If Old Man Winter has made himself welcome on your doorstep, perhaps you need an escape plan. Florida is one of the most popular destinations for a winter getaway. In fact, this U.S. state’s number-one source of foreign visitors are sun and fun seeking Canucks.
For those travellers looking for a unique experience of the Sunshine State, the southern group of islands known as the Florida Keys provide a laid-back atmosphere.
The most popular way to discover this part of the state is by car – in three hours the revelations will include historic places, wacky souvenirs and a laid-back party culture – whether its film history of Key Largo or the stories from the annual Fantasy Fest in Key West.
Its also geographically the southernmost part of the United States, and in those few hours from the bright lights and big city of Miami, life is definitely not about glitz, glamour or red carpets. Be prepared to spot something interesting and pull over.
Roadside restaurants featuring locally-caught fish and seafood are de rigeur as are several outposts selling shells, locally-made signs and other crafty items. Motels and rental properties are easily found – as well as hotels and luxe resorts.
Visitors can easily spend an afternoon fishing from the bridges or local docks as well as swimming or sunning on the beaches. Bahia Honda State Park, located close to the Seven Mile Bridge, offers endless sandy shores for sun worshippers as well as camping facilities for those wanting an affordable option for being at the beach.
Those wanting to escape the rat race will appreciate the mellow vibe of the Keys and for first-time visitors, give yourself time to explore – it’s what this region is all about.
Visiting the Florida Keys:
Transportation – Daily flights are available via Miami to Key West, but to appreciate the Florida Keys, renting a car and driving south from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale will reveal the unique spirit of this region.
Hotel – Hawks Cay Island Resort has all the amenities of a luxury resort, and the welcoming atmosphere of an old friend. Guests will appreciate the spacious rooms as well as the multiple pools – for quiet time there’s the adult-only pool, for swimming or stand-up paddling, head to the salt water lagoon and for silly times, the pirate ship (even though it’s for the younger set). Guests can choose from numerous activities such as standup paddling, kayaking, fishing or the adjacent Dolphin Connection, to learn about dolphins.
Dining – There are five dining options at Hawks Cay Island Resort including elegant Alma, offering Latin-inspired dishes for evening dining and the latest addition Ocean, right beside the main resort pool and firepit, offering Mediterranean-inspired options for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For those explorers, popular roadside stops include Island Grill in Islamorada, El Meson de Pepe in Key West or Sunset Grille Raw Bar in Marathon.
Excursions – Sundance Watersports provides several options from snorkeling to jet ski to parasailing to Segway tours for those who need a bit of an adrenaline kick during the holiday. ($34-150 dependent on activity). Make sure to visit Key West’s southernmost point buoy and walk Duval Street, the main street of Key West for its unique combination of shopping, restaurant and bars.
Weather – January and February average temperature in the Florida Keys is a sunny 23-25C.