First Visit to the Keys

Dec 7th, 2007, 10:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 44
First Visit to the Keys

We have a group of 3 couples, late 20s-early 30s visiting the Keys for our first time in mid-Jan. Any suggestions on where to stay? We're thinking Upper Keys to Mid so as to not have a long drive from MIA.

So far we've looked at Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada which looks nice and is in our price range of about $250-300 a night.

Any feedback or additional suggestions would be appreciated!
rndas is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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Only if you are planning on renting a boat would I stay in the upper or middle keys. I love Islamorada and Cheeca Lodge but unless you are planning on spending your days out on the water you'll get bored fairly quickly.

That area has fantastic fishing, diving, and snorkeling however if you aren't ocean boaters, hire a captain. The keys waters are very tricky to navigate and destroying sea grass, which is very easy to do, gets you a $50 per square foot fine.

That said, if you aren't really water people, head all the way to Key West.

Take the entire day to drive and have fun. Throw your bathing suits in your carry ons and stop at the beaches along the way. Bahia Honda is a great place to stop.

What time does you plane arrive at MIA? Drive Card Sound Road and stop at Alabama Jacks for lunch. Drive to Islamorada and stop and feed the tarpon at Robbies.

Stop at No Name Pub in Big Pine Key right before Key West and have a beer and pizza.

Good places to stay in Key West are The Marquesa, Hyatt Galleon, The Gardens, The Heron House.
Dec 7th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Forgot to add, once you get to Key West, splurge on the seaplane trip to the Dry Tortugas. It is an island about 70 miles off the coast of Key West and used to be a fort.

It is now a National Park. You can get there by charter boat but it takes all day and you are exhausted by the time you return.

Dec 7th, 2007, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,399
I think the Lodging residences at the Moorings is in the $250/275 night. Not sure if there are 3 rooms though in that price range, at least 2. It is much more quiet than the Cheeca. We'll be leaving tomorrow for the Moorings and can't wait!
travelinwifey is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Cheeca is a well regarded, highly rated, top end resort and you're getting a bargain at that price.

You can book a fishing trip or charter a boat to tour around the flats at Bud N Mary's marina just a few miles west.

Nearby favorite restaurants include Lazy Days and the Lorelei.

Drive W across Indian Key Channel to Don's just across the bridge on the North side. The dock at Don's has a school of tarpon and sells baitfish for a couple dollars a bucket. Fun to feed and watch them chase.

Worth a days drive to Key West. Lots of advise on KW threads here on Fodor's talk.

stumpworks73 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Go Travel,

I have looked at camping at the Dry Tortuga's for a night. You haven't done that by chance have you?
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 06:58 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
Just one note that I hope will be helpful to you on a 'first visit'. Folks picture the Keys as beginning just south of Miami but to really get the true feel of the Keys your visit needs to begin at Islamorada and continue toward Key West. It is from Islamorada on that you are actually jumping from island to island as you travel on Route 1. Mid-Jan is perfect. Enjoy.
GBC is offline  
Dec 8th, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Hi spiro!

No, I have not camped at the Dry Tortugas for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, no showers, trash cans, electricity, or anything. You must remove every single thing you bring with you including any trash. That certainly isn't a bad thing at all.

Secondly, I don't think I'd want to haul all my camping stuff to the Tortugas. Coolers, beach chairs, wood for fires, blow up mattress, cd/radio, food, etc.

Thirdly, they suspended camping on the Dry Tortugas for a while and I still don't know if they allow it or not.

Only if I could get super organized would I do this.
Dec 16th, 2007, 12:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 44
Thanks for everyone's advice and help! Based on the feedback, we decided to forego the Keys since we did not want to spend the time required to go further into the keys and aren't planning to rent a boat/spend all day on the water.

We're headed to Naples instead and got a great deal for a 2bdrm condo at the Hyatt in Bonita Springs.

Thanks again!
rndas is offline  
Dec 16th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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Naples ? So you're going to hang out w/retirees now ? I am confused. Not to mention the weather will likely be iffy. Better chance of decent weather in the Keys. How much time do you have ?
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