The Eden House boutique hotel in Key West definitely lives up to its name.
I recently hosted this year's fourth annual SxSe, a South Florida social media retreat and tweetup, in the Florida Keys. The location turned out to be perfect for the event and if you weren't able to attend, that doesn't mean you shouldn't pack your bags and enjoy some of my favorite Florida Keys spots on your own.
So here goes, just some of many reasons I love the Florida Keys.
Alabama Jack's knows what grows well in gardening zone 10. This backcountry restaurant is close by, right at the border of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties on Card Sound Road, but it's a world apart from the 305 mindset.
Something amazing happens at the Seven Mile Bridge. Miami becomes a distant memory. It's like stress gets scrubbed off your soul by a giant spiritual loofah.
Reading, Key West style, at the Eden House.
I dare you to not fall into blissful sleep in this cozy, tropical nook at the Eden House.
Conch Carpaccio, served with capers, bell peppers, Parmesan cheese and a heavenly lime vinaigrette at Café Solé, is worth the 180-mile drive. The menu boasts: "So tender and delicate it will make you cry." It will do more: raw conch is said to be an aphrodisiac.
No snivelling is allowed at the legendary Green Parrot Bar. Actually, that should be a rule at every bar in Miami, too. I like this bar so much, I brought a tank top like the one the bartender is wearing to add to my "Favorite Florida Bars" wardrobe collection. Oh and Green Parrot also has a cool blog.
No visit to Key West is complete without a dark and stormy from Bahama Bob Leonard at the Rum Bar inside the Speakeasy Inn. That's Gosling's black rum and Barritt's Ginger Beer, two great exports from Bermuda.
The Pirate Museum may have moved to St. Augustine, but even the bathroom tile is swashbuckling at The Rum Barrel on Front Street. Catch live music, grub and grog upstairs on the rooftop terrace.
Key West's best late night snack is a big fat Cheesesteak sandwich from Mr. Z's, made to order by this fine gentleman. Seven bucks gets you 12 inches of meaty goodness and yes, I mean the sandwich.
One of my favorite strolls in Key West begins at Mac's Sea Garden in the Historic Seaport. Actually, there are several bars and restaurants here, so it's more like a long, leisurely walk on a short plank.
Just in case you can't function without your shot of diesel, stop by the Cuban Coffee Queen next to Mac's Sea Garden.
Nobody gives you shit about cocktails to go and nobody acts like a dick head. That kind of thing would never fly in South Beach.
Fried Key Lime Pie at Porky's Bayside BBQ in Marathon. It's as scrumptious as it looks.
I almost don't want to share Rum Runners Holiday Isle with you. I want it all to myself and my friends. Nothing beats a cold one sipped in the crow's nests at this dreamy beach side bar.
If you do go, make sure you let the world know you were there.
Got more Florida Keys favorites? Share in my thread at the Miami Beach 411 travel forums.