Welcome to my backyard--the Florida Keys! I'm a travel writer, blogger and photographer with a passion for all things Florida, especially the Florida Keys. These islands are so much more than Duval Street and Jimmy Buffet. They are rich in history, culture, cuisine, nature and events--all surrounded by pristine waters teeming with wildlife. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the Conch Republic has many surprises in store. Let me be your guide.
My favorite place to watch the sunset in Key Largo is at the downstairs bar at Bayside Grille. The laid-back, open-air eatery has stellar views of the Florida Bay, and moored sailboats,kayakers and a long dock add to the evening's photo-ops. As for the décor, there's always something new on the walls: a pair of flip-flops, a net filled with foam fish or lobster buoys. Behind the bar, a huge flag designates this place as the headquarters for the Northernmost Territories of the Conch Republic — a tongue-in-cheek play on the nickname for the Florida Keys.
I popped in last week and was greeted by bartenders, Kim and Sue who insisted I try the Sunset Punch — Cruzan mango and coconut rums mixed with a dash of pineapple and cranberry juice. It was dangerously delicious, but, heck, I ordered a second one anyway. Dinner was lightly battered tender calamari and a crab cake with creamy mustard sauce.A light breeze made the unusually warm spring evening comfortable, and classic rock from the local Steve Venini Band kept the vibe mellow. As the sun started falling, I wandered out onto the dock, camera in hand. A thin layer of clouds created swirling patterns across the sky and reflected on the calm water's surface. Once the sun emerged to make its final dip below the horizon, Kim came out to the beach and blew a long sonorous note on the conch shell. A round of applause went up for her and the show in the sky.