Welcome to Paradise! The Florida Keys string their tropical atmosphere across 120 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and delight visitors with their easy-going atmosphere, delicious food and cheerful accommodation. A plethora of water and land activities awaits visitors, as does the lively restaurants and bars of Duval Street, but what really brings people back on yearly pilgrimages is Island Time: bring yourself to a standstill — relax. Are you dreaming of visiting yet? If so, read on to see what a perfect vacation to the Florida Keys could look like![caption id="attachment_32726" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Sit back and relax on Islamorada. Photo by Ricardo Mangual CC BY[/caption]
Fly into Miami International Airport before picking up keys to your rented chariot and make the stunning coastal drive over miles of bridges hanging over calm turquoise waters. Stop off on the way at Islamorada for a slice of potentially the best Key lime pie at Ma’s, mile marker 81.5. After filling up on their iconic graham cracker crust, tangy filling and meringue cake, drive onward to Marathon island.
Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club in Marathon[caption id="attachment_32792" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The beautiful Faro Blanco lighthouse greets visitors to Marathon. Photo by Adam Carter CC BY[/caption]
The Faro Blanco Resort is a bayside village comprising of the Hyatt Place hotel, a marina and yacht club and waterfront restaurant and bar with an eclectic, seafood driven menu. Spend a few days lounging poolside or explore Marathon island and its surrounding waters. Don’t forget- the beauty of the Keys is the ability to not do anything at all!
Explore the water aboard a Paddleboard[caption id="attachment_32760" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Smooth paddling through the calm Florida Key waters. Photo by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater CC BY[/caption]
What better way to take advantage of the calm waters and high visibility than to paddleboard? The calm waters surrounding the islands make this the perfect place to learn how while taking advantage of the great workout it offers. Otherside Boardsports will take you out on the water to explore the bountiful wildlife without disturbing it.
Make a friend at the Turtle Hospital[caption id="attachment_32728" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Meet a shy Florida Keys resident. Photo by Alaina McDavid CC BY[/caption]
Support the care and rehabilitation of wild sea turtles by visiting the Turtle Hospital for an educational tour. These sweet creatures’ existence depends on the outreach and research programs at the hospital, plus you’ll get to meet some of their permanent visitors.
Chelsea House Hotel in Key West[caption id="attachment_31446" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Shaded by palm trees with a covetable porch is the Chelsea House. Photo courtesy of the Chelsea House Facebook Page[/caption]
Spend a couple days lounging on the clothing-optional sundeck or in the lush tropical gardens, poolside, of the adorable Chelsea House in Key West. The historic houses, a short stroll from all the action of Duval Street, offer a welcome respite under the shade of palm trees with a delicious continental breakfast.
Take advantage of all the activities in Key West[caption id="attachment_32746" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Key West’s iconic Duval Street. Photo by Patrick Emerson CC BY[/caption]
Key West is the most bustling of all the islands. With a Key West Attractions Association VIP pass, you can take advantage of all there is to do. Highlights include the Ghosts & Gravestones Frightseeing Tour, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, tickets to local theater shows and a large variety of water excursions and sports including sailing and kayaking.[caption id="attachment_32754" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] White washed buildings against a bright tropical backdrop. Photo by Richard Elzey CC BY[/caption]
If it’s possible to unwind any further on the Florida Keys, the La Concha Hotel & Spa has an alluring array of massages and spa treatments designed to help you reach a new level of relaxation. Could we suggest the appropriately themed Warm Seashell Massage or the Anti-Aging Guava Nourishing Wrap? Both tie in elements of local culture to bring a twist to a familiar and luxurious treatment. Follow up your spa day with a visit to Wine-O and sample a wine flight including a selection of Pinot Gros, Worldly Whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and hot weather favorite, Rosé.[caption id="attachment_32868" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Seashells are the iconic Florida Keys image. Photo by Ricardo Mangual CC BY[/caption]
A vacation in the Florida Keys invites you to take off your watch, shut off your phone and indulge in more than one margarita as you soak up the sun and commit to as many or as few activities as you can handle.
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*Cover photo by Noel Nichols, Unsplash