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The Best of Key West

Ahhh Key West…for quite a while we have anticipated traveling to this destination. The Southernmost point in the USA, it is closer to Cuba than to its nearest Walmart. This land of sunshine, key lime pie and chickens was on our bucket list. So, after we finished up our workamping commitment at Avon Park AFR, Florida we said our good-byes then headed toward Key West and the Sigsbee Naval Air Station FamCamp.

Sigsbee FamCamp is a little over 300 miles southwest from Avon Park. It is a popular place for military snowbirds to camp in the winter. We had made reservations months in advance and we could still only get a dry camping spot (no electric, water or sewer hook-ups.) Sigsbee has a great bathhouse/laundry facility, dump stations and potable water availability. They also allow generator usage during the daytime.

When planning our trip to Key West, we watched many You-Tube videos to see what to do when we got there… besides eat Key Lime Pie.

And eat Key Lime Pie we did! But we also arrived with quite a list of other things we wanted to see and do. We checked out the cruise ship calendar on the City of Key West Web Site wanting to plan our adventures for days when cruise ships would not be docked at Key West. Little did we know there would be no Cruise ships due to the Corona Virus. A few of the items on our list were:

  • Blue Heaven- known for their key lime pie (& chickens)
  • Cuban Coffee Queen
  • Ernest Hemingway House
  • Mallory Square- sunset celebration
  • Kino’s Sandal factory/store
  • Any good cigar store
  • El Meson de Pepe (popular restaurant near Mallory square)
  • Duval Street
  • Eat Conch Fritters
  • Truman Annex
  • Little White House
  • Ft Zachary Taylor Park (beach)
  • The Buoy at the Southernmost Point in the United States
  • Mile marker zero

We arrived in Key West on a Monday afternoon and decided to go to Duval Street after we had set up our campsite. Duval was NOT a good place to social distance at that point. Spring Break looked like it was in full swing. Many people had gathered at Mallory Square for the Sunset Celebration and to see the street performers there. It’s a good thing we went that day because they closed Mallory Square the following day. Trying to discourage large gatherings, the city of Key West began to limit business’ hours.

Restaurants could only serve take out or delivery orders. They had not yet closed down all shops in the city but most of the tourist attractions had been closed. The next morning we decided it would be safe to go to Cuban Coffee Queen since it was take-out only. After enjoying some cuban coffee and breakfast we went in search of “mile zero,” where US Route 1 begins.

At mile zero there were city workers nearby who offered to take our picture. We then located the famous “Southernmost Point Buoy” but it had been gated off and covered by a tarp. We took a selfie in front of it anyway and then photo-shopped in a picture of the buoy.

Continuing our search for some of the items on our Key West to-do list, it was an unexpected surprise to find the Hemingway House open for tours! While enjoying a very informative guided tour of Ernest Hemingway’s house we met a few of the 59 cats who live there. We also learned a lot about the life of Ernest Hemingway. The Key West Lighthouse was located right across the street but it was not open to tourists.

Kinos sandals was open and we were the only people shopping there- so social distancing was not a problem. Kinos makes their sandals right there in the store and these handmade Key West Sandals are only $19.

Our lunch was Conch Fritters to go (another item checked off our list.) They came with a dipping sauce and some kind of cole slaw- they were delicious.

While social distancing, we got some pictures with these statues. Some of the touristy gift shops were open and most of them had hand sanitizer out by the register – there were very few customers if any.

There were chickens and roosters and chicks EVERYWHERE. Literally there were more chickens than people on the streets.

Blue Heaven is where we found a slice of Key Lime Pie to go. The Truman Annex is a very nice community with beautiful homes, landscaping and parks to enjoy. The Coast Guard has a ship/museum near there but it was closed to tourists. The little White House was also nearby and also closed.

Once we saw what could be seen in Key West, we spent most of our time on the Naval Air Station. Our first visit to the Sigsbee Commissary was interesting as there were lines stretched all around the store. We just wanted to purchase a few items but waited in line 2 hours to go through the express lane. We had a front row seat to some amazing Key West Sunsets right outside our RV. Sigsbee’s laundry room was a nice quiet place to social distance.

We ended up cutting our trip short as Sigsbee began to ask people to leave. First the FamCamp notified us that we would be able to stay till our planned departure date but no extensions were allowed. The very next day they called to say we would have to leave early as they were asking everyone who was NOT active duty or mission essential to leave. So we left 3 days earlier than planned but the FamCamp refunded our fees for those days. We quickly headed toward North Carolina and our next workamping job back at Moonshine Creek Campground. Moonshine owners, Jim and Dana, assured us it was fine to arrive early. We were ready to move on as we felt we had seen the best of Key West for the time being. We hope to return at another time and explore more when there are not so many restrictions and closures and NO more COVID-19.

We will stay put till mid-July at least. It’s good to be in a location where we can stay long-term. Many full-time RVers are scrambling to find long-term camp sites since a lot of state and private campgrounds have completely shut down. Moonshine Creek is only accepting reservations for self-contained campers and only for 1 month stays or longer now. April will be pretty slow around here. Stay safe and thanks for reading and following our Ballards’ RV Life.