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Author Topic: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)  (Read 616 times)

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rain

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Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« on: July 22, 2015, 03:10:12 PM »
Next summer I want to take DS (16) to the Florida Keys (just one)   

Has anyone ever been there?

Any island/Key recommendations?

are all inclusive resorts worth it in the keys?

We like to snuba, what other activities are recommended?
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lkdrymom

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2015, 03:24:15 PM »
Did kayaking in the keys when we stopped there on a cruise. That was pretty cool.

ladyknight1

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2015, 05:16:45 PM »
Dry Tortugas national park is amazing, but you have to make the arrangements in advance, and carry everything you need with you on the boat there.
DH stayed at http://www.bsaseabase.org/ Florida Sea Base in October last year, which is a Scout high adventure camp and noted it was a lovely area. It is on Summerland Key.
Are you driving or flying?
I have no experience with all-inclusive resorts.

greencat

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2015, 05:43:33 PM »
I second the Dry Tortugas recommendation, but do want to point out that it's an all-day trip - it's about two hours offshore by boat.  Be advised that there are no public restrooms on the island - normally, you'd use the restroom on board the boat you came on.  Canoeing or kayaking through the mangroves off the smaller Keys is fantastic, as well.

I'd suggest staying on Key West to maximize your entertainment and dining options.  Key Largo is the other nice big one that is closer to the mainland.

My problem with "all inclusive" resorts is that you're not getting out of the resort and experiencing the area - you might as well go somewhere that's a lot less expensive than the Keys and do an all-inclusive there.  In fact, be advised that everything is expensive in the Keys - think 30% or higher markup on just about everything.

Advice about timing: remember that the Keys are pretty warm all year round.  Try and go before hurricane season starts...

Dazi

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2015, 07:58:30 PM »
Another recommendation for kayaking through the mangroves.  It is a wonderful experience.  I haven't done it in years, but I may have to get out and give it a go soon.

If you like museums, there are quite a few. There's the Maritime and Ernest Hemingway's home come to mind.  There's a ton of water related activities, the aquarium, the butterfly house, eco-discovery tours, some crazy parrot lady place (the name is escaping me at the moment...something with Garden in the name), the lighthouse. For some weird, there's a Ripley's Believe it or Not.



I'm not sure where you are from, but it is exceptionally hot in Florida in the summertime.  I just had this discussion with my cousin about a Disney trip next year.  She is from a place of similar climate and I was joking that at least they probably won't suffer from heat exhaustion/heat stroke/or sun poisoning as they know the hot/humid heat ropes.

Stay hydrated, stay cool, use sunscreen, lots and lots of sunscreen...read up on the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You can and will get sunburnt, yes, even if it's cloudy out.
Meditate. Live purely. Quiet the mind. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine. ---Gautama Buddah





JoW

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2015, 08:11:06 PM »
Part of the fun of going to Key West is the drive.  Consider flying to Miami and driving down the keys if you have enough time.  Somewhere on that drive I there is a state park with glass-bottom boats that takes you over a live coral reef.  I don't remember exactly where it was, but it was cool.

Key West is its own sort of place.  If you're there you need to experience it.  My only trip down there was ages ago, but, if I recall correctly, dressed up meant long jeans and closed-toe shoes.  Normal daily wear was shorts and sandals.  Find a hotel, skip the all-inclusive resort.  Plan to eat a tremendous amount of seafood. 


cicero

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2015, 03:25:49 AM »
Part of the fun of going to Key West is the drive.  Consider flying to Miami and driving down the keys if you have enough time.  Somewhere on that drive I there is a state park with glass-bottom boats that takes you over a live coral reef.  I don't remember exactly where it was, but it was cool.

Key West is its own sort of place.  If you're there you need to experience it.  My only trip down there was ages ago, but, if I recall correctly, dressed up meant long jeans and closed-toe shoes.  Normal daily wear was shorts and sandals.  Find a hotel, skip the all-inclusive resort.  Plan to eat a tremendous amount of seafood.
i agree with this. i was there once with now ex husband. we drove the keys, i think we stopped at key largo but then-hubby's idea of fun (going to a time share) and my idea of fun (water sports) weren't the same so we did the time share thing. Key west is fun - lively, music, sea, food, every other restaurant is *the* place where hemmingway sat and ate sloppy joes. we did a few museums and we did the trolley tour. We unfortunately missed the sunset - it was overcast.

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Zizi-K

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2015, 07:46:26 AM »
Yeah, Key West is it. You drive through the other keys to get there, and it's so surprising when there's actually a pretty large town at the end when you feel you've gone to the middle of nowhere! There's lots of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops there, and also plenty of activities - scuba and snorkling tours, kayaking, swimming at the beach, etc. I liked it a lot because you can do the relaxing beachy thing, the active diving/snorkling thing, as well as go out and have a nice meal and walk around town. It's a lot of fun, and part of the fun is driving in, I think. You could easily fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale and drive the 4 hours from there.

knitwicca

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2015, 08:27:23 AM »
Key West is usually where people want to go. There are tons of options but I strongly suggest you do not stay in an all-inclusive resort.
ITA with driving from Miami so that you can see the entire length of the keys. One of my trips down, I flew from Ft. Lauderdale (12-passenger airplane) but if this is your first trip there, I absolutely agree with driving.

Bahia Honda is a state park which has great snorkling.
Sombrero Beach on Marathon Key is usually a good place to go.
Watch for the Key deer on Big Pine. They are unique to the planet and an endangered species.
If you want to swim with dolphins, you will need to make a reservation well in advance.
The sea turtle rescue has tours and is incredibly interesting.
ITA with kayaking the mangroves.

Key West has some great museums....the ones mentioned above as well as the Mel Fisher Museum (has the largest single sunken treasure find in U.S. history) and both of the old jails (I absolutely cannot remember the names) near the Atlantic beach. One is now a lovely botanical garden.  The other has more history in it.

If you and your son are interested in history, the cemetery is really interesting. Some amazing art, funny inscriptions and interesting characters. If you visit it, please be respectful of the fact that it is still in use.
Also...do the Ghost Walk.  I have done it several times.  It is fun, has some real history included and will show you some areas that you might otherwise miss.

I highly recommend clapping down the sun at Mallory Square (dinner reservations in the Weston Bistro will give you front-row seats).  There are always magicians, musicians and all sorts of entertainment.

If you want to go deep sea fishing, I have a friend who is a captain and might be able to get you a discount.



FTR: I am not with the Keys Chamber of Commerce.  I have friends who live on Big Coppett and visit frequently.

rain

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2015, 11:39:35 AM »
I love everyone's suggestions, I'm rethinking how to get there now (wanted to fly).

Any pros & cons of a hotel vs/a condo rental?

DH & I need our own room.  DH would also prefer some "home" cooked meals/less eating out $$$
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z_squared82

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2015, 11:49:24 AM »
When I was interning in Miami, my parents came to visit, and we spent a weekend in Key West. We drove down, it only takes a few hours, and stopped at various places along the way. The stop I remember most was, I think, on Indian Key. There’s a state park in a smaller key and you could, at one point, kayak out to it, but the Army Corps of Engineers had never rebuilt the dock after (insert a hurricane), so they weren’t allowing visitors at present. Instead, Dad bought us a couple of beers (before lunch) and a bucket of bait to feed the fish off the docks (a surprisingly fun tourist trap). I wish I remembered the name of the fish. Jack Creval and something that started with a “p” but sounded like a “t”. It was a lot of fun. My father remembers it very fondly.

We didn’t get to go out to the Dry Tortugas. We were going to fly, but the guy’s plane was broken. The person doing the booking let us know that the guy’s plane was broken most of the time, so maybe it wouldn’t be safe even if it were working. The ferry takes most of the day, and we didn’t have the time.

We stayed at a small place near Duval Street…I think it might have been on James Street? Adorable, but it did not have a kitchenette. If you want a kitchenette, you might have to go with a bigger property. Or Air BnB.

mrs_deb

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2015, 05:11:41 PM »
If the drive is a little much for you, there's a ferry that goes from Ft Myers to Key West (and back, of course!) in about 3-1/2 hours. 

http://www.seakeywest.com/


wordgirl

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2015, 05:31:50 PM »
I was just about to recommend the ferry! We did that once; it was fun. It is expensive, and there are extra charges on top of the fares (we had to pay for what they considered to be an oversized bag). But it was a lovely ride; the boat wasn't crowded so we could wander at will.

One of the most popular ways of getting around is to rent bicycles, mopeds or scooters. I've done bikes and scooters. Both were really fun.

Your son is 16, which is probably old enough to take all of this in stride, but the vibe in Key West (much like that in New Orleans) is fairly adult. There are attractions for all ages, but don't be surprised if you pass a shop selling the latest in leather leisurewear, or cheerful drag queens handing out flyers for shows.

RegionMom

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Re: Help plan my trip (summer 2016)
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2015, 10:17:09 PM »
The Original Key Lime Pie. 

discover your favorite. 
Legend:
http://www.epicurious.com/archive/seasonalcooking/winter/key-lime-pie
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