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anniedave

Recommendations for the Keys

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We have a cruise booked out of Fort Lauderdale in Feb 2022 and having a weeks holiday post cruise we were thinking about visiting Florida Keys - somewhere we have never been. We are from the UK and dont really know where to start. Should we visit one Key or several - what's the best way of getting to the Keys ( and back again for our flight home ) Any recommendations  or suggestions appreciated. Thank you

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From the MIA airport it is a 3.5-4.0+ hour drive to Key West. Spend a day driving down, with stops, and stay in ME if possible.

 

Try El Siboney, a casual family run Cuban restaurant I have been enjoying since the early 1980s - I hope they survive the virus shutdown.

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Posted (edited)

Please be aware that driving in the US is on the right side of the road ... unlike the UK. Unless you are accustomed to this, I would recommend flights to Key West and return. Also, suggest visiting Key West only as it has some attractions (the Hemingway house is a must) and dinning options. Enjoy your cruise and key visit. 

Edited by Noxequifans

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As long as you are comfortable driving "right" it's the best way to get to Key West.  If I can drive in London, you can drive in FL 🙂

Do your research to identify where you want to stop along the route, yes it's a long drive, mainly islands, bridges and lots of pristine water. A couple of water bottles would be a good idea.

 

Post cruise, arrange for a rental car, be sure to have either your own iphone or Sat Nav to guide you out of Ft Lauderdale area and onto the motorway. Once you leave the main motorway, you will get onto US 1 - it' s the original North South roadway from the CD boarder to Key West. I've driven the route once, not the most exciting drive. I've also taken a bus from Ft Lauderdale and slept most of the way, plus a couple of cruise stops and one flight into key West.

 

Plan to spend one or two nights in KW.  First full day, hop onto the Conch Train and do the entire route, then  repeat it, hopping off at places you want to explore further. It's an easy walking community. Be sure to stop for pictures at the southern most point in the USA, sort of like Penzance. Frozen key lime pie on a stick is a must.

 

Darcy

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1 hour ago, WatchHill said:

Plan to spend one or two nights in KW.  First full day, hop onto the Conch Train and do the entire route, then  repeat it, hopping off at places you want to explore further. It's an easy walking community. Be sure to stop for pictures at the southern most point in the USA, sort of like Penzance. Frozen key lime pie on a stick is a must.

 

 

WatchHill's suggestions are good.  I would add a visit to the Hemingway House as another poster recommended as well.  A visit to the Southern White House might be interesting for you as well.  President Truman was a frequent visitor and President Kennedy was there at least once.  Attendance at Mallory Square's Sunset Celebration is a "happening" that you ought to consider.  

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Why drive to Key West when you can spend a few days in Naples, and Ft. Myers Florida. Then take the Key West Express boat there and back. Stay as many days as you like then back to Ft. Myers or Marco Island. Then fly home from either Ft.Myers or drive back to Ft. Lauderdale  or Miami. It is only a 90 min. ride across the state.

https://www.keywestexpress.net/key-west-express-fares

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23 hours ago, JohninDC said:

From the MIA airport it is a 3.5-4.0+ hour drive to Key West. Spend a day driving down, with stops, and stay in ME if possible.

 

What is ME?  If I don't know, probably someone from the UK won't either. 😉

 

A ride on the Conch Train is a good introduction to Key West. 

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9 minutes ago, Roz said:

 

What is ME?  If I don't know, probably someone from the UK won't either. 😉

 

A ride on the Conch Train is a good introduction to Key West. 

Sorry, it was supposed to be "KW" but the auto correct feature "fixed it" for me.

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1 minute ago, JohninDC said:

Sorry, it was supposed to be "KW" but the auto correct feature "fixed it" for me.

 

You've got to love auto correct. 😍 

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If you don’t mind driving on the right side of the road, I would agree driving is the best. Some car rental companies will also let you drop off in Key West and you can fly back to FLL or MIA. I have driven this route several times it is a good day drive where you can stop in Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine key but very little to see the 7 mile bridge south of Marathon is a great ride. Key West is the stop you have some nice hotels or BB’S but you can’t go wrong, atractions include Hemingway House, Conch train tour, climb the lighthouse, the southern White House to name a few plus you have quite a few casual fish restaurants and the month of Feb is wonderful down here in FL.

ENJOY!!!

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Thankyou everyone for your suggestions. We have Family near Fort Lauderdale so will prob spent a couple of days with them either post cruise before heading to the Keys or after the  Keys before we head home.  Husband is used to driving on the right when we hire a car when on holiday elsewhere in Europe. We visited around FL and Miami pre cruise this year (we were lucky to go in Jan before lockdown) so wanted to travel abit further afield next time. Thank you 

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18 hours ago, nhraformula00 said:

Why drive to Key West when you can spend a few days in Naples, and Ft. Myers Florida. Then take the Key West Express boat there and back. Stay as many days as you like then back to Ft. Myers or Marco Island. Then fly home from either Ft.Myers or drive back to Ft. Lauderdale  or Miami. It is only a 90 min. ride across the state.

https://www.keywestexpress.net/key-west-express-fares

 

I continue to learn!  I was unaware of this service.  On a Florida vacation, I have been more of a "East Coast" type of guest than a "West Coast" type of guest.

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21 hours ago, nhraformula00 said:

Why drive to Key West when you can spend a few days in Naples, and Ft. Myers Florida. Then take the Key West Express boat there and back. Stay as many days as you like then back to Ft. Myers or Marco Island. Then fly home from either Ft.Myers or drive back to Ft. Lauderdale  or Miami. It is only a 90 min. ride across the state.

https://www.keywestexpress.net/key-west-express-fares

Fort Myers and Marco are great, we spend time in both every winter.  But the Keys are UNIQUE.  Everyone should drive the Florida Keys once in their life.  Don't try to talk someone out of it 🙂

 

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On 7/4/2020 at 3:22 AM, anniedave said:

We have a cruise booked out of Fort Lauderdale in Feb 2022 and having a weeks holiday post cruise we were thinking about visiting Florida Keys - somewhere we have never been. We are from the UK and dont really know where to start. Should we visit one Key or several - what's the best way of getting to the Keys ( and back again for our flight home ) Any recommendations  or suggestions appreciated. Thank you

The drive down the Keys is amazing, you won't regret it.  A few misc ideas:

- Feed the tarpon at Robbies Marina in Islamorada

- Lunch or dinner at Lazy Days also in Islamorada

- Hemingway House and Southern White House already suggested above are good ideas

 

Key West Scavenger Hunt:

1. Find the Chart Room Bar.  Learn the history and legends about it before you go.

2.  Find Shrimpboat Sound - Jimmy Buffett's recording studio

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Silver Airways has roundtrip flights right now for $120.  I would book that.

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The Florida Keys often market themselves as having distinctive characteristics.  The "middle keys" include Islamorada and Marathon, and have a distinct family feel to them.  Lots of sport fishing charter boats, beaches, waterfront restaurants, kids sailing small boats on the bay side, etc.  The "lower keys" and key West are often described as having more of a party beat.  More clubs, more  music, etc.

 

BTW, many street addresses are keyed (noted) off the mile markers from Key West.  So, an address of 83413 Overseas Highway in Islamorada would be 83 miles from Key West, and about half between mile markers 83 and 84 (41/100), on the Ocean side (the odd digit).  It's very approximate, but the system works well enough.  Wahoo's restaurant in Islamorada is at that address.

 

There's a toll bridge to enter the Keys, and I believe there's a toll road from Fort Lauderdale / Miami to near to the Keys.  So, having a rental car which only charges you for the days you use your "pay by license plate" feature is helpful.  Some rental companies charge you for every day of the rental, others just charge you for the days on which a toll is paid.

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Posted (edited)

A toll bridge on US1?  Since when?  Are you confusing US1 and Card Sound?  Or am I crazy and can't picture a toll on US1?

 

By the way, if you are spending a week in the Keys, I'd book the day trip to Fort Jefferson.  It's incredible.  Also book a dinner at Latitudes in Key West.

Edited by BNBR

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3 hours ago, BNBR said:

A toll bridge on US1?  Since when?  Are you confusing US1 and Card Sound?  Or am I crazy and can't picture a toll on US1?

 

By the way, if you are spending a week in the Keys, I'd book the day trip to Fort Jefferson.  It's incredible.  Also book a dinner at Latitudes in Key West.

There is no toll from Miami down to Key West.

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6 minutes ago, Oviedo32765 said:

From what I can see on the Google's Map, there are NO toll booths on US1.  There are tolls on Ronald Reagan Turnpike and Card Sound Road.
https://www.google.com/maps/search/toll+booth/@25.2652419,-80.4388723,45347m/data=!3m1!1e3 

 

That's correct.  I occasionally stop at Alabama Jack's in Card Sound.  Right by the toll plaza.  It's a nice place to unwind, and set the mood for the remainder of the trip.

 

For the record, travel on US 1 wasn't mentioned by me.  That's an acceptable alternate, although much slower coming out of Miami.

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Driving to the Keys can be a real nightmare.   It's a good way to see things up close but unless you have a particular destination in mind, you'll be driving past most things there are to see.  The traffic is horrible.  Maybe comparable to the 'M' roads around London.  The scenery is gorgeous but the driver had better not take their eyes off the road.  We lived in South Miami and it would take a good hour just to get to Key Largo (and the other posters are correct, other than the turnpike, there is no toll getting into the Keys.) Taking the ferry from Ft Myers, as suggested, is an alternative or fly down.  There are too many keys between Key Largo and Key West to hit them all in a short amount of time anyway.  We actually preferred the Marathon area for visiting. 

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5 hours ago, Diver2014 said:

Driving to the Keys can be a real nightmare.   It's a good way to see things up close but unless you have a particular destination in mind, you'll be driving past most things there are to see.  The traffic is horrible.  Maybe comparable to the 'M' roads around London.  The scenery is gorgeous but the driver had better not take their eyes off the road.  We lived in South Miami and it would take a good hour just to get to Key Largo (and the other posters are correct, other than the turnpike, there is no toll getting into the Keys.) Taking the ferry from Ft Myers, as suggested, is an alternative or fly down.  There are too many keys between Key Largo and Key West to hit them all in a short amount of time anyway.  We actually preferred the Marathon area for visiting. 

 

Thanks for your post.  You have confirmed what I have considered when I have thought about driving to Key West.  

 

Never had heard about the ferry option from Fort Myers until this thread.  It might not have been available the last time I considered trying to drive from Fort Pierce with a friend.  I know she was not aware of it as a year round resident of Fort Pierce.

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11 hours ago, Diver2014 said:

Driving to the Keys can be a real nightmare.  

During holidays etc yes the traffic can be bad.  On average though it keeps moving, one needs to just go with the flow, relax, and enjoy the scenery.  It is a beautiful drive.  If spending time in Key West is the only real objective, then sure fly down or take the ferry.

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5 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Thanks for your post.  You have confirmed what I have considered when I have thought about driving to Key West.  

 

Never had heard about the ferry option from Fort Myers until this thread.  It might not have been available the last time I considered trying to drive from Fort Pierce with a friend.  I know she was not aware of it as a year round resident of Fort Pierce.

Just FYI, Fort Myers is on the west coast of Florida, Fort Pierce is on the east coast 🙂

 

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