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County by County Riding Florida-Monroe…Home of Peterson’s Miami to the Keys Run

By Lulu

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As far as Florida counties go Monroe is probably best known for a laid back, Jimmy Buffet lifestyle. Sand in your toes, umbrella in your drink, and a hangover! But on this trip we tried to take in some of the interesting places and restaurants that the county of islands has to offer and experienced things you won’t find in any other county in Florida. If you are coming for the Phil Peterson Miami to the Keys ride there are events before, during and after so check out the itinerary early for the schedule.

Key West: While in Key West our first stop was the Shipwreck Treasure Museum with interesting history of the amazing amount of ships that sunk off the coast of Florida and the treasures recovered from them. On the rooftop of the museum is a tower to climb so you can take pictures of the view of Key West (1 hour/$12 per person). The staff puts on a bit of reenactment of days gone by here. Next we went to Mel Fisher’s Museum of the treasures off the Atoche (1hour $12 per person). Lots of booty to see and I don’t mean hot chicks in short-shorts. We then toured Harry S. Truman Little White House and that took an hour because you have to go on a group tour since it is still controlled by the Secret Service. Cost was $15. We topped off our history lesson with a tour of the Hemingway House which if you are allergic to cats I would skip! Cats and roosters run the streets in Key West! (30 minutes $12 per person) If you are a history buff all of this is money well spent since the insight into the lives of the rich and famous also gives you interesting tidbits of life back when.

[singlepic id=1809 w=320 h=240 float=left]There is plenty to see and do at no cost in Key West. Mallory Square with the famous sunsets always has interesting street shows going on. All kinds of great shops on Duval St. will keep those who can browse without buying happy, and those that like to buy will find plenty to spend their money on. Irish Kevin’s, Sloppy Joes and Hog’s Breath Saloon are world famous for their entertainment and libations. And Wild Bill’s is well known for their sexy bull riding. Bull Whistle is infamous for the third floor which is clothing optional. If you dare to live on the wild side the drag shows at Bourbon on Duval are well worth the $10 admission. For meals we love Pepe’s for breakfast, The Conch Republic for supreme seafood and Sloppy Joe’s for, of course, a Sloppy Joe. We ate dinner at Brazilena’s, a Brazilian steak house which is an experience if you haven’t dined like that before, they bring meat to your table “fast and furious” so go with a huge appetite and a big wallet since our bill ended up being over $150. If you are making this trip during Peterson’s Miami to the Keys Run Duval will be full of bikes and excitement, but any time of year there are sights to see in Key West.

[singlepic id=1801 w=320 h=240 float=right]Big Pine: There is more to Monroe County than Key West and we took time to do some exploring. On Big Pine Key we actually saw endangered Key Deer on the side of the road. We rode out to find the infamous No Name Pub that bikers love and stumbled upon a place that rents Kayaks to tour the secret mangroves. $50 for a 3 hour tour but reservations are needed (305-872-7474). We were too late that afternoon, but we put this on our list of things for the future.

Marathon: Big Time Bait and Tackle in Marathon (305-289-0199) is a great place to go deep sea fishing if you have the time. Let Capt. Jack hook you up! Crane Point Museum & Nature Center offers nature trails, a butterfly meadow, the Adderly House made of burnt seashells built in 1903. (1 hour at $12pp). When we were there they had an outbreak of mosquitoes and we could only tour the museum. They are also closed the month of September.

Islamorada: This key is composed of 6 islands and one of my favorite stops is Robbie’s Marina where you can have a HUGE tarpon swallow your arm! We swam with a sea lion at the Theater of the Sea. The price tag for the 30 minutes of sea lion fun is steep at $135, but to just tour the park is only about $30 and I think worth it, since you see sting rays, a dolphin show, huge turtles, a parrot show and sharks. They have other adventure packages including swimming with the sting rays for only $55 a person and the general admission price is included in that fee. Reservations are required for the swims (305-664-2431). While at Marathon we visited the Marine Mammal Conservancy (read Pony Tales) and held a pilot whale for FREE for 4 hours. Make sure you have cocktails (try a Passion Monkey) and a great seafood feast at Islamorada Fish Co. and visit Worldwide Sportsman for your flip flop fix. I also like visiting the Banyan Tree Tropical Garden & Boutique.

[singlepic id=1810 w=420 h=315 float=left]Key Largo: The first or last stop on our trip includes Last Chance a great biker bar and this Key is also the home of the John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park. This park offers snorkeling, diving, glass bottom boat rides, canoe or kayak rentals and camping. The coral reef is 21 miles in length and is the first American undersea park.

Top 3 bars: Irish Kevin’s, Sloppy Joe’s, Last Chance

Top 3 restaurants: Pepe’s, Conch Republic, Islamorada Fish Co.

Top 3 roads to ride: 7 mile bridge! (US 1), trip out to No Name Pub, Card Sound Rd.

Too much to do! No wonder people want to live here. Hope you will put this trip on your September must do list! The Key West Sunrise Rotary will thank you. Big Bike Riders put on one hell of a bike show on Duval on Saturday which is probably one of the best bike shows in our state!

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