Just a short drive from Miami, the Keysâ€”stretching from Key Largo to Key Westâ€”offer a different way to experience paradise.
Surfboards and Adirondack chairs beckon outside The Beach CafÃ© at Morada Bay.
While Miamians live where everyone else vacations, residents like to sneak away occasionally for a change of scenery. When feeling the itch to get out of Dodge without dealing with TSA lines, head to The Florida Keysâ€”a mere one to four hours away, depending how far down the A1A youâ€™re willing to venture. Visitors in the know are also keen on this diverting locale, often extending work trips a few days to dip their toes in the white sand and unplug. Take a look at a few of the top Florida Keys destinations that are worth the drive.
Time-Tested: The Moorings Village Spa, Islamorada. This cottage at The Moorings says â€œvacation hideaway.â€
Three decades ago, windsurfing champion Hubert Baudoin traveled to The Keys for a competition and stayed. In his 20s at the time, Baudoin purchased The Moorings in 1988 and has since expanded it into the internationally celebrated, 18-acre luxury property it is today. The site of big-name fashion shoots (Chanel, for example) with some of the worldâ€™s leading supermodels, The Moorings is just as renowned for its postcard-worthy white-sand beaches (as seen on the hit Netflix show Bloodline) and cottages that transport you to a state of mind worlds away from city life. The impeccably manicured property comprises 18 one- to three-bedroom cottages and villas, including the two-story Blue Charlotte House, a 6,500-square-foot stand-alone home that gives travelers a true taste of private-island living. Donâ€™t forget to pop into world-famous Pierreâ€™s for the freshest catch of the day. 123 Beach Road, Islamorada, 305-664- 4708
Group Outing: Cheeca Lodge Spa, Islamorada. Thereâ€™s not much guests canâ€™t do at Cheeca Lodge Spa.
Planning a weekend gathering for friends? Just two hours south of South Beach, the famed Cheeca Lodge Spa, one of Islamoradaâ€™s most popular destinations, works for laid-back and active vacationers alike. Simply relax, or dive into snorkeling, visit a spa, fish (Islamorada is frequently dubbed the â€œsport-fishing capital of the worldâ€), satisfy any appetite at dinner, golf on a Jack Nicklausâ€“designed course, play tennis, hang at a private beach, stretch at yoga classes, or go boating. For the kids, thereâ€™s an all-day camp full of activities (which really ends up being a win for parents). 81801 Overseas Hwy., Islamorada, 305-664-4651
Private Escape: Little Palm Island Resort Spa, Little Torch Key. At the aptly named Little Palm Island Resort Spa, guests can land in style aboard a seaplane.
Arrive by yacht (the propertyâ€™s marina can accommodate up to 120-footers) or seaplane at this resort, which consistently lands on multiple international â€œBestâ€ lists. With indoor-outdoor tropical suites, thatched-roof bungalows peppering the beach perimeter, and unobstructed views of rolling ocean waves with nary a soul in sight, you wonâ€™t believe youâ€™re still in the States. A trip here is purely about the utmost in indulgences, from outdoor mud baths and hydrotherapy to catch-and-cook romantic dinners and secluded swims. Leave the kidsâ€”and the wireless connectionâ€”at home. 28500 Overseas Hwy., Little Torch Key, 305-872-2524
New Digs: The Marker Waterfront Resort, Key West
Located at the seaport in the heart of Key Westâ€™s Old Town, The Marker is the areaâ€™s first new luxury build in close to 20 years. Miamians will feel at home in the propertyâ€™s familiar island-contemporary designs, or enjoy an evening swim under the stars in one of three saltwater pools. If you fancy enjoying the island like a local, wander a few steps from the hotel to Key Westâ€™s most famous eateries, bars, and nightlife, which line Duval and William Streets, and cultural attractions like the Key West Garden Club, the Key West Lighthouse, and the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens. Book The Captainâ€™s Quarters for unparalleled views from your wraparound deck overlooking the neighboring harbor. 200 William St., Key West, 305-501-5193