It’s getting easier and more fun to live a healthy lifestyle in Key West. Gone are the ‘old days’ when locals had to drive to Homestead to find organic produce stands, and Miami to enjoy restaurants catering to health conscious consumers. As consumers have become more mindful of what they eat, they are looking for healthier products, and island businesses are responding.
Key West now has a weekly Farmers Market with a wonderful selection of organic produce transported from Homestead, Florida on the mainland. Market merchants are also offering, local Florida Keys honey, homemade food and baked goods, and fresh flowers. Held every Thursday morning at Bayview Park, on Truman Ave., the Farmers Market is staged on the park lawn dotted with beautiful native trees.
More fresh produce is sold once a month at a theme-based open-air bazaar, the Key West Artisan Market. Held on the grounds of The Restaurant Store, this is a fun event filled with vendors selected for their uniqueness to Key West. Taste fresh local seafood, and discover talented local musicians, craftspeople, artists and authors of Key West.
If you’re looking for a delicious vegetarian restaurant, there are two favorites on the island. The Café, on Southard St. has a delicious menu of beautiful food. With salads like the ‘Grilled Portobello Mushroom,’ and a fabulous array of ‘Stir Fry’ dishes, you go can’t go wrong. Another great eatery plus market, is Help Yourself, on Fleming St. Treat yourself to something from their huge line-up of organic made-to-order salads, wraps, smoothies and juices. While you’re waiting for your order, shop their shelves and refrigerator cases packed full of drinks, snacks, seeds, teas and coffees. They also have a once a week Farmers Market. Contact them directly to find out what day they bring in the fresh produce for the market.
Key West also has a wonderful little health food store called The Sugar Apple. Established over 30 years ago, these merchants are no strangers to helping folks get better and stay healthy in paradise. Offering an expansive selection of products including supplements, alternative milk products, dried organic goods, and a well-stocked refrigerator / freezer case of popular food items such as tofu, and Amy’s Organics, almost everything you need is there. There is also a small salad, sandwich, and juice bar serving up organic lunch to go six days a week. Let the feast begin!
Hard to believe 2014 is nearly gone, and it’s time to ring in the New Year! If you’re lucky enough to be celebrating in our Southernmost City, the weather promises to be excellent. There are several popular venues around the island offering unique ways to celebrate the New Year “Key West Style.” Here are a few favorites and some information on how to catch these great happenings on the last night of 2014. The most popular events draw large crowds, so plan to arrive early to find your spot.
- The Conch Drop at Sloppy Joe’s Bar – The show takes place on top of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where a giant conch shell is lowered from the flat roof. An internationally famous Key West tradition for over 20 years, the best viewing spot is on the street at the intersection of Duval & Greene Streets. More Info Here.
- ‘Diva Sushi’ Red Shoe Drop on the 700 Block of Duval St. – For 16 years, Diva “Sushi” (aka Gary Marion) has taken center stage on New Year’s Eve when she’s lowered in a giant red hi-heeled shoe from a 2nd story balcony. This is another internationally known event that takes place on Duval Street at the end of the 700 block. More Info Here.
- Pirate Wench Drop at the Schooner Wharf Bar – This one-of-a-kind world famous bar is fondly called “a last little piece of paradise,” and rings in the New Year with a pirate flare. A few minutes before midnight, local favorite Evalena Worthington, co-owner of the Schooner Wharf Bar, will once again dramatically descend the 75 ft. mast of the Schooner Adirondack III, against the back-drop of lighted countdown numbers. Overlooking the Key West Seaport, this is a delightfully mesmerizing nautical themed alternative to the Duval Street bustle on the night of New Year’s Eve. More Info Here.
If none of these spectacles are your style this year, many popular Key West restaurants and smaller clubs have tables available for reservation for a more low-key setting to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions that are on or close to Duval Street:
Nine One Five:
915 Duval. (305) 296-0669 –www.915duval.com
Created by owner Stuart Kemp, this fine European style tapas restaurant is a several-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for culinary excellence in New York. Located in a gorgeously renovated Victorian house with minimalist elegant interior, this is a great place to ‘see-and-be-seen’ on the town. The creative chef offers an eclectic variety of tapas, and full fare of gourmet food and fine wine selection to choose from. Everything is delicious. Dining inside or outside on the porches the overlook Upper Duval St. Great retro-design club room upstairs overlooking Duval St., ‘Point 5′, can be rented for private events. Excellent service. Friendly attentive staff.
Louie’s Backyard and the Afterdeck Bar:
700 Waddell St. (305) 294-1061 – www.louiesbackyard.com
Two of the best places on the island at the same location. Louie’s Backyard restaurant is housed in a perfectly renovated Greek Revival Victorian Key West home that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Executive Chef Doug Shook offers award winning fine international and Caribbean Cuisine with a specialty in locally caught fish. The Afterdeck is on the expansive ocean deck in the back yard with a rare view and intimate feel of the ocean. Sunset, moonrise, and star gazing experiences are unsurpassed.
524 Duval Street. (305) 296-1075 – www.latrattoria.us
Fine Italian dining. Wonderful food and excellent atmosphere feels a little like being in Italy. A perfect place for a special night out to celebrate. Everything is delicious. Great wine selection. Street side dining room and bar with great view of Duval St. It adjoins Virgilio’s bar in the back on Appelrouth Lane, a local’s favorite music venue and outstanding chocolate martinis.
4 Charles Street. (Small lane off Duval St.) (305)517-6350 – www.smokintunasaloon.com
If you like the Key West tradition of ‘dropping things from up high’ on New Year’s Eve, one of Key West’s newest bars & restaurants does something very unique when … ta da … ‘The Tuna Drops at Midnight,’ and everyone toasts with champagne. There’s a $10. cover charge for this fun event that includes your first drink. Smokin’ Tuna gets rave reviews from locals and visitors alike for great live music, fantastic fresh seafood & raw bar.
917 Duval St. (305) 295-0111 – http://www.martinskeywest.com/
For the morning after, we love Martin’s for a decadent gourmet Sunday brunch. The variety of choices on the menu for gourmet eggs benedict is impressive. They’re also well known for their Bellini cocktails, and they offer delicious German specialty dishes and fabulous French toast. Martin’s has a very chic island-cosmopolitan flare with both inside and outside with a view of Duval St. plus intimate garden dining in the back. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Now you have some of our favorite things to do in Key West to ring in the New Year. Happy New Year from all the staff at Vacation Homes of Key West (VHKW). Have fun, and please play safe! See you in 2015.
What nicer way to warm the hearts of your loved ones for the holidays, than to give them a Key West winter vacation in the sunshine. The winter and early spring months in sub-tropical Key West remind many of the best summer days in the northern climates. Pull out that bathing suit, shorts, linen shirt and flip flops, and wrap them up with a reservation for a Key West vacation rental. Vacation Homes of Key West is here to help you find the perfect place to stay … see you in the sunshine!