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Road Trip New Orleans to Key Largo- Please Critique

Road Trip New Orleans to Key Largo- Please Critique

Old Jul 2nd, 2009, 11:47 PM
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Road Trip New Orleans to Key Largo- Please Critique

My wife and I will start our trip on Jan 6th and the following is our itinerary.

Fly into New Orleans and pick up car on Jan 9th.

Jan 7th Drury Hotel, New Orleans
Jan 8th Drury Hotel, New Orleans
Jan 9th Drive New Orleans to Biloxi. Stay at Ramada Limited, Biloxi.
Jan 10th Drive Biloxi to Pensacola, Stay at Marriott TownPlace Suites, Pensacola
Jan 11th Drive Pensacola to Jacksonville Beach. Stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites, Jacksonville Beach.
Jan 12th Drive to Kissimmee. Stay at Fantasy World Resort , Kissimmee.
Jan 13th Free time in Orlando/Kissimmee
Jan 14th Free time in Orlando/Kissimmee
Jan 15th Drive to Miami. Sat at Miami El Palacio Sports Hotel, Miami
Jan 16th Free time in Miami.
Jan 17th Drive to Key Largo. Stay at Ocean Pointe Suites, Key Largo.
Jan 18th Free time Key Largo.
Jan 19th Free time Key Largo.
Jan 20th Drop off car at Miami International for the 15hr flight back to Cairns.

Any suggestions as to how best spend our time in each place would be terrific.
garryoday is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 03:18 AM
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New Orleans and the Keys - you're heading for two of my favorite vacation spots in the US. I've got nothing to say about your itinerary, but am very impressed with your choices of places to see. Remember to dress for hot weather, the South will be HOT that time of year. Have a good time!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 04:18 AM
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I'm not sure why you'd go out of your way for Jax Beach, it is nothing special. The same for Biloxi. I'd add those two days to Miami & New Orleans respectively.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 05:12 AM
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In my opinion, Key Largo is the least interesting place in the keys. If I were you, I'd head straight down to Key West, or at the very least go to Islamorada, which is just next to Key Largo.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 05:56 AM
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Garry, find another Miami hotel.

The last place you want to stay is a motel off the Palmetto Expressway.

It is not a safe area.

I suggest you spend the night in Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, or Key Biscayne.

Miami has a horrible crime problem and sketchy areas are not where you want to be.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 06:01 AM
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I agree w/GoT, I wasn't really looking at the hotels as much as the lay-out of destinations. Put your beach time in there, no telling what the weather may be like in the Northern part of the state in Jan.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 07:11 AM
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I agree about Jacksonville. It won't be good beach weather at that time of year, it is a fine city but not a big destination of itself (unless you want to golf on Amelia Island) and you are driving far out of your way.

Why not leave Pensacola (where it may also be quite cool in January but a charming southern town) and hug the coast, stopping to overnight somewhere in a small town on the water like St George Island or Apalachicola? Oysters will be at their peak in January, and the scenery will be lovely even if it isn't tanning weather.

Then head down to Tampa/ St Pete if you are looking for bigger city/beach or instead stop in the Crystal River area to snorkel with manatees before cutting over to Orlando.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 10:43 AM
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I agree with BlueSwimmer. I would skip Biloxi and Jacksonville. I would drive New Orleans to Pensacola and Pensacola to Apalachicola OR 30 min before you get to Apalachicola stay at Cape San Blas, a little peninsula that is just beautiful. I can recommend Cape San Blas b&b http://www.capesanblasinn.com/ and then on to St Pete Beach (about a 6hr drive) In Miami I recommend South Beach and also recommend driving further than Key Largo. The drive to Key West is beautiful!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 01:14 PM
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One more vote to avoid that part of Miami- I felt less safe there than I do in Detroit.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 01:47 PM
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Here is another vote for skipping Biloxi. It is only 1.5 hours from New Orleans, and the beaches are not that nice. Pensacola is about 3 hours from New Orleans (www.visitpensacola.com).

Although the weather along the northern Gulf Coast will be cool (it could be anywhere from 5C to 20C) the beaches at Pensacola (and as far west as Panama City) are beautiful - white sand that looks almost like sugar. Pensacola is also home to the National Museum of Naval Aviation, one of the oldest and tallest lighthouses in the US, and several old forts (all of the above are at the Naval Air Station).

The Seville Historic District near downtown is on the bay and has lots of shops and places to eat, and there are several local history museums in the vicinity.

If you decide you want to drive along the coast towards Apalachicola (parts of the drive are scenic and parts are full of shopping centers), you might consider staying at a downtown Pensacola property. If you want to stick with Marriott, there are a Courtyard and a Residence Inn on Chase Street (several places to eat within walking distance), although I don't know what they are like inside.

Also, if you like gardens, you might consider stopping at Bellingrath Gardens and Home outside Mobile, Alabama (www.bellingrath.org). The camellias should be blooming all along the Gulf Coast at that time of year.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 06:23 PM
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Great information & I thank each and every one of you for your constructive input. I will look at each alternative you have given me and will post my 'new' itinerary. Again, thanks!!
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 05:37 PM
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I would extend my time in New Orleans and decrease/eliminate Biloxi and Jacksonville Beach.

Remember that the winter weather along the Gulf Coast, especially the northern Gulf Coast, will not be beach weather. It will only get to be beach weather when you get to Southern Florida and it may still be too cold then as well... That's why I think extending the stay in New Orleans is the best advice.
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 11:35 AM
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From our experience last year I would definitely recommend a stay on Miami beach , we stayed at the Hilton and it was fab and right on the beach. I would also definitely make the trip to Key west . It is very different from the rest of Florida , and well worth the drive. Key Largo is not a good example of the Keys.
Enjoy !
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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I am glad you are eliminating Jacksonville Beach for all the reasons given by other posters. However, if you need a place to stay in this general area, consider St. Augustine (America's oldest city) about 35-40 miles south of the city of Jacksonville, down I-95. It's full of history and oozes charm.

Be aware that Kissimmee is close to Walt Disney Word and the other attractions and not much else. It is about 15 miles south of the city of Orlando itself.
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Old Jul 9th, 2009, 02:11 PM
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Have a great trip - just got back from a 5 day stay in New Orleans - from Jax, FL. AVOID The St.James Hotel, NOLA - Emeril's Casual Restaurant, Mothers Restaurant and be very careful on Bourbon Street. Crime is unreal. Great restaurants we found - Bon Ton on Magazine Street, Port of Call - awesome hamburgers, Garden District - Camillia's. Have a great trip.
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Old Jul 9th, 2009, 04:10 PM
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Bourbon Street - and the French Quarter in general - are probably the most highly-policed areas in the country. While other parts of NO can be dangerous, you'll be fine in the French Quarter if you steer clear of dark alleys and unpopulated areas.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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While the carefree attitude found in the French Quarter may be shocking (and even scary) for some first time visitors, my experience is that the area is generally safe. Of the many times I've been to New Orleans, I have taken the same precautions I would in any other urban area and been perfectly safe.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 08:04 PM
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We are planning the same trip in a week. I can't believe you are doing the same exactly. Or DID do the same trip. How did it go? We were going to stick to the coast and head to Key West. Honestly how was it and what do you recommend avoiding or hitting. We have 2 weeks. Jan 11 to Jan 25
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 09:29 AM
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Will second donnacc14's suggestion to avoid Mother's. I was also less than taken with NOLA, though some folks here report good experiences -- it's also a noisier place than others of its kind.

Safety in NOLA is indeed something to consider carefully. Bourbon Street for the most part is more rowdy than unsafe, though. Head above (i.e., northwest of) Bourbon St. with caution, though, especially at night -- and don't venture beyond Rampart St. except to go to the Visitor Center when it's open, even in daylight (there's a really bad housing project between Basin St. and the Interstate). Also take care the further towards Esplanade Ave. you go in the Quarter beyond Ursuline Ave., especially at night.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 10:56 AM
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Go to Galatoire's in the FQ for lunch or dinner. Get BBQ shrimp at Mr. B's. Go to Parkway or Johnny's for good po boy's in New Orleans. Go to Emeril's, Bayona, Irene's or NOLA in New Orleans. Go to WWII DDay museum in CBD in NOLA.

Take the streetcar Uptown and stroll Magazine visiting the fine shops and stores.
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