Friday, June 16, 2017

How NOT to Visit Key West

I've been living in Florida for 6 years now. I feel like you can't live in a state for that long without doing a little exploring. We've checked out several beaches, we've traveled to Saint Augustine, visited a plethora of amusement parks, spent time in Tampa, and hung out in Tarpon Springs to name a few. We've never ventured further south than Clearwater Beach, however. Back in 2002, my ex husband and I took a cruise that stopped in Key West where we disembarked to go snorkeling. We were in port a very short time so we didn't get the chance to look around the island at all, but I remember thinking I'd like to come back and visit some time.

So my 3 youngest kiddos and I took a little trip to Key West last week. I booked it far in advance and got a good deal on airfare. I had this idea that if we flew there in the morning and flew home a couple days later in the evening, we'd maximize our Wally World fun without booking a hotel for several nights. I was wrong. Our flight on Silver Airways was delayed for 6 hours on the way there. And, of course, we arrived at the airport 2 hours prior to all the delays. Had we driven, we would've gotten to Key West a couple hours before we disembarked the plane. On the way home, we were delayed 5 1/2 hours, which brings me to my first point.

If you live within 6-8 hours, consider driving instead of flying. Road trips can be fun! It will give you the chance to see other parts of the state if you haven't. I hear driving over the 7 Mile Bridge is an experience you don't want to miss. Plus, you won't have to worry about stuffing all your liquids into tiny bottles, you won't have to arrange a ride to the airport or pay for parking, and you won't have to waste 2 hours of time going through security and waiting to board. Also, you'll be able to bring snacks and a cooler of food so you can eat some meals in your hotel room thus saving you money. Finally, you'll have a car to get around the island because although it's small, I wouldn't say that everything was within walking distance. Key West doesn't have Uber and its cabs are really pricey.

Key West is a very touristy place. If you like that sort of thing, you'll be in paradise! If you'd prefer to experience The Conch Republic off the beaten path, talk to the locals. From cab drivers to cashiers to waitresses, they're more than happy to share their favorite haunts and native secrets with you. If you want to avoid the Margaritavilles, Hard Rocks, and Sloppy Joe's of Key West, ask the locals where they hang out.

Key West offers tours via a train, or a bus. These are a little pricey, but they run about every 30 minutes throughout the day and you can get on and off as you please with unlimited access for the entire day. This is a great way to experience the island, hopping off when you want to explore, then getting back on to head to the next destination. The drivers also act as tour guides, narrating the ride with a little history lesson and interesting facts about Key West.

I booked everything as "nonrefundable" to bring our total cost down. My son ended up on crutches with a broken knee cap for this trip. Although you can certainly walk to many destinations in Key West, doing so on crutches is another story. Also, it hadn't rained here for months, but as Murphy's Law would have it, it poured most of the time we were there. Had my reservations been refundable, we could have rescheduled for a time when Clay was off crutches, and the weather forecast looked a little brighter. Sometimes, "nonrefundable" is not worth the little extra you save in the long run.

Maybe one day we'll head back there and I'll be able to write a comprehensive post on all the awesome things to do in Key West. Until then, take heed of my (self proclaimed) expert tips on what not to do.


Cindy said...

Oh no!! What a terrible vacation. I hope in time, you'll be able to look back and remember a few fun things and be able to laugh at the... not so fun.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Sounds a heck of a lot like our "vacations"!

Darren Summers said...

Did the crutches happen before or during your trip?

Dawn said...

Oh and I didn't mention, Suburban, the fact that the smoke alarm went off multiple times one night. (The hotel refunded our money and was pretty cool about it at least.) But there were no mice and no one threw up so there's that. ;)

Dawn said...

Clay broke his knee about a month before we left, Darren.

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