I haven’t done a Throwback Thursday post in a while (and I’ve only done one of these before) so I figured it was high time to do one again! My first #tbt blog post was about our honeymoon, and my next one is going to be about another vacation, this time to the Florida Keys. I won’t recount the entire trip here, but I’ll share some of the highlights!

We left on February 1—so just under a year ago—and flew down to Fort Lauderdale, where we and rented a car and then drove to Miami for a one night stay. We stayed at the Avalon Hotel, an iconic art deco hotel on South Beach’s main drag, Ocean Drive. The Avalon is the hotel with the vintage car permanently parked right out front:


Miami was fun…for a night. South Beach was gorgeous, and we had a lot of fun just walking around the area and gawking at the incredible art deco architecture and colors. Miami was also super busy and quite loud—not exactly the relaxing vacation we were looking for. Fortunately we took off in a rental car the next morning to drive down to the Keys for the rest of our trip.

Along the drive down to Islamorada for the second leg of our trip, we took a mini detour to Homestead, Florida to check out R.F. Orchids, which you can read about over on my orchid blog.

Surrounded by Vanda orchids
Surrounded by Vanda orchids

After the orchid nursery and driving farther south, we stopped at Sundowners in Key Largo for a snack: key lime pie!

This was not my last slice on this trip.

When we arrived at our hotel in Islamorada, Ocean House, we were greeted by one of the property owners and given a tour of the grounds. The place is beautiful, and I highly recommend staying there if you find yourself visiting Islamorada (which is where the Netflix show Bloodline is set, BTW). Just gorgeous:


Islamorada was our favorite part of the vacation. I don’t know what it’s like during the rest of the year, but in early February it was very quiet and super relaxing—exactly what we were looking for! The hotel, which only has eight suites, wasn’t full, and we hardly ever encountered other guests while we were there. In fact, we had the pool and private beach all to ourselves on more than one occasion. So lovely!

After several days and nights in Islamorada it was, sadly, time to say goodbye and drive farther south down US 1, all the way on down to Key West. Along the way we stopped in Marathon to take a tour of The Turtle Hospital, which I’ve written about a couple times recently. Here’s that turtle ambulance I mentioned:


We also drove to No Name Key to see if we could find any key deer, which I had read about online prior to our trip. Apparently, key deer are endangered and only live in the lower Keys. It didn’t take long before we found a small group of these little guys walking alongside the road. They’re very cute, and are a lot smaller than your average deer. I’d say they’re probably about the size of a large dog, like maybe a great dane. Here’s one of them:


We had booked our trip too late to find an affordable rate at a Key West hotel on or near Duval Street (which is the main drag). But we had managed to find a good rate at The Inn at Key West, about a 10 minute drive from Duval Street. It turned out to be kind of nice to be staying away from all the craziness; neither of us had ever been to Key West before and we discovered pretty quickly that it’s quite the party town.

It rained a lot our first full day in Key West, but we didn’t let that stop us from sightseeing. We hit up the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Key West Aquarium, and the Ernest Hemingway Home all on that one rainy day. The Hemingway Home was the only place that would have been better had it not been raining…because of the cats! The home is well known for its six-toed cats, and due to the rain most of them were hiding out. We did manage to see a few, though, including this friendly guy:


There’s even a replica of the Hemingway House for the cats to hide out in in the back yard!


We also did a ghost tour in which we rode around town in a trolley while a ghostly tour guide regaled us with stories about different haunted locations around town. They say Key West is one of the most haunted places in America. One of the most interesting things we learned on the tour is that most home owners in Key West paint their porch ceiling a color called haint blue. The reason for this? Haint blue is the color of the ocean, and spirits can’t cross water. Therefore, spirits cannot cross a porch to get into a home. Cool, huh? I long for the day that I have a porch so I can paint its ceiling haint blue.  🙂

Also on the ghost tour, we stopped off at Fort East Martello to visit Robert the Doll , a supposedly possessed toy. There are three rules: 1) introduce yourself to Robert, 2) ask Robert for permission before you take his picture, and 3) thank Robert for allowing you to take his photo. If you don’t follow the rules, they say bad things will happen to you. Robert the Doll has received many letters of apology from people who didn’t follow the rules and had terrible experiences later on. I followed the rules before and after taking this pic:


My husband and I were the last of our tour group to leave the room, and I’m not kidding when I say the lights flickered as we left. Did Robert do it? We’ll never know…

One thing we wanted to make it a point to do while in Key West was visit the Southernmost Point buoy, which marks the southernmost point in the U.S. Ninety miles to Cuba!


I fell in love with the gingerbread-y buildings in Key West. Just look at nine one five, the restaurant where we ate dinner our last night in town:


After all this reminiscing, I’m ready for a repeat visit! Until next time, Florida Keys…

View from the plane out of Key West
View from the plane out of Key West