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Old 05-14-2019, 06:56 AM   #1
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visiting the FL Keys by Road

I am a complete virgin in terms of the FL Keys.

Eventually I shall be able to cruise in southern FL. But the opportunity is rising later this year to drive down to FL and visit the Keys for several days.

So. For those who know the Keys, I would like to know what you would suggest for me to visit.
I am not looking necessarily for bars and all. I am looking for places you have found, marinas to look at for future reference, simple places to stay (hotels, campgrounds), things I need to see to make the Keys special.

I know different seasons suggest varied things to do. I shall be looking to go possibly in late summer, Fall (I know not the best of weather and all; but such is life).

So, what can you suggest, advise to visit and not to visit.

Webpages to visit?
Marinas to check out?
Special sites, places that others might not know about that you would like to share.

Thank you.

Tim
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:01 AM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. k. I can't remember anything about the keys other than the traffic on the 2 lane highway. I think an extra 2 lanes has been added along some of the route but try to plan your drive on less busy days (I suspect the weekends are the busiest).
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:44 AM   #3
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Don't know the schedule, but when there are Flea Markets, they are on Saturday. Very slow traffic on those days.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:53 AM   #4
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If you're driving in and all the traffic is driving out, turn around, there's a hurricane coming.

From Key Largo to Key West is about 100 miles by road. I would suggest targeting a few areas to get a feel for the area. Ones to consider might be:
Key West
Marathon
Key Largo through Islamorada

There are loads of marinas and anchorages in the keys, getting a feel for which area you might want to boat in should be the first step. During the summer, lots of people come down on Friday and go home Sunday evening. Monday through Thursday would be my targetted sightseeing days. Always a good idea to have accommodation reservations well in advance. When coming down or leaving, staying in Homestead, FL (just before the Keys) is quite a bit cheaper.

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Old 05-14-2019, 08:04 AM   #5
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The huge fishing supply store in Islamorada has a sister ship to Hemmingway's Pilar and a nice upstairs restaurant and Zane Gray history section. In KY Louie's back yard restaurant is good and a bit off the KY kitsch.
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:42 AM   #6
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Even though it may not meet many of your criteria, I would spend a few nights in Key West in the historical district. It won't be cheap, $200+night.


But KW is an experience. Yes Duval is trashy but there are some nice bars along the way. There is the Green Parrot where you can listen to some great jazz. And some decent restaurants on or near Duval. The bars and restaurants off of Duval at Key West Bight are more laid back and are where the boaters come for drinks and a burger. And don't miss the circus at Mallory Square at sunset.


Mel Fishers museum and the Hemingway house are both worth a visit.


David
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:47 AM   #7
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Marathon has a fairly new hotel at the Fara Blanco marina. Nice restaurant.


Burdines - if you like hamburgers is near by.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:15 AM   #8
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Marinas I'd visit for potential future visits would be Faro Blanco, Stock Island and the grouping of Conch, Bight, A and B and Galleon. Three different locations and different types of marina experiences.

I'll group sightseeing a bit. First, traditional Key West attractions. Hemingway House, Truman Little White House, Duval Street, Mallory Square, Lighthouse, Mel Fisher's, and Shipwreck Museum. In that I'll include art galleries as you can start at one end and walk along through 8 to 10 different and unique galleries. Also, the Aquarium.

Then what I'll call the nature grouping. There are some great sunset sailings and eco-tours, and then the trip to the Dry Tortugas is wonderful.

As to restaurants, there are nice and interesting ones all the way down. We do like Hogfish at Stock Island. Then in Key West, Green Parrot Bar was mentioned. It's worth a trip there even if you don't consume alcohol there. It's just a bit of what's special about Key West. Blue Heaven is like that as a restaurant. It's just very much Key West. We never make a trip without at least grabbing a meal at Fisherman's Cafe. The ultimate Beach Shack. Now, our favorite restaurants in Key West may be Bliss and Louie's Backyard. Then for dessert in the most unique setting you'll never top Better Than Sex. It's a romantic dessert restaurant designed for couples and when you combine the atmosphere and the desserts, it's always worth the trip.

If you want to get the best of Key West, open your mind as you enter. Absorb the freedom that it is. Walk or rent bicycles. Observe people but don't judge them. Experience Key West as it is, not as it compares to anywhere else you've been. Key West is more than a place. It's a culture, an environment, an experience.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:21 AM   #9
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Your first stop even before you leave the main land should be Alabama Jacks for lunch. Take Card Sound Road from US1 toward the Card Sound Bridge. Just before you get to the bridge, Jacks is on the right. It’s an open air restaurant that serves great conch fritters. It’s a real Keys experience and you haven’t even gotten to the keys. When you cross the bridge after lunch, take your time and enjoy the view.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:45 AM   #10
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[QUOTE=O C Diver;765319]If you're driving in and all the traffic is driving out, turn around, there's a hurricane coming.

Or,,,, it is the last day of Fantasy Fest and everyone is heading back up the keys. We made the mistake of driving down to sightsee and had to return to Key Largo and sat in bumper to bumper traffic for hours...
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:52 AM   #11
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KW, Key West, not KY, Admin wont let me correct it.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:11 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=Comodave;765372]
Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
If you're driving in and all the traffic is driving out, turn around, there's a hurricane coming.

Or,,,, it is the last day of Fantasy Fest and everyone is heading back up the keys. We made the mistake of driving down to sightsee and had to return to Key Largo and sat in bumper to bumper traffic for hours...
We went to Fantasy Fest for the first time last year. Now, we went by boat, but we had friends who were there by car. They drove home the following morning though to avoid the traffic.
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:09 PM   #13
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Just One tip. Don't drive thru Miami. If you figure out a way, let me know.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:32 PM   #14
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Just One tip. Don't drive thru Miami. If you figure out a way, let me know.
Miami is easy compared to most large cities.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:47 PM   #15
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Just One tip. Don't drive thru Miami. If you figure out a way, let me know.
Depending on the direction you're coming from, you want to take the Ronald Reagan Turnpike from either interstate 75 or the Florida Turnpike. Just say no to Rt 1 North of Homestead.

Ted
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:23 PM   #16
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Will second Hogfish grill at Stock Island - great food.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:41 PM   #17
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No one has mentioned Robbies in Islamorada yet, hard to beat hand feeding 100Lb+ tarpon.
Also if you are a member of a Yacht Club you may have access to a few like the Key West Yacht Club, not in the heart of old town but conveniently close.

Cheers
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Old 05-15-2019, 04:59 AM   #18
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If you make it all the way down stop in at Key West Marine Hardware. Mom & pop store where I used to by plenty back in my Key West boat building days. I always try and stop in when I am down. Pepe's Café nearby has pretty good breakfast:-)

https://www.facebook.com/keywestmarine/

Pepe's Cafe Key West
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:50 AM   #19
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Thank you everyone!

You have given me many good ideas and a solid beginning. If I were to do everything already mentioned; I would need to eat several times each day and stay for a month!

Which might not be bad

What you all have written whets my appetite to go very soon.

Thank you.

Tim
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:30 AM   #20
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Hey Bill,

Those were the days weren't they? Some day you and I must sip a few beers and tell some old stories of those cowboy days in Key West and Marathon. The stuff we saw and did is hard for even me to believe.



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If you make it all the way down stop in at Key West Marine Hardware. Mom & pop store where I used to by plenty back in my Key West boat building days.
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