We called in at a Tourist Information in Key West, and from the minute we started talking to the staff, it was obvious that they were there to promote certain hotels and things to do, as there was money in this for them.
And as soon as it was evident that all we wanted was information on areas and Key Lime Pie, and not interested in the snorkeling that was being rammed down our throats, the staff member lost interest.
But then, burst back into life when she realized she had a Key Lime Pie shop on her list, and gave us directions and told us to tell them that she had sent us.
That said, some of the negative things I have mentioned in my tips regarding the Keys, did not stop us from loving it here, and having a great time.
Would we go back, yes.
That's right, I didn't like this. Before we left the UK we planned on booking a cruise out of Miami for a few days, but, the prices we found were lower if you lived in the USA. How can that be, this isnt a Third World country, this is America, America!
So, we didn't book the cruise because of that. And it got worse. Whe we arrived, we saw adverts for great food and things to do, and then small text or small print stating that the prices give where not for people visiting the country.
If I had a shop in the UK, there is no way I can imagine charging a different price for Americans, no way, it's just wrong.
There was a Papa John's Pizza in the Keys, and an advert on TV for what looked like a great deal, but then it stated that this offer was only for residents. Well, as we drove past Papa John's most days while we were there, we would put our hands out the window, with a little naughty hand sign. We smiled every time we did it.
Gas prices are expensive enough. We payed $6 x 15 gallons because we had to make a flight and didn't find a gas station close to the airport.
Unique Suggestions: Put it on your credit card and forget about it until your bill comes.
Fun Alternatives: Use the map that rental car company gives you and allow enough time to take the detour before you return the car. There was construction on the only bridge in and out of the Keys. This held us up enough that we were just making our flight. Penalty $90.
Here is a map of the area around the airport. I wish I had read this page before I went on that trip :-)
Apparently some people miss the forrest through the trees, or in this case, the islands through the Keys. If you went to the Keys and all you saw were bridges and t-shirt shops, I am so very sorry that you had your eyes closed. You missed the beautiful expanses of sparkling water with graceful sailboats, calm manatees, frollicking dolphins, and sleepy sea turtles that lie under each and every one of the bridges. You missed the art and antique and just plain unique and strange shops that are nestled in between each and every t-shirt shop. If you think you paid too much for mediocre food, you must have missed asking a local where the best conch fritters are or where you can get the absolute best and most authentic Key Lime Pie (which is not green at all). I am so sorry that you came to the Keys looking for an amusement park or a tour guide to lead you to the "entertainment." Next time you should probably stick to DisneyWorld, and leave the Keys to those who have an imagination, a snorkel, and sense of adventure.
Unique Suggestions: A few interesting places in the Keys...
Theater of the Sea, Swim with the Dolphins, John Pennekamp Park and Reef, The Dry Tortugas, Bahia Honda State Park, Truman's Litte White House, Robert Frost Cottage, Hemmingway House, etc... If you run out of things to do or see, you aren't looking hard enough.
Fun Alternatives: If you are looking for sandy beaches, I suggest you go to the west coast of Florida instead of the Keys. The Keys are for the underwater sort, not for beach combers.
I have heard so many people talking about their first trip to the Keys, and it always sounds the same. They were surprised to find that it's nothing but bridges... broken up by little splotches of land which are covered with t-shirt shops, bars, and crummy little restaurants. So they continue to "go all the way" and just pass 150 miles with more of the same. BIG disappointment! And what do you do to compensate for wasting a whole day driving? Buy some tourist crap, get drunk, eat some lousy food that costs four times what it would anywhere else. Meanwhile, you see all kinds of "greetings" in the form of bumper stickers, letting you know you are NOT welcome there, such as "I'm a Florida NATIVE" or "If it's Tourist Season, why can't we shoot them?" or "Leaving Florida? Take a friend!" My advice: DON'T BOTHER COMING DOWN! Stay at Disney World and you won't be missing anything. The Keys just don't live up to all the hype.
This places charges a lot of money ($10.00 for an adult) for a tour of a former quarters on the Key West Naval Air Station that Truman used for vacation a couple of times. The building itself is furnished in the decor of the 1940s (not one of my favs) and they practically sanctify Truman.
Unique Suggestions: You can walk around the grounds see the video tape about Truman and visit the gift shop for free.
OK, so you are at the southern most point of the US, only 90 miles away from Cuba. What is the big deal??? There is nothing to see at this stop just a stupid red oversized buoy that tells you that are as far south as you can go in the US.
Fun Alternatives: Go to bar and have a drink
Hard Rock Cafe has a restaurant in Key West on Duval Street.
Unique Suggestions: Eat oustside on the deck. This is the most relaxing Hard Rock I have been to with outstide seating amongst the trees and over looking Duval Street.