I wish I could say I was carefree enough to live on a tropical island, but there is just too much practicality in me. At least I try to always live in a relaxed manner and spend as much time as I can getting away and enjoying life. Needless to say, when it came time to getting married, there was no doubt it was going to be a tropical island wedding.
I had visited Key West once, years ago, and my fiancé had been there a couple of times more recently, and we pretty quickly picked up that it would be the perfect place. There were so many beautiful locations to choose from for the ceremony, several dozen great Key West restaurants for us to have our reception at, and plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from so we didn’t have to worry about limiting our guest list. We met with a terrific wedding planner who helped us every step of the way, and two weeks ago, we tied the knot.
I can’t even say it was all I hoped for, because it was so much more than that. The weather was epic, the whole experience was wonderful, but the highlight was just how beautiful it felt to be standing barefoot on a Key West beach, sand in our toes, telling each other we were going to love each other forever while the sun set in the background. We both know it’s not even a matter of if we’ll go back, but only a question of how soon.
My husband and I plan a big trip every five years for our anniversary. We both like to eat and drink, so some of our previous trips have been to California wine country and Paris and the French countryside. This year was the second brutal winter in a row, so I decided that it would be nice if we went somewhere where not only would we love the food, we’d appreciate the weather as well. My husband thought I meant Miami, but I was thinking a little farther south.
Thanks to websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, I learned about how popular and exciting the Key West restaurants were. Even places that were described as run down and weather beaten still had amazing reviews when it came to the food and the service. I read as many reviews as I could and made a few reservations ahead of time to be sure we could get in to some of the more exciting sounding places.
We were both blown away by how good the food was. The chef at one of our now favorite restaurants came out to tell us about what they call New Island Cuisine: local food, such as seafood, fruits and spices, prepared with traditional cooking methods. The results were astounding, and surprisingly, many of the restaurants we went to not only had such great food, they also had extensive well thought out wine lists. During each meal, we managed to find several excellent choices to pair with our food.
We have five years to think of our next destination, but if winters keep being the way they have, I’m sure we’re going to end up back in Key West. We might not even wait five years.
My wife and I just made our final arrangements for our fifth annual summer trip to Key West. Our friends think we’re crazy for going so far south in the summertime, but we’ve learned that, as much as we both love key West any time of year, the summertime is when it is most special to us.
Part of the charm is that the island seems more laid back. There aren’t as many people around, so no matter what we decide to do on any particular day, there’s no problem getting it done. It gives us a chance to explore some new Key West restaurants, while still giving us plenty of time to go back and revisit our favorites. We don’t feel rushed when we are walking down the street, and we can really relax and enjoy ourselves. After all, isn’t that what a tropical vacation is supposed to be about?
The hidden secret that we haven’t told most people is that the weather is far more pleasant than you might expect. It’s not nearly as hot as it can be in other parts of Florida during the same time of year, and there is almost always a refreshing breeze blowing off from the water. We make sure we stay at the same hotel every time, not only because of how nice the room is and friendly the staff is, but also because they have a beautiful hammock in the back of the property. It’s the perfect size for two, and there is nothing better than napping there as the breeze slowly sways us.
My son is at that age where he knows everything and anything that he has to do with his family isn’t going to be cool enough. It’s hard to imagine that a 13 year old would be upset about taking a vacation, but when he found out we were going to Key West, he just rolled his eyes. Luckily, I know more about what Key West had to offer than he did.
The first day we were there, we went on an all-day water adventure that included snorkeling, kayaking and a trip around the island on jet skis. He quickly forgot to act cool and started telling me how cool it all was. The highlight was the look on his face after he came down from parasailing.
Once I knew I had him hooked on how much fun Key West was going to be, I knew we were free to do everything else, including visiting museums, spending time at the beach and enjoying some great meals at the amazing Key West restaurants. He got a chance to pet a shark, hold a real gold bar and watch a cat jump through a hoop, all on the same day.
My co-workers thought I was crazy to try to take a teenager on any vacation, much less one to a place that didn’t come with an amusement park attached. I think the only problem that I ran into by taking the family to Key West is now he won’t shut up asking when we can go back. My son wants to spend more time with his family? I’m okay with a problem like that.