Overlooking Mallory Square the aroma of ocean salt mingled with the sweet finish from a Cuban cigar as a crowd began to congregate near the water’s edge. Sunburnt tourists frozen drink in hand, flame twirling street performers and Hemingway look a likes all squeezed between the patchwork of vibrant colored tents to witness another spectacular sunset over Key West.
At the southernmost tip of the Continental U.S. is the last stop along Florida’s 100 mile string of archipelago Keys. At its northwestern shore at the end of world famous Duval Street is the swanky Ocean Key Resort along with its adjoining world famous Sunset Pier that attracts hundreds of revelers each evening to dine, drink and watch the sun melt into the Gulf of Mexico.
As a writer the overwhelming inspiration from strolling the Conch flagged bars along Duval Street where literary giants like Papa Hemingway and Robert Frost once frequented is hard to ignore. Only a block away you can even immerse yourself within Hemingway’s former home, where framed family photos, original literary works still intact, and a dozen or so six toed cats offer a residual vibe of creativity that practically flows through each room. Attractions like the original Conch Train, Southernmost Point and the Butterfly Museum remain mostly unchanged in the decades since I last visited retaining an old world charm that continues to attract millions of tourists each year.
After a day of touring the City, the Ocean Key Resort’s private pool alongside the bright blue waters of the Gulf offers a relaxing escape to a luxurious experience complete with private cabanas, bar attendant and tropical views just steps from Mallory Square. Dinner at the Resort’s Hot Tin Roof Restaurant combines a delectable culinary selection from both the ocean and land while overlooking the colorful bustle of activity along the sunset pier. Fresh grilled lobster tail with lemon butter followed with an authentic Key lime pie for dessert caps an ending on a day most would swear was scripted had they’d not experienced it for themselves.
By evening the pier is alive again with music, laughter and the general ambience of happiness. A cover band belts out its set list over the next several hours with songs culminating from a myriad of cultures ranging from Paquito D’ Rivera to Jimmy Buffet as the sound of celebration emanates across the water. Rum Runners, Key Lime Martinis and craft beers along with many of the same delicious entrees offered at the resort are served to the hundreds of patrons gathered within its 70 or more tables. Within earshot are sunset cruises making their way along the shore, meandering between the moored sailboats and wave runners soaking in the last bit of sun before dusk. With hurricane season behind us and the Florida economy roaring back to pre-pandemic levels, there is no better place to experience the freedom of living in the U.S. than today in the Florida Keys.
For more, visit : oceankey.com