We often think we need to escape to a different country to experience paradise. But, why buy a two-way ticket to another country when paradise is right at home in the U.S.? I recently got a taste of island paradise when Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty invited me and a group of creative and talented boss ladies on an Influencer trip to the Florida Keys, where we got to enjoy island luxury as an experience rather than a price point. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time a real estate company has partnered with influencers to create awareness about its business and I’m so humbled and grateful to have been part of history in the making. Nikki Bell, the Marketing Director of Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty, was the brains behind this clever idea and created an itinerary for all of us to experience the Keys to the highest level.
Here are my top picks from the places I visited; I know you won’t want to miss them next time you’re in the Florida Keys:
Everyone’s knows I have a thing for coffee (hint: my blog’s name), so of course I had to start by sharing this little coffee shop jewel with you. Baby’s Coffee, named after the previous building owner’s son, has an incredible selection of coffee and milk options to cater to any coffee fanatic’s taste buds. I had a café con leche and a taste of the Hemingway coffee and both were delicious.
PAPA’S PILAR RUM DISTILLERY
From coffee to rum! Because that’s how you do it in the Keys.
The name of the distillery comes from Ernest Hemingway’s nickname, “Papa,” and one of his wives’ names – “Pilar.” And, both the Dark and Blonde Papa’s Pilar Rum expressions are inspired by this great adventurer and his love for land and sea.
You must schedule a tour to learn all about the intriguing process of making rum and sample the Blonde and the Dark. You’ll probably go home with a bottle because the taste in unbelievable.
This 27-acre residential neighborhood and resort island is located about 500 yards off the coast of Key West and it’s accessible only by a shuttle boat that runs from the Margaritaville Marina to the island. The only method of transportation is by golf cart, which makes it so peaceful and quiet there; perfect for relaxation and disconnecting from the outside world. Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty has several Sunset Key Cottages available for purchase there in case you’re looking to upgrade to a private island.
Also, one of the best and most exclusive restaurants from the Keys, Latitudes, is there and you have to stop by because the food is magnificent.
If you’re in the mood for a shopping spree while in the Keys, you need stop by one of the Ocean Dayz stores. They have a lovely selection of resort wear, straw bags, hats, and jewelry. They have a total of 4 boutiques in the Keys: Island Trendz, located in Amara Cay Resort; Island Dreamz in Post Car Inn; Sandy Dreamz in the Marriott Beach Key Largo; and Sea Aire Boutique in Islamorada.
Ocean Dayz carries Dune Jewelry filled with sand from the Keys. I got the Sterling-Shaped Turtle Bangle with Islamorada Sand. They make a fantastic, fashionable souvenir or gift for a loved one. I certainly enjoy wearing it and reminiscing about my experience with Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty.
The Roberto Russell Galleries is located in Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty building in Islamorada and exhibits Roberto Pasta Pantaleo’s colorful and lively marine art and Geoffrey C. Smith’s majestic bronze sculptures.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Italian-borne, Brooklyn-raised painter, Roberto Pasta Pantaleo, in person. He is a genius with the brush and the most down-to-earth person ever. He likes to go by “Pasta” and his art captures sea life in both realistic and beautiful ways.
Key West Gallery is incredible as well. The owner, Kellie Alpert, has the most unbelievable collection of art, representing over 40 international artists like Salvador Dali, Peter Max, Roy Lichtenstein, Adam Scott Rote, and more. This gallery carries originals and limited edition pieces. I even got to see a Picasso painting while visiting.
MY NEW JOINT
This cocktail lounge is located upstairs from Square Grouper Bar and Grill (a must-try, according to locals); both are owned by the same person. My New Joint offers a raw bar, a spectacular tapas menu, and full bar with a unique tap system with 15 different draft beers and 170 bottled beers. Their Portobello Fries, Shrimp and Grits, House-Smoked Fish, Fish Tacos, and Key Lime Pie are so delicious and must-haves – not to mention the atmosphere and live music. This place is unique and you’ll love it, I’m sure.
Travel in style through the Keys with Sunshine Scooters. Pick up a golf cart or scooter and cruise around while the wind blows in your face. They have very nice and personable staff and any color scooter your heart desires: pink, blue, white – your choice.