Florida Keys Vacation
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Florida Keys Vacation

In my opinion, the best U.S. winter vacation spot is the Florida Keys. I have been there twice and I can’t wait to go back. You can truly get the remote, tropical island feel without spending loads of money on international airfare or worrying about passports, exchange rates, etc. There is also something in the Keys for everyone. It could be a great family vacation for kids and parents, or a wilder college spring break.

Lodging and Dining

My best advice for staying in the Keys has to do with lodging. There are obviously many hotels, some with fun activities right on the resort. However, these hotels tend to be pricey. When I was making lodging arrangements for my last vacation in the Keys, I stumbled upon condominiums for rent. I realized that I could rent a 2 bedroom, 1 ½ bath condo for less than a single hotel room. Not only do you get more living space, but they also have kitchens. The condo I rented had a fully-stocked kitchen, which allowed us to buy groceries and eat in rather than eating out for every meal. This was fun and also saved a lot of money.

If you’re going to eat out though, the Keys have some great restaurants. Obviously, seafood is their specialty and they do a wonderful job with it. If seafood isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options. The first time I was in the Keys was over Christmas. We thought we might have a hard time finding somewhere for the family to eat on Christmas day, but alas, they are a tourist location and we had plenty of options. We decided to try an Italian restaurant in Islamorada and were happy we did.

Beaches

Seeing as how the Florida Keys contain about 1700 different islands, there are obviously plenty of beaches. The beaches in the Keys are generally not like the beaches one usually thinks of. Rather than large beaches with soft sand, the Keys’ beaches tend to be smaller and consist of a coarser material that chips off from the coral in the surrounding coral reefs. This doesn’t mean that they are not wonderful places to soak up the sun though. There is one place in the Keys that has the beautiful beaches we all dream about: Bahia Honda State Park. This is the most beautiful part of the Florida Keys in my opinion, and you’ll agree with me if you like beaches.

Water Activities

Some of the most fun things to do in the Keys are water activities. The coral reefs are absolutely beautiful, as are the fish they attract. I have been snorkeling and scuba diving there a couple times and cannot get enough. John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park in Key Largo is the place to go for anything wet. It is the first underwater park in the U.S. and has daily departures for scuba diving, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat tours, etc. Of course, fishing is another fun thing to do in the Keys. You can rent a boat of your own, or charter one with a captain to do all the work.

Key West

No discussion of the Keys is complete without mentioning Key West.  This is definitely the place to go if you want to rock and roll all night and party every day. There is always something going on, from sun-up to sun-down. Duval Street is where the action is. Arts and entertainment are also a big part of life in Key West. You can eat dinner while watching the sunset, watch street performers do their tricks, and then dance the night away at a club- all in a single city block.

If you’ve ever been to the Keys before, you know exactly what I’m talking about here. If you haven’t, you really should give it a shot. It can’t be beat for U.S. winter vacations.  A Florida Keys vacation can be planned quite quickly and even on a budget.  I'd highly recommend making it your next vacation destination.

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