New to Florida..and Fodors!

Feb 1st, 2006, 06:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 15
New to Florida..and Fodors!

Hi...I am trying to organise a 5 night trip to Miami with my husband for the end of May. We've never been in the area before, and the things that he would like to see are the Everglades , the Keys and the art deco buildings. Is there any one area that it would be best to base ourselves in, and is it possible to get organised trips to the Keys and the Everglades or is car hire necessary? Told you I knew nothing at all about the area! Thanks for any and all advice that gan be given.
Daisiegee is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 06:20 AM
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Start your trip in South Beach. Spend two nights there, don't rent a car in South Beach because it is such a hassle. You can walk anywhere in South Beach.

Rent a car and drive to Islamorada. Spend a night there.

Drive to Key West and ditch the car. It is also more of a hassle in Key West to have a car. Spend your last two nights in Key West.

What is your hotel budget per night?
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:29 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,380
I've been curious about the area, too; Fly into and out of Miami,if you are looking for the warmest area and beaches (assume that's the Keys?)I'm thinking early April--is there ocean swimming then?
sylvia3 is online now  
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Don't forget the Everglades NP if you want to see a little of Natural Florida. Its a good day trip, on the way to the Keys. A night in Florida City or Homestead would allow for this. Even with the hurricane damage there is still a lot to see.
RedRock is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Not to go against GoTravel but, staying in South Beach am not sure is such a great idea, unless you want to party (drink) and donít want to drive, and even if this is the case and you do want to experience the staying in the beach, do rent a car (I canít emphasize this enough) public transportation is horrible here. As far as itinerary it all depends what else you want to do. If you want to do the Keys go there for two days Max. not enough to do there to stay longer. Beach I hope you are not looking to sunbathe in Key West (unless a pool works for you). True you donít need a car in the Keys but, what are you going to do with it and how are you going to get back? Park it at the hotel and rent a scooter. You can visit Coconut Grove, Lincoln Road, Bay Side a decent place to stay that is somewhat in between and what I mean by that this is that it is close enough to south beach, Coconut Grove and Bay Side is the Sheraton in Brickell honestly is nothing out of this world but, it is really close to the highway and can make traveling easy keep in mind that parking there is $10.00 per night. One more thing people here are very rude there is no courtesy on the road. One day you want to do the Everglades to give you an idea from that hotel itís about 40 minutes to get you on the road to the Everglades. Hope this helps.

p.s. ocean swimming in April? it all depends where you are coming from, we see people in the middle of January in the water, then again their snow birds and enjoy the cooler water.
colombiana is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 09:20 AM
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I stay all the time in South Beach and don't party. Of course there are times when we do party in South Beach but there is much more the area than that. Take a cab from the airport and then rent a car on your way to the keys.

There aren't any real beaches in the keys. Bahia Honda and a few in Key West.

I beg to differ about not staying in the keys more than two days in a row. We boat, fish, snorkel, dive, shop, eat, sightsee, sleep etc.

My parents like it so much, they just bought a place in Cudjoe Key right outside Key West.

When you get to Key West, you dump the car at the car rental office at the airport. I've done it tons of times.

Bayside was basically built for the cruise ship business. It is one of the biggest tourist traps in Miami.

If you don't want to stay in South Beach, you will need a car. Coconut Grove is lovely. My favorite is either Key Biscayne or Fisher Island if we aren't on the beach.

My sister lives in South Beach and my parents have a house in the keys so I'm very familiar with both areas.

One last tip, stay out of South Beach Memorial Weekend. It is Urban Hip Hop/Beach Weekend and packed with kids. Think Spring Break to rap music.

Feb 2nd, 2006, 02:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 15
Thanks for all your advice. We're coming from the UK, so the planning is a nightmare!
Daisiegee is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 04:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I agree that the Miami portion of your trip should be in South Beach. There is an art deco walking tour that you should check out. You don't need a car in South Beach but you will for the trip to the Everglades/Keys. Stop at the Everglades on your way to the Keys. You'll be on the turnpike from Miami to the Keys. The turnike ends in Florida City. There is a big traffic light with a Shell gas station on the far right corner. Turn right and follow the signs to the national park. You'll see "Robert is Here" fruit stand. Stop there for great milk shakes. You can also check all sorts of tropical fruits. In the park, see the Visitors Center (right outside the entrance) and then go to the Royal Palm Visitor Center and walk the Anhinga trail. There are no food concessions in the park so either pack a lunch (you could pick up sandwiches in Florida City) or have lunch beforehand. Tell us more about what "the Keys" mean to you. Do you want to see Key West? or are you more interested in boating/snorkelling. That will determine where you should stay in the Keys.
I would spend the last night back in Miami so you don't have stress over getting to your plane.
keysmom is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 04:16 AM
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topping for Daisiegee. This is a friend. They're not beach people, more seeing the sights. They've been to the US many times, but always in cities so have never rented a car and driven here. They're trying to minimize driving. I only know Key West so what are the other "must see" keys? Would flying in one direction make any sense? Thanks guys.
mclaurie is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 04:39 AM
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mclaurie, Key West is the only area of the keys you can visit carless. None are the other areas are pedestrian friendly.

If they don't want to drive, I suggest flying into Miami, spending a few days in South Beach, then flying to Key West.
Feb 4th, 2006, 01:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,714
Assuming they will drive, which are the most scenic stops to make? Does it make any sense to drive just 1 direction? Maybe drive to Key West with stops along the way, and then dump the car and fly back? Or fly to KW, rent a car when ready to leave and make stops heading back?
mclaurie is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 03:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Considering your lack of experience driving in the US I don't think you should rent a car in Miami to drive to the Keys. Driving and finding your way is a nightmare getting out of the area. As McLaurie suggested, flying in and out of Key West and renting a car there would be the best option. I would suggest a stay there of at least four days. You can explore Key West on foot and leisurely drive your rental car to various keys (Dolphin Research Center, Kayaking, etc.) for exploration. Driving in the Keys is easy - only two lanes - and you can't get lost. On the other hand, you could base yourselves in Miami or (depending on your age) in South Beach and take organized tours to the Keys and the Everglades right from your hotel. One such company is:
Maggi is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 04:19 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the advice.
Daisiegee is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 08:03 AM
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I have to agree with Maggi mclaurie. If Daisiegee is already skittish about driving in the US, driving in Miami and the Florida Keys aren't the ticket.

If they get a puddle jumper from Miami to Key West, the flight will be gorgeous because they fly at low levels.

Try this company:

Feb 4th, 2006, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,714
Thanks GoT. I think they want to see mor than Key West though. I'm thinking what about flying to Key West, then renting a car from there to come back to Miami with a few stops on the way? CapeAir seems to service the west coast of Fla.?
mclaurie is offline  

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