Key West Botanical Gardens

A Cuban Palm at the Botanical Garden
A Cuban Palm at the Botanical Garden

Somehow in the past six years I have not made it to the Key West Botanical Gardens. Why? No idea. It just hasn’t happened. So, last week, I noticed in the newspaper that the first Sunday of every month is free for locals. Well, you can’t beat free. Plus, they are dog friendly, so it was a good opportunity to get us, and the girls, out of the house for a little while. 

As we walked in to the visitor center to sign in, we realized that we knew the woman working, as we used to play tennis with her husband. After exchanging pleasantries, and getting a map, we were off on a tour of plants and trees. If I am being honest, plants and trees typically do not excite me. Sure, I love a beautiful orchid, and I wish I could grow mint (so I can have a steady supply of fresh mojitos), but I am just not the gardening type. The sooner I admit that to myself, the better.

One of the chugs on display,
One of the chugs on display,

The Key West Botanical Garden is a beautiful place, and while strolling the paths (or, for the dogs, while sniffing at every new scent around,) it is hard to believe that this slice of Stock Island is surrounded by the SPCA, the college and the golf club. It is serene, user friendly and a nice place for an afternoon outing. Although, in January, when it is cool out, it is likely even better than when we are sweating our buns off in June.

In addition to the gardens, there is a collection of “chugs”, which are boats, or homemade rafts used by Cubans to get to Florida. Some of these have lawnmower engines to power them, and some have oil drums for flotation. Either way, it is a sucky way to travel. The Botanical Garden has a collection of eleven chugs on display. Tip: there is a short film available in the visitor’s center. It is worth seeing prior to viewing the chugs.

Bottom line: While this is probably not a “must-see” on your first trip to Key West (unless you’re a botanist), if you’ve been to Key West before and are looking for something new, definitely check it out. Babka and Latke both enjoyed their time strolling around, taking in all sorts of new smells.

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