There is much to do in the Florida Keys, not the least to look for (and maybe find) the best Key Lime pie in the world.
About 160 miles or a three-plus hour drive to Key West from Miami, on my visit the first night I stayed at a place called the Key Lime Inn, where else?
Even better, when driving to the Keys, consider the perfect set of wheels and that would be the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, of course.
Indeed, while most folks only look at the exterior of the Corvette, the suits over in Corvette world decided a full redesign might get folks talking about all things Corvette again and so it did. The result is not only the powerful V8 engine that Corvette fans have come to expect, but an upgraded interior and more room in the cargo area. It's also worth mentioning that in addition to the complete redesign for 2014, there is the official name, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. As for the competition in the world of Corvette lovers, there is the BMW M4, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, Nissan GT-R, SRT Viper and the Porsche Boxster. You can choose the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in either the coupe or convertible option. From there you get two trims either the base or the Z51.
Take that further and you have even more choices in sub-trims choosing from the 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. The interior upgrades for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray standout, but more specifically it's really the new design that gets kudos. The center stack is race car ready and an eight-inch touch screen rocks with MyLink smartphone integration and a cool gauge cluster that again says cool, unruffled composure. The quality of the material inside this year's version of the Corvette is softer with the leather taking center stage and therefore upgrading the look and feel all over. For the convertible option the top is not only power-operated, but it's up and down in a mere 20 seconds and even then the trunk still offers 10 cubic-feet with the top down. Refined for 2014 and still a touring car since there is room enough for luggage, the seats are comfortable and the feeling on the open road can only make you feel like you not only own the road, but the entire world and really, who can argue with that.
With an impressive zero to 60 on the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, it came in at about four seconds on the Z51 and the estimated fuel economy sits at about 21 miles per gallon combined with 17 in the city and 29 on the highway or with the automatic transmission 16 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway.
The cost, on the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible I drove the price tag was $73,525.
Key West has the Southermost point in the United States and is just 90 miles from Cuba too.
Each meal while I was visiting was about finding the best Key Lime pie, but what I found, it seems that each flavor was different and delicious. Some like it tangy and some like it sweeter, but either way, you will like the key lime pie in the Florida Keys.
One place that is a "must not miss" is Kermit's Key Lime Shoppe, indeed, everyone has their own version of Key Lime Pie, but the man in the lime green outfit at Kermit's is memorable.
I also took a Key Lime Pie "Class" too and learned how to make one of the famous pies, but if pie is not for you Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe is the home of everything Key lime from bottles of the island's signature Key lime juice to Key lime sauces, soap, candles, dressings, shampoo, jellies and more. The biggest attractions, though, are slices of traditional Key lime pie and indescribably good chocolate-covered frozen Key lime pie on a stick.
Another mention, the ghosts of Key West, lots of ghosts it is said. Hemingways's House, haunted, but also there really are tons of six-toed cats too.
Another not miss on Key West is the Key West Butterfly Nature Conservatory with hundreds of butterflies, about 50 species. This is one of the only three major butterfly facilities in Florida, the conservatory features a 5,000-square-foot glass-domed tropical butterfly habitat and visitors can observe hundreds of butterflies in the habitat, as well as learn about butterflies' role in the natural world and "meet" the property's new resident flamingoes.
Finally, the real African Queen Steamboat is located in the Keys and you can take a ride on it, I did. From the 1951 movie with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, the boat is smaller than I expected, but I took it out on the water and pulled up to dinner (with the captain of course) at the Pilot House Marina and Restaurant to the stares of all the diners. The captain also blows the steam whistle for you while telling some fun stories of how he ended up with the boat.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention Key Largo Chocolates. The brainchild of Kristie Thomas, the only chocolatier in the Florida Keys, the place features truffles handmade from natural ingredients including the best chocolate from around the globe. Kristie is also known for specialty chocolate bark with Key lime and pistachios, and "chocodiles," which are whimsical nine-inch-long crocodiles made of white or dark chocolate.
Best Place to Stay while visiting:
Sunset Key Cottages
The cottages are located on Sunset Key, a secluded 27-acre island in Key West Harbor with from one to four bedroom cottages available and each are designed in the traditional Key West architectural style. Visit the spa while there do, it's a must.
Best Places to Eat:
Hogfish Bar & Grill
Hogfish Bar & Grill offers fresh local seafood including the Keys delicacy hogfish, a diver-caught fish with a light flavorful taste. The restaurant is famed for its "killer" hogfish sandwich, smoked fish dip and many other fresh delicacies.
Latitudes at Sunset Key Cottages
With Executive Chef Todd Holender at the helm you can takes advantage of not only one of the best tropical surroundings in the country, but also the ever-changing menu with local ingredients from fish to tropical fruits.
This is home to the best breakfast in Key West. It's a shuttered blue building with a 100-year history and is a local favorite for islanders located on Petronia Street in the historic Bahama Village neighborhood. Through the years the property has hosted cock fighting, gambling and
Even Friday-night boxing that was refereed by Ernest Hemingway, need I say more.
This is also where I met author, David Sloan who has written books like "The Key West Bucket List," "The Ultimate Key Lime Pie Cookbook," and a variety of haunted books. He is also the co-founder of the Key Lime Festival and co-creator of the world's largest Key lime pie.
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
This place is accessible only by boat or seaplane and sits off the Lower Keys coastline. The restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Luis Pous and his culinary team and is a standout by international standard.
Home to great service and great food, expect freshly caught fish with Chef Michael's offering a menu featuring creatively inspired Florida Keys cuisine.