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Thread: Florida Keys

  1. #1
    Master Skyman's Avatar
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    Florida Keys

    We have a week booked in the Keys mid-February. Never been before. Any recommendations for accommodation (hotel, villas, AirBNB) probably for a two centre break (midway, say Marathon and Key West) would really be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Journeyman
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    Stayed on Islamorada some years back, got eaten alive by sand fleas, had to leave at 3 o clock in the morning itching, scratching and bleeding ,, driving through Miami like a mad man,, until Walgreens pharmacy opened. Can't recommend a place to stay. But take some insect repellent.

  3. #3
    Journeyman SydR's Avatar
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    I stayed at the hotel on Duck Key in April 2007. If I recall correctly itís a bit north of Marathon. Was a great area with very nice hotel with good restaurants (though that may have changed it the years since so best to check).

  4. #4
    Grand Master mart broad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toad monitor View Post
    Stayed on Islamorada some years back, got eaten alive by sand fleas, had to leave at 3 o clock in the morning itching, scratching and bleeding ,, driving through Miami like a mad man,, until Walgreens pharmacy opened. Can't recommend a place to stay. But take some insect repellent.
    They are called ď no seeumsĒ by the locals and are not very pleasant use Avon skin so soft as a repellent and remember this is a sub tropical part of the world.
    Key West is great if only for the nutters Mallory Square for sun down OMG and get to the Everglades the airboats and Alligator shows are touristy but a view of this eco system is worth it.
    I FEEL LIKE I'M DIAGONALLY PARKED IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE

  5. #5
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    We stayed in the Southernmost Beach Resort in Key West in a sea view suite. Pretty good, lovely room, OK pools if you want the US resort experience, a bit sterile like most US hotels but decent quality. Also at the quieter end of Duval St so we could opt out of the craziness when we wanted to.

    Here a few places we particularly liked in Key West.

    Sarabeths - excellent quality restaurant, small place, very personal service and pretty location on the corner of a crossroad off Duval Street so quieter. Worth booking as popular. http://sarabethskeywest.com/

    Louieís Backyard - large upmarket beach restaurant, very good food and wine, really nice for a sunset family meal.
    https://www.louiesbackyard.com/

    La Grignote - French cafe, best place we found for breakfast. Run by a foodie from Lyon, croissants made freshly the right way, amazing omelettes, fresh juice, granola etc. No booking, sometimes we had to queue for 5/10 minutes.
    http://lagrignotecafe.com/

    Little Room Jazz Club - just a bar, but very good live music. We saw a couple of blues guitarists that were outstanding. Turned out they play Ronnie Scotts when in the UK. Bar food seemed OK. Lots of music and bars in Duval Street but this seemed a bit classier, good atmosphere but not rowdy like some.
    https://www.littleroomjazzclub.com/

    Under no circumstances stay at the Playa Largo Resort and Spa near Key Largo unless you like paying top rates for dirty bedding, cold food and complete chaos. Key Largo itself was nice.

  6. #6
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyman View Post
    We have a week booked in the Keys mid-February. Never been before. Any recommendations for accommodation (hotel, villas, AirBNB) probably for a two centre break (midway, say Marathon and Key West) would really be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    The drive down to Key West is a stunner - we broke it up by an overnight @ Islamorada.

    Stayed at Parrot Key - nice place and great rooms/suites.
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  7. #7
    Grand Master JasonM's Avatar
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    We went about 10 years ago, great buzz about the place, we rented a apartment, worked out well, can't remember too many specific restaurants, but there was a great Caribbean place called 'Jamaican me hungry' which was fun and good food.
    Cheers..
    Jase

  8. #8
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    It was quite a few years ago but a cocktail at the Caribbean Club in Key Largo is compulsory if you like your movies. Sunset is probably best but you may need to arrive early. As itís you, you can probably hire a boat when in the area, and drop anchor in front.
    Memento Mori

  9. #9
    Grand Master JasonM's Avatar
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    There was a guy with a load of trained cats jumping through hoops and stuff, knowing cats, I thought it was quite a feat, no idea if he's still there obviously.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    It was quite a few years ago but a cocktail at the Caribbean Club in Key Largo is compulsory if you like your movies. Sunset is probably best but you may need to arrive early. As itís you, you can probably hire a boat when in the area, and drop anchor in front.
    Hire a boat? Surly the thing to do is buy one for the week.
    Cheers..
    Jase

  10. #10
    Master Skyman's Avatar
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    Some great information here. Thank you so far. Joking aside, a fishing trip does appeal.

  11. #11
    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    One of the nicest places you can pick!

    First, an open-top car is highly recommended! it's a long trip down from Miami and with the hood off, things look and feel even better in February! You can easily drive down to Key West in a single day. It's a long drive, but that's not the point of going down south.

    I can safely say that this sums it up nicely:

    https://www.divergenttravelers.com/m...est-road-trip/

    You're mentioning mid-February. This website has a few things as well!

    https://keywest.com/calendar/

    First time we went (my wife and I) was back in the late 90s. No kids, first time in the US and how little did we know. My in-laws had just bought a house in SW Florida (then in Ft Myers area) and we started the trip in a el cheapo Chevrolet down to KW and from KW back up to Homestead, going to the west on the Tamiami Trail to Naples and then up to FM. Driving from KW to FM is doable in one day. 4 hrs without a pauze, refueling etc. In reality 5 hrs. Taking the I-75 is faster.

    * Tip: when it's already dark when the plane lands (and it is already very late in the evening for UK standards), get an hotel near the airport and start the trip next morning: the trip from the airport to Key Largo takes an hour and traffic is overwhelming. Especially when you drive on the left (= correct side of the road ) for the first few miles.
    * Not on the website I posted above: the Chesapeake Bay Resort on Islamorada. Back in the 90s a nice place with stretchers, sand a great ocean views. A quick look on their website shows that it's completely redone recently. http://www.chesapeake-resort.com
    * Rick Stein's Roadfood.com is always nice https://roadfood.com/places/florida/

    When in Key West (or better: ON Key West), you should realise that it's one of the hottest holiday spots for East Coast Americans. Remember, those people on the East Coast, facing the Atlantic, never see a a sunset over the sea! That makes the one in Key West so special. I've heard that it has become a hangout for vendors etc. The first time we were there, a person in the crowd started singing Star-Spangled Banner! Although not American, it was impressive! All other times we went there (other years), nobody sang.

    Hotels in KW are aplenty. It's wise to phone them. They often have a better rate that via Trivago etc. We stayed a The Marker (now reupholstered) once, at the Merlin Guest House on Simonton Street and of course at the La Concha Hotel on Duval Street.

    Parking in KW is a curse. The best thing you can do is parking the car at the hotel and hire bikes for sightseeing. I remember that The Merlin has no off-street parking. You need to drop your car somewhere...

    Hope this helps

  12. #12
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    If you like snorkeling/scuba there is a fabulous reef about 6 miles out, loads of half-day trips out there, very accessible for tourists like me. I saw my first big shark and first moray eel among the pretty fish and coral.

  13. #13
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyman View Post
    Some great information here. Thank you so far. Joking aside, a fishing trip does appeal.
    To be clear, it may have been a little tongue in cheek but it was a serious suggestion: traffic is not always great by road, and arriving by boat makes it more special.
    Memento Mori

  14. #14
    Master studly's Avatar
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    Make sure to go to Blue Heaven for breakfast.

    Iíve been to Key West several times, so if there is anything particular you want to know, just ask.

  15. #15
    Grand Master Velorum's Avatar
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    Drove to Key West from Miami airport last year - very interesting experience.

    Cant recall the name of the hotel but it was just round the corner from Duval Street.

    Great place - some real eccentrics wandering around and you meet a real cross section of folk in most of the bars.



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  16. #16
    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by studly View Post
    Make sure to go to Blue Heaven for breakfast.

    I’ve been to Key West several times, so if there is anything particular you want to know, just ask.

    ^^^ this ^^^ regarding the Blue Heaven. Their pay-off: You don't have to die to get there! Best place key lime pie as well.

    We have fond memories of Key West.

    We had dinner at a restaurant run by Greek immigrants. I noticed a map of western Greece on the wall and we started a conversation about that area (we'd been sailing there during previous summer. Preveso, Parga, Paxos etc). Added to that, my wife's school-level knowledge of the Greek language resulted in a free dinner! The owners were chuffed. Even the staff from the kitchen came in to greet us.

    One of two years later, my wife was pregnant and she had bought an easy-fitting dress by North Face (there's a pic of her in the dress with the logo on her shoulder - that's how I remember the brand). The lady at the counter took off the cards and my wife was wearing the dress when we walked out, with the other clothes in a plastic bag with the picture of a set of fishing rods and their logo. When walking on Duval Street my wife was tapped on her shoulder and when she turned round, she faced an old, grey biker, totally tattooed and the size of Blenheim Palace, wearing Hell's Angels livery... He asked her: "Hey lady, where did you get that bag!?" My wife -more or less impressed- started telling where the shop was. Then this 'lady' stepped up (equally tattooed) and interrupted my wife, telling her 'man': "Can't you see she's pregnant! Did you ask it respectfully?" Then, to my wife: "Was he polite? ? He didn't scare you, did he? Better not!" Then they explained that 'fishing and hunting' was their hobby in Milwaukee and that they were amazed to see this fishing rod brand down south in Key West. We ended having a quick and proper conversation, both being interested, asking questions like: how do you feel, can you stand the heat, when are you due etc. Funny situation.

    Until this day, the text: "Hey lady, where did you get that bag!" is a standing phrase in this home!

  17. #17
    Journeyman
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    Quote Originally Posted by mart broad View Post
    They are called “ no seeums” by the locals and are not very pleasant use Avon skin so soft as a repellent and remember this is a sub tropical part of the world.
    Key West is great if only for the nutters Mallory Square for sun down OMG and get to the Everglades the airboats and Alligator shows are touristy but a view of this eco system is worth it.
    They are very unpleasant, ruined my time down there. The wife wants to do an East coast trip this year and she loves the keys so I will take your advice about the Avon. Loved the Everglades by the way.
    Last edited by Toad monitor; 21st November 2019 at 20:22.

  18. #18
    This is great as we are planning a road down to the keys in the summer...but with kids!


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  19. #19
    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paw3001 View Post
    This is great as we are planning a road down to the keys in the summer...but with kids!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I wouldn't rate the Keys as the #1 holiday destination in Florida with kids. There are nicer places to go with your offspring. But not every kid is the same (as ours). When you go down to KW, be sure to incorporate a detour to Miami Beach with the art deco buildings. Iconic scenes, especially at night. A baseball game (Miami Marlins) is worth visiting.

    Try to avoid driving the Overseas Highyway during the weekend. Everybody wants to get to his boat in the Keys to go fishing.

  20. #20
    Master studly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thieuster View Post
    ^^^ this ^^^ regarding the Blue Heaven. Their pay-off: You don't have to die to get there! Best place key lime pie as well.

    We have fond memories of Key West.
    .

    !
    They were rounding up chickens with a laser pointer in blue heaven when I was last there. I’ve had key lime pie there as well, also met Kermit down at his key lime shop and tried his pies.

    i made some good friends down in Key West and you meet some characters.

    I got talking to a German guy at the Duval Inn one night at happy hour, his wife was there on business.
    Anyway, he turns up at my bedroom door at 1am wearing nothing but a towel and sporting a boner wanting to have a gangbang, but Key West can be like that.

    All this talk is making me want to go back, I’ve always just partied when down there, many a late night wandering home from schooner wharf and Duval street in a shape.

    op, make sure to head to Hemingway’s house to see the six toed cats, might as well check out both sloppy joes bars and read about the history. The Mel Fisher museum is worth a look, Schooner Wharf for a late pint, Caroline’s cafe on Duval street does great lunch.

    And whatever you do, make sure you are staying very near or on Duval Street.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by thieuster View Post
    I wouldn't rate the Keys as the #1 holiday destination in Florida with kids. There are nicer places to go with your offspring. But not every kid is the same (as ours). When you go down to KW, be sure to incorporate a detour to Miami Beach with the art deco buildings. Iconic scenes, especially at night. A baseball game (Miami Marlins) is worth visiting.

    Try to avoid driving the Overseas Highyway during the weekend. Everybody wants to get to his boat in the Keys to go fishing.
    Cheers for the heads up.

    We will be doing the Orlando parks, Kennedy Space centre and a few nights on Miami Beach, Everglades before heading down there so hopefully they wonít mind Having some time at places we wish as well!

    However, will give the baseball a miss as I find it a bit dull!

  22. #22
    Master
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    Have been several times. On Key West I would recommend Ocean Key House at the Mallory Square end of Duval st if you want to be close to the action, alternatively the Almond Inn at the other end of Duval St allows you to get away when youíve had enough!

    Pepes is great for breakfast too but be prepared to wait for a table. Itís a long drive up the Keys and a little boring tbh. Last time we flew from Tampa and the time before took the boat from Fort Myers Beach.

  23. #23
    Craftsman
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    For accommodation I'd heartily recommend Eden House in Key West:

    https://edenhouse.com/

    A really special place with a lovely vibe.

  24. #24
    Master murkeywaters's Avatar
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    I love the Keys, got totally wasted in Sloppy Joes one night, how I made it back to my room I'll never know, my mate ended up on another Island in floods of tears!

    The drive down is epic, the sea is an unbelievable colour either side of you, its a roof down, colourful dive watch kinda place, damn I gotta ago back now!

  25. #25

    Florida Keys

    Take plenty of $$$$$$$$

    KW and Miami Beach have to be amongst the most expensive places in the world to have a tipple. If youíre out for a session, remortgage you house in advance.

    And then when youíre outraged by the drink (and menu) prices, add another mandatory 30% on top for tax + tip.

    The gouging of the tourist wallet means I wonít go back. Oh, and the unsophisticated fat Americans bar-hopping at every turn.

    Although the hotel (The Perry Key West) we stayed at was lovely. But, like everything in KW, pricey.

    https://www.perrykeywest.com/m/

  26. #26
    Grand Master
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    One of my least favourite things about the USA is the ridiculous gouging via the tipping system.

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