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Ask a Local: Key West

by Our Editors
Key West Beach

3 locals tell us what they love about Key West and what visitors really need to experience. Expect the unexpected.

PASSPORT Editors

If you want to know what makes Key West such a special place to visit, ask a local—and that’s just what we did. Join us as we explore this beautiful and exciting part of Florida with three individuals who live, work, play, and create here. Key West is filled with many wonderful things just waiting to be experienced and enjoyed. From one-of-a-kind galleries and museums to cutting edge theatre, exceptional tours, delectable restaurants, and natural wonders, there is truly something for everyone in this wonderful part of the USA.

MEY ESPINOZA

Mey Espinoza - Key West Local

Mey Espinoza

Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
I have worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. I am the General Manager at Silver Palms Inn (www.silverpalmsinn.com) and La Pensione Inn (lapensione.com) in Old Town, Key West. Silver Palms is a modern boutique hotel with an island inspired charm. La Pensione is a beautiful Victorian home once owned by a cigar factory maker in the late 1800’s that caters to an adult-only clientele. It’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Prior to this, I was the General Manager of Pearl’s Key West at the time, the exclusive women-only guesthouse in the Florida Keys. During my time at Pearls we welcomed women from all over the world where they could express who they were during a time society was less accepting. In 2015 I was the recipient of the General Manager of the Year Award from the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West. It has been my pleasure serving our visitors in Key West throughout my career.

How long have you been living in Key West?
I’ve lived in Key West since I was 9 years old, so I’m considered a “Fresh Water Conch.” I have embraced and become a
special part of this community where our philosophy is “One Human Family.”

What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
For a casual dinner Salute On The Beach (www.saluteonthebeach.com) located at Higgs Beach is the perfect place to enjoy seafood with a view. For a semi-formal dinner Hot Tin Roof (www.oceankey.com/key-west-restaurant.aspx) can’t disappoint with its unique menu and gorgeous sunset views.

What cultural attractions are a must see for visitors?
Mallory Square (www.mallorysquare.com) at the end of Duval St. to celebrate our beautiful sunsets and enjoy live performances by local artists. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (www.hemingwayhome.com) with its lavishing gardens, architecture and famous six-toed resident cats. The Little White House (www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com) originally built in 1890 was the winter House of President Harry S. Truman. The house is filled with so much history, and tours are available.

A friend is coming to Key West for the first time…Please describe the perfect weekend.
Breakfast at Blue Heaven (www.facebook.com/blueheavenkw). The courtyard of this charming 100-year-old home is quaint and gives you that old Island atmosphere. Take a kayak tour with the guides at Lazy Dog (www.lazydog.com) to visit the backcountry waters of Key West. Enjoy live salsa music at El Meson de Pepe (www.elmesondepepe.com), while watching the sunsets at Mallory Square. Dinner at Conch Republic Seafood Company (www.conchrepublicseafood.com) with live entertainment, harbor views, and locals. End the night with a fabulous drag show at Aqua (www.aquakeywest.com) nightclub.

What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
The Key West Historic Seaport (www.keywesthistoricseaport.com), once the pillar of the Key West, shrimping and sponging market. It has become a popular place to dine, shop, and enjoy live music. Visit Fort Zachary Taylor State Park (www.fortzacharytaylor.com) where the Gulf of Mexico and The Atlantic meet. It’s he perfect place to grill, go fishing, snorkel, or have a beach day.

What is your favorite time of year in Key West and why?
September during Womenfest (www.gaykeywestfl.com/womenfest), the largest and southernmost party haven for LGBTQ women and friends. Also, Goombay Festival (www.facebook. com/keywestgoombay2018) in October. This Bahamian festival kicks off Fantasy Fest, and this year they’re celebrating their 39th year. It’s a local’s favorite.

What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
A Conch Shell!

Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Key West without…
Trying an authentic Cuban dish at El Siboney Restaurant (www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com).

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