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Visit The Beautiful Floridian Keys
I’ve always wanted to visit The Florida Keys – I’d heard so much about Key West and these islands that stretch out towards Cuba, often with views of the sea from both sides of your vehicle.
To break up our journey we flew into Miami and stayed a night there as our flight arrived in the evening from London. The next day we arose refreshed from an early breakfast ready to start our journey south.
The drive on US1 to the first Key – Key Largo – takes about an hour, travelling through Homestead, and subsequently through the easterly side of the Everglades National Park. (If you have not had the opportunity to visit the Everglades you will see this vast subtropical wetland and appreciate how wild and barren it can seem).
Driving through Key Largo it is a favourite with divers with many visiting the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The beaches are not visible as you drive but there are many beach hotels.
Travelling on through smaller islands the next largest is Islamorada. Personally I thought this was one of the prettier of the upper Keys. Here you’ll find the Theatre of the Seas, with performing animals and mammals as well as the opportunity to pre book a ‘swim’ with the dolphins. After leaving Islamorada you drive across islands – Layton, the beautifully named Duck Key, Valhalla - with beautiful blue sea either side, dispersed with stops to fish, picnic and even a swim for the keen. Then it’s on to Marathon town stretched on Vaca, Flat Deer and Grassy Key. Marathon extends for 10 miles, has its own airport and has a history of fishing and old Keys lifestyle – something visitors and snow birds take please from whilst visiting.
Leaving Marathon is the outstretched Seven Mile Bridge. This bridge stretches across beautiful waters with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Near the centre the bridge arcs high to 65 feet (20 metres) to allow boats to pass under. Many film makers have been fascinated by this bridge and used it as a location: True Lies, Fast 2 Furious, James Bond (License to Kill) and Up Close and Personal to name a few. My advice to anyone driving across this bridge is to make sure you have filled your tank with gas!
Entering the Lower Keys I have to say these are my favourite as I found them prettier with parks and beaches to search out.
And then comes Key West! . Just 90 miles from Cuba, this is a sudden wake up from the sleepy Keys you’ve just been driving through. Here can be more expensive than on the mainland but if you want a lively place to stay its fun, loud gay and exciting! Sunset Celebration, Duval Street, the most southern point for Continental USA, Ernest Hemingway’s House, Sloppy Joes, Lobsterfest …. We loved being a ‘tourist’ visiting places during the day and in the evening watching Mallory Square and Duval Street come to life and activity at night!
The journey from Miami took us an unrushed 4 hours. On our return we drove back to the mainland and had Sunday lunch at a restaurant in Homestead and then continued up to Orlando with a short comfort break on the Turnpike. This took 9 hours to our house in Clermont. My family had a thoroughly great time down in the Florida Keys and can’t wait to return – especially as I write this on a snowy January day dreaming of the sunset from Mallory Square!
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