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Best way to get to Key West from the Midwest?!

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Mar 3rd, 2012, 08:33 PM
  #1
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Best way to get to Key West from the Midwest?!

Hi....I will be traveling to Key West in mid-October, and I am trying to create an efficient travel plan. Ideally, I'd like to fly all the way there, and from my short amount of research, it looks like flying into Ft. Lauderdale then taking a smaller place to KW might be the way to go. (I believe my options for air are Continental and Cape Air.) That's Option #1. Here's Option #2: Fly into Ft. Meyers, somehow get to Ft. Myers Beach, then take the Key West Express Ferry, but it only sails from Ft. Myers Beach @ 0830, too early to make a connection from an earlier morning flight. I'd have to fly in the night before, stay nearby, an be a the dock for the 0830 departure, then reverse this plan to fly home. (The Ferry arrives from KW @ 9 pm.) Option #3: Fly into Ft. Lauderdale, taking a shuttle bus down to KW. Shuttles leave every 2 hours beginning at 1030 am. If my connection was late, I simply wait a few hours for the next one. Are there any other modes of travel to consider? The last thing I want is to be stuck in Atlanta on a 6 hr. layover. My time is the biggest thing I'm trying to conserve.

Next item: lodging. On a previous trip, I stayed at Ambrosia Too, a lovely B&B, but likely closed now. This time, I'd prefer a more populated property, one with a great pool, hopefully an outdoor bar, not too far away from the action. My friends will be staying at The Galleon, so if it was close to that, great, but it wouldn't be a dealbreaker.

More questions: Is the A & B Lobster House still wonderful? Is Kino Sandals still there? Where is the best coffee? Where is the best place for an outdoor lunch on the water? (I remember a great place for fritters with a hot mustard dip and cold beer - I'd love to go there again.) I visited a rooftop bar during the middle of the day for a cool drink, and stayed a few hours, just drinking in the water view. It was in the middle of town, in a location where a big cruise ship eventually sailed in and ruined the view. Still, that serene afternoon sticks in my mind, and I want to go back. Any idea where this was?

More info: I'll be traveling and staying solo, but meeting up with other friends in town for a wedding. I'm looking forward to renting a bike and biking the island on my own. I want to stay in a well-lit place with lots of other people, not the secluded (but lovely!) B &B choice I made the last time I visited. All suggestions welcome for lodging.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:24 PM
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I will personally go to anybody's home who gives SJSRFOX a tough time. (Was that coming on too strong?)

Sorry, I cannot help you out. We have been Florida over a dozen times and for some reason never went to the Keys.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:50 PM
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I can't really offer much advice on FL either, but remember that Continental Airlines ceased to exist around 1 am this morning and everything is now United. As the two companies further consolidate, they are likely to tweak schedules and routes before October.

If you opt to connect via Ft. Lauderdale, you may want to keep a Plan B in the back of your head in case they rebook you with an almost impossible connection or cancel one leg of your flight.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 10:27 PM
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Aduchamp1, I just about fell out of my chair when I saw your name!! Sadly, I suspect there are no comfortable couches in Key West. Citylights, after I posted the above, I continued to peruse flights, and noticed that I was on a United website, and I didn't know how the heck I arrived there. Now it makes sense! I'm taking your Plan B advice and am keeping track of flight numbers, phone numbers, and websites. Thank you both for posting.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 01:01 AM
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I live in Fort Lauderdale.

Do yourself a FAVOR and fly via Miami

wwww.kayak.com
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Mar 4th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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fly down thru either Miami or Ft Lauderdale... or fly to Miami, rent a car and drive down the Keys...

The Hotels down near the action include Ocean Key resort and the Pier House... not far from Galleon...

the rooftop bar is at the Key West La Concha on Duval...
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Mar 4th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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forgot to mention that the Ft Myers ferry is very weather dependent and can easily be cancelled ruining your trip...
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Mar 4th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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I second garyt22's advice
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Mar 4th, 2012, 10:27 AM
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I agree with the others - fly in. Don't rely on the ferry. Use kayak.com to find connection options and rates. Personally, I love the drive TO the keys and like flying into Miami or Fort Lauderdale (I prefer Ft Lauderdale) and driving down. If you are there for more than a few days, consider that option. I also prefer hanging out around Islamorada then Key West. We used to go down each year and stay for a week. We'd go down to Key West for a day trip, but that was about it.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 10:30 AM
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Our family of nine was together in the Keys for Thanksgiving. Most of us arrived Ft. Lauderdale airport and then our group rented a Dodge Caravan to drive down to Cudjoe Key. We rented a roomy property there which has a nice pool with. Many houses on the canals for sale. It is a long drive down and some might want to fly directly to Key West. Due to delays we drove mostly a night but daylight returning was nice.

You can see from our report what we did besides relax and eat. Lots to see and do in Key West...and very nice beach at Bahia Honda St. Pk.

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...s-168718-2.cfm
Bill in Boston
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Mar 4th, 2012, 02:37 PM
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We flew from O'Hare to Ft. Lauderdale and drove down to Key West about 2 weeks ago. Allot at least 4 hours for the drive. It can be slow going, so take your time.

My husband and I agreed that the drive is a one-time thing. We prefer to fly into Key West. The last time we flew American Airlines and connected in Miami.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 04:11 PM
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Not sure exactly when you're planning your trip, but October 19-28th is Fantasy Fest - Key West's version of Mardi Gras. I doubt your friends would've planned a wedding during that time but if they did, you may have trouble getting a reservation.

For a solo traveler, I'd advise one of the hotels on the bay - Ocean Key Resort, Westin, Pier House, Hyatt. All are on Front Street and there's plenty of activity that end of the island.

I'd advise you to fly in. People talk dreamily about the drive from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, but we just see it (and we've driven lots of times) as an impediment.

Have fun! We absolutely love Key West!
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Mar 4th, 2012, 09:04 PM
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Thanks to all of you who contributed such great information. It is very helpful.

The fellow from a seaplane company called me this morning and told me a flight from Ft. Myers Beach is $750, one way. Um, that's off my list. Nice of him to answer my online inquiry, though.

I was looking at both the Pier House and the Hyatt, and reviews seem to be about dead even on them. Aren't they all in a row? Galleon, PH, Hyatt? And Susan, did you post on the now defunct AOL Key West Travel board years ago? There was a lady who posted quite a bit, and she and her husband stayed at the Galleon all the time - could this be you??

I found a flight from Atlanta to Key West, that puts me on the island by 1:30 pm. This is ideal. I just have to get to ATL before that flight leaves, and that does not pose a problem for me at all.

My dates are approx. the 11th through the 15th; I'll be getting out of Dodge before Fantasy Fest. Thanks for the heads up on that. Finally, Bill from Boston, I enjoyed your family's vacation report. It sounded like a nice rest for all of you. How lucky you all are to vacation together.

Thanks again for all the tips. I read all of them and learned a lot from all your trips. Thanks for helping me with mine!
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Mar 5th, 2012, 05:24 AM
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Yes, I did post on the AOL board, and we do stay at the Galleon! Small world!

After the AOL board fizzled, I started hanging out on tripadvisor and was an early DE there back when we were called local experts. That forum is still a great source of information, just like this one is.
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Mar 5th, 2012, 05:45 AM
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Fly into Orlando and take airtran to Key West. It is a one hour flight from there. Rent a bike from Eatons.
A&B is still good but the boathouse, bottom floor of the commodore has the best happy hour now. Sit at the bar with the locals. We also like Alonzos but the Boathouse has them beat now. Great half price apps, wine and beer.
You must be talking about the rooftop bar of The Bull. It is still there as well as the same bartenders for the last 25 years. We go all the time but we are military so stay on base. Our favorite bar is Finnegan's Wake on Grinnell. Local, great 1/2 price Wed veggie menu.
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Mar 7th, 2012, 04:29 PM
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I say, if you have never made the drive, you need to drive to Key West from Miami (or FLL)....it just gives you such a perspective that you don't get if you just "land there".

I would agree that the ferry is not a great option.

We've enjoyed staying at the Key Orchid Inn but I'm not sure I'd call it an active pool/bar....but they do have a wonderful breakfast & happy hour & the pool is lovely! I don't know where it is realtive to Galleon...sorry.

Check out "Better than Sex" dessert/beverage place some evening!
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Mar 8th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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We just got back about 2 weeks ago too. The rooftop bar at the Bull is clothing optional - we unsuspectingly wandered up there. My DH stopped me before I got to the top of the stairs. Probably not what the OP had in mind.

If you get a chance have a meal at Sarabeth's and/or Michaels. Delicious food but no views at either.

check out the bikes at whatever rental comp. you use. Some of them looked like they were renting really worn out bikes. The electric cars looked like a lot of fun.

If you are interested in fishing, we used Dreamcatchers. Had a great 4 hour fishing trip with them. Very nice, super clean boats.
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Mar 8th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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I believe the poster was talking about the rooftop bar (and swimming pool) at La Concha, which is a Holiday Inn hotel and is NOT clothing optional. Also on Duval is the Bull and Whistle, and the rooftop bar there IS clothing optional.
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Mar 9th, 2012, 09:51 AM
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La Concha is a Crowne Plaza...
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Apr 2nd, 2012, 09:08 AM
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Check American Airlines to fly into Key West...they use American Eagle out of Miami.

I've been driving the distance from Central IL for the past few years, taking I65 through AL, then 10 across FL to I75 to by-pass Atlanta. I love the drive, but we go in a group and split the cost.

I have stayed at Hyatt Sunset Harbor a few times and have always enjoyed it. The guests, however, seem to be of an older age group so if you're looking to mingle with a younger crowd, Galleon or Ocean Key might be a better choice.

No matter how you get there or where you stay, Key West is the BEST!! Enjoy!
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