We visited the Hemingway House and Museum without much knowledge of Ernest Hemingway. We were fortunate enough to catch a docent-led tour by a very knowledgable staff person who provided a well-presented overview of Hemingway's life in Key West. The bookstore sells all of Hemingway's books with a special stamp and sticker on or inside the front cover. Cats galore! The polydactyl, or six toed, cats are roaming the home and bookstore.
We took the NPS-endorsed ferry for $170 pp and thought it was worth every penny. It takes 2.5 hours of travel to get there and the ferry crew feeds you breakfast and lunch aboard the boat. I recommend signing up for the fort tour when you arrive, grab lunch after that's over, and then spend the rest of the time snorkeling. The sea life along the moat was outstanding. We brought our own masks and snorkels but the ferry will lend you gear if needed. A friend carried a boogie board while out snorkeling which was helpful to take a rest and clear out our masks; you may want something that floats while you're out swimming and exploring.
You can visit this museum in under 2 hours. My personal reason for visiting was to see the Flagler Overseas Railroad exhibit but also enjoyed the other displays. There is a rotating exhibit downstairs that, at the time we were there, was the photography of Arthur Rothstein when he was on assignment in Key West in 1938. Fort Zachary Taylor history also downstairs in a separate exhibit. Follow the stairs up and enjoy Guy Harvey's illustrations of Hemingway's book Old Man and the Sea. Upstairs is a full overview of the history of Key West with minor exhibits on key personalities. The bookstore had trinkets, typical souvenirs, and a decent-sized library of books. (Buy Hemingway books at Hemingway House if you plan to go there because Hemingway House has special stickers and stamps they post inside their books.)
Biscuits and Gravy? YES, PLEASE! How often do vegetarians get to eat B&G? - like...never! The eggs on the side were so flavorful and tasty.
The Cafe was a treasure trove of delicious eats with a very diverse menu. I wish we would have found this place on the first day of our trip because we would have eaten here every day for breakfast or lunch. Even visiting the bathroom was an eclectic event.
We spent Christmas day 2014 here and absolutely loved every minute. You will spend the entire day and will definitely want to go back; we want to visit again in the spring to see the gardens in full bloom.
United Campground in Durango is set in the woods with beautiful views AND all the amenities you would want while camping.
Initially we booked just one night at United coming on a recommendation from two or three other previous campers. It was getting towards the end of season and a few of the Durango campgrounds were closed. I left a voicemail for the office and received a prompt call back notifying me that they'd hold a site in our name. The location was easy to find and not too far from downtown. Our one night stay turned in to three because we were having such a great time in Durango. The staff was very accommodating of our request. The grounds were clean, there was lovely shade trees all throughout, and great views. The Durango-Silverton historic passenger train comes right through the middle of camp bringing many campers to gather `round, take photos, and wave. (The train comes through in the later morning and early evening and is only a few cars long. It usually only honks it's horn once or twice. It's nostalgic, not an annoyance.) RV spots with full hook up were towards the front of camp and tent camping was in the back half of camp on the other side of the train tracks. The bathrooms were clean and not crowded - three shower stalls and three toilet stalls in the main building. The second bathroom location was closed for season but that did not pose any problems. I used the laundry facility and was a little dismayed that two separate dryers didn't completely dry my clothes. They have a machine to exchange dollars for quarters and laundry soap for sale. There is a pool, though closed in the winter, and a game room that we did not visit. Supplies are on hand if you need basic toiletries or souvenirs in their shop at the main desk. Wifi was EXCELLENT - fast and reliable. There is an on-site trash dumpster but no recycling. United Campgrounds is definitely a place I would recommend and would stay there again should we ever find ourselves in Durango.
We camped at Kelly Park for the 4th of July weekend and I expected it to be utter chaos. Surprisingly it was delightful! There are only 26 campsites and my parents and I reserved 2 by phone about two months before the trip. Sites for non-county residents are $23 a night. NO PETS and NO ALCOHOL (bring your Tervis). The bathroom size was adequate for the amount of campers and I never had to wait for a bathroom or shower stall. Great tree canopy / very shaded. We stayed at site #19 and the only complaint we had was that the water hook up was on the opposite side from the electric. This wouldn't matter for a tent camper but it does for a trailer. We had to run to Walmart (20 miles away - also Starbucks next door, score!) and get a longer drinking water hose. It rained almost every afternoon but the bugs weren't bad at all. I liked that the campers had a nice paved walkway right down to the springs; less than a 10 minute walk. At the springs there is a concession stand serving food, sunscreen, and bags of ice. There are TONS of picnic tables and large pavilions to rent. We walked from our site at 10am down to the spring and passed at least 20 picnickers already cooking on the grill! You can rent tubes outside of the park or at a van near the concession stand. We brought our own. For those not camping, the park closes at 10am and reopens at 3pm on the busy days because it gets so crowded.
Oxbow is a great way to immerse yourself in the native habitats of South Florida. The pine flat woods trails with their observatories are an easy hike. For more adventure take the river otter trail - beautiful views and completely different scenery. Oxbow is good for all ages.