key west

South Florida to Key West: Road Trip Guide

Every year we try to take a trip with both sides of our families. However, there is a huge problem with traveling with my parents. My dad refuses to fly. Yes, this makes our options for tropical vacations very limited. If we are not cruising on a ship, then we are most likely driving down to Florida for the annual trip. When my parents suggested Key West, we agreed to fly down and meet them in Fort Lauderdale. My parents began the journey a day ahead of us, and picked us up from the airport the following day.  It was nice to have their jeep to travel the scenic drive down to Key West.

Day 1:

We decided to spend the first day in Fort Lauderdale at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood. The pool is breathtaking with waterfalls, water slides and a walk-in beach entry.  Usually the hotel has a lot of entertainment but we were staying during the week. Since there was limited action (besides the casino), we headed to Las Olas for dinner and music. I love this lively and charming street in Fort Lauderdale. Our dinner took place at American Social. I had the most amazing chicken and waffles, and the hubby always orders lobster mac and cheese when he has the chance. The end of our night took us to the Elbo Room which is a hole in the wall beach bar located on Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. We spent most of our time in front of the band watching my mom “cut a rug.”

Day 2:

On Day 2 we began our journey towards Key West with a few stops planned on the way down. My best friend and blogger at The Dolce Vida recommended at few spots to us. First stop: Marker 88 in Islamorada Key. There’s  a beautiful tranquil beach while walking to the restaurant. We ordered appetizers and sipped on mid day desserts of Key Lime Pie. A fun fact: Bloodline filmed a few episodes at this restaurant. We then continued on to Anne’s Beach in Islamorada. This place is literally on the side of the road. There are a few parking spots and picnic tables to have lunch. We continued walking along the boardwalk looking at the beautiful clear water. It would have been nice to have more time to actually pull up a beach chair in the shallow water. Our next stop finally would fuel our hungry bellies. Morada Bay Beach Cafe had the perfect views for fish tacos. We finally continued our way down to Key West to check into the resort.


The Resort in Key West

The Santa Maria Suites are located near the southern most point of Key West. The charming two level suites featured a living rooming and kitchen with the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs. Both levels had balconies that looked out to the pool. The grounds were lush with tropical greenery and flowers. The details and customer service made this place memorable. Every evening the resort host a happy hour with free drinks and appetizers by the pool. There are free smoothies made poolside and chocolate ice cream bars left in the fridge each night during turn down service. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone traveling to Key West. We finished the evening catching the sunset and having dinner at Schooner Wharf Bar.

Day 3

The next morning mom and I intended to take a yoga class on the beach. The website stated the class was $12 dollars, but the instructor insisted that is was $20. We were bummed, but we decided to skip out and head to breakfast with the guys. I love that everything in Key West is within walking distance. We walked a few blocks to Camille’s, a local’s favorite. The decor in this place is worth the trip alone. The rest of the afternoon consisted of reading poolside and snacking on empanadas from a local snack bar. Our scheduled sunset cruise was postponed due to weather, so we had a spontaneous dinner at The Commodore’s Boathouse Bar and Grill near the marina. We continued the evening strolling down Duval Street enjoying the sights and sounds. Of course we had to take a picture on “Greene Street.” I’ve always said every great city has a “Greene Street.” The night then concluded with reservations at a famous dessert restaurant that was a few blocks from our hotel.

Day 4:

This was by far my favorite day in Key West. We booked a fishing charter with Fun In The Sun with a captain. We began the day catching a small grouper and lots of snapper. The captain then took us to this beautiful sandbar with the prettiest water ever. We were able to lounge around in the water while he tried to bait in some sharks. Yes, I questioned the fact of us being in the water as he was bringing in sharks. As soon as he spotted a shark, we jumped back on the boat. He was able to bring in 4 different sharks, and we reeled in a nurse shark. It was such a cool experience that I highly recommend. When we returned to the marina, the captain filleted our fresh catch and recommended we have the local marina cook it for us. It was the most amazing lunch of fish tacos. We returned to the hotel to quickly change for our Sunset Cruise. We ended the evening sailing the coast of Key West enjoying live music, dancing, appetizers and the famous sunset. It was definitely a day to remember.

Day 5:

Our final full day in Key West began with a ferry ride to Sunset Key, a neighboring residential and resort island. We splurged on brunch at Latitudes Restaurant at Sunset Key Cottages. It was a quiet morning at the restaurant, so we were able to dine with the perfect ocean view. The rest of our afternoon was spent at Dante’s for their crazy Saturday pool party. This is a must see, but is very crowded on the weekends. The remaining part of our time in Keys was spent at Virgilio’s, a fancy martini bar. It was definitely a change of pace compared to the usual Key West establishments.


Day 6:

Before we checked out and headed back north, we had to check one thing off the to do list. It was actually my husband’s first time in Key West, so we could not leave without the iconic photo with the Southern Most Point. It was only a few blocks south of our hotel. We walked down to stand in the long line of tourist. I was so sad to see this trip come to an end. We headed back towards Fort Lauderdale, but had a late flight back to Myrtle Beach. My dad loves the Clevelander’s Pizza on Ocean Drive, so we made a quick stop in South Beach for a late lunch before heading to the airport. Writing this post has me wishing for another trip to the Keys. We really enjoyed the laid back lifestyle and the endless activities the island has to offer.

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