Help formulate itinerary for Florida keys

Old Jan 4th, 2016, 05:26 PM
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Help formulate itinerary for Florida keys

Hello all,

Trying to plan our semi-annual trip with no kids and need your help! With three little ones and stressful jobs - we are prioritizing relaxation, romantic dinners and fun "together time". We are therefore leaning towards traveling to the Florida keys in April for a fun week (5 -8 days) of sunshine.

A bit about us -- couple in mid 30s. We like sightseeing but also a good amount of relaxation time. Our usual pattern is doing activities or sightseeing in morning/afternoon but stopping for early cocktail hour. We like road trips but absolutely don't want to spend the entire trip driving. Husband loves boats and we hope to rent one for a day or two. I love art, gardens and dancing. We appreciate beautiful hotels, foodie type restaurants and a fun nightlife scene.

So, hoping for itinerary ideas.
How many days total do you think we need?
Thinking of flying into Miami and spending 1 or 2 nights?
Then onto key west? Should we stay somewhere in between?
Recommendations and suggestions welcome!!
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Old Jan 4th, 2016, 08:07 PM
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This is our favorite grown up getaway...

Take ground transportation from Miami airport (no rental car yet) to South Beach... There are dozens of properties along Ocean Dr., but a better choice are the few luxury hotels at the North end of the strip directly on the beach with Collins AV addresses...

These include the Loews, Ritz Carlton, or the Royal Palm... They are amazing and only a short walk from the clubs, restaurants, and shopping...

Everything you want is nearby and you don't have to cross Ocean Dr to hit the beach...

When you are ready after two or three nights, there are rental car agencies nearby for your drive down the Keys... We always left after a tiny breakfast, in late am... This will also keep you out of rush hour traffic... The total drive is 3 to four hours so make it an event by adding a lunch stop... We choose Islamorada for fresh seafood, Cuban food, or the "new place"...

Finish your drive in Key West around check in time, park the rental, and plan on three nights minimum... Consider The Gardens Hotel, Marquesa House, but avoid chain hotels and insist on being in Old Town... If they are booked, try
www.historickeywestinns.com as a back up...

You should always add a bumper night back in South Beach, so you don't have a panic race back to Miami on flight day...
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 04:35 AM
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Since we are leaving this morning for Islamorada, curious about where you like to eat there, Gary...

I guess we have booked the worst week of the season, weather wise...sounds like a hurricane outside our place in PBC right now! But we will have fun....even in the rain we love Islamorada. We usually eat at Ma's but they are closed tomorrow, hence my question especially about your " new place.". Thanks.
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 05:13 AM
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we are prioritizing relaxation,

Now there is a modern oxymoron.

_______
We are going to the Keys for the first time this March, look forward to the suggestions.
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 06:15 AM
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I always hesitate to recommend places unless I have been there within the last year... However tripadvisor just listed their top picks for 2016 this week...
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 07:00 AM
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I would fly into Key West and not bother with a car. Key West is walkable and has lots of interesting things to see and do. Stay in Old Town. I prefer The Island City House. If you want, rent a car for the day to do a little exploring outside of the city.
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 03:21 PM
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Just had our usual good dinner at Ma's....cracked conch, chowder, and a wahoo dinner plate, followed by the best Key lime pie in the Keys. We are big fans of Ma's for value but they are not on the water in case anyone cares.
But nothing in the area is "cheap;" that dinner just described cost us almost $70 with a glass of wine and tax and tip.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, their closing day, we might cook in the cottage, or try M.E.A.T. We are finished with high-end places in this area after a couple of disappointing experiences over the past few years. My advice in this area is to pay special attention to which fish are local and which come from afar and might be frozen (salmon, halibut, maybe shrimp, etc) If you have access to cooking facilities, even better.
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 03:58 PM
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I like Gary's plan, especially if you are going for 8 days. 4 -5 days for Key West is plenty.
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 07:32 PM
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We just booked a few days at Merlin's in Key West, anyone familair with it?

We are also spending one night with old friends in Islamorada, and want to thank them by taking them to dinner. Is Ma's OK? Is there another place.

Thank you.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 04:34 AM
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Garyt22 describes an ideal trip. We did it in reverse, and it was a bad idea. His was better.

I would not fly into Key West because the drive is beautiful, in both directions. Maybe if I were a FedEx driver who had to get there no matter what, I would hate it. But on vacation?
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:45 AM
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IM: Ma's is the type of place that I am almost certain YOU would like. But not "impressive" if you are looking for a "special" place to take friends. It is right on the main road. Most diners are fishermen/women from up north, or locals. The value is the best you are going to find in this pretty pricey area..

They will cook your own fish for $12 a person (check that to make sure) if that is an option..I think Cheeca Lodge, a block north, charges $40 to do that (we asked once for friends who were chartering a boat for a day and they were happy with Ma's)

Knowing your own taste from your posts here I have no doubt you would like Ma's, but just keep in mind that there is no view. Their Key Lime pie is said by many to be the best in the Keys. It's the kind of place where the staff remembers everyone..our wait person even recalled what I had ordered last January and how I had admired her child who was eating there on his birthday.

Tonite Ma's is closed so we have to explore other options or cook in our cottage....I do not put much stock in tripADvisor restaurant reviews but will ask the locals for ideas and report back if I find anything.

There is a Showtime movie, Bloodline, that was filmed at this cottage colony; we've not seen it cause we do not have that service at home.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:53 AM
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IMHO parts of the drive to Key West is beautiful, but certainly not the majority of it and depending on the time of year, it can be very crowded and a pain to drive.

That's why I suggested while in Key West, renting a car one day and driving to see some of the attractions.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:45 AM
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Thank you EKS. You are right I like restaurants that are good values but we are also adventurous. Have you tried Steve's Key Lime Pie and how does that compare to Ma's?

But we want to thank our hosts which sounds like it will require a little better place, even though they are people who like basic food.

Thanks again.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 10:01 AM
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I understand.

I've tried the Steve's from Red Hook and think Ma's is better...they have a graham cracked crust and top it with meringue and with whipped cream as well. The owner of Ma's if now selling them by mail order.

For fancier, look at Pierre's; I think this is liked to the cottages where we stay:

http://www.moradabay.com/pierres/dinner/
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 10:51 PM
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Morada Bay Cafe and Pierre's are where I would suggest. Same property (both are part of Morada Bay Resort) but Morada Bay Cafe's dining room is in the sand on the beach and Pierre's is in a proper building and therefore more formal. But on a beautiful day or beautiful night I'd pick Morada Bay Cafe any day of the week. I've eaten there dozens of times and never had a bad experience. I've eaten at Pierre's twice and it was very good as well.

Ekscrunchy if you are well acquainted with the Keys you'll love Bloodline. Enjoy your stay, I sure miss the keys.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 05:15 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 05:57 AM
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When I think about it again, Ma's might be a good bet, as long as they do not need a view. Wherever you decide, you must stop in there for the Key Lime pie and you can decide how it stacks up to Steve's. I adore that dessert, but it's not easy to find Steve's in my area....I am the better off for that, I guess. I broke my shoulder last summer and been laid off from swimming until the past couple of weeks, and even have to take it easy now, and when I look in the mirror, it seems like the last thing I need is to be doing a Key Lime pie taste test!!!!

The other place, open for dinner only, is Michael's; take a look at their menu. It looks lovely, no water view, though.

http://foodtotalkabout.com/

And here is Pierre's, on the bay side and probably has good view...check out those prices, too. If you want, I can walk over there and take a look for you....

http://www.moradabay.com/pierres/

http://www.moradabay.com/wp-content/...er-10-2015.pdf








Limmy, I will try to watch the show....one of the guys who works here had a part in it. I sure understand how you might miss this place....it's really its own special world down here....
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 09:09 AM
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Thanks again, I hope you are doing better.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 12:42 PM
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Our own family Thanksgiving gathering was in a spacious rental on Cujoe Key. About 20 mi. from Key West. We did do sightseeing...recommend Old Town Trolley which circles the island. There are beaches, Butterfly Conservancy, the Aquarium, Hemingway house, Truman little white house, marker at end of U. S. 1. Nice to just stroll down Duvall or around Front St.

Also sunset at Mallory Square parking lot is a nightly local happening. Eateries we enjoyed: Conch Republic Seafood, Grand Cafe, Blue Haven, El Meson de Pepe all good.

But some of the time we just relaxed and chatted and snacked at our Casa Cujoe with its nice swimming pool.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 05:13 PM
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http://sunrisecubancafe.com/Home.php best Cuban and great coffee but https://www.facebook.com/Cafe-moka-t...5628045782928/
has great French food so my husband goes to sunshine and I go to Cafe Moka and we have a picnic outside.
mm92 I think
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