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Editor's Picks: Key West Hotspots

July 29, 2016
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

An overnight trip to America's most southern city via the Key West Express provided an opportunity to visit both tourist-book hot spots and some locally-renowned gems.We took in a lot of each. Here are some of our favorites:

An overnight trip to America's most southern city via the Key West Express provided an opportunity to visit both tourist-book hot spots and some locally-renowned gems.We took in a lot of each. Here are some of our favorites:

**To visit

Mallory Square

400 Wall St., Key West

305-809-3700

Mallory Square is THE place in Key West to catch the sunset. Roving entertainment, including musicians and a bevy of performers, the celebration begins about two hours before the sun goes down. Enjoy the merrymaking, grab a big pineapple or coconut full of fruit juice (maraschinos, optional yes, please!) and find a seat on the seawall where the spots fill up quick to watch the sun set. A jaunt through the shops is an interesting prelude to the Duval Street crawl.

Books & Books at

The Studios of Key West

533 Eaton St., Key West

305-320-0208

Key West and books? Yes, absolutely, we bibliophiles can find a way to get our daily dose anywhere. And in Key West it is at Books & Books, an independent book shop as divergent as Key West, itself. Founded by and designed for book lovers, the store is not your "big box" vanilla amalgamation of best sellers and remainders, it's more Superfudge, with handwritten notes of recommendations by co-founder Judy Blume scattered along the shelves.

** Eateries, restaurants and bars

D.J.'s Clam Shack

629 Duval St., Key West

305-294-0102

Highlighted by Guy Fieri from the Food Network's "Diners, Drive Ins & Dives," D.J.'s serves up huge tacos HUGE. An order can easily be split but don't order the cracked conch and the mahi mahi and share.

Bo's Fish Wagon

801 Caroline St., Key West

305-294-9272

Even with the address, you're likely to miss this Key West tradition. Look for the rusty old truck and the chickens they're everywhere and try the fish of the day sandwich. We had hogfish, as much of a must-try in Key West as the conch fritters.

Irish Kevin's Pub

211 Duval St, Key West

305-292-1262

Duval Street is lined with bars by the dozens. There are lots of good options to grab a libation of choice. But make sure to stop in to Kevin's Irish Pub, even if you have to squeeze into a packed house - Kevin's must have the friendliest, most welcoming staff in town. They were so nice, in fact, we stopped in twice, once to check out the entertainment and then the next day before heading back to the seaport to catch the boat back. Ask for Patti if you don't know what an IPA is, she may give you a sample.

Munch Box

500 Truman Ave., Key West

305-741-7799

Tucked in the small Truval Square shopping center, this little combination coffee house/caf decorated with lunch box collectibles is one of Key West's more eclectic coffee shops. The owner, Bob Bullen, serves up artisan gourmet brews, including a coffee of the day, flavored coffees and espresso, as well as breakfast and lunch featuring fresh and unique salads and sandwiches. If you ask him, Bob will be glad to hook you up with locals who offer Key West walking tours, an alternative to the Conch Train for those who want to experience Key West beyond the bars and T-shirt shops. Not that's there's anything wrong with enjoying the bar run in Key West.

Dante's Key West

951 Caroline St., Key West

305-293-5123

If you're looking for a good place to grab something to eat or drink as you wait to re-board the Express back to Fort Myers Beach, Dante's Key West pool bar and restaurant, at Conch Harbour Marina, is the perfect spot. A quick walk away, it features a huge pool with waterfall; lots of places to sit in the sun or under a shaded Tiki; full lunch and dinner menus including raw bar items; and a variety of drink concoctions, frozen and not. Dante's is self-described as an "aquaholic's paradise" with "the Keys' most dangerous Happy Hour," but we fit right in with the late afternoon weekday crowd and wished we had discovered it a little earlier.

** To stay

The Chelsea House Hotel

709 Truman Ave, Key West

Phone: 305-296-2211

Featuring historic Victorian and Queen Anne architecture, this boutique hotel in Old Town is within walking distance to virtually EVERYTHING. Friendly staff; a clean, updated room that maintained its historic charm; and a free, plentiful continental breakfast. They even gave us a free room upgrade that included a small balcony overlooking the lush landscaping and tiki-style patio that we found to be the perfect place to sip juice and enjoy a muffin after we returned from enjoying a Key West sunrise.

 
 
 

 

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