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Florida Keys/Miami/Ft. Lauderdale--need help w/ details

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My DH and I are flying into FLL mid-April and driving down to Key West. We get in early evening and will spend the night in Coconut Grove or Homestead (Marriott Courtyard either location). The 1st morning, we plan a short tour of Everglades NP...probably just the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails...before heading to the Keys. We will stop at Big Pine Key to see the Key deer before continuing to Key West for 3 nights. We will return to the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area to spend the night, then fly out the next afternoon. I have our KW lodging and activities planned for the most part.

My questions are: Suggestions for the 1st night's dinner (Miami Beach?) I would like something moderately priced with a South Florida feel.
Any preference of Coconut Grove vs Homestead lodging, since it will just be that evening?
Any other must-see stops on the way down to Key West? Key Largo? Islamorada? Marathon?
On the return (not sure how early we'll leave KW), would it would be better to stay at Miami Beach (Winterhaven Hotel...now a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel) or Ft. Lauderdale (Marriott Beach Place Towers...a condo property). We will have at least the evening and a good part of the next day. Suggestions for activities? We will probably have to check out of our hotel between 10am and noon, but don't need to be at the airport until 3pm or so.

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