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    1. Junior Member
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      05-15-2019 08:36 AM #1
      My wife and I are planning a trip to the Florida Keys in the next few weeks and I was looking for some TCL recommendations as neither of us have ever been and I am tired of looking at Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews...

      We are flying into either Ft. Lauderdale or Miami in early June and renting something fun (Turo seems like the most interesting option) to drive down in.

      We don't have any set plans yet, just 3-4 nights in Key West and 1-2 in another of the Keys. Anyone have any good/great places they like to stay/eat/drink (mainly drink, to forget), and/or sites to see when they go down there?

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    3. 05-15-2019 08:41 AM #2
      The Casa Marina is a really nice hotel to stay at, pretty expensive thought but so is everything else down there. Also there are drag queens, lots of them, lol. Don’t really remember any good restaurant because it was 5 years ago.


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    4. Member The_Real_Stack's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 08:45 AM #3
      I stayed at the Hyatt and wife and I went to the Red Garter. Had a blast.
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      05-15-2019 08:59 AM #4
      We stayed at the Southernmost Resort a few years ago in KW - really nice place. Just be aware that you won't find luxurious beaches on KW (not sure about the other Keys), but KW is a fun place to spend a few days /nights (just stay away from the touristy hell where the cruise ships come in).

      If you are into sport fishing, there is no better place to charter a boat for half a day and chase tarpon.

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      05-15-2019 09:26 AM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by BrianC View Post
      We stayed at the Southernmost Resort a few years ago in KW - really nice place. Just be aware that you won't find luxurious beaches on KW (not sure about the other Keys), but KW is a fun place to spend a few days /nights (just stay away from the touristy hell where the cruise ships come in).

      If you are into sport fishing, there is no better place to charter a boat for half a day and chase tarpon.
      A fishing trip sounds great, but I think my wife would start drawing up the divorce papers if I planned that for us...

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      05-15-2019 09:34 AM #6
      Santiago's Bodega is a good choice for dinner one night

      Ana's for Cuban cofee and sandwiches

    8. Member Zembla's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 09:43 AM #7
      Last time I was on the Keys we stayed at Tranquility Bay in Marathon, and then the Azul in Key West (neatly within walking distance of most places to go out to, depends on how willing you are to walk though, I guess, though walking sure is convenient).

      As for drinks, I liked Sloppy Joe's, but wasn't really on a drinking trip, so didn't check out too many other places. I liked the ambience/vibe in Sloppy Joe's. We also had a few drinks at Viva Saloon, which was ok, but nothing stand-out-ish.

      For dining we did Fogarty's and Hog's Breath. Both were ok, nothing too fancy, good enough food. I'd recommend Fogarty's over Hog's Breath.

      All that being said: these are also just tips from a tourist. People more local to the area may have better suggestions.
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    9. Member iamnotemo's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 09:48 AM #8
      If you're in KW, I must recommend https://www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com/ . I lived on the island as a kid and I've been back many times and never get tired of it.

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      05-15-2019 01:55 PM #9
      I've spent a lot of time diving in Key Largo. Figured you'd have mentioned it if you were into diving, but you'd probably have a great time snorkeling in Pennekamp State Park or doing some of the eco tours around the gulf side. Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada is pretty amazing as is the Morada Bay Beach Cafe. In Key West you can pretty much walk around everywhere and have a great time, just realize that the keys in general are pretty dumpy. The drive is largely through trashy strip malls until you get down into the lower keys and the long bridges, but given that it's one lane in each direction and traffic is usually awful, prepare for cruising along at 25-30mph for a lot of it.

      That said, it's a pretty great place, especially down in Key West. Be sure to hit up any bar on the west side to watch the sunset each night and get some conch fritters at the Key Largo Conch House on your way down.

    11. Member TangoRed's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 02:25 PM #10
      Odd placement in the carlounge but paying attention since I'm going to a wedding there.
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    12. Member Alpha-3's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 04:25 PM #11
      If you want good food and lots of it, go where the locals go -- the Hogfish grill on Stock Island, just outside of Key West. It's nothing fancy, but the food is plentiful and tasty, and lots of characters and locals go there.

      I head over there everytime I come down from Miami.
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      05-15-2019 04:42 PM #12
      If you two have any interest at all in convertibles, I highly recommend that. The drive down is great from a 'vert with the ocean breeze. It's mostly cruising though, don't expect to have fun handling. Can also cruise Duval St--it's kind of a like a main street mini boulevard combo.

      As far as Key West stuff to do that's gearhead related, there's plenty of Jet Ski tours around the island. I did the Fury Adventures West one and it was a ton of fun. There's also moped and golf cart rentals for getting around the town. Non gear-head related I'd recommend the small aquarium, Mile Marker 0, and the "Southermost Point." Fun story, it's actually a half-buried septic tank--apparently they had numerous signs but they kept getting stolen.

      Edit: Oh, Fort Zach is pretty cool too.


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      Last edited by ghost03; 05-15-2019 at 04:47 PM.

    14. Member GLI Dan's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 05:10 PM #13
      I'll echo the cheeca lodge/key largo sentiments for areas to stop other than Key West.

      Key West is a very unique place with even more unique residents. Picture a Texas sense of pride mixed with island lifestyle.

      Anyways, most of the upper keys aren't really that exciting for tourists outside of all inclusive resorts and enjoying the water/sun. The upper keys are used as south floridian's weekend vacation spot, a good portion of my friends own additional property down there and my family has taken our boat down on several occasions. Boating is really where the fun is at, just going from sand bar to sand bar where there are basically parties raging in the middle of the ocean. There are of course plenty of diving/snorkling opportunities, if that's for you.

      Key West, Airbnb is a good bet for a nice place at a decent price, but if a nice beach not inundated with bafoons is what you're looking for I'd book a resort with a beach. Hands down nicest hotel you can stay at is going to be the sunset key cottages which are located on a man made island a 5min ferry ride off of Key west, island was originally built for and used by the military https://www.sunsetkeycottages.com/ alternatively, you can also stay at the Margaritaville hotel which provides passes to the first 20-25 guests (first come first served) to the Sunset key beach. Neither are cheap though.

      The main strip in Key West, Duval Street, is a plethora of restaurants, bars, strip clubs, and novelty shops. All the famous spots like Boar's Head Saloon and Sloppy Joes are located there. Also, Dante's by the docks is always an interesting spot. Admittedly most of my time spent there was during college so my priorities/memories I'm sure do not meet your ideas of a vacation but generally speaking the Keys and Key West is a place to simply be there and enjoy.

      Oh I also recommend flying into Miami to save yourself about 45-50min of driving time. There's also better Turo options out of Miami than there are Fort Lauderdale. I recommend finding a convertible 911, theres usually several of them available. Whatever you get, get a convertible, you'll thank me as you enter the beginning of the keys, that's the best part of the scenery as you drive thru the keys in my opinion.


      Editing to add some spots:

      There's a bar called cowboys or woody's...you can't miss it, its a fun time. Re-read your post, definitely stop by Dante's. As for food, i think the best thing I can recommend is avoiding most of the restaurants on Duval, they're all tourist spots. Focus on the shacks located on the water as they get their fish from local fisherman typically and even a moron that's never cooked can't make a fresh fish steak taste bad.
      Last edited by GLI Dan; 05-15-2019 at 05:17 PM.
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    15. Member spathotan's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 08:22 PM #14
      Fogarty's and Two Friends for food, The Whistle Bar for lol's.

    16. Senior Member kidshorty's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 09:22 PM #15
      Stayed at Eden House a few years back. Night quaint little spot. Close to everything, parking was easy, and had a great pool.

      We flew into Palm Beach and rented an A5 convertible from SixT. The price was great but it was nowhere to be found when we got there. They quickly got us into an A3 vert, hooked us up with a discount, and off we went. The trip was a blast.

    17. 05-15-2019 10:11 PM #16
      Imo Key West is way overrated.

      If you live in a place like Cleveland or Jersey.. then sure key west is gonna feel like you’re stepping into paradise.

      But there’s sooo many better keys, islands, and beaches around Florida. Try the west coast; Naples, Sarasota/Siesta Key.. America’s #1 beach, Longboat Key, St Pete, Clearwater.

      After spending so much time in Siesta Key, I took a trip to key west with my closest friends, we were ALL glad we only planned on 1 night. It’s cool to checkout a new place for a day.. but you run out of stuff to do in that one day.

      Not to mention the locals are extremely hostile to outsiders (even though they rely on tourism), never seen so many verbal fights in one day.. holyyy. I even heard a server refuse to serve someone (at The Rum Bar) until they said “please” with their order, and the customer was super nice too.. but just didn’t say “please”.

      Blew my mind, I’ve been to 27 countries and never heard of a server having a problem with a customer because they didn’t say “please”. Heck I even heard locals yelling at people “you’re not from here you need to go away”...

    18. You can't look at my avatar for just a second, can you? Just another GTI's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 10:18 PM #17
      Miami to Key West is a very long drive.

      Sort of but not really worth the trip.

      Former several year Florida resident. Key Largo is a happy medium and a far better vacation.

    19. Member _FLASH_'s Avatar
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      05-15-2019 10:45 PM #18
      Something to keep in mind is that the keys got destroyed during the hurricane last year. some stuff still isn't rebuilt yet.

    20. 05-16-2019 02:17 AM #19
      I grew up in Miami, and made many trips to the Keys. It's my favorite part of the state, and a drive on the Overseas Highway is a unique experience. There are spots where you feel you are on an ocean voyage, with nothing but the road ahead and the sea on either side. Here are my standard tips.

      Get yourself a copy of "The Florida Keys: A History & Guide" by Joy Williams. I think she's on the 10th edition, by now. It's an entertaining lightweight read: combination tourist guide, history, and trivia source. The chapters are arranged in the order of the keys from north to south. It's fun to have your co-pilot reading from the book as you are on your way through the locations described. And you might be inspired to stop and explore some of these spots.

      If you drive straight through, allow for 3 hours from Miami to Key West. More, if you make stops, or if there is traffic.

      After you pass Homestead, take the left turn onto Card Sound Road. This bypasses a mostly-ugly section of US #1, and takes you instead through an eastern patch of the Everglades (although not in the national park). Notice the occasional mysterious antennas and "Keep Out" signs. These are CIA(?) NSA(?) electronic listening sites, spying on Cuba, etc.

      Right after you leave the mainland, and just before you reach a toll bridge, you'll find Alabama Jack's. It's a popular roadhouse, with an open deck right on the water's edge. Great place to stop for lunch. Good conch fritters and chowder. They close at 7pm, probably because the mosquitoes would drive customers crazy.





      The road continues onto Key Largo and rejoins US #1.

      The best beach is on Bahia Honda Key, in the state park. You can swim on either the Atlantic or Gulf side.

      If you want a quieter, more natural scene than Key West, consider a stopover on Big Pine Key. We've stayed in the Deer Run B&B and Barnacle B&B. Both are on a narrow spit of land extending off the south side of the key. Grab a couple of kayaks and paddle through the mangroves. Watch out for key deer, an endangered species, barely bigger than a golden retriever.

      One of our favorite eateries is Mangrove Mama's, on Sugarloaf Key. Good seafood and ribs. We think their Key Lime pie is the best in the keys. We've tried many, and we use their recipe at home (you can google it).

      Most of the tourist action on Key West is around the cruise ship port and nearby Duval Street. It's seriously touristy. Block after block of bars and t-shirt shops. But some of the galleries have nice stuff from local artists. If you want an unusual dining experience, try Blue Heaven, on Thomas Street. Outdoor tables, under palm trees, with free-range chickens wandering around. When you get tired of wading through the crowds on Duval, take a stroll on the residential streets that run parallel to it. You'll see some pretty victorian houses and tropical gardens, some with funky artworks and ornamentation.

      If you like wandering around historic cemeteries, the one on Key West is worth a visit. Some of the monuments and tombstones tell interesting stories.
      Last edited by julianv; 05-16-2019 at 02:28 AM.
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    21. Member Surf Green's Avatar
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      05-16-2019 06:34 AM #20
      When I went for work, we sat in Miami for 2 and a half hours. If go down again, I'll rent a vehicle and drive.

      I recommend the Hogfish Bar & Grill on Stock Island. It's a bit away from all the tourists.
      B.O.s Fish Wagon is pretty good too.

      The Southernmost Point isn't really. But it's the closest you'll get without a proper ID.
      It's like every costal party town. If you're not into diving or fishing, after a couple days of bar hopping, you run out of things to do.
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    22. Member Sledge's Avatar
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      05-16-2019 07:04 AM #21
      I recommend Southernmost by the Beach on Key West, Tranquility Bay on Marathon Key, and Dove Creek Lodge on Key Largo.
      Last edited by Sledge; 05-16-2019 at 07:11 AM.
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    23. Member dwagner88's Avatar
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      05-16-2019 08:11 AM #22
      I’ve been twice. Stayed at the Angelina guesthouse both times. We always make sure to take a snorkeling trip. Mallory square with the street performers at sunset is pretty neat, but only if there isn’t a cruise ship docked. Avoid that area (and most of Duval street) when there is a ship docked. We always rented bikes and left our car parked. There isn’t much point in driving on such a small piece of land. I know I had a lot of good food, but I can’t for the life of me remember any specific restaurant names. That might be because I also had a lot of good alcohol.
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    24. Member JOSHFL420's Avatar
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      05-16-2019 10:56 AM #23
      I'll add do 2 nights in Largo Islamorada area KW is kinda dirty and the food is meh. I would leave KW in the vert (but be ready for rain it will I promise) and drive teh alley over to Markup Island and stay they one night (or Naples) and then drive to Captiva. See both sides of the state and, I know you can do this in the keys but there arent many beaches, stick your feet in the Gulf beach. Drive back to FTL and hit up the awesome breweries we have and stick a toe in the Atlantic ocean. Two oceans in one trip...whaaaaaa


      Couple resorts I've stayed at. Be warned that the keys idea of a $250 a night room might not be the same as yours lol. Lost of mildew smells and old ass furniture thats well worn.

      The Islander is awesome
      Banana Bay Resort had a decent beach area
      we stay at La Siesta for the pool area and teh beach. killer place to grill some fresh catch
      There are Air BNB further down

      Couple more things that shocked us last trip down
      Islamorada Fish company no longer stocks any good amount of fish to grill...used to have a pretty decent but tourist shop that sold fresh catch.
      There is still damage from the hurricane and it has made it very $$$ to stay and do things down there. Only those with the means to rebuild have.
      Cactus jacks is fun as hell.
      Cheeca Lodge is the tits from wat I hear. Cant afford and we prefer to "rough it"

      If you're into beers and dont mind kids lol PM me and we can link up for a BBQ or something.
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    25. Member The_Real_Stack's Avatar
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      05-16-2019 11:32 AM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by JOSHFL420 View Post
      I'll add do 2 nights in Largo Islamorada area KW is kinda dirty and the food is meh. I would leave KW in the vert (but be ready for rain it will I promise) and drive teh alley over to Markup Island and stay they one night (or Naples) and then drive to Captiva.
      My parents just bought a winter place in Venice (~50 miles north of Naples/South of Tampa) and I was there last week, I was surprised at how not built up that area is. We went to a pretty nice beach about 10 minutes from their place (They are ~3-4-5 miles inland) and it had a big fishing pier and one restaurant complex, and other than that nothing. Most parts of FL, that would be full of $5M houses or condo buildings full of $1M condos, this was nothing. Really nice.



      (that one building is just a parks building/bathroom)
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      05-16-2019 11:44 AM #25
      Do they still drop the speed limit at night because of the endangered deer? The last time I was down(12 years) we were stopped on our way back to Miami after dusk, just something to keep in mind.
      -Matt

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