Bucket List Dreams- New Orleans

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New Orleans is world-renowned for its deep cultural roots and significance to history. New Orleans is home to many breathtaking cottages and bungalows with elaborate balconies, beautiful and historical decaying cemeteries, and elegant grand churches and cathedrals. New Orleans is especially notable for its lively blues and jazz music, Cajun and Creole cuisine, The French Quarter, Mardi Gras Parades, and so much more. New Orleans is an ongoing celebration marking 300 years of traditions and culture.

The French Quarter has sparked global recognition for its vibrant music scene, live entertainment venues, funky dive bars and more. The French Quarter is famed for festivals, celebrations, and wild and decadent Mardi Gras parades.

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Canal Street, or Main Street, is lined with glitz and glam. The buildings tower into the sky and there is eye-candy everywhere. The hotels are beautiful and glamorous. Harrah’s Casino is located off of Canal. There are many high-end storefronts located here.

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Frenchman Street is known for its arts scene, live music venues, and funky vibes. The walls are plastered with street art and the music is rolling out of various pubs and barrooms. There are many restaurants and eateries as well.

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Faubourg Marigny and the Bywater District offers a bohemian-style atmosphere with an abundance of sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, bars, and clubs. The houses all lined up are as colorful as the street art in the neighborhood.

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The Marigny Opera House was once a German Catholic Church and dates back to the 1800’s. Today, The Marigny Opera House holds symphonies and ballets. I love the old decaying architecture and religious relics from the past.

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Flora Gallery and Coffee Shop is a popular coffee-shop that many locals frequent and hang out. They have many coffee and tea varieties, as well as pastries and paintings for purchase. I like all of the unique local art they have tacked on the walls.

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Marigny offers colorful street views and old restored buildings and storefronts. The neighborhood is a cherished part of New Orlean’s history.DSC_0152.jpg

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Magazine Street, located in historic Uptown, has a lot of heart and soul. I really love all of the vintage and antique storefronts and the art and hipster scene. There is an abundance of retro and vintage boutiques, art galleries, live music venues, ethnic restaurants and specialty coffee and tea shops. Audubon Park and The Fly, Audubon Zoo and Audubon Nature Institute call Magazine Street home.

The Garden District is known for its beautiful homes and neighborhood. There are many iconic homes located in The Garden District.

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Anne Rice’s home is one of the most visited spots in The Garden District. The mansion is spooky and beautiful with intricate details that draw in fans from all over. Ann Rice is the author of the sensational and widely popular books, The Vampire Chronicles.

The homes in The Garden District are out of a page in a fairy-tale book. The Victorian design is elegant and beautiful.

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The Joseph Carroll Carriage House cannot be missed with its massive architecture and stunning pink exterior. The Garden District has many incredible Southern and Victorian-style mansions.

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Laissez les bons temps rouler – Let the good times roll!

With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

“There’s something about arriving in new cities, wandering empty streets with no destination. I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I’m born to leave.”

 

 

Bucket List Dreams- New Orleans French Quarter

New Orleans is one of the most notable cities in the world and The French Quarter is a true testament to this. New Orleans is known for being the birthplace of Jazz music, Cajun and Creole cuisine, and Mardi Gras! New Orleans is celebrating its 300th birthday this year! The French Quarter is an eclectic melting pot of people who are drawn together by their rich history and culture. The French Quarter offers visitors a once in a lifetime experience at one of the most unique cities worldwide. The French Quarter offers many attractions and activities and has seen upwards of 10 million visitors a year.

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Jackson Square offers the most picturesque view of Saint Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, situated among the notable Jackson Square, is the most iconic place in The French Quarter. Saint Louis Cathedral dates back to 1720 and is the oldest standing cathedral in the nation!

Saint Louis Cathedral is one of the top places to visit in The French Quarter and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The gothic architecture of the church is gorgeous, and the intricate designs inside the church are immaculate. Saint Louis Cathedral is pure splendor and is one of the most famous landmarks in New Orleans.

The Plaza D Armas is an open-air artist market as well as historic site dating back to the French and Spanish rule and the Louisiana Purchase. Plaza D Armas is situated by Saint Louis Cathedral and the governor’s mansion, the Cabildo, and houses the landmark sites of Jackson Square and the Vieux Carre.

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The French Quarter has a signature style with its many colorful houses and hanging flower baskets off of balconies. You will see so many beautiful balconies and galleries. You will also see houses of all colors- yellow, green, pink and blue!

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New Orleans locals and tourists share an appreciation of art and architecture, the love of swanky jazz and blues music, the famous Cajun and Creole food, and the historical significance and diverse culture that New Orleans exhibits.

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In The French Quarter there are horse-drawn carriage rides, walking tour groups, sidewalk artists, jewelry makers, fortune tellers and psychics offering tarot card and palm readings and so much more! New Orleans is a sensory overload in the best way possible.

Louisiana is famous for history and culture, music and arts, festivals and parades, bayous and swamps and our food! Foodies love New Orleans because you can have an authentic taste of the bayou with all of the delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine. New Orleans is also known for King Cake, especially during Mardi Gras, and French beignets. Other favorite desserts are Pecan Pie and Bread Pudding.

Some of our most famous dishes include Jambalaya, Muffulettas and Po’ boys, Dirty Rice, and Gumbo! In Louisiana, you will find beignets, pistolettes, chicken and sausage gumbo or seafood gumbo, shrimp or crawfish Étouffée, rice and gravy, red beans and rice, Jambalaya with andouille sausage, rice dressing, boudin, shrimp, oysters, cracklins, alligator, boudin balls, shrimp and grits, boiled crawfish, turtle soup, frog legs and more. In Louisiana, we put Tony’s seasoning on all our food and drink Sweet Tea religiously.

For a real taste of the bayou you may want to dine at Dennies, Commander’s Palace, GW Fins, Arnaud’s, Napoleon House, Acme Oyster House, Oceana Grill, Drago’s Seafood, Port of Call, Emeril’s, Galatoire’s, Antoine’s, Brennan’s, or Café Du Monde. Fun fact, Café du Monde and Commanders Palace date back to the 1800’s. Also, Karma Cafe, Green Goddess, and Seed are excellent for vegan and vegetarian dining!

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Nola has so many shops ranging from tourist shops to voodoo stores. Famed voodoo and occult stores include Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, Hex Old World Witchery, Reverand Zombie’s House of Voodoo and Erzulies Voodoo Store.

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The most popular tours include Famous French Quarter Tours, Voodoo Bone Lady Haunted Tours, New Orleans Cemetery Tours, Ghost City Tours, Horse and Carriage Tours, Cajun Encounters Swamp, City and Plantation Tours, and so much more!

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During Mardi Gras parade attendees party wildly on the tops of balconies and attempt to catch Mardi gras beads. You will see the most lavish parade floats, beads everywhere in the streets and trees, people walking with Hurricane drinks from Pat O’Brien’s or daiquiris from Bourbon Street Daiquiri, donning carnival masks and costumes, full street line performances and much more. It is legal to drink in public and on the streets of New Orleans.

During Mardi Gras season they have many parades, and all of New Orleans’ knows how to let the good times roll. Mardi Gras in the Quarter is quite insane with non-stop partying and festivities. What people won’t do for some plastic beads?!

The French Quarter is as lively as the people living there. The locals and tourists alike are always enjoying themselves and having a great time with one another. You will see a lot of smiles, a lot of craziness, and you will laugh until you cry.

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As you walk the strip, you will see street performers, musicians, painters, living statues and more. There are so many talented artists that call N.O. home. The vitality and essence of The Quarter are unrivaled.

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Parking anywhere in the Quarter is atrocious especially when they have events as it’s near impossible to park. Nola is a tourist city so you will likely have to pay almost anywhere you park. You’ll want to be mindful where you park because the cops in cars, on motorcycles, or horses are out and about, and they will ticket you, boot your car, or have it towed if you park in the wrong place.

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The French Market is an international open-air market located in the French Quarter. I love strolling through The French Market checking out all of the different vendors. There is something about admiring oddities and browsing through quirky little shops that I enjoy.  I’ve purchased many things here from local flair to international dress. I really like the unique glass rainbow earrings that proudly state “Made in the Ghetto.” I also really like the Carnival soy candles and the incense. They last such a long time and smell heavenly.

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They have a massive market for African, Asian and Middle Eastern art here. I love the selection of handmade dresses, homemade soaps, and gifts from around the world. There is a lot of folk art, paintings, hand-blown glass figurines and many other unique and beautiful items. There are also several stations to stop by for some Cajun food, snowballs and smoothies, bakery and breakfast items and more. I would definitely recommend if you’re in the area stopping by to check out The French Market.

Bourbon Street is in the heart of the French Quarter and is lively and vibrant. With non-stop storefronts, barrooms, and pubs Bourbon Street is always packed with people. Bourbon Street is the Sin City of the south and is filled with adult entertainment venues, bars, and nightclubs.

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I love how alive New Orleans is. There is always live music playing, and someone’s always cooking something in a cast iron pot. There are so many unique qualities that make The French Quarter both strange and beautiful.

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New Orleans has the most incredible cemeteries you will ever see in your life. The tombs are massive, decaying, and absolutely haunting. My favorite cemeteries are Lake Lawn, St. Louis, Lafayette, and Greenwood. They have so many tours ranging from French Quarter tours to cemetery tours to ghost and vampire tours. I believe everyone should experience New Orleans and The French Quarter in their life.

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Being a Southern Louisiana girl and growing up with a Cajun family has shaped who I am today. Louisiana, The Bayou State, has a beautiful backcountry and we are a Sportsman’s Paradise with many outdoor recreational opportunities.

Louisiana’s Gulf Coast and The Mighty Mississippi River bridge us together running through the state connecting others to us and us to them. Louisiana features swamps and marshes, lakes and rivers, historic sites and so much more. There is always a music, food or cultural festival going on. We have a rich history, iconic landmarks and monuments, the best food in the world, and that Southern accent, charm, and hospitality you’ve heard so much about!

With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

“To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert–– Eat, Pray, Love

New Orleans City Park

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New Orleans City Park is a beautiful and massive park spanning 1,300 acres and consists of the largest collection of mature live oak trees in the world. City Park is home to the gorgeous New Orleans Botanical Gardens, The incredible Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, the immersive New Orleans Museum of Art, the whimsical Carousel  Gardens, the enchanting Storyland, the remarkable Popp Fountain and more. The magic and allure of The Crescent City are incomparable. City Park offers some of the best views of the city and it is one of the most popular destinations in The Big Easy for locals and tourists alike. City Park is one of the most visited and largest urban parks in the nation.

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One of my favorite times to visit the park is during tulip season. These colorful tulips will have you in flower heaven. The way they sway in the wind under the blue sky is enchanting. You’ll want to check out the tulips by New Orleans Museum of Art along Big Lake whilst they are in bloom.

City Park offers many activities and attractions perfect for family outings. City Park’s attractions also include train gardens, splash pad, playgrounds, golf park, dog park and more. City Park is also the event location for several cultural events and outdoor festivals such as Voodoo Music Fest.

Housed at City Park is also a popular New Orleans coffee shop, Morning Call, known for New Orleans famous beignets. Morning Call is a great coffee shop for meet-ups and visits. Morning Call is also in a terrific location convenient for park-goers. Due to its popular location, there are numerous tour buses stopping by throughout the day.

 

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans City Park is home to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The museum has some tremendous art pieces housed inside. New Orleans City Park showcases beautiful Greek architecture within City Park, on the exterior of the New Orleans Museum of Art and in the open air Peristyle Pavillion which houses the four concrete lions on guard. The huge columns are quite special. In actuality, you can see stunning architecture and sculptures placed all throughout the park at any given time.

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At City Park, you can enjoy the full splendor of an abundance of outdoor recreations such as nature walks, biking, golfing, kayaking, paddle boating, touring and exploring. There is so much to such as visiting the gardens, museums, playgrounds, cafes and even more.

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If you’re up for outdoor activities you can rent a bike, canoe, kayak or paddle boat around the Big Lake. City Park is especially scenic and showcases the true beauty of Lousiana. The vibrant flowers, towering oak trees with hanging moss and serene lakes offer one a means of escape to an oasis within the city.

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City Park is very picturesque and welcomes you with the most beautiful backdrop for special events and photographs. It’s the perfect place for wedding and engagement photo shoots, maternity, baby, and family portraits and more. It’s also great for kids birthday parties, family reunions, picnics, and cook-outs.

 

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City Park captures the true elemental beauty of Louisiana’s sportsman paradise with beautiful and eerie swamps and marshes and abundant Cyprus and Spanish Moss Oak trees. Louisiana’s European ties, namely French and Spanish, have influence that extends throughout the city of New Orleans and offers an atmosphere like none other. Our Cajun and Creole culture has been handed down for generations and ingrained in us as a way of life. New Orleans embodies the true essence of the perfect marriage between the city and the country.

 

With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

“The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.” ––The Hobbit

 

New Orleans Botanical Garden and Sculpture Garden

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The New Orleans City Park is home to City Park, New Orleans Botanical Gardens, New Orleans Museum of Art, Carousel Garden, Storyland, and more. New Orleans Botanical Gardens feature the Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Gardens and the Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden which affords park-goers with some of the most scenic seasonal foliage and mesmerizing art displays in the city. The New Orleans City Park is one of the most visited urban parks in the country and houses the largest collection of mature live Oak trees in the world.

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The New Orleans Botanical Gardens also feature nurseries, lily ponds, an indoor waterfall, desert greenhouse and gift shop. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the walkways and breezeways which are lined up with beautiful seasonal flowers in bloom.

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The sunflowers are in full bloom and reach sky-ward highlighting the simple yet detailed beauty of the gardens. I love the sunflowers as much as I love the wildflowers and the tulips at New Orleans Museum of Art.

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I love the fountains and sculptures throughout the garden. The gardens have flowers and plant varieties from all around the world. The Botanical Gardens are open year-round and are a most welcomed retreat for a change of pace in the city.

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The Shade Garden has colorful swings and beautiful old trees. It’s a nice place to rest a while beneath the shady trees while surrounded by so much beauty.

The Zen Asian Gardens offer a peaceful oasis to nature lovers. Here you will see bamboo, flowers, stonework, and a water oasis. There is also a Japenese fest that celebrates tea, haiku, origami, and dance.

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The Butterfly Walk and Hummingbird Garden highlights some of natures most beautiful and graceful gifts. Watch for the enchanting Monarch butterflies as they land on the flowers and feed on the nectar.

The Aromatic Gardens feature herbs and flowers. The Jasmine flowers are just heavenly. The Aromatic Gardens also features medicinal herbs.

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New Orleans Botanical Gardens also feature New Orleans style architecture in the New Orleans Historic Train Garden, which has miniature model trains, railroads, streetcars, and New Orleans style homes, or shotgun houses.

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The Pelican Greenhouse features many desert wildflowers, plants, succulents and cactus varieties from the great Southwest. There is a multitude of cacti and succulent varieties on display including Barrel cactus, Aloe, and Jade.

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The Conservatory of the Two Sisters is home to The Tropical Rainforest which houses a stunning waterfall and cave, gorgeous colorful and tropical flowers, and low-hanging plants. The Tropical Rainforest also is home to Living Fossils. The Conservatory of Two Sisters features beautiful domed architecture and floral lined walkways.

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Au Revoir!

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With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
― Hans Christian Andersen

 

Hemingway Home and Museum

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is a National Historic Landmark and offers an educational tour and immersive experience of Hemingways Florida Keys home. Many iconic souls have sought solace and found inspiration to hone their crafts by escaping to the tropics. Ernest Hemingway is the author of famed literary works such as The Sun Also Rises, For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and more. The Hemingway home preserves many of the beloved author’s iconic literary pieces.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Ernest Hemingway, born in 1899, is a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author. Touring the acclaimed author Ernest Hemingways home is a dream come true. The home, built in 1851, is completely inspiring. Hemingway has written some of his most brilliant works of literature in this home. The home is compelling- I just want to swing in a hammock and write.

“And you’ll always love me, won’t you?
Yes
And the rain won’t make any difference?
No”

The Ernest Hemingway home was definitely on my bucket list of places I had to visit and was one of the main reasons I embarked on a trip to the Florida Keys. I was completely enamored the entire time I was at the home and museum. We arrived an hour before closing and began exploring the house. The home stayed open for more and more arrivals. We stumbled upon a tour that was beginning in the upstairs bedroom so we decided to go ahead and stick with the guide. Our tour was the last tour of the evening and our guide was very knowledgeable of all things that were classic Hemingway.

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“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Interestingly, Hemingway’s Home is known for their 50 polydactyl cats. We did get to see many of the adorable six-toed cats lounging around. The cats also have the lineage that goes all the way back to Hemingway’s own house cats! These descendants of Hemingways’ own felines are cared for in the most respectable way. The many cats can be seen roaming throughout the home and grounds.

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

I enjoyed the retelling of the penny and pool story from our guide. Hemingway had gone away for some time with his mistress and when he returned home he believed his wife was on to him. He also thought up the idea that she had taken all his money and had a huge underground pool installed and had determined that she had left him penniless. In a state of despair, Hemingway dug in his pockets and threw his very last cent at her and stormed off to the local watering hole. The penny became stuck in the wet concrete and is still there to this day!

“We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.”

“You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.”

I loved going up to Hemingway’s upstairs outdoor writing room. This separate writing room is where Hemingway would go for inspiration and clarity to write some of his most beloved masterpieces. I loved seeing all of his books and his old typewriter laid out. Hemingway lived here some ten years or so and he wrote many of his greatest books right here. It was surreal to step inside the author’s sacred space and feel the magnitude of the presence of the room.

“There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true.”

“When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.”

We learned that Hemingway wrote several of his famous classic books and short stories here in this very space. Hemingway authored in his writing room at his Key West home many books during his ten-year stay here. Hemingway penned To Have And Have Not, Green Hills of Africa, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

“No one you love is ever truly lost.”

I loved seeing all of the personal photographs of Hemingway, the rows of preserved bookcases and movie posters from his novels. There are so many marvelous Hemingway stories that I heard throughout our tour. I learned even more than I could have imagined about the brilliant novelist that is Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was an exceptional soul who battled with depression for many years which led to his eventual demise. Through the passage of time, his words live on and will forever resonate in my heart.

“We are all broken—that’s how the light gets in.”

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

 

And my bucket list dreams just keep coming true!
With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

 

“We could have had such a damn good time together.”

“Yes. Isn’t it pretty to think so?” –Ernest Hemingway/ The Sun Also Rises

Bucket List Dreams- Key West

When you are in Key West, you will notice how time slows down and you are now officially on island time. When I think of Key West, I think of The Ernest Hemingway Home, Mallory Square, Duval Street, perfect cotton-candy colored sunsets and of course, Key Lime pie! The Island community of Key West is filled with charming conch houses and is divided into two sections: Old Town and New Town. Key West has a rich historical significance, a vibrant art, and cultural scene, a multitude of kitschy and quirky places, entertainment venues and street performers and so much more.

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Old Town is located downtown and is the historic heart of Key West. I love all of the sights of the quaint Old Town area. The renovated and preserved hotels and bed and breakfasts in Old Town are quite distinctive. Old Town offers charming cottages, bungalows, and b&bs.

New Town offers more modern and beach-style lodging. New Town consists of shopping centers, restaurants, and hotels. Many of the hotels are all lined up which provides the ease of selecting accommodations for guests. Key West is extremely pricey, and on holidays those prices skyrocket. I saw 2-star budget motels going for 300+ a night during a holiday. Many folks will drive out of Key West and get a room at one of the other neighboring islands.

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Key Lime Square is a nice area to get lunch at one of the sidewalk cafes or enjoy eating curb-side. The Cuban Coffee Queen is a favorite spot to grab a coffee or a quick bite. Key Lime Square is great for people watching, spotting iguanas, and seeing chickens cross the road.

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Duvall Street is the entertainment district of Key West. On Duvall Street, you will find all of the storefronts, restaurants, and boutiques. Many off-the-wall stores are offering unique novelties and gaudy souvenirs. There is live music, street parties, and festivities. Duvall Street can be sensory overload, and that’s really what makes it so much fun.

Mallory Square offers the most stunning sunset views of Key West. The sky and the waters are multi-colored splashes of pink, blue, yellow, and orange. The scenic, panoramic views are breathtaking. Everyone gathers here as night falls to witness the splendor of the sunset. We watched the sailboats and cruise boats roll by with tours as the sun went down in the evening. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera because the backdrop is tremendous.

Mallory Square is primarily a lively shopping district with boutiques, restaurants, and hotels. They have clean facilities here and paid parking in the garage. We spent an embarrassing amount of time watching this hilarious cat man put on a crazy cat show!

If you are visiting Key West, you must catch the famous Key West sunset here at Mallory Square then have a slice of the famous Key Lime pie of course.

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The Cafe is a favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurant in Key West. The atmosphere here is really zen. We decided to get a slice of vegan Key Lime pie because you can’t go to Key West and not get a slice of their famous Key Lime pie. It was presented beautifully and tasted delicious. You’ve got to try their veggie burgers also.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is famous to Key West! Hemingway’s Home holds tours throughout the day. A visit to the Hemingway Home and Museum was definitely on my bucket list and is a great attraction for all. Avid book lovers, emerging authors and novelists and all those who appreciate great literary works will love this place.

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Southernmost Point has a very iconic landmark, the giant red, black and yellow buoy. This massive marker signifies the southernmost point in the continental United States where the land and ocean meet. The land completely ends, and the Atlantic Ocean begins at this very marker. And we’re just 90 miles from Cuba!

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Hwy 1, Mile marker 0 is quite literally the end of the road! Or is the beginning? You will also find this marker near the Southernmost Point monument. Interestingly we are at the very end and even the very beginning at the same time! This actually made me feel very accomplished.

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And my bucket list dreams just keep coming true!

With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

“She would be half a planet away, floating in a turquoise sea, dancing by moonlight to flamenco guitar.”

Bucket List Dreams- The Florida Keys

Bucket List Dreams Come True In The Florida Keys

 

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The Florida Keys offers world-class attractions and entertainment among some of the most breathtaking natural scenery you’ve ever laid eyes on. The Keys consist of The Upper Keys, The Middle Keys, and The Lower Keys. The Florida Keys are made up of five major islands– Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West- totaling 1,700 neighboring islands in the vicinity. The Keys offer once in a lifetime snorkeling amongst living coral reefs, dive sites with tropical fish, glass-bottom boat tours, dolphin expeditions, sports fishing, marine animal encounters and so much more!

We began our trip in Florida City The Gateway to the Keys. We spent a couple nights in  Miami, a night in Florida city and a night in Homestead during this epic road trip adventure. We passed by the Everglades National Park and was then onward to the keys. We had a 4-hour drive across the open water with the Gulf on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other! Some of  Florida’s kitschiest and most peculiar things can be seen in The Keys!

The Overseas Hwy

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Embarking on an exciting trip to the beautiful and tropical Florida Keys islands is a dream come true! The Keys are made up of 1700+ living coral and limestone islands across the scenic coastal Overseas Highway and you get to cross the famous 7-mile bridge! The Keys takes you through Key Largo to the Key West islands. There are 43 islands across the 113-mile chain of islands connected by 42 bridges that we have to cross! The Overseas Highway offers the most scenic drive straight through the magnificent ocean.

Upper Keys

Key Largo

(Mile Marker 108-90)

Key Largo has gorgeous pastel seascapes you can dream up. Key Largo is known for being the Diving Capital of the World. In Key Largo, there are world-famous diving and dive sites for snorkeling with the living coral reef.

Key Largo is the largest island on the keys. There are many fun attractions in Key Largo. A stop at the visitors center is a good starting point. They have coupons for hotels and local attractions, Florida Keys souvenirs, and Key Lime pie.

The islands, marine life, and living coral are all protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary also protects the remains of shipwrecks.

That swoon-worthy feeling when you’ve left the mainland and officially reached the first island! *le sigh* We began on the Overseas Hwy and through the famous 7-mile bridge which is 35,867 feet long. I loved being able to see the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean at the same time! We’re officially on island time. You will definitely want to stop off to explore each major island city on the keys.

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail offers gorgeous, dreamy scenery.  The water is like a sunset and it is so beautiful- it’s aquamarine in color with hints of pink. You can fish off here, walk the little trail or just relax by the water. You must pull off the Overseas Hwy and stop off here to see this beautiful water. It is breathtaking!

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The Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary

The Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is near Key Largo, located Tavernier, is a safe-haven to hundreds of injured and endangered bird species. The sanctuary cares for injured, orphaned and rescue birds and rehabilitates them so they can be protected and gain strength at the same time.

The wild bird sanctuary is a natural habitat which includes birds of prey, tropical birds, and seabirds. There are many varieties of rescue birds that have been rehomed here. The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is an oasis for so many beautiful wild birds such as owls, hawks, pelicans and more.

There is also a little walkway behind the bird oasis that has beautiful grounds and views which highlights the Mangroves, scenic waters, and more little birds and ducks walking about. The center is free to visit but they do have a little donation box set up at the front. This is a great stop for all ages. We had a really enjoyable visit here.

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Other things to do in Key Largo and The Upper Keys:

Everglades National Park is the perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. Park visitors can explore the marshes, swamps, mangroves, and take air-boat rides through alligator and crocodile-infested waterways.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is an underwater park and affords visitors the perfect family trip.You can take a boat tour, snorkel, swim and more.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the Florida Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Families can boat here and there is also a museum.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is great for outdoor lovers who enjoy nature walks and taking in all of the sights and sounds of nature.

Jules Undersea Lodge is the worlds only underwater hotel. They offer dive classes on site and an underwater hotel adventure where guests can stay a few hours or even overnight!

Islamorada

(Mile Marker 90-70)

Islamorada, or purple island, is made up of 6 islands and popular islands?? Islamorada is the Sports Fishing Capital of the Florida Keys. The major islands here are Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, and Lower Matecumbe Key.

The Islamorada Visitors Center should be your first stop. We were road tripping through the Florida Keys and saw this bright and inviting visitors center and decided to stop in. The visitors center is located directly in front of the Founders park. Islamorada is known for its coral reefs.

Other things to do in Islamorada and The Upper Keys:

Theater of the Sea is perfect for families on vacation to visit together. The theater of the Sea offers sea lion and dolphin shows and marine life encounters.

History of Diving Museum takes visitors on an under the sea experience with mementos and artifacts dating back 4,000 years encompassing the history of diving, shipwrecks and deep sea treasures.

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park showcases unique fossilized coral and limestone formations. For the outdoor lovers, this is a nice park to visit for exploring trails and nature walks.

Middle Keys

Marathon

(Mile Marker 70-35)

The Middle Keys consist of the islands of Marathon/ Key colony. The major islands located nearby are Marathon, Deer Keys, Long Pine and Grassy Keys and Pigeon Key.

Marathon and surrounding islands offer tons of tons of water activities and family-friendly attractions. Visitors can engage in sports fishing and can charter boats and fish either Gulf-side or Atlantic-side.

The 7 Mile Bridge

The world-famous 7 Mile Bridge connects the middle keys to the lower keys, from Knights Key to Little Duck Key. Driving across the ocean is a surreal and unforgettable experience.

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I loved seeing all of the natural formations on our drive. There are a terrific amount of points of interest to discover and explore. I especially liked seeing island after island lined up. It is a true oasis.

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Other things to do in Marathon and The Middle Keys:

 The Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Pine offers dolphin and sea lion shows. This is a great fun-filled and educational experience for all age groups.

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon cares for endangered and wounded sea turtles. The hospital offers tours and educational opportunities to learn about the sea turtles and nesting preservation projects.

Sombrero Beach is a public beach in Marathon. This beach is one of the more popular beaches in the Keys.

Long Key State Park offers campground sites for guests who wish to swim, snorkel, kayak or fish.

Lower Keys

Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys

(Mile Marker 35-25)

Big Pine Key offers more of the beautiful sights and points of interest you’ve come to love about the keys. In Big Pine Key you will likely see deer crossing the street! These spotted deer can usually be seen in plain sight and often darting across the roads.

 

Other things to do in Big Pine Key and The Lower Keys:

Key Deer Refuge is home to endangered Key Deer species. Visitors can walk the grounds and search for deer.

Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key offers more water play with their public beach access. There are water sports rentals and leisure water activities including snorkeling, kayaking, and canoeing.

Now, once you reach the end of the lower Keys, you have made it to the tropical paradise of Key West!

 

Key West

(Mile Marker 25-0)

 Key West is the Southernmost city in the continental U.S.  Once you arrive in  Key West you are only 90 miles to Cuba! Key West is truly a beautiful destination with sunsets bright and vivid as an artists palette!

 

Key West is quirky and fun, also full of chickens from Cuba walking down the streets, huge iguanas crawling everywhere and restaurants boasting “the best key lime pie” ever served here. So yea, it’s pretty awesome.

Mallory Square is the place to be to catch one of those famous Key West sunsets. The views are spectacular as far as the eye can see. There are plenty of entertainment options, especially from the varying street performers. There are ample boutique shops and dining establishments. No trip to Key West is complete without a sunset evening spent at Mallory Square.

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The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is one of the top reasons I just had to come to Key West. The home is in immaculate condition, the guided tours are informative and entertaining, and the grounds are inspiring! I love Hemingways’ writings so to visit his home was certainly one of my bucket list dreams. Hemingway Home and Museum is a must-see, must-visit.

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Other things to do in Key West:

Duval Street is where it all happens. There are street performers, restaurants, bars, art stores and much much more. The liveliness on Duvall Street is infectious.

Key West Museum of Art and History, or Custom House, holds historical significance to the city of Key West. The bold red structure showcases unique sculptures in the front entrance. The Custom House was once operated as a government building and was both previously the courthouse and post office. The Custom House displays art and architecture.

Harry S Truman Little White House offers tours for history enthusiasts to visit the old Winter White House of the 33rd president of the United States.

With it’s South Florida climate and close proximity to Cuba, The Keys offer a tropical Caribbean atmosphere which is second to none. If you come to Key West for nothing more than a slice of Key Lime pie then do just that!

 

And my bucket list dreams just keep coming true!

With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

 

“I was always an unusual girl. My mother told me I had a chameleon soul, no moral compass pointing due north, no fixed personality; just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide and as wavering as the ocean.”-Lana Del Rey

Bucket List Dreams- Miami Beach and South Beach

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Downtown Miami

 

The DNA of Miami is made up of iconic shorelines and skylines, quintessential Art Deco architecture, and elaborate history and culture. In Miami, you are in your own slice of paradise. Miami offers world-famous beaches, world-famous attractions, and a world-famous night-life. Miami is pure eye-candy showcasing aqua beaches, towering palm, and coconut trees, and bright sunshine beaming down that puts off that famous Miami heat.

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The Downtown Miami Historic District has a rich history. Some of my favorite explorations in Miami include Little Havana, Little Haiti, and the Art Deco Historic District. Miami offers incredible scenic views, glorious beaches for days and magnificent skylines.

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Miami’s Art Deco District includes 800 historic and retro buildings from the 1920s-1930s. The Miami Art Deco District in South Beach is the largest cumulation of historic Art deco buildings including hotels, theatres, museums, and clubs in the world. The architecture is stunning and timeless. Old Miami should certainly be appreciated.

I genuinely love learning about culture and customs. I enjoy visiting historical landmarks and markers, taking cultural tours, trying authentic cuisines, and wearing handmade native clothing and jewelry.

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One of the top highlights of my Miami trip was to see my first burlesque show. I attended the Fillmore theater for the Dita Von Teese Art of the Teese Burlesque Revue. Dita was very elegant and true to character. She fit perfectly at this theater with her Old Hollywood pin-up style. The show was phenomenal. We laughed, we were shocked, and we were all completely enthralled.

Some cons of the theater are that one small bottle of water costs six dollars. Another negative is that the seats are close together with no arm-rests which make for uncomfortable seating for two plus hours. The last drawback is self-parking is especially atrocious. Valet parking is 25 dollars, and the area surrounding the theater is packed. We rode street to street and came across a parking garage for only 1 dollar an hour! Theater tickets ran us around 200+, and then there’s amenities, food, drinks, and merch.

The production, the lights, the sound everything was spot on. As far as the theater goes, the theater itself is quite elegant. It’s classic Old Hollywood glam complete with red walls and hanging chandeliers. I’d come back here and watch another live show because I like the history of the theater and the elegance which transforms and heightens the entire experience!

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Miami Beach

 

When you enter Miami, you realize it’s precisely how it looks in the all of the movies and television shows you’ve ever seen. There are massive white buildings, fancy yachts, and expensive cruise boats stretched out across the azure blue ocean.

I love looking for seashells, and I found a good amount of them. There is also beautiful seabirds floating overhead and walking along the banks. I am also always on the look-out for dolphins and other marine animals.

The beach waves can get pretty big, but they weren’t too terrible. There are lifeguards on duty which are always welcomed. I was a little taken aback some by parts of the beach that had the dirty water, seaweed and many rocks in the water as you wade through it.

The beach actually stays open until midnight and reopens at 5 a.m. Also, the beach is bustling and crowded, and parking is a challenge, but that’s to be expected. There is a walking trail that goes around the beach that is perfect for sightseeing. It is also elegant for jogging, running and biking. With such perfect weather and scenery, it’s easy to stay out all day exploring.

Miami Beach is perfect for both relaxation and lounging around. If you’re looking for water activities, there are plenty to choose from. There are many ways you can have fun in the sun with all of the water sports and recreations offered.

Miami Beach is perfect for sights and entertainment. There is a multitude of places to explore such as Little Havana, Little Haiti, Millionaire’s Row, Ocean Drive, Art Deco District and more.

Miami has blue-sky waters that beckon you to them, and magnificent sunsets in the evenings. And there is still much fun to have even after the sun goes down.

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South Beach

 

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South Beach, Miami is party central. Ocean Drive is so “Miami.” It’s festive and fun, equal parts divey and glamorous, of course, iconic, and lifestyles of the rich and famous, all set against a beautiful backdrop of Miami Beach and South Beach. With their flashing neon lights, gorgeous Miami skyline, extravagant Millionaires Row and brilliant Art Deco, it’s no wonder why Miami is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.

The pastel-colored architecture in the Art Deco District is tremendous. I love all of the geometrical shapes especially the round and cylinder shaped buildings. There are hundreds of elaborate old restored hotels and businesses in the area. Miami is home to the biggest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world. Miami is remarkable and finely detailed in every way.

We drove the strip down Ocean Drive, South Beach and also walked it. I love all of the Puerto Rican, Cuban, Reggae, Reggaeton, and Latin soul music blaring for days. You’ll definitely feel some salsa coming on.

Ocean Drive has many restaurants and live entertainment venues.  When walking the strip, you’ll see hundreds of open-air restaurants, hookah bars, lounges, and nightclubs. The strip highlight fast cars, tight bodies, and loud music. There are so many people in Miami! You’ll see loads of people decked out in rich threads with blinging jewelry, riding in flashy sport and luxury cars, bikes and trikes, hoverboards and more.

Miami is a vibrant city combining art, food, culture and the great outdoors. Miami is made up of perfect shorelines, tanned bodies, island jams, ocean-front dining, a vibrant nightlife, tropical vibes and so much more!

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Until next time! I’m off to wash all this road trip dirt off my car.

With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

“My dream is to walk around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. A camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance.”

Bucket List Dreams- Wynwood Walls

Miami's Infectious Art Scene-

Wynwood Walls

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Miami’s art scene, Wynwood Walls, is completely arresting. It proves to be difficult for one to fathom just how massive the Wynwood Walls are. Wynwood Walls is an entire art district encompassing the whole neighborhood! Wynwood Walls, located in the old industrial warehouse district, is an open-air urban concrete jungle, or graffiti park, with colorful, diverse walls which showcase tremendous displays of labor and love from some of the most talented artists far and wide.

 

Outdoor Museum

The art on the warehouse buildings in Wynwood Walls is splattered on just about every inch of the district. The artsy displays are vibrant and electrifying. You will soon discover that there are more and more art pieces as you explore deeper. This art district has to be one of the coolest spots in Miami! My time was splintered between the massive outdoor graffiti park and the eclectic indoor art museum featuring paintings and other art mediums.

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Indoor museum

I was here for the Fearless exhibit which featured new work from over ten artists. I fell in love with the Arabian art. My favorite pieces were the Arabian Nights and Japanese Geishas. The art pieces evoke emotion and are mesmerizing. There is a lot of canvas prints for purchase inside the art rooms.

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Street Art

It’s easy to spend the entire day at the walls, and I could have easily spent additional time exploring more of the incredible artistic creations. You can get some fascinating images here, and there are plenty of opportunities for photo-ops. There are also various art galleries, barrooms, and boutiques in the area. They have several spots to get a bite to eat, plus ice cream trucks and fruit stands. You should grab yourself a fresh cut pineapple or coconut and with a fancy umbrella straw in it and get to exploring.

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This place is definitely a sensory overload but in a good way. One of my favorite outdoor murals is the Asian wall art depicting the 10,000 Buddha’s. I love the art scene at Wynwood Walls, and in actuality, I  love all graffiti parks- check out my previous post on Hope Graffiti Park. 

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Almost every inch of the Wynwood area is covered in graffiti, wall murals, and street art. I saw the most fascinating pieces of art that genuinely evoked emotions-laughter, awe, joy, contemplation, compassion, sorrow, and understanding. This place makes you feel something! The walls completely surpassed my expectations. If you don’t visit the walls, you will do yourself a great disservice, because this place begs to be explored and enjoyed.

 

And my bucket list dreams just keep coming true!

With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy

She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”