours: City View Trolley Tours-Although Key West isn't a huge town, we decided that the best way to maximize our time was to take one of the hop on/hop off trolley tours around town. We decided to go with City View Trolley Tours because we had a coupon, which made it cheaper than the Old Time Trolley. I was a little concerned that the City View Tour doesn't go to the new part of town like the Old Time Trolley does.  By the end of the day, though, we were so hot and tired that we really just wanted to go back to our hotel and nap anyway, so we really didn't mind skipping the new part of town. Besides, it did go to all of the major sites that we wanted to see. We had two different tour guides on the trolley, and they both seemed really personable and knowledgeable, so I would recommend this tour.

Fury Cat Commotion On The Ocean Sunset Cruise (Sorry the link's not working)-There are a number of sunset cruises that go out of Key West, but as far as I know, the Commotion on the Ocean is the only one with a live band. Some people may fear that this is too much of a party boat for them, but there were people of all ages, including children, on the boat and everyone controlled themselves. There was a light buffet of appetizers and all you can drink beer, wine, and soda. The crew even went around refilling glasses. There was music and dancing and, most importantly, a spectacular sunset without fighting the crowds at Mallory Square.

This was taken during the sunset cruise:

Key West (20 of 43)

Key West Seaplane Adventures-When we originally decided to go to Dry Tortugas National Park, we had planned on taking the ferry, but then we decided that it would be more fun and faster to take the seaplane. I believe that there is currently only one seaplane service (and one ferry service) that is allowed to Dry Tortugas National Park because these companies contract with the government. I am not a fan of little planes, so prior to booking our tickets, I researched the safety records of Key West Seaplane Adventures and discovered that they are very highly rated with the Better Business Bureau. I also directly spoke to the company and they informed me that all of their pilots have at least 20 years of flying experience. So I decided to take the risk, figuring that if we had to make an emergency landing, we could at least land on the water. I am very glad that we went because we had a wonderful time. The flight was so much fun. We could see sharks and lots of turtles from the plane. Our pilot also gave us lots of interesting information about the area. Unlike the ferry, the seaplane company does not offer a lunch and the plane leaves while you are on the island so you can't leave anything on board while on the island. They did give us soda and water in a cooler with ice and snorkeling equipment to take with us to the island, however. Plus, you save so much travel time on the seaplane that you really don't need lunch because you can eat when you get back to Key West. They do offer a choice of a half-day or full-day trip, and we chose the half-day, which was more than enough time for us. I would highly recommend this tour.

Here's a photo of our plane:

Dry Tortugas National Park (16 of 21)

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE Blue Heaven! They have a lobster eggs benedict that is out of this world. We're going back to KW in less than a month and seeing this pics has me so excited!