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Feedback on our itinerary

Green Bay
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Feedback on our itinerary

Family of fours (boys 13 & 15) will visit southern FL for 10 nights (12/20-12/30). Here is our tentative itinerary for the Keys part, would love your input.

Day 1 (12/22) arrive at Key West dinner time (leave from Fort Lauderdale after lunch). Overnight at Key West

Day 2 (12/23) Dry Tortugas NP. Overnight at Key West.

Day 3 (12/24) Leave for Key Largo (spend couple more hours to see Key west if necessary prior). Stop by Bahia Honda. Overnight at Key Largo.

Day 4 (12/25) John Pennecamp SP. Overnight at Key Largo.

Day 5 Leave for Miami.

My questions:

1) I checked all the parks (SP and NP), they are all open year around. NO issues there for the Xmas day for closing, is there? What about area business? Is everything open 12/24 & 12/25?

2) John Pennecamp SP is probably the place for snorkeling. What about kayaking? We would like to do some kayaking, not heavy duty, only light and easy. I kinda like the idea of doing it at the hotel property (but open to all options). but I don't know which hotel offers decent kayaking. (I haven't book my hotel yet).

3) Overall, how does our itinerary look? Does it cover the area nicely? Any suggestions? We can always stay longer at Keys and cut short on Miami (3 days-1 day at ENP/4 nights) and Palm Beach (1 day/2 nights). Our main objective for this trip is the Keys.

4) Would you recommend a vacation rental for both places or a hotel? 2 night stay during this holiday season might not be enough for a vacation rental. The only reason I would like a vacation rental is we can have access to a kitchen, I would love to get some fresh seafood from the market to cook on our own. How accessible are the fresh seafood market?

Key Largo, Florida
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1. Re: Feedback on our itinerary

I think your itinerary is pretty good. I would stress if you haven't already done so to book your accommodation now, the holidays get booked up very quick especially in Key West!. Also during the holidays many accommodations have a minimum nights stay requirement.

The state parks in the keys are open Christmas Day, so you will be fine. John Pennekamp does have kayak rentals! although I'm not too sure whether they will be open for rentals on Christmas Day, best to call them to find out. Several years ago we stayed at the Dove Creek Lodge in Key Largo over the Xmas period for a couple of nights only and they have kayaks for rent at the property. They have some nice kayaks and I seem to remember they had some clear bottom ones. There are some nice trails to kayak around, so that may be somewhere to consider. Also they have various types of rooms - their luxury suites have kitchen areas.

I honestly don't think you will be able to get a vacation rental for a couple of nights only, especially in busy season. Your best bet would be to find hotels with kitchenettes or motel efficiencies. Perhaps have a look at Ocean Pointe Suites in Key Largo, unfortunately I haven't stayed there before, but I know they have kitchens in their apartments.

With regards to a fresh seafood market, we have the Keys Fisheries, which is amazing for fresh fish and seafood straight off the boats.They have a nice cafe too, which is a great place for lunch.

I hope this is of help. I would definately stop as many places as possible on the drive from Key West to Key Largo as it is amazing! Bahia Honda is a must ( they also have kayak rentals). The 7 mile bridge and / or sombrero beach in Marathon especially if it is near sunset time, beautiful. We do that journey fairly regularly and it takes us all day, we never get over it!!. Have Fun!!

Frederick, Maryland
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2. Re: Feedback on our itinerary

Consider Ft. Zachary State Park for a few hours in Key West- if I were taking my boys (ages 12 and 15) it would be my first stop in Key West with them, the old fort is awesome and there is enough of a beach/water to hang out for a few hours. Water shoes recommended but we didn't have them and we were just careful.

Florida
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3. Re: Feedback on our itinerary

Your ideas are pretty good. Key West is an interesting place- Conch Train is great way to see the highlights. You can get on and off it and walk around. Hemingway House, Custom House, decent aquarium- all interesting. Mowery Square at sunset is entertaining and, I think, your kids will love it! Street performers with interesting acts. Ft. Taylor is good time- decent snorkeling. Key West at night time is not really family orientated. Lots of bars, lots of colorful characters, mostly adult stuff on the main drag- Duvall Street. Great restaurants though- all types. Leaving Key West- stop at Big Pine Pine to see the wild Key Deer. Full sized bucks are not much bigger that a big dog. Endangered species. When you arrive in Big Pine- about 30-45 mins. from Key West- head to the "No Name Pub" on "No Name Key"- you will certainly enjoy the drive and you will see the deer in people's yards, along the roads- no where else will you see Key Deer except here. After BP, stop at Bahia Honda SP- about 15 mins- and walk the beach and snorkel. Observe the old railroad tracks from the early 20th century. Between BP and Bahia Honda- most of the day but please time your trip so you experience the majestic drive over the water on the "Scenic Corridor" of the Overseas Highway. Don't miss the 7 mile bridge drive at/near sunset.!! From the 7 mile Bridge, drive to Key Largo. KL has the best snorkeling (plenty of quality boats to take you to the reef), kayaking is popular because the water is usually calm and clear. Florida Keys Outfitters can guide you or rent to you. Dove Creek Lodge is a good choice- restaurant attached with a great locals bar as well. Several mom and pop places in central KL which are also good choices. Some have small sailboats and kayaks. KL now has some sidewalks which makes the downtown area more accesible without driving. Lots of good restaurants are within a mile of the downtown area- Doc's Diner, Cafe Largo, Bayside Grill (good entertainment), Mrs. Mac's and you can walk or bike (several bike rental shops) to Pilot House or Key Largo fisheries for freshest seafood possible and an outdoor cafe. The best part of KL is the water. Because of its location, its waters stay clear and calm (usually). Pennekamp SP is located here for a reason. When you leave KL (3-4 days), consider a brief stop in the Everglades. Walk way (safe) gives a person a good view of the Everglades. Lots and lots of wildlife to see from alligators to birds to fauna only existing here. The Everglades are frequently overlooked but it is great day trip or more.

Florida
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4. Re: Feedback on our itinerary

Your ideas are pretty good. Key West is an interesting place- Conch Train is great way to see the highlights. You can get on and off it and walk around. Hemingway House, Custom House, decent aquarium- all interesting. Mowery Square at sunset is entertaining and, I think, your kids will love it! Street performers with interesting acts. Ft. Taylor is good time- decent snorkeling. Key West at night time is not really family orientated. Lots of bars, lots of colorful characters, mostly adult stuff on the main drag- Duvall Street. Great restaurants though- all types. Leaving Key West- stop at Big Pine Pine to see the wild Key Deer. Full sized bucks are not much bigger that a big dog. Endangered species. When you arrive in Big Pine- about 30-45 mins. from Key West- head to the "No Name Pub" on "No Name Key"- you will certainly enjoy the drive and you will see the deer in people's yards, along the roads- no where else will you see Key Deer except here. After BP, stop at Bahia Honda SP- about 15 mins- and walk the beach and snorkel. Observe the old railroad tracks from the early 20th century. Between BP and Bahia Honda- most of the day but please time your trip so you experience the majestic drive over the water on the "Scenic Corridor" of the Overseas Highway. Don't miss the 7 mile bridge drive at/near sunset.!! From the 7 mile Bridge, drive to Key Largo. KL has the best snorkeling (plenty of quality boats to take you to the reef), kayaking is popular because the water is usually calm and clear. Florida Keys Outfitters can guide you or rent to you. Dove Creek Lodge is a good choice- restaurant attached with a great locals bar as well. Several mom and pop places in central KL which are also good choices. Some have small sailboats and kayaks. KL now has some sidewalks which makes the downtown area more accesible without driving. Lots of good restaurants are within a mile of the downtown area- Doc's Diner, Cafe Largo, Bayside Grill (good entertainment), Mrs. Mac's and you can walk or bike (several bike rental shops) to Pilot House or Key Largo fisheries for freshest seafood possible and an outdoor cafe. The best part of KL is the water. Because of its location, its waters stay clear and calm (usually). Pennekamp SP is located here for a reason. When you leave KL (3-4 days), consider a brief stop in the Everglades. Walk way (safe) gives a person a good view of the Everglades. Lots and lots of wildlife to see from alligators to birds to fauna only existing here. The Everglades are frequently overlooked but it is great day trip or more.

Key Largo, Florida
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for Key Largo
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5. Re: Feedback on our itinerary

I know a lot of the hotels are already booked, as this is the busiest time of the year. Key West will definitely have 3 or 5 night minimums - and some MUCH higher than usual rates. I looked at going to KW the day after Christmas and could not stay at either of my 2 B&B's (the Gardens, Ambrosia) because they had the minimums. La Concha was $574 per night.

In unincorporated Monroe County, which includes Key Largo, unless it is a condo complex, there is a 30 day minimum for a vacation rental. Less than 30 days is illegal.

Another area where you can kayak is by the Hampton Inn on the bayside. The dolphin center is next door. The bay is shallow behind the hotel. Not sure if they rent or offer the kayaks, but, Florida Bay Outfitters offers kayak rentals and they will deliver. They are closed on Christmas Day.

Fort Lauderdale...
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6. Re: Feedback on our itinerary

Looks good but you should consider staying in either Big Pine or Little Torch and taking day trips to Key West. Parmer's Resort or Dolphin a Marina are good choices. See the key deer in Big Pine Key. Turn down key deer blvd . Merge left and drive about 6 miles. You will see them everywhere. Bahia Honda is a must see. Seafood options are easy. Fanci seafood, stock island....right from the dock. Have fun!

7. Re: Feedback on our itinerary

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