During the seasonal changes of October, the Keys Weekly will explore less-traveled outdoor escapes often overlooked by locals and tourists here in the Florida Keys. From Card Sound Road to the Southernmost Point, the Keys offer a spectacular collection of miraculous nature trails, parks and outdoor wonders that rarely make the mainstream to-do lists on TripAdvisor and Google. For those looking for an escape within the escape, this series offers an insider’s guide to some of the less-traveled and unique destinations near your front door. So invoke your inner Robert Frost and take a turn “off the path.”
Southernmost House – More than a Mansion
Sure, we all know the Southernmost House as the stately pink mansion at the southern end of Key West’s Duval Street. The 1896 home once featured a single bedroom on the second floor, but now has nine hotel rooms inside, four cabanas outside lining the zero-entry pool and five rooms across the street in The Original Lopez House.
But not everyone is aware of the new pedestrian plaza that recently replaced the 1400 block of Duval Street out front, where planters, outdoor sculptures and tables soon will welcome weary visitors and hungry diners.
In addition to the new plaza, the mansion doubles as a museum, boasting a significant collection of historical documents.
“We have a collection, all in one room, of eight original letters signed by Ernest Hemingway,” said general manager Monroe Holloway. “My favorite Hemingway letter is the one addressed to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City that encloses his annual dues and asks the MoMA to change his address to Whitehead Street in Key West.”
In addition to the Hemingway room, in the lobby of the Southernmost House hangs an oath of office that Lyndon B. Johnson signed aboard Air Force One to become president of the United States following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There were three such oaths signed on that fateful day. One of them made its way to the Southernmost City.
The museum also has on display a working phonograph built by Thomas Edison.
And finally, there’s the food truck.
Seaside Café opened just a few months ago, but Chef Rafe Halpern has already captivated a loyal local following with his wood-fired pizza, truffle fries and lobster salad on honey butter biscuits.
Combining history, honey butter biscuits, a pedestrian hangout and decadent hotel, have a new look at an old favorite.