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  1. #1
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    Default Need help with Key West trip!

    My girlfriend and I are flying down to Fort Laurdale airport on Saturday, June 28 and are renting a car. We are then going to visit relatives in Pompano Beach for the night. From then we will make the trek from Pompano Beach to Key West the following morning (Sunday, June 29). What is the best time of day to drive to avoid traffic? Also, we will arrive in Key West that night to check into our hotel and we will be checking out on Saturday, July 5. On our morning / afternoon drive to Key West through the other keys, what are some "Must See Attractions" for first time visitors that we can do on our way down? Also, what are some "Must See Attractions" for out 6 days / 6 nights in Key West? Any advise would help and be much appreciated. Thanks.

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    Hi and welcome!

    If you're going down to KW on a Sunday, traffic should be fine, as most people who spend weekends in the Keys are usually heading home then, and so traffic will be in the opposite direction.

    My favorite "attraction" on the way down is Shell World because there's just all this weird stuff made out of shells for sale. But seriously, there are a number of small shops that are all interesting in their own way.

    In Islamorada, Holiday Isle/the Tiki Bar (http://www.holidayisle.com/entertainment.html) is a very popular spot. They have dining and some shops, as well as a bar/nightclub. Just past the bridge and down the road is the Lor-e-Lei Restaurant (http://www.loreleifloridakeys.com/), which I love. It's right on the water and has a great view. You can also see the Cadillac boat docked there: http://www.nautilimo.com/.

    In Key West, there's the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, which, I admit, I love. It's kitschy. There also the San Carlos Institute (http://www.institutosancarlos.org/), which is a historic landmark founded by Cuban exiles in the 1800's. There's also the nightly Sunset Celebration (http://www.sunsetcelebration.org/).

    You'll also be able to take boat tours and snorkel and all that, but you can get that information locally when you're there. Key West is very touristy (I think most restaurants are a rip-off), so there's lots to see. It's easy to walk around and to see all the historic homes and such.

    Hope this helps!

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    Senior Member Doug's Avatar
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    Hey inthebackwoods, I went down last September and wrote this article about fun things to do in Key West. Hope it gives you some good ideas!

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    If you guys dive you absolutely MUST so some diving in the Keys. Best in the continental US. If you want to go, I can give you the names of some good, small outfits that take you out on less-crowded boats.

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    Thank you all very much for the responses and help. Matt, yes, please send me some names of boats for diving if you can. Tere and Doug, the info you gave is very helpful. I'm new to this board and I appreciate the assistance. You guys can call me Steve. My gf and I have several months to plan this vacation, and I want to make sure we make it worthwhile and see all the stuff we should see on our way down and in Key West. Anymore info anyone else can pass along would be very helpful and appreciated. Thanks again all.

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    Senior Member Doug's Avatar
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    Hi Steve, glad I was able to help you. Make sure you catch that cat show! After the scenery, it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip!

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    Editor Matt Meltzer's Avatar
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    Quiescence Diving Services is on the Overseas Highway around Mile Marker 103 in Key Largo. First Rate outfit with good guides and helpful staff. They also try and take you to less-crowded places.
    http://www.keylargodiving.com/

    If you want guided tours, South Beach Divers out of Miami Beach also runs a really good operation. If you're not goign to be in Miami at all, give them a call and see if you can meet them on the keys or if they can tell you who they work with down there. But their guides have all been fantastic.
    http://www.southbeachdivers.com/

  8. #8
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    Hi, inthebackwoods, welcome to MiamiBeach411. Thanks for posting your question here.

    Happy to see so many great Key West suggestions.

    The only thing I'd add is that you visit Dry Tortugas National Park. There is a fast cat ferry that leaves from Key West every day. If money is no object, there's also a sea plane that can take you there. If you take the ferry, they provide lunch and snorkel gear. When I went snorkeling at the Park, I saw a 400lb Goliath Grouper right off the beach, near the metal pilings. You can see the area where I saw the fish on this picture from my trip.

    As for where to eat in Key West, there are tons of touristy restaurants that will try to sucker you in. Avoid them if you can. Hands down, the best place for dinner is Blue Heaven, the food is great and the atmosphere is totally Key West -- the restaurant is a must visit.

    When driving home, I like to time our departure so that we're crossing the 7-mile bride at sunset.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gus
    The only thing I'd add is that you visit Dry Tortugas National Park. There is a fast cat ferry that leaves from Key West every day. If money is no object, there's also a sea plane that can take you there. If you take the ferry, they provide lunch and snorkel gear. When I went snorkeling at the Park, I saw a 400lb Goliath Grouper right off the beach, near the metal pilings. You can see the area where I saw the fish on this picture from my trip.
    Gus, do you know how much tickets are for the Ferry that goes to the Dry Tontugas?

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    Senior Member Rebecca Lucente's Avatar
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    Must must must do the ghost tour!! And eat lunch overlooking the marina at the Conch Republic Seafood Company. And get drinks at the Salty Dog. For an affordable meal and great, friendly staff, Cheeseburger Key West is hard to beat. The ghost tour leaves from La Concha hotel, there is a lot of local folklore that is pretty interesting. The night my girlfriends and I went on it, there were spots of light in the camera only at the spots that were supposedly haunted! That was freaky! I agree with the others that the Tiki Bar in Islamorada is a cool place to stop. There is also South Florida's only winery in the redlands, which will make a bit of a detour through pompano but is only 40 minutes from Islamorada...http://www.schneblywinery.com/

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    Editor Matt Meltzer's Avatar
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    Its about $120 for adults, plus a $5 park fee. There are other ferries that operate, but this one is the least expensive I know of.

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    Thanks again for all the info everybody. Please keep it coming if anyone else has things to add. You've all been very helpful.

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    Senior Member Rebecca Lucente's Avatar
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    Oh, I don't know if you already booked a hotel, but , I would recommend the Westin or Hyatt in that order. La Concha is nice and affordable but has no balconies.
    :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beccal639
    Oh, I don't know if you already booked a hotel, but , I would recommend the Westin or Hyatt in that order. La Concha is nice and affordable but has no balconies.
    :)
    Ya, we booked over at the Southnmost. We wanted to be on the quiet end of Duval near most of the beaches. We will definitely be spending a lot of time of the north side of Duval though. Just wanted a place to be able to drop our things and go explore. Thanks for the advice though. I hear La Concha has a sweet roof view with a bar that can be visited even if you do not stay at the hotel, is this true?

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    Senior Member Rebecca Lucente's Avatar
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    Yes, this is true. You should definitely check it out, the bar at the Westin also has a gorgeous view of the ocean. It's on the opposite end of Duval.

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    I absolutely love Bahia Honda it is in Doug's Article. It is one of my favorite places in the world. You can snorkel right off the beach. On my last trip in about 4 feet of water and 20 feat from the beach I saw an octopus and about 30 different kinds of fish, and a ray. I shoot some video, when I have it online I will let you know.

    On the way if no one mentioned it is the everglades a quick detour to the first visitor center Royal Palm gives you all you need to see. The Anhinga Trail is amazing it is an elevated boardwalk over the glades. When I went I saw about 3o wild alligators and a large bird maybe a herring eating a fish (you can see it slid down the inside of their neck).

    The only sandy beach (that I know of in Key West) is Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park at the southern end of town. Other than that the coast is kind of mucky.

  17. #17
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    Hey inthebackwoods.

    I'm so jealous- 6 days... ::sigh::

    I recommend taking a lax day and renting a bike and just biking it. On a trip with a former beau, we spent the better part of one day just biking around the island and it was, oddly enough, more relaxing and roamantic than anything else. Something about all those tropical trees...

    Nick and I were there recently and I rented an electric car. I even brought his booster seat. That's also a cool option.

    You definitely can't miss out on the bars though inthebackwoods. Don't leave without visiting the staples: Sloppy Joes, Hog's Breath Saloon and Green Parrot Bar. The Duval Crawl, a cool pub scavenger hunt, is also a nifty way to get to see some of the Key West spots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad -A
    I absolutely love Bahia Honda it is in Doug's Article. It is one of my favorite places in the world. You can snorkel right off the beach. On my last trip in about 4 feet of water and 20 feat from the beach I saw an octopus and about 30 different kinds of fish, and a ray. I shoot some video, when I have it online I will let you know.
    Ya, Bahia Honda is a definite stop for us after the good things we've heard and read about it. Again, we're getting lots of great recommendations from everyone. If anyone else has more good stops on the way down or in Key West, definitely let me know. Again, thanks everyone.

  19. #19
    Editor Matt Meltzer's Avatar
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    Just thought of this, but try taking Card Sound Road on your way down (typically a lot less traffic and WAY more scenic). there is a bar/restaurant along there called Alabama Jacks that is the quentisential upper keys place. Like hidden on a swamp in a fishing village. But the food is surprisingly good and they have live music on the weekends. But it is often packed.

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    By the way, does anyone know what to expect from the weather during our vaca? We will be in Key West from 06/29 - 07/05. I know the humidity will be extremely strong, but as far as rain goes. I read a few things that shows that May-October is rainy season and that, historically, on the dates we're going, it has rained for about a half hour at a time either early mornings or late nights. Not sure if anyone has been down there for 4th of July week. Can anyone give me advise on what to expect weatherwise? Thanks.

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