Short Weekend in Key West

Before Taylor and I moved to Northern Florida over a year ago, we dreamed of visiting the Florida Keys. On a good day, it’s at least an 8 hour drive from Gainesville. We aren’t moving any closer to the Keys, so now was the perfect time for us to go! Since we had a free weekend, we left early Friday morning and stopped at a rest station for a quick breakfast from Dunkin’.

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As soon as we crossed over the water and into Key Largo, we were starving! With Hurricane Irma happening not too long ago, we weren’t sure how bad the destruction would be. As we were driving around looking for a place to stop and eat, everything was closed due to destruction. There were piles and piles of debri along the side of the road and it was heartbreaking.

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The damage was worse in some areas than others, and our hearts went out to the people of the Keys. After driving around and trying to find a place to eat that was open, we finally stumbled upon a small place called Boondocks. It wasn’t anything local or fancy, and the food was alright, but it was a nice break from the road.

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As soon as we stepped out of the restaurant, we noticed a line of traffic. What we didn’t know, was that there was a truck overturned 20 miles ahead, which dumped hundreds of gallons of oil all over the road and it was blocking both lanes. We barely crawled through traffic for FIVE HOURS. What was supposed to be an 8 hour drive to Key West, turned into a miserable THIRTEEN HOUR drive.

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The two of us were super bummed, because we were really counting on that night to explore the city. At one point when we were crawling through traffic, we were stopped next to an ice cream shop. Making the most of the situation, I ran inside and got us some yummy ice cream cones. I had enough time to go inside, purchase two ice cream cones, and make it back to the car before it moved again…

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We didn’t end up making it to our hotel until 10:30 that night. The receptionist at the desk was incredible and offered us free drinks upon arrival. He understood the traffic we’d just went through, and was more than sympathetic for us. Apparently, nobody had checked in that night because they were all stuck in that horrific traffic. After squaring things away at the desk, he personally showed us to our room and made sure we were comfortable.

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Our room was small, but very clean and comfortable. It was perfect for our short stay!

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Although we were tired from the drive, we were eager to get out on our feet and find something to munch on. We decided to get a few drinks and some appetizers at the Waterfront Brewery, which was right on the harbor! Thankfully, it was only a few minutes away.

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This place was fantastic!! Our server was amazing and the food and drinks were exactly what we needed. Taylor ordered the pretzels and I had the calamari! If we would’ve been in Key West longer, the two of us would’ve definitely returned.

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The next morning, we woke up early and hit the ground exploring! The great thing about our hotel was that it was within walking distance of everything. Our hotel also offered complimentary tea and coffee all day long, so that was an added bonus in my book! ūüôā The first thing we did, was walk to the most southern point of the United States.

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Typically, there is writing on the Southern Point marker, but they were in the middle of repainting it while we were there.

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Once we were done looking at the view and taking our touristy pictures, we started walking around and looking at all the unique homes! People in Key West really enjoy celebrating Halloween, because almost all of them were decked out in Halloween decorations. Even our hotel was full of decorations! I believe the city was getting ready for a Fantasy Fest in the near future, which sounded huge!?

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After walking down Duval Street for a little bit, we were beginning to get hungry. We stumbled upon a cute place called, Two Friends. The place looked pretty busy, so we took it as a good sign!

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I’m so glad that we chose to eat here, because it was SO YUMMY! Despite being busy, we were sat right away and the service was great.

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I ordered the bacon, mushroom, and swiss omelet, while Taylor ordered their strawberry, banana, french toast. Both were excellent!

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We didn’t have any set plans for the day, so we continued walking around Key West and exploring. Taylor ended up finding a local Rum distillery! If you enjoy rum, you need to check this place out! You can walk around the see them actually making the rum!

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I’m not a rum drinker, but Taylor had a sample and said it was great!

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It was super hot while we were exploring, so we decided to go back to our hotel and relax by the pool. We booked our stay at the Eden House, which we found on booking.com. On our way back, we stopped at a local bakery for some sweet treats!

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We loved staying at the Eden House because it was so peaceful and relaxing. We were within walking distance of everything, and the people were so friendly. Each room was unique and very well kept.

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If we ever find ourselves in Key West again, we will definitely be staying here again. There are a few larger hotels on the island, but I’d recommend staying at a smaller place like a bed and breakfast.

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Every day from 5-7, the Eden House has a free happy hour! We took advantage of that before getting ready and heading out for a night on Duval Street.

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We started our Saturday night out at Sloppy Joe’s! They had live music and fantastic drinks and appetizers!

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We ordered their mozzarella sticks and loaded fries!

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After about an hour or so, we walked to Irish Kevin’s! Here, we split a World Famous Green Alligator! It had blue carjack, limon run, sour mix and orange juice with a 151 rum floater. Not only was it tasty, but it came with the cup!

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As soon as we left Irish Kevin’s, it started to rain. While waiting for it to stop, we went into a nearby ice cream shop for a late night snack! Once the rain gave up and we walked back to our hotel, we grabbed our swimsuits and headed for the hot tub.

The next morning we had to check out and head back to Gainesville. As soon as we packed our bags and said a sad goodbye to the Eden House, we drove to the harbor for a quick breakfast.

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We ordered food at the Cuban Coffee Queen and ate it on a bench beside the water! The food was amazing and it was my first time trying cuban coffee. Now I know why everyone raves about cuban coffee, because it was soooo good! Even Taylor liked it, and he doesn’t even drink coffee! ūüôā

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On our way out of Key West, we passed the Mile 0 sign and had to stop for a mini photo shoot!

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Although our trip to Key West was short, we had an amazing time exploring the small city and we hope to be back soon!

 

 

Girls Weekend in Nashville Pt. 2

Our next day in Nashville was a fabulous one! We started our day at the Frothy Monkey in 21 South. This was a different location from the previous day, but it was so good the first time that we had to eat it again!

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We loved this location way more than the one downtown. It was extra cozy and homey, whereas the downtown location was more industrial and streamline.

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The two of us split the gravy biscuits, with a side of fruit and bacon. We also had coffee, but that’s no surprise. It was all phenomenal! We didn’t expect the portion sizes to be so large, so we could barley eat it all. One of the employees told us that we could order a half size the next time, so I guess we’ll just have to go back. ūüėČ

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Thankfully, the weather was less windy and much warmer. It was the perfect weather for walking around the city! We needed to walk off some of the food we just ate, so we decided to walk across the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge. 

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If you want to see some amazing views of the city and the river, then this bridge is for you! I’d love to walk it during the summer when everything is blooming! Or better yet, during the fall when everything is transitioning!

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There are also several mini parks below the bridge that looked great for dog walking.

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The Bridge gives you a great view of the Tennessee Titans Stadium. If you decide to stay outside of the city, you can park your car at the stadium for free during the off season. You can then walk over the bridge into the city. Thankfully, we lucked out when it came to parking during our trip, but if you plan on visiting during the busy season, I’d highly recommend parking at the stadium. Most parking garages start at $25 per day.

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Once we walked the bridge, we headed back to music row to see everything in the daylight.

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During our first night downtown, we passed a giant candy shop and everything smelled plus looked amazing. We decided to revisit that shop for good measure. ūüôā

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…and we splurged on some giant chocolate, caramel apples!¬†If you love candy apples and you’re ever in Nashville, these will not disappoint!

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Once we were finished eating our apples, we drove around to some nearby antique shops! The best one we visited was the Downtown Antique Mall.¬†¬†If you’re into antiquing or refurbishing furniture, I’d highly recommend this place!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while inside. However, this was only because I was in heaven walking in and out of each and every room! They had so many items and all in great condition. If you’re in the market for a specific item, I’m sure they have it here!

…Just casually carrying a table down the streets of Nashville. Lacie purchased this piece for $30 and already¬†finished refurbishing it!¬†She is the Fixer Upper QUEEN. I put her up there with¬†Joanna Gaines in my world.¬†After walking around the Downtown Antique Mall, we were hungry for an early dinner. We stopped at¬†12 South Taproom and Grill, and were not disappointed.

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Once we were done eating,¬†we headed to the famous¬†#whatliftsyou¬†mural.¬†We stopped by the mural earlier in the day, but the sun was casting a huge shadow on the wings. Take my advice and go later in the evening when the sun isn’t so high, especially if you want a good picture. This mural didn’t have near as many people standing around it as the other.

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They even have a tiny set of wings, which I’m pretty sure is for toddlers or dogs.

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Sadly, the next day was our last. We started our morning by eating breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. It’s right next to Vanderbilt’s campus, so we were expecting it to be busy. Surprisingly, it wasn’t!

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I’m not lying when I tell you that these were THE BEST PANCAKES I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I have no idea what is in their recipe, but they’re doing something right!

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Beside specialty pancakes, they also have your typical breakfast food. Each of their entrees comes with a side of delicious pancakes. I ordered a cheese and bacon omelet and it was delicious!

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When we left, there was a line around the building. Obviously, we came at a good time! You HAVE TO eat here if you’re in Nashville. Once we were done enjoying our pancakes, we decided to spend some time walking in and out of the shops.

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We still had some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we decided to go see the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Taylor had been telling us to go see it all weekend, but how exciting could a hotel be?

WRONG! Entering this hotel was like entering a completely different world!

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It was so beautiful! We walked around the water and looked at some of the shops they had.

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We wished that we would’ve gone earlier in the day to see everything. Neither of us was expecting it to be so beautiful!

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Afterwards, Lacie dropped me off at the airport.

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The two of us had so much fun exploring the city of Nashville. We had been dreaming of traveling to Nashville together for so long, so I’m glad we finally did it. We’re already ¬†thinking about the¬†next city we want to visit. Any suggestions?

Airbnb

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Whenever we’re planning out an upcoming trip, one of the main websites we use to book our lodging arrangements is, Airbnb. Not only is it always super affordable and way cheaper than a hotel, but it also allows you to meet people¬†and explore your favorite cities on a budget. On airbnb, you can discover¬†some of the most phenomenal places to stay‚Ķplaces you would never get to experience if you simply booked a room in a chain hotel.

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Airbnb allows you to book a place to stay, typically in someone else’s home or rental apartment/condo. These are just ordinary people from all over the world who enjoy meeting and hosting people who are exploring a new area.¬†When searching for a place, you can enter in your location, and refine your search based on living preferences. You can choose between an entire home/apartment, a private room within someone’s home, or a shared room. You can also select a specific area, number of guests, your price range, and specific amenities.

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After you enter in your requirements, it will filter all the search results and give you your options. It will show you the area, the renter, prices, photos, and reviews.

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Airbnb does really well at making sure all of the hosts are trustworthy, reliable, and responsible people. They offer a secure messaging system to communicate between guest and host, display honest reviews from previous guests, and they must provide a verified ID with identity checks. If at any point, a host demonstrates suspicious behavior, there will be a flag at the top of their profile.

Disclaimer:¬†With any website, safety comes first! It’s important to pay close attention and recognize suspicious behavior or inappropriate activity. As a guest, read all the reviews carefully before you confirm a booking. Also, keep your communication and payments with your host on the airbnb website. A host should not be asking you to provide money in any other form. As a host, pay attention to the guest’s ratings and make your rules known. Let them know what they have access to and what they don’t.

Within the past year, we’ve booked several Airbnb’s and have been satisfied with all of them!! They work so well for us because we don’t like paying for a hotel room that we’re barely in. We also don’t want to get stuck in a creepy hostel sharing a bathroom with 15 other people. Another reason we prefer Airbnb is because the hosts are usually nearby if you have any questions or concerns. Sometimes, they’re even willing to give you a tour and will give you the best recommendations. This is great for us because we don’t like doing “touristy” things. We would much rather explore the off-the-beaten-path destinations.

If you read any of our Thailand blogposts, than you’ll remember that Taylor and Kendall stayed in a really nice Airbnb (click HERE for listing) that was an entire apartment, with a massive pool and also came with a moped for transportation! Their 5 night stay was ONLY $141!

About a year ago, we rented an entire house off Airbnb in Clearwater, Florida (click HERE for listing)! Not only was it right on the beach, but our host left us a yummy welcome cake, AND a bag of travel necessities incase we forgot anything. The entire house was very well stocked with everything we needed, plus some! Our host was so thoughtful and went above and beyond to make us comfortable! We stayed 7 nights and split the cost between everyone staying. It only ended up being around $200 a person.

We highly recommend using Airbnb if you’re looking for something more affordable than your standard hotel. They are great if you’re looking to travel solo OR as a large family. No matter where you’re going, there are thousands of great places to choose from.