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Paige Jun 27th, 2002 07:08 AM

July trip to the keys!
My husband just surprised us with a trip to the Keys! He planned the whole thing himself . Here is what he chose- fly into Miami and stay at the Embassy Suites, rent a car(convertable!) and drive to Islamorada and stay at the Cheeca Lodge for 2 nights, drive to Key West and spend 3 nights at the Hilton, then back to Miami. We are traveling with 3 teenagers. Any comments or suggestions on these hotels or activities, restaurants, would be appreciated. I can't wait to see the Keys!

jess Jun 27th, 2002 07:12 AM

To really enjoy and get a feel for Key West consider staying at a B&B. The Hilton is like any Hilton you will find anywhere in the Country. It is overpriced in Key West because it is on the water. If a B&B isn't to your liking take a look at The Ocean Key Resort. It is right next store to the Hilton.

x Jun 27th, 2002 07:20 AM

I love the idea tha you are spendin time in other Keys besides Key West but in Key West I would stay at the Hyatt over the Hilton.

susan Jun 27th, 2002 08:47 AM

I'm sure impressed that your husband surprised you with this trip! I've stayed at the Cheeca Lodge and think it's really nice, but like the other posters I'm less impressed with the Hilton, which gets iffy reviews. Though the location is wonderful, I agree that the Ocean Key Resort next door would be a much better choice. They also have two bedroom suites with kitchens, so that may be more convenient than getting two rooms at the Hilton. Still another option would be a two bedroom condo at the Galleon, which is just down the street from the Hilton and Ocean Key Resort.

Postal Jun 27th, 2002 02:31 PM

I strongly suggest a snorkeling trip out to a reef. My favorite is Looe Key off Big Pine Key at mile marker 30 or so. (Addresses in the Keys on A1A, the "Overseas Highway," are given by mile marker, 110 is Key Largo and 1 is Key West.) My kids have always loved snorkeling. Don't miss some time at the best beach in the Keys, Bahia Honda at about MM 43. After all the time we've spent in the Keys, nothing was more thrilling to my teenagers and me than stopping to see (but not feed!) the little Key deer on the sides of the road in Big Pine Key - they licked our fingers when they realized we had no food for them and they were adorable! They congregate on the road to No Name Key each morning and evening.

Barbara Jun 27th, 2002 08:45 PM

If you husband planned it, why would you want to change hotels - go with what he's already planned. I'd be shocked and thrilled if my husband ever planned a trip. The only problem I see is fitting 5 people and all their luggage in a convertible. <BR><BR>The teenagers will love snorkeling or parasailing. Don't miss the Blue Heaven restaurant in Key West. I loved it for dinner and breakfast.

xxx Jul 2nd, 2002 10:37 AM


Ignore it Jul 2nd, 2002 07:18 PM

Ignore it and maybe it'll go away

abst14 Jul 3rd, 2002 11:52 AM

I would be shocked if my husband planned all the details of a trip for the family - and angry too that he did it without consulting the rest of us. Anyway, sounds like he thought it through pretty good. He may be offended if you got suggestions from strangers to change the plans he put together for the family. since he didn't consult with you in the planning I wouldn't interfere. <BR>BTW it's too hot and rainy in Miami to drive a convertible, except maybe at night. I would have chosen an SUV instead. 5 plus luggage will be tight in a convertible. <BR>If you get to do the packing for yourself make sure you take lots of sunscreen, cool, light color clothes, extra footwear. You need footwear to go into the waters in the Keys, it's mostly coral. Little rubber slip on shoes or those ugly sandals with all the straps...the slip on will just come off. <BR>Excuse my sarcasm, I can't get over that he did this without you.

J T Kirk Jul 3rd, 2002 11:57 AM

<BR><BR>Actually, abst14 picked up on something I hadn't noticed before.<BR>The convertible ---- Don't do it!!<BR><BR>My wife and I had a convertible the last time we drove to the Keys. We had just enough room in the teeny trunk to handle our luggage, and the backseat had - barely - enough room for my camera bag, a tube of suncreen and a bag of Doritos.<BR><BR>To paraphrase Roy Schneider from the movie Jaws, "You need a bigger car!"

Doug Jul 5th, 2002 11:26 PM

Also when in Key West ,plan on parking your car and walking or renting motorscooters if your teenagers have driver's licenses. It is important in Key West to stay as close to downtown as possible. I don't remember where the Hilton is ( not my budget) but if it isn't on Duval st. or close by consider changing your accommodations. Driving around Key west is a chore ( finding parking especially). Consider visiting Hemmingway' s house, Audubon's house, the lighthouse and looking at the wonderful architecture on the island. There is also a nude beach on the southwesternmost part of the island , near the fort. (teenagers beware).

xxx Jul 7th, 2002 08:35 AM

I didn't mention that my husband planned this as a surprise for my 40th birthday. I am usually the one to plan the vacations,so I think he did a great job for not knowing the keys. He also would not be offended if we changed somthing, like the convertible. I was so excited about the trip that I never even thought about us all fitting in a little car. I called the car rental place and they said there would be no problem switching if we needed to. Thanks for all the suggestions!

xxx Jul 7th, 2002 11:40 AM

Sounds like a wonderful vacation. Don't waste the money at the Hilton. Consider one of the beautiful guest houses or B&B's that Key West has to offer. I am sure there are a few that allow teenagers.

Whyletbnbers Jul 7th, 2002 01:54 PM

Instead of constantly plugging B&Bs, let's take a look at the downside. You get to live in the quarters as the owner lets you. You eat on the owner's schedule. And you eat what the owner dictates. Not my idea of a vacation. At least at home, I've got some control over the situation. And in a hotel room, I do, as well.<BR><BR>Been there, done that. Didn't like the B&B attitude, rules or food. No problem, though: I just won't do it again....

jamon Jul 7th, 2002 02:35 PM

just got back from key west.i disagree with some. get the convertible. i gambled and got one and we made it just fine.we had our 2 kids with us.we had a sebring.when your in key west i HIGHLY recommend something.try a place called is a 2 1/2 hr trip around key west island on a wave runner. a guide goes along with you and shows you everything. it made our whole vacation. the price was $125 per ski jet with 2 passengers.have a great time. we did.

because Jul 7th, 2002 04:00 PM

"Whyletbnbers" has a point but let me add Key West is one of the top B&B destinations in the U.S.A. It is a town with many great ones. I love a great hotel and usually stay at one but in <BR>K.W. we like what the B&B's offer and they are usually in a better location to downtown. <BR>One does not have to eat breakfast there and we usually choose not to because we have a few favorite places we like for breakfast in town. (but it is nice to grab a piece of toast while my wife gets ready). We like the intimacy of the pool areas and hot tub areas instead of the larger hotel pools that get over loaded with familles. <BR>We have never had a problem with complying to the owners hours. In fact we find the opposite, they bend over backwards to help us. <BR>I have stayed at B&B's where what "why" says is somewhat true but not in Key West. It is a very laid back town. What the heck are rules?

because Jul 7th, 2002 04:01 PM

I forgot to mention the place we stay is The Conch House on Truman Ave. We stayed at The Marquesa Hotel once and while it was wonderful, it is not something we can do on a routine basis.

ab Jul 7th, 2002 10:43 PM

Sounds like he planned a very nice birthday present for you and put a lot of effort into it. <BR><BR>I think the convertible would be fun but not practical. I tend to be too practical sometimes.<BR><BR>If you can't get the luggage in, maybe your husband will come up with the idea of changing.<BR><BR>Find out if the car rental agency he selected has a branch in the Keys. Maybe you can do the convertible for part of the trip and then change it. <BR><BR>Hilton or B&B? That's such a personal choice. They're so different. Hopefully you'll be spending most of your time having fun on Duvall Street and the accomodations will just be for sleeping. I would leave it since it's a birthday present.<BR><BR>Happy Birthday!

David Jul 8th, 2002 05:45 AM

A couple years ago we stayed at The Merlin Inn on Simonton Ave. It was 4 of us (wife, daughter and son) and had a very enjoyable time. The rooms were large enough that we didn't feel cramped and very clean. The staff was very helpful and pointed us in the right direction for things to see and do(they even gave us a map). The pool area was nice and as I recall never seem to have more than 4 or 5 other people using it. Our rooms came with breakfast but we only ate there once or twice. Camilles restaurant was just around the block and we had breakfast there more often than not. <BR><BR>Our kids loved the aqaurium, glass bottom boat, and just hanging out at Fort Zackery Tayor beach.<BR><BR>Have a great time.

Flex Jul 8th, 2002 11:15 AM

Be sure to have breakfast on Caroline Street at Pepe's. Everyone will love it. Good suggestion of snorkeling at Looe Key!!! Try calling Underseas Dive Resort on Big Pine while you are in Islamorada and make reservations, great people. You take this in on the way down to KW. Blue Heaven is another excellent suggestion for dinner in KW. If on the way down you are around Mile Marker 25, stop at Monte's for lunch. It is a dive but good seafood, outdoor but screened in dining. Stop at Bahia Honda State Park and check out the beach. It has been rated several years as one of the top beaches in the world. Keep an eye on the teenagers in KW at night, major party town but it is safe. El Siboney on Catherine St. is a great authenic Cuban restaurant and very, very inexpensive. If any are Buffett fans, go to the Dennis Pharmacy on Simonton for breakfast or lunch. It is one of his old hangouts. Fast Freddy's on Duval is a great shopping experience but not cheap. Enjoy the ride through the Keys, it is beautiful. Watch riding in the convertible, it is a tropical sun and you can burn so quickly. Have fun.

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