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

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

Feb 22nd, 2013, 10:35 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Florida Keys/Miami/Ft. Lauderdale--need help w/ details

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.
Thanks!
CindyA is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2013, 11:31 AM
  #2  
 
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If you are going to stay in FL at a Marriott I would stay at the Harbor Beach although the "Towers" is a bit closer to the what-you-would-expect-near-the-Elbow-Room beachy stuff.

Are you leaving FL on a Saturday or a Sunday? those are major cruise ship days and the airport can get VERY busy.
Dukey1 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2013, 11:44 AM
  #3  
 
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Joe's Stone Crab at the southern tip of South Beach is wonderful, though it's not cheap and can get crowded.
bachslunch is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2013, 11:58 AM
  #4  
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I can get special rates at some Marriotts on some dates...Harbor Beach isn't one of them.
We leave FLL on a Friday.
I've read about Joes's...that might be perfect for our 1st night!
CindyA is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2013, 12:58 PM
  #5  
 
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A resounding "yes" to the idea of Joe's Stone Crab.

Yes, the crab is pricey.

And yes, their fried chicken is excellent and might be the best deal in South Florida at $5.95.
Where else does the cole slaw cost more than the chicken?

Great people watching! Get there early, or take a look at the TakeAway next door.
ekscrunchy is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2013, 01:46 PM
  #6  
 
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Another vote for Joe's Stone Crab. If the Winterhaven Hotel is in South Beach, I'd opt for it.
bon_voyage is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2013, 05:08 PM
  #7  
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Joe's Stone Crab it is! We arrive on a Sunday...how early would we need to get there? I figured we'd drive down A1A from FLL and go straight there, but it will easily be 6:30 or 7. Would it be smarter to take I-95 and save the scenic route for our return?
Yes, the Winter Haven is in South Beach, in the art deco area. If we stay there, it would be on the return.
CindyA is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 03:43 AM
  #8  
 
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Coconut Grove is gorgeous and fun - and doesn't feel like the typical Miami... I vote for staying there over Homestead.

On your drive down to the Keys, stop at Robbie's Marina south of Islamorada to feed the tarpon. It costs a buck but it is an amazing experience!
TeamW is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:16 AM
  #9  
 
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They open at 5pm for dinner on Sunday. Can you be there at that time?

Another good reason for getting there early, apart from minimizing the chances of a wait, is that the popular sizes of crab often sell out. (This has not been a good season for stone crabs.)

You can park for free in the lot across the street from the restaurant; they also have valet parking for (I think) $4.

What time does your flight arrive?
ekscrunchy is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 06:14 AM
  #10  
 
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I took a similar trip four years ago in March with my sister-in-law and niece. Loved the Anhinga Trail--felt as though we'd wandered into the bird section of the Garden of Eden. Check out Robert Is Here for fruit, milk shakes, jams and jellies, and, if you're in the mood for pizza after seeing the key deer on Big Pine Key, look for the No Name Pub. Big Pine Key also offers kayaking and there's a lovely beach at Bahia Honda State Park (swimming was seaweedy).
bon_voyage is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:03 AM
  #11  
MJT
 
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Stop for lunch on your way to Key West in Islamorada. Morada Bay or Islamorada Fish Company are good and have wonderful views. For very casual, try the Lorelei.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 06:57 PM
  #12  
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Thanks for all of the suggestions!
Our flight doesn't get in to FLL until 5:45pm, IF it's on time. Maybe we'll wait and go to Joe's on our last night, since we could get there earlier. I guess I need another suggestion for the 1st night.
I hope we have enough time to do everything!
CindyA is offline  
Feb 24th, 2013, 04:04 AM
  #13  
 
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If you stay in Coconut Grove (which I would suggest over Homestead), you could go over to Montys or Scottys for a low key meal with a view of the water (but not at all fancy - read the reviews so you aren't disappointed)
Other Grove dinner highlights are Jaguar (cerviche/latin fusion - really good) and Bouchon du Grove (french)
keymom is offline  
Feb 24th, 2013, 09:24 AM
  #14  
 
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I-95 on a Friday evening???? Southbound may not be too bad but if you want to meet ALL of the fabulous drivers here in South Florida then I-95 is the perfect place to do it.

If you have time and a GPS or good directions you might enjoy going south on the Fed (Rte 1) from the airport; plenty of traffic lights, etc., but if you're chilled out...
Dukey1 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2013, 10:01 PM
  #15  
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I-95 (southbound) would be on Sunday evening, but if we save Joe's for the return (on Thurs.), we won't be in a big hurry, so Rt. 1 or A1A should be fine. I will have good directions...I used to work at AAA.
Thanks for the CG food suggestions, keymom!
CindyA is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2013, 02:29 PM
  #16  
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A few more questions....
Barring any major delays, we will drive down the coast from FLL through Miami Beach, stopping for dinner. We will stay in Homestead, as we will most likely be ready to crash by the time we reach the hotel, and it will put us a little closer to Everglades NP.
#1--Dinner suggestions around the northern to mid Miami Beach area? Nothing too fancy or too slow...maybe a good deli, Caribbean, or local cafe.
#2--bon_voyage or others, do you know how long it takes for the 2 trails in ENP mentioned above?
#3--In Key West, we would like to take a sunset cruise one evening. Suggestions? We don't want a party boat, but drinks/champagne would be nice. Leaning toward a sailboat or tall ship.
#4--Heading back to FLL from Miami Beach...is it best to take I-95N? It looks like there's a lot of construction on it. It will be mid-afternoon on a Friday.
I think we'll stay in South Beach on the return and get to Joe's Stone Crab early!
Thanks again for all of the previous suggestions!!
CindyA is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2013, 04:06 PM
  #17  
 
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Hi Cindy,

The Anhinga Trail is less than a mile and easy. I don't remember exactly how long we were there, would guess an hour max. Like you, we stayed close to the park the night before and were on our way down to the Keys.
bon_voyage is online now  
Mar 4th, 2013, 09:42 AM
  #18  
 
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We used our points to stay in November at the same Courtyard Marriot you are considering in Coconut Grove. It was OK and had a big free breakfast. If you stay there, I second the suggestion of Jaguar. We had a wondeful meal there on the patio. Here's the link: http://jaguarspot.com/
jayne1973 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2013, 08:42 PM
  #19  
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Thanks for the info, b_v and jayne!
CindyA is offline  
Mar 9th, 2013, 05:42 AM
  #20  
 
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Anhinga Trail is 1/2 mile long. It takes 45 min or so (more if you stop more) The thing that slows most people down is the visitor center. Stop there afterwards so you have all the time you want on the Anhinga Trail.
A stop at Robert is Here fruit stand is fun. Interesting fruits, amazing milk shakes. Strawberry Key Lime is my fav.
RIH is right on the way to the 'glades. Google and read about it.
If you are staying in Homestead, get sticky buns for breakfast from the Knauss Berry farm. http://knausberryfarm.com/ These are great - famous in Miami.
Feeding the wild tarpon at Robbies (Mile Marker 77 bayside) is a quirky thing to do. Cheap and crazy. Google that, too. It's maybe a 30 min stop.
keymom is offline  

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