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Vacation Bookshop Visits: Key West and Miami

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

I've just returned home from my 10th wedding anniversary trip to Florida. We took a sunset cruise on a yacht, ate tons of crab fritters, and soaked in the sun, but of course, I also had to make time for bookstore visits.

We spent three nights in Key West, which of course is famous for Ernest Hemingway's house. I toured the house and met the famous polydactyl cats, but that is big enough for a separate blog post that will come soon.

I discovered two bookstores on Key West, both were located just off of Duval Street. Key West Island Books is a charming little store stuffed with new and used books. I really liked their messaging with their window sign that states, "Shop local now, so you can shop local forever." I feel like this is directly to the heart of what I'm trying to do with promoting indie bookstores through Books Inside Boxes.

Front Window Display of Key West Books

Judy Blume is the owner of Books & Books: The Studio. When I visited Blume's location, I didn't realize that Books & Books was a bigger indie bookstore chain in Florida.

Sign for Books & Books The Studios in Key West

When I was a kid, Blume was one of my favorite authors and I was hoping that she would be in the store during my visit. No such luck, although there was a cardboard cut out of her to greet me! I love the statement that she is holding, about the importance of allowing kids to read widely. This is important for adults too. Reading widely allows us to connect with people similar to us and to empathize with those who may be different or who may live different lives. Both are important!

Also, from personally working at a bookstore, I meet a lot of customers who assume that a book is banned for a "good reason" or are shocked to realize that a book that they love has been censored in their area. Education on the uptick of book censorship is so important. These are discussions we need to be having. Thanks Judy!

Judy Blume Cardboard Cut Out at Books & Books in Key West

I may not have met Blume, but I did have a lovely conversation with a bookseller who was originally from my home state of California. I bought some bookstore stickers too. This location is unique for Books & Books, as it also contains a small art studio and sells art supplies. If I lived in Key West, I would definitely be a regular at this store. The curation of books is fantastic, especially the non-fiction selections.

View of Inside Books & Books in Key West, Florida

I'm checking out the staff recommendations.

Customer inside Books & Books in Key West, Florida

We spent two nights in Miami, and when researching indie bookstores near our hotel, Books & Books came up again. The gorgeous Bal Harbour Shops, an outdoor, tropical themed mall, housed one of the locations.

Customer in front of Books & Books at Bal Harbour Shops Miami

It was small, but it had a really lovely collection of art and local interest books. As I was browsing, my husband sneakily purchased a Taschen book of cat photography as a surprise. I

love it!

Inside Books & Books at Bal Harbour Shops Miami

The same mall has a second bookstore, this one is all about art and coffee table books. I had not previously heard of Assouline, but I have since learned that they are a publisher that started in the 90's and have several boutiques around the world.

Customer in fromt of Assouline Store Bal Harbour Shops Miami

The books are stunning and we were captivated by the vibrant colors and cool concepts. for example, the one that caught my eye was dedicated to the filming locations of the James Bond movies. My husband likes a bright aqua colored book about the River Aquarama. There is no way that we need a coffee table book, nor should we be spending money on one, but we came close. They were just so beautiful, and both my husband and I lit up with joy as we were walking around the store. If you have a chance to visit an Assouline store don't pass it up!

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