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November 2008

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mamamarlea in thefloridakeys


Hi, my name is Marlea, I'm from PA and I'll be RVing with my family in the keys for,at least, the first half of February. Just wondering about places to check out while we're there. We'll (there are 7 of us from age 13 to 65) be staying off mile marker 20. Would love to check out live music, fairly inexpensive restaurants or just about anything you deem worthy ;) I haven't been any further South than North Carolina so this will be totally new for me, any advice? Oh, and a question about bugs...I have 3 cats, my brother has a dog, should we worry about fleas or other bugs that bite?? Right now, here up North it's too cold for them but I'm wondering if I need to be prepared for them when we come down. Thanks for any help and advice. I'm sure I'll be posting again soon with more questions... :)


Visiting the Keys

Is this your first time going to the Keys? What fun! I can suggest several placed you may want to visit.

First, you have to welcome yourself to the Keys by stopping at Alabama Jack's.
The food is great, particularly the conch fritters and fried oysters. The service is always friendly. The view is very nice, and there is usually live music on weekends. I *never* miss stopping here.

The No Name Pub
To be honest, I've never seen children here (although there's nothing about it that's not kid-friendly), so you might want to check ahead. Again, great food (especially the fish dip and pizza), fun atmosphere, and the bonus of seeing key deer and iguanas on the trip there.

The LorELei
You MUST visit this place! More great food (best key lime pie in the Keys), gorgeous sunsets, and great live music (especially when Steve Webb is playing). And if you want to ditch the RV for a bit, the Key Lantern Inn next door is inexpensive, welcoming, and very nice.

Robbie's Hungry Tarpon
The best breakfast in the Keys. Fun and funky; and don't forget to go out back, spend $5 for a bucket of fish, and feed the tarpon!

More fantastic food, nice live music on the dock, and a beautiful view.

More good food, nice airy space, and miniature golf! Great people, and plenty of easy parking for an RV.

All of these places are kid-friendly (at least, I've seen kids everywhere except the NoName), parking is pretty easy, and prices are good (at least for the Keys).

These are all favorites of mine, places I stop every year on my trip to Key West. But remember you're on an adventure, and stopping to explore is part of the fun!

Re bugs, I've never had a bug problem in the Keys. I don't know if fleas are a problem, but the only bug bites I've ever had were flea bites after a tour of the Hemingway House in Key West (where they have at least 40 cats in residence) so I would say that if your flea-guard meds are up to date, you're probably fine.

Have a great time!!!!

www.halfaft.com / www.halfaftstudio.com

Re: Visiting the Keys

Wow, thank you so much! We will definitely check out some of these places when we're there. We'll be staying at the Sugarloaf Key KOA for 2 weeks and will be renting a car (any advice about a good car rental place?) to travel around the area and explore. All of the places you mentioned seem really neat to check out. My son, the 13 yr old, will love feeding the tarpon, and checking out the key deer and other fauna. We're all nature/animal buffs and love anything like that. Thanks again for the restaurants, too, nothing worse than being excited about going out somewhere and then having the food ruin it. I've already shown the family this Community and, after reading all of the helpful advice, they're even more excited than before about our trip, if that's possible.

Re: Visiting the Keys

I don't know about car rental, I'm afraid, as I drive down, but an online search should help you. Robbie's is a fun place, and your son will definately enjoy it!

When you go to the No Name, go past it first (you may do that anyway, since it can be hard to spot! ;-) ) and over the small bridge; that's where I've been luckiest at finding Key deer. You can find out more here
Please respect the speed limits on Big Pine, and *don't* feed the little guys, either. But you *can* feed the fish at Alabama Jack's!


... to mention that you should try to catch Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24 at Boondocks! You'll want to take the CDs home with you!


Re: Forgot!

I just searched for him and found them on MySpace, looks like they'll be playing at our campground the second day we'll be there. We'll definitely check them out, thanks!
it depends on your idea of live music....i really like the Green Parrot and Finnegan's Wake in Key West proper. Green Parrot probably has the best jukebox in Key West, if not the keys, but they also have alot of bluesy bands playing and a heap load of local atmosphere. Finnegan's Wake is an irish restaurant with a killer potato soup. my all time favorite places in Key West while growing up are Sandy's Cafe, Sweets of Paradise, and El Siboney. You need to get a cafe con leche and pan con queso to start out the day from Sandy's Cafe. El Siboney has some killer cuban food. i'm partial to Sweets of Paradise because i worked there, but they have some awesome fudge and homemade ice cream. Also, Chico's Cantina on Stock Rock for mexican food and 5 Brothers for bollos. Take your dog to Dog Beach by Louie's Backyard. it's hard to suggest things to do. a lot depends on if you have a boat with you or plan to go out on the water. there's a very limited amount of cheap things to do. visit the Key West aquarium (if it's repaired), conch tour train, wrecker's museum, Hemmingway's house....

i second No Name Pub though. good good pizza.

also if you like shooting pool go to Stick n Stein's. they have bowling and video games in side as well. Mr. Z's is also located inside it and they have good eats.

Big John's pizza is one of the best on the island.

Key West

I didn't mention Key West because I got the impression they were stopping at MM20 and not going all the way down.

You're definately right about El Cibone for great Cuban food (and really nice folks). Other favorites of mine in Key West are Pepe's, the Raw Bar, and the old conch farm (Conch Republic Seafood Company). Used to love Billie's but alas, both the restaurant and the bar are gone now. %-( And I know a lot of people will say it's touristy, but I think Margaritaville has great food at reasonable prices, and they always give you more than you can possibly finish.

I've never eaten at Louie's (out of my price range) but I'm waiting for the KW Ron Jon's to put out a "Surf Dog Beach" t-shirt. ;-)

If you *are* going to KW, one more touristy but extremely worthwhile thing to do is take the Conch Train. You'll learn more about the island's history in two hours than you'll ever learn just wandering around. %-)

And yes, the Green Parrot is a great place to hang (although be respectful of the locals). A friend of mine is in a band called the Yard Dogs; if they're playing there, don't miss them! And Schooner Wharf also has good local live music. If you're lucky, you can catch Hugo Duarte at the Hog's Breath (the HB music schedule can be seen here ~ http://www.hogsbreath.com/entertainment/index.cfm). I think that only Schooner Wharf is kid friendly, though ... check ahead.

Have a ball!

Re: Key West

sorry i was born and raised in Key West, i can't really offer too much insight about the other keys....especially past big pine.

i've never gone to Louie's Backyard, i offered it as a reference point to find Dog Beach. like the shirt idea.

my brother works at Margaritaville....show me a local who loves Jimmy Buffet and i'll show you someone who isn't a native. haha sorry!

Re: Key West

Um ... what? I didn't mention Jimmy Buffett. I just noted Margaritaville as a favorite restaurant, and for good reason. Just sharing favorite places with the original poster who requested them. Your mileage obviously varies.

Re: Key West

Yep, we'll be checking out as much of the area as possible including KW. I know what you mean about tourists, we have a ton in my area (surprisingly enough) who come to see the Amish and go to have their pictures taken at the different towns here (Intercourse, Blue Ball, Virginville, Bird-in-Hand and Paradise, etc...makes me wonder about the founding fathers,lol) I know how rude some people can be without realizing it, and sometimes purposely, not caring. We're pretty laid back, and can't wait to get there and enjoy. I know we'll probably be major tourists, ogling everything, but having help with places to visit helps a ton. Thanks again.
We enjoy any kind of music (although I'm not a huge country fan, myself...). My hubby and brother are both in a hard rock/blues band here in PA. Of course they'd love to see that kind of music being played but we enjoy anything, really. It's more about getting out and really enjoying the vacation for us. Finnegan's sounds great, I could probably live off of potato soup, I love it so much, so that sold me on the place right away. I'll try the foods recommended at the other places,too, I'm up for anything new, and Cuban food is different as can be from this PA dutch country food we usually eat, I can't wait. We're definitely staying for 2 weeks, hopefully longer if possible, so I hope to visit most, if not all of the places you folks suggest. We heard about the conch train and aquarium (although I didn't know it was closed) and planned on those. Thanks for the dog park info! My SIL actually said she enjoys taking their dog to the dog park more than anything else so she'll be more than happy knowing there's one nearby. Thanks again for the advice!
Traveling with pets, definitely make sure they have something to ward off the fleas and ticks, winter is still warm enough for them there so yeah, just as a precaution. As for the mosquitos, you're fine with them if you're there in Feb.

You absolutely have to visit El Siboney when you make it to Key West. Absolute requitement, best cuban ever, I dream about their food.. (or maybe I miss home..)

Also, on your way down since you seem to be an animal lover, make a quick stop at Grassy Key and head over to the Dolphin Research Center, just watch out for the peacocks.

Also be sure that if you get down to Key West, check out the Butterfly Conservatory down by the south end of Duval St. and make sure you bring a camera, I've gotten some lovely photo's in there before my battery ran out

Aside from what my friend pzykomunky said, I have a fondness for the acts over at Sloppy Joe's on friday's and saturday's
Yes, El Siboney is definitely on the list...too many rave reviews to skip it. Thanks for the bug info, too, I had a feeling they'd need their meds. I'm so happy to hear the 'skeeters' won't really be out, they eat me alive. The dolphin research center and butterfly conservatory sound Wonderful! Right up our alley, we were hoping to find some things like that to do while we're there, and unless you find out from a local you usually end up missing awesome stops like those. Your photo's are beautiful, I can't wait to take some of my own, I'm definitely a camera nut and just got a new one for Christmas... would be a great way to really break it in. Thanks for all of your help.
check out Bahia Honda too!
I've heard of it, someone said to try to camp there and at John Pennekamp in Key Largo. We tried to find campsites but they're booked solid, they said to reserve your site 11 months in advance, wow. We'll still take day trips there, a family picnic would be cool there even if we can't stay the night.