Thanks to all who were so nice to us on the Florida Keys Trip.
First step, you have to get there. This is a big decision, so you want to do the entire Florida Keys or do you just want to travel down to Key West. Don’t take this decision lightly because it will frame you trip in many ways.
We were lucky enough to fly down on Frontier Airlines to Miami. Their staff was incredibly nice, everything went smoothly and on the way back the pilot cranked up the engines and we made it in an incredible time of 1 hour and 59 minutes, which was fabulous as we arrived just before midnight.
In Miami we dealt with another great group, Dollar Rent a Car. Ordering the car online, for 132 for the week, you were given the option of a pot luck choice, which meant you were going to be given a compact car or better. Well better indeed, we got to the pick up point and the clerk took a look around and said pot luck, take anyone of those SUV’s you’d like. We selected a beautiful Jeep which rode very smoothly and had a great time with the car all week. And it saved us $150 off the SUV rate so kudos to them.
An important thing to understand – THE RIDE TO KEY WEST IS LONG –
People will give you estimates anywhere from three to four hours. Being realistic you have been on the plain for several hours, gotten your bags, picked up your car and started driving, you are going to stop at least once on the way down to eat, have a cold beverage, take in some sights – why would you drive down if you are not going to admire some things? So realistic ride time is between four and a half and five hours which means that you are basically taking an entire day of your vacation traveling, on both ends, so make sure you factor that in.
Another factor to keep in mind is that this is a tough drive. It’s not like jumping on Rt 78 and doing 89 MPH for the 150 miles. Most of the trip is a two lane road, one lane each way, and if you happen to get behind a person trailing a boat, not unusual, you might do 20 miles at 30 mph. If there is an accident, we did not run into one thank goodness, the traffic can apparently back up horrendously.
With that warning being clearly stated a large portion of the ride is beautiful. If this destination is a bucket list stop and you are only going to do it once by all means take the ride. Your first glimpse of the multi layers of turquoise water is inspiring. Sitting having lunch looking out over 7 mile bridge is hard to beat (see a later article in this superb spot). Stopping at No Name Pub ( see later article) is a great break to wet your whistle.
One thing you learn driving down is that there is an amazing amount of these keys, if you had to estimate I’d say there are probably 40 on the drive. Every time you cross a channel you are on a different key and they all have different personalities. Marathon and Islamorada have strips that will remind you of the Jersey Shore with fishing boats and the ability to rent anything that might suit your adventurous spirit. Other keys have state parks and are available for camping and have basically nothing built on them. Most have at least one spot that you can peak your head into and get some good local lore.
If on the other hand you want to make sure you get the most out of your limited vacation time there are flights directly into Key West International. The airport is located a scant three miles from Duval Street and even closer to many major hotels ( see later story) The cab ride will cost you about 15 dollars for two to get anywhere on the island.
Bon Voyage Tomorrow where to say Part One