Newbie’s Guide To The Florida Keys

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photo© Ed Schipul

We all love vacations — who doesn’t like enjoying a break from work to bask in the sunshine while gorging ourselves on delicious food? The hardest part of planning that week or weekend getaway can be choosing where to go. Alright people: It’s time I told you something important and amazing. I thought about keeping it a secret, but I can’t. It’s too good! The answer is this: The Florida Keys are the best place to spend your vacation. They are unique, dotted with sandy beaches, restaurants, stores, parks, and scenery that is just breathtaking. It would take pages to even touch on their beauty, and since you probably aren’t interested in reading how I drool over islands, I will share how you can enjoy the unforgettable experience the Florida Keys offer.

Getting There

Did someone say road trip? That’s right! Whether it is in your car, a rental car, or even a bus, it’s time to pack up those suitcases and drive on over to the islands. Yes, I said drive, and yes, I said islands. Now, I have driven to an island or taken a ferry many times before, but exploring an entire chain of islands is something special. Getting there is one of the best parts, as you go across on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway; it begins near Florida City and stretches 127 miles to mile marker 0 on Key West. Don’t worry about being bored, either; along the highway, you can stop and explore the islands while you cross over 40 bridges and breathe in the ocean air. But if driving is not your cup of tea, you can fly directly into Key West or take a ferry. It all comes down to what you prefer. I love to explore and take my time.

Exploring Along the Way

If you decide to take the road-trip vacation from Key Largo to Key West, there are more places to stop and explore than you can fit in one trip. This is, of course, what I strive for: a few excuses to return multiple times. Starting at Key Largo, I would visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for a chance to swim in the first U.S. undersea park. After having some fun in the water, stop at Islamorada for some tasty food at the Hungry Tarpon while you soak in the view of the beach. Robbies Marina is located next door and is a fun place to explore. The best part is feeding the tarpons for only a few dollars. It is something kids love to do, and of course, us big kids get excited about it, too. At this point, I would call it a day, check in at my accommodations, and spend the rest of the night taking pictures of a stunning sunset while sipping a glass of wine in a comfortable chair. Excuse me while I take a moment to remember it … yep, it’s time to go back. Now, when you are relaxed, you can either linger longer or hit the road to Marathon. You will have to visit the Dolphin Research Center to pet, swim with, and even paint with the dolphins. Big Pine is the next place you can stop to kayak, paddle-board, or even just relax on the beach and enjoy a few of the restaurants.

Key West

You made it! Now that you have traveled across islands and bridges, you have finally reached Key West. Take a moment to snap a picture of mile marker 0, then get settled in for a few days. The Old Town Trolley will guide you through the town to the most popular spots, including the adorable Key West Lighthouse. The harbor is my favorite place to stroll and catch a bite to eat, including the fresh catch of the day. Don’t miss out on the ocean at your fingertips: Rent a bike and ride along the beach paths, go sailing, swim, scuba-dive, and live in the moment of experiencing this tropical paradise.


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Posted in Beach vacations, Family vacation spots, Florida vacations

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