In our last Date Line Key West, Dick and I gave you suggestions for lodging and dining. I’m going to expand somewhat by giving you some of our favorite places to visit here in Old Town, KW.
Archeo Gallery (Duval Street)
Known for its authentic hand-knotted Gabbeh rugs (also known as tribal Persian or nomadic Persian rugs), Archeo also has a superb collection of antique African jewelry, artwork and masks, and teak furniture from Java. Archeo staff, under the expert guidance of Wendy, is friendly and knowledgeable and equally happy to educate appreciative visitors as well as to sell their wares.
Besame Mucho (Petronia Street)
One of our favorite things about Key West is the wide array of terrific people who reside here, and no more so than the owners of Besame Mucho—Meredith and Michael—and their inspiring staff. Every inch of Besame is loaded with treasures, big and small, from food condiments and chocolates, to Belgium linens, to furniture, to exquisite, jewelry, handbags, home goods, skin care products, etc., etc., etc. And I can’t imagine how many books Dick and I have bought there through the years. Besame is where Old World apothecary meets Mexican Milagros and Parisian chic—all so artfully displayed that you’ll feel like you’re walking through an intricate shadowbox. Besame is conveniently located in Bahama Village, just a rooster’s throw for hungry souls from La Creperie and Blue Heaven.
Blue (Caroline Street)
You’re only 90 miles from Cuba, and it’s in the 50s with a howling wind. I know you just came from the frigid North, and 50 doesn’t sound bad, but KW can feel like you’ve been stranded on an aircraft carrier—damp and blustery and nowhere to hide. Plus you miss-packed! Nothing you brought seems right, and you’re 160 miles from the shopping Mecca of Miami. Don’t despair. Go to Blue. It’s fun, classy, and jam-packed with quality clothing and accessories. Our friend Tanya will quickly guide you to styles that fit your style. And for non-shoppers in your group, Pepe’s, Schooner Wharf and Half Shell Raw Bar are close at hand.
Hands On (Duval Street)
If you’re a long-time visitor to Key West, you may remember From the Ruins, the unique art-to-wear store on Whitehead Street. Well, Hands On is a latter day version of that beautiful, now defunct store. Cocoa, who was a linchpin at From the Ruins, or any of her staff will gladly introduce you to their exquisite, hand-made clothing, jewelry and accessories. Hands On is housed in a classic Conch cottage directly next to Archeo Gallery.
Cloud 9 (Fleming Street)
I cringe whenever I come across articles on the downside of manicures/pedicures. It’s hard to find a salon/spa that makes one feel hygienically comfortable. Well, Cloud 9 is a bit of a spoiler. Jane Wolf’s petite day spa is the epitome of squeaky-clean standards, friendliness, professionalism, and undivided personal pampering. It’s the only place I go in KW for facials and skin care. Jane and her staff use nothing but top-notch products. Cloud 9 is located above the only remaining bookstore in KW—Island Books, worth a trip in its own right. Legendary Faustos, the family-owned and run food market, is a block away.
Shakti Yoga (White Street)
Whether you’ve been taking yoga for years or are just an occasional practitioner, you’ll find the right class for you at Shakti. Sofia, who founded Shakti in 2005, is a yoga master, as is all of her staff: Tanya teaches Paddle Yoga at Lazy Dog on Cow Key Channel; Margit also can be found at Archeo Gallery; Carl specializes in alignment and out-of whack backs; and Marlene is the resident artist and killer yogini. Experienced or newbie, GO! While your friends are becoming lizard-like tanning out, you’ll feel serenely sanctimonious. Namaste.
Fausto’s Food Palace (Fleming Street)
Where else but in KW could you shop at a grocery store that grinds its own meat for burgers? Where else could you find grass-fed-to-finish beef, organic vegies, Key West shrimp, locally roasted coffee beans, authentic Cuban pork, the original Cuban loaf, and daily baked artisanal bread? Where else would you find the Wine Queen of Fleming Street, one of Key West’s favorite performers, Vicki Roush? Owner Jimmy Weekly, former KW mayor, is the ubiquitous force of Fausto’s. Dick and I are there almost daily. Be sure to say hi to Louie at the meat counter and Bonita when you are checking out.
Eaton Street Seafood Market (corner of Eaton & William)
Where to buy the freshest fish market anywhere on the Keys? We wouldn’t shop for fish anywhere else. Owned by fisherman Damon and nautical engine guy Shawn, Eaton Street Seafood is where to go for all the just-off-the-boat snapper, grouper, Florida lobster and stone crabs you’ll ever need.
Tropic Cinema (Eaton Street)
With stadium seating, adult beverages (beer and wine), awesome real buttered popcorn, and blockbuster movies as well as small independent and Indi films, who needs the beach?
Every January, the KWLS is held at the historic San Carlos Institute on Duval Street. Excellent excuse to leave the northern-most frigid climes. Check out next year’s event—How the Light Gets In—at KWLS.org.
Lynn Kaufelt, in no particular order: professional, talented, kind, beautiful. We’ve known Lynn for nearly 25 years. Lynn, who along with her husband, David, founded Key West Literary Seminar, is a principal in Truman & Co., #1 for real estate in Key West.