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Florida Road Trip in Pictures: From Miami to Key West
The end of October / beginning of November 2014 we went to Miami. Be inspired by our pictures and just maybe, there are a few tips for you.
There are indeed divided opinions about Miami and Key West. But we found it really cool and also really romantic! The combination of beach, shopping, great hotels, delicious food and party is simply unbeatable. A longer trip is also worthwhile, because in the tropical Florida Keys, there are so much to discover. And you should also visit the vibrant Key West, a haven for artists, for more than just one day!
We can recommend all the following hotels without exception. But we most recommend the “The Raleigh Hotel” and the “Soho Beach House” in Miami and then “The Gardens Hotel” in Key West. They are all wonderful hotels with lots of charm, great service and marvellous romantic flair.
The Raleigh Hotel
Art Deco at its best! You will be familiar with The Raleigh with its historic Art Deco design from the earlier films of Ester Williams. The extraordinary pool was then made famous and it is certainly still one of the nicest pools in Miami. The atmosphere in this hotel is very laid back. You will simply feel at home! The restaurant Michael Schwartz right at the pool under the tropical trees is very romantic, especially in the evening. You almost feel like you are in Thailand. It is very quiet here, although it is right in the middle of everything. Ocean Drive can be reached in about 20 minutes on foot and the shopping mile, Lincoln Road, is only 2 blocks away.
The Spa at The Setai
You can get wonderful massages and so much more in the Balinese oriented Spa at The Setai Hotel. Then you can spend the rest of the day at their pool and beach. (Review)
Buffalo Tiger´s Airboat Rides, Everglades
On Highway 41, about a 50 minute drive from Miami Beach, past some tourist attractions such as the Gator Park, you’ll find the insider tip, Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours. The tours are led by Florida’s indigenous people, the Miccosukee Indians. The tours are very authentic and takes place in small groups, so you can get close to the alligators. Our guide was even able to imitate the sounds of the alligator mother and so attracted the alligators.
Cheeca Lodge & Spa
The hotel in Islamorada was also really nice. Unfortunately, our stay here were far too short. It is definitely worthwhile to stay longer, especially with the many recreational and leisure facilities, such as sunrise yoga on the beach and deep-sea fishing, that we can highly recommend.
Mangrove Mike’s Cafe
As breakfast in the hotels is usually not included, you can have an awesome breakfast at Mangrovr Mike’s Café in Islamorada for example!
US Highway 1 – the extraordinary way to the Keys
Tranquility Bay Beachfront Hotel & Resort
This 4-star colonial style hotel in Marathon consists of individual beach houses with up to 2-3 bedrooms over 2 floors. It is very romantic here with a cocktail on the beach at sunset. As it is more family oriented, breakfast is unfortunately, not served, as most beach houses have their own kitchen. Luckily you can also have a delicious breakfast elsewhere. Our tip: The Stuffed Pig.
Dolphin Research Center
The Dolphin Research Center has been a nonprofit organization for 30 years. It is dedicated to the research of dolphins and devoted to public relations. About 24 bottlenose dolphins and 3 sea lions live here in 9 lifelike lagoons. The dolphins and sea lions are lovingly trained and you can also get close to the action. Trainers only do what the dolphins also want to do and when they feel like it. The dolphins were either rescued or come from other facilities and about half of them are born at the center.
Keys Fisheries Market & Marina
Best fresh fish straight from the sea to enjoy while watching the sunset. The Gourmet tip in the Middle Keys. Super tasty and very fresh! The coconut shrimp are to die for!
Big Pine Key
Bahia Honda State Park
With award-winning beaches and the historic Seven Miles Bridge, Bahia Honda State Park is a true island paradise in the Florida Keys. The park covers about 500 hectares and with the offshore island, it offers the perfect getaway for swimming and snorkeling. Personally, we liked Sandspur Beach (turn left) the most. And the beach is absolutely not crowded, not even on weekends. With Looe Key Snorkeling Tours you can also take snorkeling tours to the third largest reef in the world. For the beach, you can also rent the snorkeling equipment directly in the park (turn right).
The Gardens Hotel (Review)
(“The Prettiest Hotel in Key West”, “Best in the World Best Hotels”, “Condé Nast Traveler Top 50 Small Hotels” etc.) This award-winning and romantic B & B “The Gardens Hotel” is set in a tropical garden paradise, tucked away in a side street, not far from Duval Street, and thus in the center of Key West. Passing along the colorful and quaint little shops, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll to Mallory Square and once there, enjoy the exceptionally beautiful sunset with many others.
Each room is individually decorated in colonial plantation style, has a private entrance, most have jacuzzi baths and is surrounded by tropical plants. The warm lagoon pool with its awesome lilos to simply float and relax in, is especially nice. And for that cozy glass of wine in the evening, there is the D’Vine Wine Gallery. Here you can choose from countless wines and with your key card, you can try any of the wines, whenever you feel like it. It is really cool!
Back to Miami
Soho Beach House (Review)
The private club hotel for artists, partygoers, creatives and celebrities with the Soho House typical vintage style, with elements of Art Deco and the Cuban 1940’s look, is of course open to normal hotel guests and impresses with its individual charm and great atmosphere. It is a bit remote from the bustle of South Beach at Mid Beach and so peace and privacy are guaranteed. The pool, the interior, the relaxed atmosphere, the on-site bar in the bedrooms, the rooftop pool, the restaurant Cecconi’s, the Cowshed Spa, the retro chairs on the beach, the daily changing sports facilities and the absolutely perfect service are truly exceptional! Tip: Absolutely perfect for honeymooners and / or the wedding!
When to go
All year round, except June-September (more rainy days and hurricane season)
We can highly recommend Hertz for renting a car. As an ADAC member, there is an even lower price on the ADAC website than at Hertz itself. Check in and out is super fast. If you’re in the Hertz Gold Club, there is even an upgrade. We only paid 28 EUR per day for the chic Chevrolet Tahoe.
The Raleigh Hotel/Miami Beach
(Chic art deco hotel with historical flair)
1775 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139, www.raleighhotel.com
Soho Beach House/Miami Beach
(Private club hotel in the cozy art deco / vintage style)
4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140, www.sohobeachhouse.com
The Gardens Hotel/Key West
(The hidden romantic secret in Key West)
The Gardens Hotel, 526 Angela Street, Key West, FL 33040
More hotel tips:
The Moorings Village & Spa/Islamorada, www.themooringsvillage.com (#10 Hotel in Florida by Condé Nast)
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa/Little Torch Key, www.littlepalmisland.com (a private little paradise, incredibly beautiful and for weddings definitely a dream!)
Southernmost on the Beach/Key West, 508 South Street, Key West,
www.southernmostresorts.com (sun and beach at the southernmost end of Key West, one of the top ten romantic hotels in the US)
The Southernmost House/Key West,
www.southernmosthouse.com (historic B & B directly opposite the Southernmost on the Beach with a romantic oceanfront pool)
The Spa at The Setai/Miami Beach
(brilliant massage in the Balinese style)
2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139, www.thesetaihotel.com/spa
Buffalo Tiger´s Airboat Rides/Everglades
29701 Southwest 8th Street, Miami, FL 33194,
Dolphin Research Center/Grassy Key
58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, FL 33050-6019, www.dolphins.org
Bahia Honda State Park/Big Pine Key
(beautiful beaches to relax and snorkel)
36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, www.bahiahondapark.com
Key West Reef Snorkeling/Key West
(Diving and snorkeling excursions to the only living coral reef in North America)
Sunset Watersports, www.sunsetwatersports.info
Cecconi´s Restaurant | Soho Beach House
(delicious Italian food in beautiful fairy-light ambiance, at moderate prices)
4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140, www.cecconismiamibeach.com
Restaurant Michael Schwartz | The Raleigh Hotel
(romantic open-air restaurant with excellent cuisine right at the pool)
1775 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139, www.raleighhotel.com
Keys Fisheries Market & Marina/Marathon
(freshly caught fish right at the sea)
3502 Gulfview Avenue, Marathon, FL 33050, www.keysfisheries.com
Mangrove Mike’s Cafe/Islamorada
(perfect for the original American Breakfast)
82200 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036,
Blue Heaven/Key West
(the insider tip in Key West with delicious fish dishes and live music)
729 Thomas St., Key West, fl 33040, www.blueheavenkw.com
(north, almost in Fort Lauderdale, but worth it!)
12472-12680 West Sunrise Boulevard, Sunrise, FL 33323,
More cool tips can be found at Condé Nast Traveller.
On entering the country
(cool website with tips on completing the online ESTA form before traveling to the US) www.estaformular.org
Surely there are many more tips for Miami and the Florida Keys. If you still have any, please let us know!
Our research in Miami and Key West were fully self-financed and not supported by any tourist service providers.