key west

I had the good fortune to escape the cold Ohio weather last week when I took my youngest daughter to visit my parents who spend their winters in Key West (actually their home is on Sugarloaf Key).  The weather was perfect, and it was nice to have some one-on-one time with my daughter!

key west | polka dots and picket fences

This is not my first visit to Key West…I think I’ve been five times in the past four years.  I had a few favorite places that I wanted to visit, but we also explored a few new ones.

key west | polka dots and picket fences

One of my favorites is a Key West tradition, Sloppy Joe’s.  This infamous saloon opened in 1933, the day after Prohibition was repealed, and it later became the hangout of Ernest Hemingway and friends.  It went through two name changes and one location change before it became what it is today.

kew west | polka dots and picket fences      key west | polka dots and picket fences

Today it is a casual gathering place with drinks, food and live entertainment from the large stage facing Duval Street.  It has a very fun vibe, and I love the tangy taste of the sloppy joe sandwiches (although this is not how the establishment was given its name).  A definite must for me when I am visiting Key West!

key west | polka dots and picket fences

Another must-do on my itinerary is the Kino Sandal Factory.  Kino Sandals was started in 1966 by Cuban immigrants, Roberto and Margarita Lopez.  His childhood nickname was Kino.  He brought his shoemaking skills with him, and he began creating versatile leather sandals.

key west | polka dots and picket fences            key west | polka dots and picket fences

As you walk into the factory, the smell of leather permeates the air.  You never know what you will find…red, gold metallic, light pink, navy.  The styles are simple  yet durable, and the prices are quite reasonable.  I always bring back a few pairs!

key west | polka dots and picket fences      key west | polka dots and picket fences

Just down the street from the sandal factory is Key West Aloe.  I love their products, and they make great souvenirs for friends!

key west | polka dots and picket fences             key west | polka dots and picket fences

They always have samples and testers available, so you can try before you buy.  Perfect for soothing that sun-kissed skin!

key west | polka dots and picket fences             key west | polka dots and picket fences

Speaking of sun, no visit to Key West is complete without a visit to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration!

key west | polka dots and picket fences          key west | polka dots and picket fences

Every evening visitors and locals gather at Mallory Square to watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.  A beautiful sight and a lively party atmosphere filled with street performers, musicians, food vendors, local craftsmen, jugglers!  There is SO much to see!

key west | polka dots and picket fences       key west | polka dots and picket fences

Claire loved all the fun jewelry and found a fun bracelet to purchase.

key west | polka dots and picket fences

Well, that is just the beginning of my trip to Key West!  Stop by Polka Dots and Picket Fences tomorrow as I share the rest of my fun experiences in the Conch Republic…

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