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Old 07-27-2009, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Cottonwood CA
355 posts, read 1,062,832 times
Reputation: 341

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Wife and I will be flying to Miami and taking a short (3 day) cruise to the Bahamas. After that we're planning to rent a car and spend 4 days travelling and sight-seeing. Our plans right now are to visit the Everglades and the Keys before returning to Miami fro the flight home.

As part of my vacation planning (or "obsession" as my wife likes to say), I'm looking for advice on "must sees" in the Keys as well as recommended lodging places, eating and drinking establishments. Just as important, please advise regarding the "tourist trap" places to avoid at all costs!

Might mention wife and I are in our early 50's, fairly active. We live in interior far-northern CA. We'll be snorkelling on the cruise, so probably won't be wanting to do that again.

Thanks in advance for the recommendations.
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Old 07-28-2009, 09:03 PM
 
Location: Key Largo, FL
41 posts, read 166,244 times
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We live in Key Larog and when we have visitors we take them to the Alligator Farm in the Everglades where they can safely see gators and get an airboat ride. We then go to the National Park where there is lots of info about the Everglades environment. There is a nearby winery - I forget the name but it's in the Redlands. We stop and get a shake at Roberts is Here - a popular fruit stand. All that takes a day. Heading down US!, we stop at World Wide Sports to show them a replica of Hemingway's boat - also a nice place for lunch. Then we go to Robbie's to feed the tarpon. Then we talke them to the Dolphin Research center. Then we head to Key West. Duval Street. Hog's Breath Saloon. If you want you can take a catamaran out to Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas. You might want to stay a few nights in Key West.

Hope that helps a bit in your planning.
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Old 07-28-2009, 09:14 PM
 
Location: North Central Florida
6,217 posts, read 7,348,820 times
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Cant recall the name of the outdoor restaraunt/bar on the corner of Duval and Caroline street. I usually end up spending a few hours just sitting there, and enjoying the parade of sights on Duval street. Quite the show if you enjoy a little(wacky) people watching.
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Old 07-31-2009, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
501 posts, read 1,803,197 times
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I think you need some perspective on the Keys first, regarding restaurants. One of it's major industries used to be commercial fishing, up until about the early 1980's. This provided easy and inexpensive access for Mom/Pop family restaurants to exotic seafare such as conch and turtle, which are now illegal. Kinda like going to Monterey now that the canneries are closed.

Most of the famous eateries which were noted for these delicacies are now closed. And most of the Keys restaurants get their supplies delivered by the same foodservice distributors today, making them mostly homogenous. So your focus needs to be on scenic view and trying specific foods on the menu: conch fritters, conch salad, conch chowder, ceviché (white not red), florida lobster, florida oysters, stone crab, blue crab, butterfly shrimp, pompano, red snapper, yellow tail, fish chowder/gumbo or bisque and of course, key lime pie. (BTW, conch is now imported from Bahamas, Mexico and REAL key lime pie has a homemade crust, not a foodservice one!).

Check Michellin, Zagat's, Mobil, Fodor's and other Dining Guides if you want high-end rated cuisine.

Also decide on designated driver as Keys theme is heavy on the beer, wine and drinks. There are fantastic happy hours there (many start early after lunch rush) that still serve generous free food at specific time periods (you'll notice the overflowing parking lots with local auto tags) and incredible drink prices.

Coral Castle is an attraction near Homestead you don't want to miss:
Coral Castle Museum-
So is Chekika Springs in the Everglades National Park (if open):
Everglades National Park - Chekika Area of Everglades National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Everglades National Park - Chekika closes for wet season 2009 (U.S. National Park Service)
Other Sightseeing/Accommodation Links:
http://www.visitflorida.com/articles...scenic-highway
http://fla-keys.com/

Accommodations:
//www.city-data.com/forum/10032915-post17.html

A suggestion would also be to get a copy of the Sunday Miami Herald Travel Section when you arrive and before you sail, so you can view special packages in the Keys. Due to the economy, there are some amazing deals!

For the Everglades, here are my recommendations:
When in Rome, you must try real alligator tail and fresh frog legs! This place is my favorite spot for the best ever, but only for the restaurant (rest is a tourist trap):
Coopertown Airboat Tours, Everglades National Park private Airboat Tours
Here is the best place for Airboat tours in the most scenic area of the Everglades:
Wooten's Everglades Airboat Tour - Everglades, swamp, tours. Ochopee, FL.
Most scenic drive is generally from Monroe Station to S.R.29
http://www.trails.com/activity.aspx?area=13173
Interesting sites include Post Office in Ochopee and Old General Store in Chokoloskee, to give you an understanding of historic life.

Last edited by daytonadewd; 08-01-2009 at 01:05 AM..
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Old 08-01-2009, 12:30 AM
 
Location: Cottonwood CA
355 posts, read 1,062,832 times
Reputation: 341
Default Thanks for the detailed reponse!

Quote:
Originally Posted by daytonadewd View Post
Also decide on designated driver as Keys theme is heavy on the beer, wine and drinks. There are amazing happy hours there that still serve free food (you'll notice the overflowing parking lots).

Coral Castle is an attraction near Homestead you don't want to miss:
Coral Castle Museum-
So is Chekika Springs in the Everglades National Park (if open):
Everglades National Park - Chekika Area of Everglades National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Everglades National Park - Chekika closes for wet season 2009 (U.S. National Park Service)

For the Everglades, here are my recommendations:
When in Rome, you must try real alligator tail and fresh frog legs! This place is my favorite spot for the best ever, but only for the restaurant (rest is a tourist trap):
Coopertown Airboat Tours, Everglades National Park private Airboat Tours
Here is the best place for Airboat tours in the most scenic area of the Everglades:
Wooten's Everglades Airboat Tour - Everglades, swamp, tours. Ochopee, FL.
Most scenic drive is from Monroe Station to S.R.29
Interesting sites include Post Office in Ochopee and Old General Store in Chokoloskee, to give you an understanding of historic life.
I assume there will be the occasional "party place" with adjacent lodging in the Keys. Any recommendations?

Also, I checked the map and "Wooten's" appears to be some distance west on Hwy. 41. Any idea about how far west of "Florida's Turnpike"? It sounds terrific and we definitely want to do the airboat ride since we missed it a few years ago when in Louisiana. Of course our time in FLA is limited, so we've got to consider the length of a "single road" sidetrip.
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:23 AM
 
Location: Full time in the RV
3,357 posts, read 7,386,718 times
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Wooten's is in Collier County. If you want an airboat tour and have a time issue then there are several along 41 that are closer to Miami. If you are going to stop at the Coopertown restaurant then you might as well take their airboat tour.
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Old 08-02-2009, 08:57 PM
 
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
501 posts, read 1,803,197 times
Reputation: 503
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybee View Post
I assume there will be the occasional "party place" with adjacent lodging in the Keys. Any recommendations?

Also, I checked the map and "Wooten's" appears to be some distance west on Hwy. 41. Any idea about how far west of "Florida's Turnpike"? It sounds terrific and we definitely want to do the airboat ride since we missed it a few years ago when in Louisiana. Of course our time in FLA is limited, so we've got to consider the length of a "single road" sidetrip.
Bud n' Mary's in Islamorada is your place, but because of the demand, you won't find much for discount "packages" like you would for other hotel/resort properties. This place is packed on weekends and has great restaurants and bars on site:
Bud N' Mary's Fishing Marina in Islamorada, Florida Keys - Motel Accommodations Information

It's a 2-1/2 hour (nonstop) trip on US41, from central Miami to Naples (excluding any Miami gridlock). Wooten's would be about 90 minutes, about 45-minutes/an hour past Coopertown.

If your cruise docks in the AM, you could easily make it for a day trip in the Everglades on US41 and to a hotel in Homestead that evening to continue your trip to the Keys next day. It doesn't get dark until 8:30/9pm now.

If you get crunched for time, you can always see about returning your rental car in Key West and flying back from there to your connecting flight in Miami (after you drive this you'll understand the suggestion, as it's like PCH 101 during summer).

Last edited by daytonadewd; 08-02-2009 at 09:08 PM..
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:42 AM
 
Location: Cottonwood CA
355 posts, read 1,062,832 times
Reputation: 341
Default Thank You

Thanks to all who've responded. I appreciate the info and will definitely use it to arrange our visit.

I don't think I mentioned that we're taking the trip in late September. We know that's risky hurricane season, but we'll take our chances. We usually vacation that time of year to avoid the crowds. Worst case scenario is we'd have to reroute our trip.

Thanks again!
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