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Florida Keys - Been there?


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#1 OFFLINE   fluffybear

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:12 PM

Anyone ever been to the Florida Keys?

 

A friend of ours is trying to talk us in to going in on a vacation rental this summer but having never been there before, I'm not sure if it is what we are looking for?

 

I really would like to hear from someone who has actually been there what it is really like and if this would be a good vacation spot for a family (kids ages are 11, 9 and 4)


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#2 ONLINE   BubblePuppy

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:50 PM

I used to go down there about once a month to scuba dive. So there is that along with great snorkeling. Great Caribbean based food, abundant and very aggressive mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Some of the best sunsets in the world. It can be very hot and humid. Since the majority of my activities there took place underwater I can't point you to specific restaurants and other top side activities. However I always felt that moving to Oregon instead of buying a house in The Keys was the biggest mistake of my life. 


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#3 OFFLINE   trh

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 01:16 PM

What part of the Keys? We've been going down there for years, but last summer we totally avoided Duval street in Key West with our kids. At their request.

One of my co-workers just spent last week in Marathon with his two young daughters and loved it. I think they are 3 and 5.

#4 OFFLINE   trh

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 01:18 PM

And how will you be getting there? Flying or driving?

#5 OFFLINE   fluffybear

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 01:18 PM

What part of the Keys? We've been going down there for years, but last summer we totally avoided Duval street in Key West with our kids. At their request.

One of my co-workers just spent last week in Marathon with his two young daughters and loved it. I think they are 3 and 5.

 

supposedly this is close to the southernmost point.

 

My biggest concern is this more of a tourist trap than anything.   

 

 

 

Being from NE Florida, what is your opinion on Amelia Island?  


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#6 OFFLINE   fluffybear

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 01:20 PM

And how will you be getting there? Flying or driving?

 

drive.   We had already planned to be in Miami so a couple of additional hours drive isn't a big deal..


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#7 OFFLINE   trh

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 02:01 PM

I asked about the driving as it would be worth getting the FL Sun Pass for all the toll roads. US1 in the Keys isn't an issue, but the roads through south FL contain quite a few. All the Publix here in FL sell them.

Amelia is very nice and great beaches, but the water doesn't compare to the tropical waters of the Keys. And no reefs around here for snorkeling. You can surf here though; not sure if they do in the Keys.

But if we're going on a beach/ocean vacation in the US, it is the Keys or the panhandle of FL for that pure white sand.

#8 OFFLINE   fluffybear

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 02:31 PM

I asked about the driving as it would be worth getting the FL Sun Pass for all the toll roads. US1 in the Keys isn't an issue, but the roads through south FL contain quite a few. All the Publix here in FL sell them.

Amelia is very nice and great beaches, but the water doesn't compare to the tropical waters of the Keys. And no reefs around here for snorkeling. You can surf here though; not sure if they do in the Keys.

But if we're going on a beach/ocean vacation in the US, it is the Keys or the panhandle of FL for that pure white sand.

 

 We've done the Annual Pass thing to the theme parks for the last several years so we invested in a Sun Pass a few years back..

 

Where do you like in the pan handle area?   We did Miramar beach a couple of years back and that was nice except we hated the hotel so much that it left a sour taste with us.


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#9 ONLINE   BubblePuppy

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 03:03 PM

Definitely get a Sunpass, the toll booths have Sunpass only lanes in which you don't have to slow down when you drive through. That took a bit of getting used to but it can be a time saver. Now I live in Missouri but I keep my Sunpass account active for when I do drive down to Florida. It can be a time and money saver.


Edited by BubblePuppy, 05 May 2014 - 03:03 PM.

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#10 OFFLINE   billsharpe

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 04:20 PM

Anyone ever been to the Florida Keys?

 

A friend of ours is trying to talk us in to going in on a vacation rental this summer but having never been there before, I'm not sure if it is what we are looking for?

 

I really would like to hear from someone who has actually been there what it is really like and if this would be a good vacation spot for a family (kids ages are 11, 9 and 4)

The Keys are a great place for a vacation, but I would not recommend it in the summertime. When I was growing up in the Philadelphia area we would head for New England or Canada for many of our summer vacations, although we also liked the South Jersey shore. The toll on the Tacony-Palmara bridge between Pennsylvania and New Jersey was five cents then.

 

Two musts: key lime pie, watching the sun set from Key West wharf.

 

Highly recommended: Boat trip to the Dry Tortugas.


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#11 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 04:29 PM

Lovely place, been a few decades since I was there. At the time at least it really was "get there fast and then you take it slow..." sit back with too much rum and enjoy the sunsets. For those with the time I would strongly suggest flying into MIA and driving down; although it takes a while you'll marvel at what you see along the way.
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#12 OFFLINE   tampa8

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 04:45 PM

Everyone has their own opinions on what a vacation is. I would agree if don't like the heat and humidity the Summer is not the time to be there, the sun is very intense.

 

I have yet to meet anyone that didn't like Key west and all it's oddities, at least glad they went there once, and avoiding it would be avoiding one of the most visited vacation spots aside from theme parks for a reason. Southern most point you mentioned is there.

Duval street with all it's rich history (example Sloppy Joes) and the famous pier sunset street performers is memorable. If Dual Street is too much for you there is plenty else in Key West. 

Staying in the area is expensive. 

 

It is not remotely a tourist trap, unless a place that is a tourist destination is your definition of one. 


Edited by tampa8, 05 May 2014 - 04:54 PM.


#13 OFFLINE   fluffybear

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:33 PM

The Keys are a great place for a vacation, but I would not recommend it in the summertime. When I was growing up in the Philadelphia area we would head for New England or Canada for many of our summer vacations, although we also liked the South Jersey shore. The toll on the Tacony-Palmara bridge between Pennsylvania and New Jersey was five cents then.

 

Two musts: key lime pie, watching the sun set from Key West wharf.

 

Highly recommended: Boat trip to the Dry Tortugas.

 

No offense but I am not sure I would list Key Lime Pie as a must. 

It is one of those things which is far to subjective.  I saw a show a few months back on Food which listed the top places for Key Lime Pie and according to them, the best Key Lime Pie came from a place in Brooklyn 


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#14 OFFLINE   NR4P

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:33 PM

Definitely get a Sunpass, the toll booths have Sunpass only lanes in which you don't have to slow down when you drive through. That took a bit of getting used to but it can be a time saver. Now I live in Missouri but I keep my Sunpass account active for when I do drive down to Florida. It can be a time and money saver.

 

In Miami Dade County, the turnpike has done away with cash as of 2 weeks ago and it's either Sunpass or Toll by Plate.

If you have a rental car or they mail you a bill, you pay a surcharge.

So, if its more than one day, get the $5 Sunpass, link a credit card to it and drive as you see fit.

 

In the Keys on US1 there aren't any tolls, that I recall.



#15 OFFLINE   dennisj00

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 07:06 PM

A few years ago, we rented a Harley in Ft. Lauderdale and went down A1A to Marathon the first day and Key West the second.  Awesome scenery.

 

Key West is interesting, particularly on the Fantasy Fest week/weekend.  Lots of naked / painted / ladies / people.

 

Not so good for the youngsters.

 

And my wife makes the best Key Lime pie.


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#16 OFFLINE   1980ws

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 04:01 AM

Key West - Fantastic history, great flora & many types of architecture. A very interesting place. Duval Street is ok for younger ones but not during any "Fests" or in the night hours. But there really isn't anything in Key West for young kids anyway. The other Keys are great for water adventures and not taudry. But the history is glorious. So many different cultures and types have passed through Key West, and the Pirates & thousands of shipwrecks. Take advantage of the many tours that tell you the stories and places of interest.


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#17 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 07:40 AM

However I always felt that moving to Oregon instead of buying a house in The Keys was the biggest mistake of my life.

I have an Oregon acquaintance that winters in Key West and his Harley is for sale. It was submerged in sea water in the basement for only a day or so.

He keeps it in the basement so the chickens and salt air don't have their way with it.

I visited Key Biscayne a few months before hurricane Andrew. It was shocking to watch the news and see pretty much all of the palm trees knocked over.

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#18 OFFLINE   4HiMarks

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 10:15 AM

We've made the drive down to Key West twice. My advice is to fly in early and stay a night (or more) in Miami or South Beach and leave right after breakfast. There's a place called Alabama Jack's on the mainland side of the bridge to Key Largo where we stop for lunch by the water. Dry Tortugas are cool. If you have the money, take a seaplane instead of a boat. There's a lot to see from the air along the way, and you get several hours there all by yourself before the drunken Yahoos arrive on the party boat.

 

Duvall Street is, uh, interesting. Lots of places to hear good music. In addition to Sloppy Joe's we like the Hog's Breath Saloon a couple of blocks away. For an amazing dinner, make a reservation at the Latitudes restaurant on Sunset Key - a private island owned by the Westin hotel there. You have to take a shuttle boat that is only available to guests and restaurant patrons. We'd love to stay at a cottage there, if we were rich.

 

Sunset at the wharf. Truman Annex. Old forts. Scuba and snorkling. Sailing. There is plenty of "family" entertainment if you want, but it's really more like Disneyland for grownups.


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#19 OFFLINE   Rich

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 10:26 AM

We spent six weeks in Gitmo and I thought the heat and humidity there was the worst I'd ever experienced.  Finally got thru that ordeal and went to Key West for liberty.  It was even hotter and more humid than Gitmo!  It was the middle of the summer and walking out of a bar was like getting hit in the head with a 2x4.  We did have a good time in the bars, but the heat and humidity was terrible.  I wouldn't go there in the summer.

 

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#20 OFFLINE   billsharpe

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 12:11 PM

No offense but I am not sure I would list Key Lime Pie as a must. 

It is one of those things which is far to subjective.  I saw a show a few months back on Food which listed the top places for Key Lime Pie and according to them, the best Key Lime Pie came from a place in Brooklyn 

Key lime pie is like sex. Even when it's bad, it's good.  :up:

 

On our several trips to the Keys we enjoyed every piece of key lime pie we ate.


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#21 OFFLINE   tsmacro

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 01:51 PM

Been there three times and enjoyed it each time. Plenty of party opportunities if you're so inclined. But also all sorts of interesting history, like the Hemingway House for example. Also interesting attractions like the Butterfly Garden and Key West also has of all things a winery where they turn tropical fruits into wine.


Edited by tsmacro, 07 May 2014 - 06:28 AM.



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#22 OFFLINE   photostudent

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 05:20 PM

I love Key West but forget the summer. The crowd that hangs out there in the winter goes to places like Traverse City or Petosky Mi, (or Maine) when the heat hits. When I lived in Florida, it seemed like everyone wanted to move to the NC mountains to cool off.
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#23 OFFLINE   Phil T

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 07:10 PM

I was there in September 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Actually drove down all the way from Colorado. I heard the horror stories but drove around town and parked without any problem, but again this was September. This was my second time there, but the first time was 1957 and I was only five. Still remember having a picnic at the 7 mile bridge, which has been replaced now, but the old bridge is still there.



#24 OFFLINE   carl6

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 08:51 PM

Well, a bit late to the party here, but I'll chip in. My wife and I visited the keys once, in 2005, and enjoyed it greatly. Spent about a full week there (on our Goldwing which we road down from Seattle). The Keys are their own relaxed lifestyle - I felt like I could get used to being there, but just a few thousand miles too far away from the rest of the family.



#25 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 09:10 PM

Another a little late to the party!!  :)

 

I lived in Key West for four years, it was my 2nd to last duty station during my Navy career.  We lived in a 900 sq. ft. duplex, but right on a protected bay.  We all loved it!!  Even the summers.  We didn't use the air conditioning during the day as we were generally outside and found the climate pretty much great year 'round.

 

Of course, that was back in the mid to late 70's and things have changed quite a bit.


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