Speaking of kicking it local, the problem with a lot of the Carribean and the Gulf and the Atlantic is that they are so over-fished that they are basically barren wastelands - at least in regards to fish we want to eat. That always frustrates me to eating a meal overlooking the ocean and knowing that this is the same fish I get anywhere else in the country.
Let's Go Key West
Going to Key West? This is what I'd do: Fly directly in to Key West (you'll probably have to transfer in Miami). When you get to Key West, don't rent a car. Take a cab to your hotel where you can rent a bike or moped.
Our rental car (the surprisingly not sucky Chevorelet Sonic) sat in the parking lot the whole time we were there and served as shade for the tiny lizards.
"But, it's cool to drive down from Miami! That long bridge!"
See, that is what I thought. It's about a two and a half hour drive and while it was kind of pretty, I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to do it again.
What to do
There are lots of water sport things to do, although playing in the surf isn't necessarily one of them. Lots of seaweed and coral, but the water is clear and pretty. If you stay off the western end of Duval street where the concentration of tourist traps and cruise ships are, you'll do good.
Go to the Hemingway house. Nice cats there.
I went snorkeling and it was fun. A big fish snuck up on me and scared the crap out of me.
We stayed at the fairly nice Sheraton Suites which is on the east side of the island. It's right across the street from one of the beaches, but is almost two miles from town. That's not a bad thing as we ate a lot and needed the exercise.
Eat. Food. Shiver's Bar-B-Q
If you are driving down to Key West from Miami, stop off at Shiver's in Homestead for some pretty excellent pulled pork, hush puppies, and dessert-worthy sweet potatoes. Oh, yums.
The Flaming Buoy Filet Co.
Of all the restaurants we dined at, this was my all-around favorite. Not the very best food (that may have been Nine One Five) but still very good. Great staff and space and wine list and general vibe.
They make their own ginger beer here! Tragically, they don't have a liquor license so there is no rum.
Nine One Five
Maybe it's me, but I've been finding myself a lot in restaurants where all the small dishes and appetizers are way more interesting than the main courses. Nine One Five is a pretty prime example as Mrs. Robot and I were totally underwhelmed by the entrées but taken with the appetizers. So we just ate apps (iPhone apps).
Such as the TUNA DOME! What a great name. Sashimi tuna on top of a large mound of crab meat.
Foie gras pâté.
Pretty amazing carpaccio dish with greens.
Half bottle of Champagne and you are good to go.
The owner is from Brittany (in France) and we all know that is the butter and crepe center of the universe. Awesome crepes and they made the savory ones with the traditional buckwheat flour. Bravo. Very good crepes but probably not as buttery as the ones we had in France - kind of to be expected, though.
Very popular brunch spot in Key West. Why? Well, it's very Key-West-y with the chickens running around, but the real reason has to be lobster benedict. Ouch. That is some good stuff, although they made the eggs medium and/or not runny which was a tiny disappointment. Brave the crowds. Get the lobster.
(Oddly, I didn't photograph the lobster benedict, but did snap a photo (above) of the shrimp version which was much more visually interesting).
There was more. Like Azur who makes a pretty kick-ass gnocchi.
Or the tasty cubano sandwiches.