Florida Keys 3 generation vacation

Old Aug 10th, 2015, 11:42 AM
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Florida Keys 3 generation vacation

Hello all and thank you for your help!

I'm hoping to get some guidance on planning a family vacation. This trip will include my parents (early 70s), self, and 2 kids (14 and 11) with a small possibility of adding my sister, her hubby and their 6 year old as well. We're from Idaho and have been all over the Washington/Oregon/upper Cali coast, but my niece and nephew have only ever experienced the ocean as freezing cold. My dad has always wanted to go to the Florida Keys and I'd love to figure out a trip that would all would enjoy.

We'll do the typical touristy stuff too, but I'm really hoping to find a more secluded, less touristy place to stay where we can play in the water and lounge on the beach without being surrounded by bunches of people. Is this realistic? Most likely looking at mid-December of next year. I haven't been to the Keys in years and really appreciate any and all suggestions.

Many thanks!
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 01:13 PM
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In general, the Florida Keys aren't a good beach destination because the beaches aren't that great. You might look at Hawk's Cay Resort, which has some villas big enough to accommodate your whole family, but it's an expensive place.

Your best bet might be to rent a home for a week. That's where you're more likely to find a quieter, less busy environment. But again, there's that beach issue. The beach at Hawk's Cay is manmade but fairly secluded because it just draws guests from the resort. But the best beaches are in state parks, and they can be busier.

Better beaches (by far) are in the Panhandle region. They're beautiful, and if you were to stay in a home in Carillon Beach (just down the road from Panama City beach), you'd find a quiet beach area almost adjacent to a busy attraction- and chain-restaurant-filled place. But like Seaside, Carillon Beach is an exquisite, planned community, just ten times quieter and less touristy than Seaside. It even has an excellent restaurant.

Of course, it depends on when you want to go. The Panhandle is a horrible place to go in the winter, when it can easily be in the 50s or 60s during the day (and sometimes cooler). It's horrible place to go during Spring Break, when the crowds are too rowdy in town (but Carillon Beach is ALWAYS quiet and far enough removed from the hubbub that you'd hardly even know it was spring break). But it's a great place to go in the late spring and early fall. Summer there is high season.
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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http://keywest.com/beaches.htm
Higgs is great. We are Navy so go to the beach next to http://www.fortzacharytaylor.com/
We wear beach shoes in the water there but not at Higgs. The water is great and the rocky shore doesn't bother us. Great sunsets and Key West has a lot of day activities to keep everyone happy.

Truman annex has great vacation rentals big enough for your family. You can rent bikes or walk most places from that area.

You can fly into Key West and don't even need a car. Take a taxi and walk or bike everywhere. Eaton bikes will even deliver. Trip advisor has some good info on water sports.
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 05:44 AM
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Look at renting a house on Islamorada. You can get one with an enclosed pool and a dock complete with kayaks. Charter fishing is easy to book, and there is a really good beach not too far away, but you will have to look at a good map to find it. my lips are sealed.

You can do day trips to Key West or the Key Largo, and it is all in easy driving distance of Miami.
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 06:12 AM
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Since it has been years since you've been to the Keys, you might want to read up on it to see if there's anything new or different since you were last there. I have used the "Moon Handbook: Florida Keys, including Miami and the Everglades" to help me plan two recent trips to the Keys. The book, which I found in my local library, was an invaluable help in my planning.
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 08:51 PM
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Thank you all so much. My heroes!

These are great suggestions - I like to rent homes when possible to be able to do some cooking and get the feel of a local neighborhood. The Panhandle sounds wonderful if we go at the right time of year. Does it have the same shallow waters as the Keys? Higgs and Fort ZT sound like good Key West beaches for the day.

The Moon Handbook sounds like a wealth of info, maybe to even find that secret Islamorada beach.

We don't need much sand, just a little to laze on between swims and a place to munch on some snacks.

Thanks and best wishes to you all.
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Old Aug 18th, 2015, 01:14 PM
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If you do choose the keys-

Years ago we rented a house across the street from Sombrero beach in Marathon for a multi generational family trip. The house was roomy, great kitchen, nicely updated with a pool. I think Sombrero is a nice beach for the Keys. You can rent bikes & get around that way within Marathon. Marathon has the Turtle Hospital, Dolphin Research Center, a Community Theatre, Movie Theatre, Crain Point Nature Museum & easy access to Pigeon Key for the Flagler museum there. Also has all the standard keys activities like boat/jet ski/kayak/paddle board rentals, fishing charters, snorkeling, sunset cruises, etc.

Marathon is a hub key, but the beach area is pretty quiet and I like riding my bike around there. There are some good restaurants & attractions to suit all 3 age groups. For a splurge, a helicopter ride (from Marathon airport) is really fun for viewing fish in the water. I never knew there were so many sharks in those waters until I looked down from high above on a helicopter ride - I gained a whole new perspective!

Marathon is also central, 1 hour from key west and 1/2 hour from Islamorada. Key Colony Beach area inside Marathon might be another good area to check for a rental.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2015, 07:11 PM
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Thank you, Limmy!
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