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No shoes, No kids, Just Your Parents...No Problem?

I just traveled to Key West, Fl with my parents alone. No siblings, no husband, no children. Traveling with your parents (and sharing a room) is an adventure in and of itself. Add to that different agendas, food preferences, and that parenting never ends (no matter what your children's age is) and you could have a recipe for disaster or the time of your life.

As we drove down to Key West I downloaded an app called Florida keys. It's based on GPS location so when you hit a certain point it will give you information on the area and what to look for. My parents are history buffs so we rather enjoyed this as it added a little something more to our trip than just my dad asking questions about things he saw as we were driving and me trying to google answers from the backseat.

At our first stop, as I toured Hawks Cay Resort, my mom blew out her sandal! This was starting to be a Jimmy Buffet song in the making. Thank goodness she has a daughter that happens to wear the same size shoes as her and is always prepared! (Thank you Girl Scouts!) We switched shoes in the lobby, I grabbed my second pair out of the luggage, and we continued on our way, not missing a moment of fun and laughing at how the trip was going and reminiscing about all our trips when I was younger and the funny things that happened on those trips!

We stayed at The Barbary Beach Resort. This adorable resort welcomes you with its key west nautical-themed lobby. Being greeted by Amy with a boozy slushie and fresh baked cookies upon arrival makes you feel like you just arrived at your very cool aunt's house for a visit. My mom had specific requirements: a beach, a nice room, and cost within reason.

First off, you might hear there are no beaches in Key West. This is true/false. There are no natural beaches in Key West. The sand is trucked in from somewhere else. Smathers Beach is a gorgeous man made stretch on calm Waters. That's because the reef is 5 miles offshore so there are no waves! (Great for little ones!) Also, Smathers Beach is on the Straights of Florida, technically NOT the Atlantic Ocean. The Straights of Florida connect the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. History and Geography, you're welcome (my parents are going to be so proud).

Now because I know my parents, I know they weren't looking to spend $1,000 a night on a hotel just to have a small sliver of beach. I also knew they weren't looking to be out all hours of the night on Duval Street. Barbary fit this bill perfectly as it is directly across the street from Smathers Beach but still has access to downtown. That access is due to their shuttle service that runs from 9 am to 10:30 pm every night between Barbary, Havana Cabana (their sister resort), and downtown. This was a must. Parking and driving in key west can be difficult and expensive and it's just as easily walkable if you stay close, but if not your Uber expense can add up if you want to go downtown every day! The shuttle was the perfect solution! The bus loops about every hour. If you have a chance to ride with Bob, make sure you do (and tip him well!) He will give you fun facts, tell you stories, and is just generally a funny guy. He and my dad hit it off with some good-natured ribbing about hockey teams which made each trip funny and entertaining.

The Beach my mom required, we actually never made it to. (It was hot!) Barbary has Privileges with Sunset Water Sports at Smathers Beach. Kayaks, paddleboarding, windsurfing, and Hobie cats (like mini sailboats), chair and umbrella rentals are included with your stay at Barbary as are floats, and snorkel equipment. If you've never sailed a Hobie cat or do not have sailing experience, you won't be able to take one out. But if you get there and they aren't busy and have enough staff, with a nice tip they will be happy to teach you.

Smathers Beach can get sargassum in the summer months. That is the seaweed that is found all along the Caribbean during this time. A warning if you're not aware, it stinks, a lot. It has a strong sulfur smell and it does not matter if you are at the beach or anywhere else, you will smell it. Some years are worse than others and some months are worse than others (typically summer months).

We checked in and my parents wanted to rest a little so I jumped at the chance to go take a dip in the pool. It was the middle of May and the temperature was 85 with a real feel of 94°F! When you check in you get a wrist band. These aren't like the wristbands that they put on you in the Caribbean and then cut off at the end, this was a rubber bracelet that you could slip on or off. It is your room key and the key to your amenities at the resort or the beach. The first time I used it was at the pool towel station. They have a little locker with all the towels and they are accessible by tapping your key to unlock the towel locker door. The pool at Barbary is a good size with a waterfall feature that you can sit under. Barbary is a family resort so there will be kids swimming and splashing, but the design of the pool gives you little coves that almost make it feel like a bunch of smaller pools all connected.

After a dip, it was time to take my parents out on the town! We ended up walking to Dante's. Not my favorite food place, but this is where I learned my first lesson traveling with my parents. They don't want to walk that far, and in the heat, they want to walk even less. They also can get hangry like a teenager! Feed them quickly!

After an underwhelming dinner where we dined with a chicken and her chicks under us (which was entertaining and fun), we wandered around a little and then headed back to the shuttle. This was where I learned lesson number two when traveling with my parents. No matter how old you are (I'm in my 40's) you will always be their child and they will treat you as such. I stopped off at Kermit's Key Lime Pie Shop to get their iconic and raved about chocolate-dipped key lime pie on a stick. As we were waiting in line for the shuttle my mom starts asking me if I have napkins and telling me that my dessert is going to fall. I laughingly explained that I have napkins and am an adult while the gentleman next to me laughed his head off. If anything, my parents and I are definitely good for entertainment value!

Back at the hotel, I was safely tucked into bed every night by 10 pm. This was not the Key West drinking on Duval with my husband until the wee hours of the morning type of trip. The only drawback was that by being in bed early, you heard everything in the hall. The walls were a little thin.

With an early bedtime, we got up early and headed to town. The shuttle fills up fast. I didn't make it on the shuttle with my parents so I sent them ahead and waited an hour for the next one. I was told it would be 15 minutes.... it wasn't. I should have gone to have breakfast at The Barbary. They have a great menu and the Key West Benedict looked amazing.

After successfully meeting my parents downtown we jumped on the Duval Loop. This is a FREE air-conditioned hop-on hop-off bus. They wanted to ride it around and get their bearings. It was a nice 40-minute trip then we got off so they could go see The Little White House. GPS systems and my parents can be a little touchy, so I guided them through a gorgeous garden to their stop, dropped them off with a wave and a "you kids have fun," and told them to text me when they were done so I could pick them up.

After getting their history in it was time to feed them again. I was going to walk down to Smokin Tuna, but they wanted air-conditioning. We ended up at the famous Sloppy Joe's. My parents, now fed, satiated, and cooled off decided to jump back on the hop-on-hop-off bus to go to the southernmost point. I decided to jump back on the shuttle to go visit Havana Cabana, the sister resort of the Barbary.

Havana Cabana is a cute Cuban-themed resort with one of the largest pools in Key West. Instead of cookies, they serve churros! Drawings on the ground, a food truck by the pool, and fun activities abound. What I love about these resorts are the fun things they have planned for each day. You can schedule a tour of Key West in a '57 Chevy, they have mermaid lessons in the pool at Havana Cabana, Island tales and ghost stories on Thursdays, trivia nights, a DJ on Saturdays and Sundays at Havana Cabana pool, poolside popsicles, rum tasting, monthly sip and paint nights, campfire stories, seashell scavenger hunts, shut the box (my favorite pub game) and of course my favorite thing – relaxing Hammocks!

After our afternoon siesta, we headed back downtown for dinner to White Tarpon. There is one thing that I will never ever leave Key West without, and that is a Key Lime Pie Martini from White Tarpon. Others have tried around the world, and some have come close, but nothing has compared to this drink that I dream about. This is where I learned my third lesson with my parents. Happy hour is dinner. With appetizers half off for happy hour until 6:30, we were able to order it all and leave feeling completely full! (The martini helped too!)

The next morning we headed back to Miami so my parents could drop me off for my flight. Here I learned my final lesson. They will always give you advice. The was evidenced by when my dad told me to make sure I watch my flight because they sometimes change the gate number on you (mind you, I'm a travel agent and have visited multiple countries on my own. I'm very familiar with gate changes!) Inside I was dying of laughter and because I mean my parents are the cutest and they obviously love me. As a parent myself I see how you don't ever turn off that part of you. This trip gave me precious time with my parents alone that I didn't get as a kid. It also gave me valuable insight into my parents and their relationship (they are celebrating 50 years of marriage this year!) The most important part of this trip though, I definitely solidified myself as the favorite child!

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