Thursday, July 23, 2009

Adventure Key West: Laid-Back, Luscious, and Lovely

Florida has not been my number one travel destination—it’s muggy, buggy, and my family's primary vacation spot every year of my life since I was four. When we recently had the opportunity to tour Key West, images of Jimmy Buffet and spring breaking college students stumbling, screaming drunk, spilling their beer in tow flooded my thoughts (drinking on the street, after all, is legal in Key West). The five-hour drive from Miami to the Keys is not what I would call scenic, either—it's desolate, swampy, and, quite frankly, a little depressing. Do I have you dying to go yet? With all that being said, the state does hold many unexpected treasures and Key West is one of those most-precious gems.

Recently, we took a week-long vacation to Florida, beginning in South Beach (another love of mine) and ending up in Key West—I was more than pleasantly surprised about how much I ended up liking this remote vacation destination. Somewhere in between Jimmy Buffet’s drink machine, jalapeño popper Margaritaville, the 90 miles to Cuba monument, and the congested cruise ship dock at Mallory Square are historical landmarks, artistic haunts, and culinary delights. The people who live and work there are some of the most hospitable, laid-back, and friendly folks you will ever meet. The views are spectacular and the food (especially the fresh Atlantic Ocean seafood options) is really wonderful. (I also have to admit that I even drank a couple beers while walking down the street.)


Louie’s Backyard: Culinary delights abound at this ocean-side eatery. Everything was phenomenal—fresh shrimp and mango appetizer, perfectly cooked scallops and chilled limoncello for dessert. The entire outdoor seating area extends over the ocean. The restaurant is geared towards adults but they were incredibly kind and accommodating to my two-year old. So much so that they brought him a pillow for his chair and made him a special entrée for his finicky palette. Details:

Blue Heaven: Nestled on a quiet street in an area called Bahama Village is the best southern breakfast I have ever had. Blue Heaven is an outdoor destination where you sit amongst roosters crowing while listening to a guitarist singing Tom Waits and Bob Dylan. Sounds dreamy? Wait ‘til you taste the food. Traditional French southern cuisine including shrimp and grits and five different Benedict's served in hearty portions. The homemade breakfast sandwiches are mouth watering, too. Details:


Besame Mucho: This store is an apothecary, clothing, and jewelry boutique all rolled into one small, wonderful package. It is located in an old Key West cottage house next door to Blue Heaven. Filled with simple, breezy linen shirts, one-of-a kind- jewelry pieces, small leather goods, and terrific perfumes and creams. Their philosophy, "old-world, tried and true, pure and simple," is all of those things and just about as close to perfect as a stop can get. Details:

Voltaire Books: This intimate, independent book store located in the heart of downtown Key West is a great destination for your vacation reading needs. They specialize in the authors who resided in the area over the years like Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. But they also have thousands of other titles that range from cooking to politics to teen literature (Judy Blume was scheduled for a book signing the day after we left). The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and incredibly helpful. Details:

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About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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