Key West For Christmas

Nov 14th, 2006, 07:50 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 14
Key West For Christmas

I have been browsing and basically stalking this site for awhile now. We had hoped to head to the caribbean/mexico for a Family Christmas vacation, but we had a passport snafu with our youngest daughter and couldn't really count on it being here in time so was afraid to book. ANYWAY...

After some false starts and thinking about our 3 kids.. 13 and 22 year old daughters, and 16 year old son...we basically concluded that nothing could entertain or hold their interests more than the eccentric and unique lifestyle on Key West!! The only problem, I haven't been there since I was a kid and my husband's last visit was more than several years ago as well. So we could be completely wrong.

We've rented a house in the Truman Annex with a "harbor view" that i now see will probably include a lot of Cruise Ships (bummer). So much for the premium price we're paying for the priviledge of a view. But thanks to this forum, I checked the boat schedule website. There are several days in a row with no boats at all during our 10 night stay -- yippee!

So beyond the usual of what should we absolutely not miss... Mallory Square, Duval Street, Sloppy Joes and about a dozen other spots...

question #1: I have read completely conflicting drive times from Miami Airport to Key West. We arrive on a Monday afternoon (3) and our flight out is late in the day on a Thursday (5:30). I understand the whole risk of traffic threat, but was thinking our timing would be good barring an accident. Am I dilusional? So...How long is the drive ...really?? I've read anywhere from 3 to 4.5 hours. And where should we stop for dinner??

We're only renting the car from Miami to KW and back again (dropping off inbetween). At over $700 for the length of our stay I can't imagine we'd ever need a car that much in such a tiny space.. and isn't that why we're staying closer to old town than not?

So..I've read about this trolley and some other public transportation. How does that work and and is it relatively cool for my "kids" to go off by themselves to see what they can see within reason? What are the fares like?

Besides the Island t'ing, I thought it might be fun to do the whole evening Ghost tour thing.. but depending on how truly scary it is, will my son try scaring the heck out of his sisters for the rest of the time?? Of course, he could be the one spooked. Is it totally cheesy Tourist or is this realitively entertaining??

Thirdly.. back to transportation... Again, We are very near Harbour Condominiums and would appreciate any insight into whether we should perhaps rent bikes for the duration of our stay AND if so, should I do it well in advance? The description of our place says it's two blocks to Duval Street and less than a 1/4 mile to a "beach." Basically, I want to know if that's actually accurate. I don't want to get shut out if it would be best to reserve ahead and have Bikes readily onhand. Cheap and Safe rentals would be good to know regardless.

I am hoping we are right in thinking KW offered a little fun and adventure for everyone... stuff to do, plenty of downtime, etc. I sure hope I am right!

Thanks so much!!
Modadunn is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 04:45 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 717


I've been going to the Keys since 1966, and each and every time I come back I say I'm not going to drive it again. But I always do because the airfares into Key West seem to always be more than I'm willing to spend.

The drive from Miami is about 4 hours, assuming no super bad traffic and that's allowing for some "pull off to the side of the road to go wow" time.

Always, always, always, allow MORE time heading back. I have nearly missed a few flights out of Miami (and sometimes Ft Lauderdale) because I didn't allow enough time heading back.

I rent a car at the airport. Once I get to Key West, I almost never use the car. The key (no pun intended) is the length of your stay. If you're going to be in Key West just a few days, you won't need the car. Key West is a very walkable town. I've never rented a bike because I've never thought it necessary. If you're going to be there more than a few days then you may want the car to go some other places.

I've never done the ghost thing.

Have fun.
JackOneill is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 06:13 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,759
Since you're going to have a car anyway, I would utilize it at least one day by visiting Baha'i Honda State Park. You'll see it on the way through. There are some other very recent posts on here re: this topic + I'll be down there next week myself & will post a trip report, since it has been 2 or 3 years since we have visited.
SAnParis is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 07:25 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 14
Looking forward to your report. We will be there for essentially 9 full days, but is why we rented a house so we can have plenty of hang-out and down time. Will look into the park for our first day before we return the car around 3pm. We then pick it up again the morning before we leave so we'll have that day as well.

Now i have another question.. what's the deal with the beach warnings? I've stumbled across some stuff about the fallout from the 2005 storms and a degenerative septic system in KW. So... Is it safe to take a swim or not? We have a pool with the house, but to go all that way and not take a dip -- my kids have jumped in Lake Superior in May so nothing is cold to my kids... sounds almost criminal.

Modadunn is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 09:23 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,759
Keep in mind that Key West is not really a beach destination. If you feel the need to get into the ocean, by all means do so @ Baha'i Honda. Perhaps noname or peter can address you concerns, that is the first I've heard of it.
SAnParis is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 11:15 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 717


With the amount of time you have you should plan on taking a day trip to the Dry Tortugas. Great swimming there. Also, check out a snorkeling trip to the reef. The "beaches" aren't much in the way of beaches. Although I do like the area at Fort Z taylor. A lot of beach areas - Hawaii, Rip, Sydney - have major issues polluted areas due to inadequate sewage facilities. A good lead to follow is surfers. Hard core surfers know when the water pollution is bad
JackOneill is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 01:28 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 14
Brought up the Tortugas Trip with my husband.. he says he would rather do a deep sea fishing day. Any recommendations? Remember we are talking family trip, not drunken sailors. Basically when I tried to do a search you can imagine how many results I had, not only here, but on various keys. com websites as well. It was truly overwhelming.
Modadunn is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 07:45 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 14
Totally get the "not a beach vacation" per say. I don't particularly like just laying in the sun regardless. I like wandering around aspect.. great architecture, interesting people watching. I think it will be a blast. Discovered "Almost There" boat Charters. It looks great, but I am easily charmed by a good website. any insights out there?

Modadunn is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 03:22 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Sorry........ do not have any insight but looking at the map, it looks likt they are on the next island over called Stock Island. Hopefully they will pick you up. If you want something closer, I believe The Ocean Key Marina is very close to you. Garrison Bight Marina is a little further (will require a car) but is still on Key West. We went Flats Fishing with a guide out of there years ago and caught Tarpon, and Shark.
No_name is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 03:55 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 14
Yes, "Almost There" does have limo service which would be necessary. Probably why they are called "almost there"! I sent an inquiry asking about dates, so we'll see how their customer service is very shortly!
Modadunn is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 04:10 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 429
I am headed to Key West for the 2nd time the first week in March for 5 days. I was wondering about the Dry Tortugas trip. Is it worth it? There are several day sails that offer this - does anyone recommend one? My husband and I are in our 30s - we did the sunset sal last year and are looking to do something different. Any recommendations appreciated! - Susan
SSypniewski is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 07:21 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 717
I think the Dry Tortugas is worth the trip, but I'm a little weird. My wife have taken the seaplane, which, I think, only carries 8 people. The boats that go there carry many more than that. The island is small. The plane that leaves in the morning gets to the island before the first boat does, therfore, you have the island pretty much to yourself. Which I like.
The island is small. The fort takes about 30 minutes to see, unless you're a real history buff. The beach is nice, and there's some good swimming. That's it. No concession stands, no coke machines, no parasailing. Just peace and quiet.
JackOneill is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 10:22 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 540
I always suggest the Sebago Island T'ing before doing the Tortugas. It is much less expensive and IMO more fun - you get a breakfast, a snorkel stop, a great lunch, a kayak trip around a mangrove island, then they bring out the sangria and fruit. They limit the trip to 40 people and it's nice because you board at 9:30 (instead of 7:30 for the Tortugas), and you are back by 4:00 and not after another 2 hour power boat ride.

Check it out.
Pjk
Peter_krynicki is offline  
Nov 17th, 2006, 10:40 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 14
PJK
I totally get what you're saying. I cannot see my spouse wanting to ride the two hour return trip! I told him about the T'ing and he thinks that one sounds good. He's also mentioned chartering our own sailboat, catching some dolphin watch and taking a snorkel. Let the family mood set the pace.. and keep the peace! He says our motto should be, "Play it by ear." I think that's good as long as I have an idea where to start looking when the mood strikes!
Modadunn is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:44 PM.