The Today Show and Key West

I’ve been watching the Today Show for a really long time.

Bryant and Jane. Bryant and Deborah. Bryant and Katie. Katie and Matt. Matt and Meridith. And those are just the hosts I can name off the top of my head. Over the year’s, it’s become increasingly tabloidesque–sort of an early morning U.S. Weekly. But I still watch. It’s part of the rhythm of my morning.

I was glad to hear that part of today’s show would be from Key West–anywhere on the Keys is almost always a great place to be.

However, if you happened to see the Today Show this morning, THAT WAS NOT KEY WEST

Key West in NOT about staying in Westin mega-resorts. That’s not Key West. That’s Orlando. Key West is about staying here:

Little guest houses and small inns like this are all over Key West. No, they’re not elegant, but they’re unique.

Key West is not about shopping for Made in China crap at the souvenier shops. It’s about finding artists that call the island home…artists following in the same creative footsteps as Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams.

Key West is about Blue Heaven where you can take a spin on the tire swing and might find yourself sharing your chair with a chicken. And Seven Fish, where the locals go for the fresh catch.

It’s about six-toed cats, Faustos and conch fritters.

So if you go to Key West, by all means, see Mallory Square. But then take a walk through the Truman Annex and revel in the architecture and flora. Stay some place small. Eat somewhere that looks a tad scary. Buy something hand-made.

If all you knew of Key West was what you saw on the Today Show this morning, then you probably think it’s just one more tourist trap that’s been taken over by corporate America. Fortunately, that’s not the case.

Unless you stay at the Westin, that is.

12 Comments

Filed under Travel

12 responses to “The Today Show and Key West

  1. You didn’t really think you’d get an accurate portrayal of Key West from The Today Show, did you? It’s probably just as well. You don’t want the fun spots to be overrun with tourists. It’s the same crowd here in New York that eats dinner at the Red Lobster in Time Square. Not kidding.

  2. Okay, I’m there. I love Florida.

  3. The Today Show doesn’t really belong in Key West – they too are more Orlando.

  4. mongoliangirl

    Ummmmmmm…the Keys. What a great post, HIF. You are so right that the best way to enjoy it is to do as the locals do. I think it’s best anywhere I go. Except Branson. It’s 30 miles down the road and I avoid it like the plague.
    I’ve thought for a long time that the Today show should just have sets built so they can stay in the Rockafeller Plaza parking lot and pretend they are going somewhere.

  5. Julie Fisher

    Wherever I have traveled I’ve noticed that if you go to the streets where all the tourists are and then if you walk one (at the most two) blocks back from there, you will then arrive in the real deal, whether it’s Paris or Franklin or, I’m sure, Key West.

  6. I’ve always wanted to go to Key West and stay in the true Key West, not the resorts or tourist traps. I would love to share my swing with a chicken. Especially if it’s deep fried and comes with corn fritters.

  7. See, all I knew about Key West was the touristy crap, and in the back of my head all I could think was, “Fucking Florida.”

  8. Amy

    I too watch the Today show, grew up on it. But uuuhh, yes, they have become rather tabloidish, I agree. And I can imagine they butchered Key West. See, when I think of the keys, I think of exactly the picture you posted. Quaint, unique, relaxed lifestyle. It’s where I wanna be. Doesn’t Jimmy have a song about the tourist screwing up the islands? Yet, he did find a way to make money off of them, Margaritaville dining. If you can’t beat’em, take their money.

  9. UB–I know, I know. 20 self-inflicted lashes. I hope the next time I’m in NYC you can point me to the nearest mediocre chain restaurant.
    Susie–Weren’t you just in Florida?
    AFM–definitely more Orlando than the Keys.
    MG–for all we know, they’re already doing that…building sets and just faking us out. You might be on to something there.
    Julie–But do you really want all our local tourist strolling right past your house? Checking out your flowers? Critiquing your paint choice?
    Dingo–you should try it…definitely.
    Rass–there’s plenty of touristy crap for sure, like NOLA, but there’s real stuff too. KW has a great, quirky past. The cemetery is fun too.
    Amy–I love Jimmy Buffett, but he probably did as much to hurt the Keys as to help them. On the other hand, he’s probably the reason so many people spend so many $$ there every year. It’s a tough call.

  10. Pre Bryant (he got so smug in his final years … or so the tabloids would have us believe … and I did) … Tom Brokaw with Jane. How I wanted him to be my dad. How I wanted them to be a couple. (I was a little girl!).

    Key West for Halloween! Used to be anyway, a great time and a great show thanks to our same-gender-loving friends. Thanks gays guys! 🙂

  11. jdhays

    You remind me of my one and only visit to Key West in the late 70’s. I was 19 years old and traveled along with a friend’s family on a Texas-to-Florida road trip. It was my first time to see the Deep South up close and personal, and also my first encounter with the Tater Log.
    What was cool about Key West for me was the chance to stay with some locals–distant family relatives of my traveling companions, who were all into the fishing biz. We ate some sort of stew that had all sorts of sea critters in it–one of those don’t ask, don’t tell concoctions. I was captivated by the dinner conversation which revealed a sense of disconnectedness with the mainland U.S. They had their own thing going down there and they wanted it to stay that way. I don’t think they watched much of the Today Show back then, since it was broadcast TV and reception was an iffy proposition. The family’s older son was absent from the home most of the time we were guests there. I overheard his dad talking in low tones with my friend’s dad about how the boy was out on his cigarette boat at all hours doing God knows what. Once I got a little more worldly and started watching Miami Vice I figured out what the kid was probably up to. Anyway, it’s been over 30 years since I visited Key West. You make me think I’m past due for another trip.

  12. I’ve never ever thought about visiting Key West until you started blogging about it. You’ve convinced me. So, uh, yeah, I’ll add it to my list of places I’ll visit when I can afford to travel again!

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