Florida Keys for First-Timers



Description:

Visitors are drawn to the Florida Keys to experience the island chain’s priceless natural resources to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul, and the Keys have celebrated a heritage of conservation - but let;s face it: it's a great place to dip your toes in the water and just have some fun. What other islands can your drive to?

You'll find kayaking and paddle surfing, kiteboarding, diving & snorkeling, unique museums, crazy street performers, and at night, comfy accommodations - everything from high end resorts to the smallest and most intimate of bed and breakfasts.

The islands' fishing, diving, arts and culture, history, nightlife and award-winning seafood and ethnic restaurants draw visitors back again and again, because after their first visit they catch the "Keys disease" that just won't go away. Like a strange rash.

This first-timer itinerary offers the must-sees. Rental car is convenient, if you intend to see the entire island chain - very easy and attainable to do within a single vacation.
Once you get to Key West though, park the car, rent a bicycle and get around the island easier. Even the pedi-cabs are more fun. Parking is at a premium (and small streets get clogged quickly) on the southernmost island, which lends to a very pedestrian community. The airport in Key West is only minutes away from anywhere, so you can lounge until the last precious minutes of your stay!

Author: Julie


Day 1 - Marathon, Islamorada, Big Pine Key, Key West


Being in the Keys means being in nature, exploring the outdoors and finding an appreciation of wildlife again. Florida Keys islands are a destination yes, but they are also a series of working communities where locals strive to maintain a less-frenetic pace of life, strong communities and relaxed atmosphere. There is as much history as there is enjoyment in these natural outdoors-y things to do, so you don't want to skip them!

As of March 2010, the Key West home that author Ernest Hemingway lived in from 1931 through 1939 has been designated a literary landmark. So be sure to make a stop there and witness history.


1

Pigeon Key

user rating

Location:

Pigeon Key Foundation
P.O Box 500130
Marathon, FL 33050

Contact:

tel: +1 305 289 0025


2

Curry Hammock State Park

user rating

Location:

56200 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL 33050

Contact:

tel: +1 305 289 2690


3

Theater of the Sea

user rating

expert pick

Location:

84721 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, FL 33036

Contact:

tel: +1 305 664 2431
fax: +1 305 664 8162


4

Robbie's Marina

user rating

Location:

77-5 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, FL 33036

Contact:

tel: +1 305 664 9814


5

National Key Deer Refuge

user rating

expert pick

Location:

28950 Watson Boulevard
Big Pine Key Plaza
Big Pine Key, FL 33043

Contact:

tel: +1 305 872 2239
fax: +1 305 872 3675


6

Bahia Honda State Park

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Mile Marker 37.5
Big Pine Key
Key West, FL 33043

Contact:

tel: +1 305 872 2353


7

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden

user rating

Location:

1 Free School Lane
Key West, FL 33040

Contact:

tel: +1 305 294 0015


8

Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

user rating

Location:

200 Greene Street
Take U.S. 1 to Whitehead St. and turn left on Greene
Key West, FL 33040

Contact:

tel: +1 305 294 2633
fax: +1 305 294 5671


9

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

user rating

Location:

907 Whitehead Street
Key West, FL 33040

Contact:

tel: +1 305 294 1136
fax: +1 305 294 2755


10

Dry Tortugas National Park

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Garden Key
Key West, FL 33041

Contact:

tel: +1 305 242 7700
fax: +1 305 242 7711


Day 2 - Key West, Big Pine Key, Islamorada


Santiago's is one of those local secrets that is hard to reveal, because we selfishly like to keep it to ourselves. You'll be hooked after the first visit, and undeniably A-plus wine list, and super prices for every budget.All the restaurants listed here are some of the island chain's standouts - ones known for a specific kind of food and level of skill involved to continue putting out the best dishes.


2

Santiago's Bodega

user rating

Location:

207 Petronia Street
Key West, FL 33040

Contact:

tel: 305 296 7691


3

No Name Pub

user rating

Location:

North Watson Boulevard
1 1/2 mile north of U.S 1
Big Pine Key, FL 33043

Contact:

tel: 305 872 9115


4

La Trattoria Italian Restaurant

user rating

Location:

524 Duval Street
Key West, FL 33040

Contact:

tel: 305 296 1075
fax: 305 293 8169


5

Pierre's

user rating

Location:

81600 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, FL 33037

Contact:

tel: 305 664 3225


6

Island Grill

user rating

Location:

85501 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, FL 33036

Contact:

tel: 305 664 8400


Day 3 - Little Torch Key, Key West, Marathon, Key Largo


Nightlife in the Keys is a bit subdued, perhaps with Key West as the exception. Whether it's live music you are looking for, jazz, salsa or a the house band that has been together for decades, the Keys has it all. Throw in a little community theater for quirks, and you have a flavorful cultural stew.


1

Looe Key Tiki Bar

user rating

Location:

27340 Overseas Highway , Ramrod Key
Little Torch Key, FL 33042

Contact:

tel: 305 872-2215


2

Virgilio's

user rating

Location:

524 Duval Street
Applerouth Lane
Key West, FL 33040

Contact:

tel: 305 296 8118


3

Red Barn Theater

user rating

Location:

319 Duval Street
Rear
Key West, FL 33040

Contact:

tel: 305 296 9911
fax: +1 305 293 3035


4

Dockside Lounge

Location:

35 Sombrero Boulevard
Bayside
Marathon, FL 33037

Contact:

tel: 305 743 0000


5

Snappers Waterfront Saloon & Raw Bar

Location:

Mile Marker 94.5
Oceanside
Key Largo, FL 33037

Contact:

tel: 305 852 5956


Day 4 - Key Largo, Islamorada, Pigeon Key, Marathon, Key West


Pennekamp Park, America's first undersea park, turns 50 this year! From December 1-11, 2010 there are special celebrations throughout Key Largo planned. Be a part of history!


1

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Mile Marker 102.5
Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL 33037

Contact:

tel: +1 305 451 6300


2

Indian Key State Historic Site

user rating

Location:

Mile Marker 78.5
1 mile west of the tip if Islamorada
Islamorada, FL 33036

Contact:

tel: +1 305 664 2540


5

Old Seven Mile Bridge

expert pick

Location:

Mile Marker 47, U.S 1
U.S. 1
Pigeon Key, FL 33050

Contact:

tel: +1 800 352 5397


6

Turtle Hospital

user rating

Location:

2396 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL

Contact:

tel: 305-743-2552


7

Southernmost Point in the Nation

user rating

Location:

Corner of Whitehead & South Streets
Key West, FL 33040


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