I’ve driven down A1A from the Fort Lauderdale airport a number of times on my way to Meeting of the Minds in Key West, but last year my husband and I decided to personalize the trip a bit.
Conferring with Jim Morris one evening after he performed at a house concert in our home, we made a plan to stop at a few iconic spots along the southbound highway. All have been celebrated in the lyrics of Trop Rock songs, inspiring us to check out these well loved places that dot the Florida Keys.
Key Largo: Caribbean Club
The first stop was at the historic Caribbean Club in Key Largo, which was built in 1938, making it the oldest bar in the Upper Keys. Some of the outside area was used in the filming of the classic movie “Key Largo.” We ordered a drink at the dark interior bar, then adjourned to the outside patio.
I had read that wild parrots came to indulge in the many bird feeders hung outside, and we weren’t disappointed. We had just sat down and here they came, flapping and squawking. What a treat! Singer/songwriter Key West Chris Rehm has a song called “Seaplane” that mentions the Caribbean Club… great place!
Islamorada: The Lorelei
We then motored a few more miles until we arrived in Islamorada. The Lorelei Cabana Bar was our next stop and it’s named in Jim Morris’s song “Mary Jane Goes to Key West.”
The Lorelei is a gorgeous open-air establishment with a beach in the back and an adjoining marina. It would be an outstanding place to spend an entire afternoon. Great inclusion, Jim!
Marathon: Sunset Grille and Raw Bar
About mid-way down the Florida Keys and just seconds before crossing the 7 mile bridge we turned into the Sunset Grille and Raw Bar. In Steve Tolliver’s song “Top Down Kind of a Day” he leads us down the Florida Keys with a stop at the Sunset Grille for a yellowtail snapper lunch.
We pulled up a bar stool on the expansive railing overlooking the pool (yes, this bar/restaurant has a pool!), admired the ocean view that stretches for miles along with a fantastic view the 7 mile bridge.
Big Pine Key: No Name Pub
The sun wasn’t far from dipping into the water when we finally found the No Name Pub on Big Pine Key. I had heard the location was a challenge to find and that’s entirely true. We sat ourselves at the bar and enjoyed libations and a great pizza.
After some research, I found that Leo Dean has a song appropriately titled “No Name Key,” in which he mentions the Pub, whose building dates back to the early 1930s. Plus, Trop Rocker John Friday’s Florida Keys song, “Beer Pressure” is a full day of bar hoping down the Keys with a stop for a beer at this iconic bar.
I’m sure someone knows how much money is represented on the walls of the No Name… there are dollar bills affixed to every wall surface. I would guess that it’s enough to finance more than your own musical drive down the Keys!
The story about Key Largo being filmed at the Caribbean Club makes a good tale, but it’s likely not true. It’s possible that John Huston wrote the screenplay there (although not even that is certain), but it’s highly unlikely any actual filming was done there. Jerry Wilkinson of the Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys has researched this a good bit, which you can read about here:
Thanks Rob! What a strange historical article…. it seems to even contradict itself. The author also admits “there is little to no written history of what I am stating as ‘history’ on this web page.” And he doesn’t give a good reason for dismissing the chamber of commerce guy’s recollection of the film crew being there for 3 weeks.
Looks like an unsolved mystery!
Thanks for the roadmap!! We’ll need it on our way to MOTM!! :-)