I’m easily addicted to episodes of “Island Life” and “Island Hunters,” watching people make good on their promises to one day leave it all behind and buy a home that overlooks turquoise waters. It sure makes you think twice about city or suburban living.
But too often, I forget that in Florida we’re only a few short hours away from island breezes and carefree living. Those places that we see on HGTV are right here in our backyard—as long as we remember to turn off the TV and go outside to enjoy them.
So that’s how I found myself venturing down Overseas Highway, highly anticipating a weekend getaway to the Florida Keys. My destination: Key West’s Ocean Key Resort & Spa.
The resort’s “Zero Duval Street” address might give it away, but the resort sits on the farthest, northernmost tip of Duval Street next to the famous Mallory Square. From the hotel balcony, we could watch the sun dip below the horizon as people crowded on the street below to watch it disappear from Sunset Pier. Sunsets in Key West never get old.
The hotel spreads across a corner of Key West like a puzzle—the pool nearly touches the water, the restaurant overlooks both the pool and the ocean, and the rooms are situated so as to give everyone at least a glimpse of water from their balcony.
Our weekend was meant for relaxation, so on our first night we stayed close by dining at the resort’s restaurant, the Hot Tin Roof. The restaurant’s outdoor seating is illuminated by moonlight and secluded from rowdy revelers on Duval Street. We munched on baked goat cheese, Key West pink shrimp and paella, and topped off our meal with a cheesecake-like Key lime pie. The menu is packed with other seafood specialties like broiled lobster and caramelized grouper.
We spent the next day leisurely moving from the pool to Duval Street where we wandered until we found the Truman Little White House. The homes in the Truman Annex Neighborhood are whitewashed with wrap-around porches and porticos that embody southern charm.
By the evening, we made our way back to Duval Street to have a cold beer and watch the live music at one of Key West’s many famous bars. That night, we saw two brides—one beaming after her ocean wedding at Sunset Pier, and another on stage celebrating at Irish Kevin’s still wearing her long white gown. It’s clear that in Key West, everyone is here to have a good time.
It’s hard to leave a place where chickens roam freely, where you wake up to crystal clear waters and where the local ambassadors include Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney. But at least we know that what we see on TV is real—and that for us Floridians, it’s only a short, gorgeous drive away.
IF YOU GO
Where to stay:
Ocean Key Resort & Spa, 0 Duval St., Key West; oceankey.com
Where to eat:
For breakfast, try the Hot Tin Roof’s lobster eggs benedict.
Where to drink:
Wander to the opposite side of Duval Street until you find the Speakeasy Inn’s Rum Bar. Our recommendation: the classic mojito.
Where to relax:
Book a treatment at SpaTerre for ultimate relaxation.