Suffice to say, the bachelorette party I attended this past weekend in Key West was a great time. I hadn’t been to a bachelorette party since my own, which took place in Las Vegas almost exactly three years ago. Sadly, I didn’t blog back in those days, but it was awesome. There’s just something special about trips designed to celebrate one of your friends, and vacationing with your girlfriends always leads to hilarious memories.
Yes, it was quite a bit of travel for me to make it down for the festivities in Key West all the way from San Francisco, but I’m glad I did it.
I arrived into Fort Lauderdale on Thursday evening, and my wonderful Momma drove all the way across the state from our hometown of Port Charlotte to be the one to pick me up. We went straight to the bride-to-be’s house and were able to hang out for a couple hours before my Mom hit the road back home to the West Coast of Florida that night. My Mom has always been so amazing at going above-and-beyond to see me. And although I would have loved to have tacked on some extra time on the trip to visit her and my Dad in Port Charlotte, unfortunately, I couldn’t find a very good flight-plan to do so. Therefore, I was in and out of Fort Lauderdale without many extra hours in the state, but still got to see my Mom twice.
Now, let’s get to the trip recap, and yes, it’s long, but it’s detailed …
A calm and filling night in Fort Lauderdale on Las Olas
After my Mom left on Thursday night, Melissa (the bride-to-be) and I joined a few friends at a newer place in Fort Lauderdale called Forks & Balls, where we had dinner to celebrate the birthday of Melissa’s lovely cousin, Tina (who was one of the leaders of the bachelorette party fun). Being that Fork & Balls is named for its signature meatballs, I ordered some delicious Greek lamb meatballs on a salad, which was really quite good and filling. However, it was super dark in there, so I don’t have much to show from my meal. The location right on Las Olas was great, and I’d definitely return again when visiting the area.
This was a good time for me to catch up with a few friends who live in Fort Lauderdale, but we didn’t stay out long, so we could save up our energy for the fun weekend ahead. In fact, we were home and asleep before 10 p.m., and even though technically my body should have felt like it was 7 p.m., I had no problem getting to sleep that night.
DAY 1 — Road-tripping to Key West
We woke up bright and early on Friday morning to begin our road-trip to Key West by 8 a.m. There were five girls in our car, which was a tight fit in a Prius, but totally doable.
Our first stop included a healthy breakfast. Both Melissa and I got a big acai bowl from a great spot in Fort Lauderdale called Living Green Fresh Market. I was really eager to try an acai bowl there, because I’d only had one before (in San Diego during Thanksgiving, when Dave and I went to visit his parents), and it had been a major disappointment. This second acai bowl was much better, and consisted of oats, fruit, and all sorts of goodness. Even though it included a lot of nutrients, it only kept me full for a couple of hours, and I was digging into the car snacks before we even hit the first Key.
The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is just over four hours, but we made it a bit longer with a few stops. One of the stops in the Keys was at a place in Islamorada called Robbie’s. Islamorada is a destination that I visited during many summers with my family when growing up, so it holds a lot of great memories for me. However, somehow I had never been to Robbie’s before. It was a fun little area with artists, crafts, music, water sports, an outdoor restaurant and a dock, where people were feeding big tarpon fish. (Fun fact, the tarpon was our high school mascot, so we all got a kick out of that!)
The second we stopped and got out of the car at Robbie’s, the heat and humidity hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve gotten so used to the cooler and dryer air from the Bay Area and was shocked at how my hair puffed, and I felt so sticky almost instantly. Nonetheless, the sun on my skin felt pretty darn good too. We stretched our legs, Melissa bought a painting and we got back on the road after a few photos.
We also stopped for lunch along the way, and I had some very tasty fish tacos at a restaurant called Kiki’s Sandbar in Little Torch Key. From there, it was just another hour or so to our destination.
We arrived in Key West to our hotel, The Saint Hotel, around 1 p.m. Most of our rooms were ready early, so we were able to check in right away and at that time we met up with another group of girls who had flown in from both Tampa and Orlando. (Two of which, were my lovely bridesmaids Yolanda and Judy, my college girlfriend Shannon, and one of the fantastic trip organizers, Jenna.)
I was very impressed with The Saint Hotel. From the outside it fits right into the island theme, but once you walked in, it did not look like a Key West hotel at all. It’s trendy, shiny and had more of a French Quarter feel than that of the beachy Key West vibe. The Saint Hotel was just remodeled (formerly The Southern Cross), and the staff there was incredibly accommodating to us. While the rooms were nothing special, the hotel common areas were fabulous, and the service exceptional. In fact, when we arrived, the concierge/welcome desk attendant said “You guys must be the bachelorette party, we’ve been waiting for you all day!” Good start!
I was in a room with Shannon, Judy and Yolanda, and we’ve all been on several bachelorettes together. We’re old friends and never seem to skip a beat. I really enjoyed the extra time with them on this trip, and even though we’re all grown up and all three of them are mothers now, they never seem to change.
DAY 1 — Starting out the festivities along Duval Street
Shortly after arriving, we all headed out the door to start the fun.
We began with some fruity frozen adult beverages at Fat Tuesday on Duval Street, and here we met up with the rest of the group, bringing our total to 15 girls. We all bought signature Fat Tuesday cups, which we ended up using the second day as well. A few fun tips if you ever go to Fat Tuesday: You can ask for samples of any of the frozen beverages. You can also ask for a mixture of a few frozen flavors if you’d like. I tried a couple, but decided to stick with a standard Pina Colada both times.
We moved on to another favorite place, Irish Kevin’s bar on Duval Street, for a little live music. At Irish Kevin’s, Melissa was immediately whisked onto stage, being that she had on a very classy white sash identifying her as the bachelorette. It was great to see her get some extra attention, which happened throughout every single place we went all weekend.
Knowing that we needed to get showered up for a nice dinner, we only stayed out until about 5:30 p.m., and then went back to the hotel to get ready. Most of us congregated in Melissa’s room, which was decorated with pictures, and filled with champagne andy fun party favors, including signature koozies for everyone who attended.
That night, we had a big dinner at Fogarty’s on Duval Street outside. We were lucky enough to have a reservation for the large group, and sat at a big table right in the middle of the action. We had some bruschetta as an appetizer and some entrees. I selected the pecan-crusted mahi mahi, which came with veggies and rice, and I nearly licked my plate clean, because it was so tasty. I always love to order seafood, and Key West offers some fresh and delicious varieties.
After dinner, we went to Sloppy Joe’s bar for a few hours and danced and danced, while enjoying the live band. They took our requests and we asked to hear “Friends in Low Places,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and anything from ’N Sync. Quite the diverse selection.
The best part about dancing at Sloppy Joe’s was that the band let us take a couple of their tambourines, so we passed around the tambourines the whole time while dancing on the ground below them. I absolutely loved that, and commented the next night that we should consider bringing our own tambourines on future bar outings. Good idea, right?
As you can imagine, our large group attracted quite the crowd, and many nice people offered to buy Melissa drinks and shots and she was even pulled on stage a few times. At first she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go, but then she put on a brave game face and quickly became the star of the show.
We ended the night with a bachelorette party must — late-night eats! We got pizza and large half-pound cookies, which were both just heavenly. That tasty and completely unhealthy meal ended the night, and my room of girls were all home and in bed just after midnight.
DAY 2 — Soaking up the sun and enjoying the pool scene
We slept okay, got up around 8 a.m., and took our time to shower and get ready. Then we enjoyed the complimentary breakfast spread at the hotel, which had bagels, yogurt, toast and some fruit. I was pretty surprised to see this, as most hotels in Key West don’t seem to offer it. Another perk of staying at The Saint.
Around 11:30 a.m., we all headed out on foot to another favorite Key West spot: Dante’s, which opens at noon each day. We scored a big table at Dante’s and set our bags down there as our home-base. At Dante’s, we ordered fruity drinks, some light nibbles and hung out for a few hours in the sun. It was incredibly crowded, and I didn’t even get in the pool. While I’m always down for a good time in the sun, the pool was totally packed with bodies, and it did not look inviting at all. However, our group of girls still had a good time running around the pool deck and keeping each other entertained. Perhaps the best part of this stop was when a guy asked us if we wanted tequila from a little pouch he pulled out of his pants. We turned that one down. And for the rest of the weekend, we continued to refer to the disgusting nature of “pouch tequila,” and how easy it was to say no to that offer. Some people?
As the day went on, our large group became louder and louder, and we went to an early dinner at BO’s Fish Wagon, turning our area into a dance party. I had some mahi mahi, and part of a fried conch sandwich, and that food was awesome. BO’s is definitely a no-frills shack, but it was tasty and fresh and so very Key West-y. As soon as my food was done, I joined a few of the other girls to dance on our seats. There was someone near us with a little bluetooth speaker, and he took our requests for songs. This moment in time was one of the best parts of the entire weekend for sure, which we have a lot of video of, thanks to Melissa’ s younger sister, Dena, who was in charge of documenting everything. She did so perfectly, and we watched the footage several times.
Finally, we took the slow walk back to the hotel and congregated at the pool for a little while. Since we didn’t get to swim at Dante’s, we wanted to take a dip then, but the pool was actually a little bit cold. I put my feet in, but couldn’t get all the way in. Therefore, I safely made it out of the weekend in Key West without ever swimming. Oh well.
Day 2 — A drag show and a little bit of country
Next up, we had to shower and change up for the main event of the night — a drag show. Since I’ve been to two other bachelorette parties in Key West, I’d been to a drag show before and recall it as one of the highlights of that trip. However this time, not so much. Our group of 17 (yes, it grew the second night) had reserved seats at the 9 p.m. showing of the production at Aqua. We were super pumped to arrive and get seated, with singles in our hands. Once the show got up and going, we quickly realized it was not as interactive as we had hoped and the manager was a little rude too. So rather than being stuck in seats, we left early. That was that for the drag show. A major drag.
Straight from there, we went across the street to a place called Cowboy Bill’s. We did some country-line dancing, Melissa rode a mechanical bull (as any bachelorette should), and we had a grand old time singing. Finally, around midnight, we decided to hit up the pizza place one more time for some more late-night munching. Then, we went back to the hotel and congregated near the pool to laugh and recount the night. It’s there that we made some FaceTime calls, texted funny pictures and made a lot of noise, as any large group of girls on a bachelorette party should. We called Melissa’s mom a few times over the weekend to report on the goings on, and I also called my Mom as well. My Mom loves a good update, and I gave her all the juicy details in the middle of the day on Saturday right before I hopped up to dance on the bench at the fish shack.
On Saturday night, after our group dispersed, I went to bed around 1:30 a.m, which is super late for me. However, I was probably able to make it a bit later, because I may have slightly still been on West Coast time. The second night in the hotel, I slept a little better, but was not ready to get up at 9 a.m., when it was time to pack up and get ready for check-out.
Day 3 — Saying goodbye to Key West in the rain
People started leaving pretty early in the morning, and the few of us that were left, walked to a nearby spot called Caroline’s Cafe for lunch. I had some spicy shrimp lettuce cups, which were picture-worthy and shown below. Then, we went to buy some more half-pound cookies at Mattheessen and Magilner’s Candy Kitchen for the ride home. The skies were a little dark and it rained quite a bit, even right on us as we walked to lunch. We were clearly, very happy that the bad weather held off until the end of our trip, because it made leaving Key West that much easier.
Our same group of five hopped back in the car and headed north just after noon. I took a couple little naps on the car ride, but was still feeling pretty tired from two days of major fun.
We got back to Melissa’s house in Fort Lauderdale around 5 p.m. and by 6 p.m., my Mom arrived for another short visit. She stayed with us for a couple hours, and during that time we ordered some take-out sushi and showed her pictures from the trip. It was so awesome that my Mom drove across the state to see me twice during my Florida visit, and I loved every second of it. Sadly though, we had to say goodbye again around 8 p.m. so she could head home to Port Charlotte. Right after she left, I fell asleep and was then up by 6 a.m. on Monday to head to the airport and fly back to San Francisco. Melissa’s very kind fiancé, Neal, dropped me off at the Fort Lauderdale airport on his way to work, so his bride could stay in bed a little longer. How sweet.
What was the best part of the weekend trip to Key West?
Time with friends! I love all the friends I’ve made in the Bay Area over the past couple of years since moving from Florida, but nothing can compare to the relationships that I have with “my people” in Florida. We’ve known each other for so long, seen each other grow up, and share some common bonds that can’t be beat. Being with them is always fun and memorable. I also enjoyed wearing flat flip-flops, sundresses and shorts the entire weekend. Key West attire is super casual, which I like.
What was the worst part of the weekend trip to Key West?
Leaving! And my hair! My hair. Oh man, my poor hair has grown accustomed to dryer air of Northern California, and I had the frizziest mess on top of my head the entire weekend. It was like a joke. I couldn’t contain it. I ended up having to wash it two times while in the Keys, just to rid some of the hairspray. Total hair fail. I mean I think I ruined nearly every picture with that pouf. Oh well. At least my outfits were good.
Yes, it was tough to leave, but I’ll be back in Florida again in late May for Melissa’s wedding festivities, and will be able to see even more of my favorite people at that time. Although Dave and I haven’t booked our tickets yet, we’re hoping to stay for a few extra days to hang out with my parents and perhaps meet up with some of our Orlando friends as well.
I must admit, as much fun as I had in Key West, I’m also really ready to be back to normal heathy eating, normal workouts, normal sleeping and sitting on the couch at night, rather than running around Duval Street. It was good for me to have a little craziness, but I’m always happy to return to my routine. I love fun, but I also love feeling rested and hydrated — two states-of-being that I didn’t really reach much of this weekend.
But it was all worth it. Good people, good memories and funny pictures too! We celebrated Melissa as best as we could, and I know it was everything she had hoped for.
That’s the recap, friends! If you’re planning to head to Key West, may I suggest you stay at The Saint Hotel, visit Irish Kevin’s, Dante’s, Mattheesen’s cookies and of course BO’s Fish Wagon. And may I also suggest you look into Venmo, it’s a free money-exchanging app, that we all used to pay for the hotel. I hadn’t heard of it before one of the girls introduced me to it, and it was super easy to use. Oh, and when you’re traveling with friends, don’t forget to use iPhone photo sharing. Everyone shared their photos from the weekend, so we didn’t have to worry about whipping out our own cameras at every moment. Smart travelers, for sure.
Being that I’m back to normal now, I’m teaching BODYPUMP tonight and continuing to re-hydrate as best as I can. I’ll see you back here tomorrow for a post about food. And I hope you have an awesome Tuesday.
Questions of the day
What’s the most fun place you’ve visited for a bachelor or bachelorette party?
What type of music would you request to be played when you’re with your group of friends?
What’s something you’re looking forward to?