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Where to stay in Florida Keys?

Scotland, UK
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Where to stay in Florida Keys?

We are a family of 4 travelling from the UK next July and are keen to find out the best place to base ourselves for 2 weeks within the Keys. We want a relaxing holiday with our 2 boys - aged 16 and 12 and the options to fish, swim, tennis, shopping (mall or outlet mall style) and spend a few of the days taking individual trips to different parts of the keys.

We will fly into Miami and would like view on the best base location - (1) Key Largo (2) Islamorada (3) Marathon or (4) Key West and the reasons for your recommendations.

Many thanks.

Marathon, Florida
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for Marathon, Islamorada
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1. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

I think Islamorada or Marathon (and Key Colony Beach) make a great home base spot in the Keys. You are in the middle and it's an easy day trip to Key West or Key Largo. One thing you will NOT find is the Keys is a mall. There is a small outlet mall in Florida City, which is an hour from Islamorada. Key West has shops, but not a mall type atmosphere.

Tennis - you can find a court, it's not easy, but tennis in July? The humidity will have you curbing your time playing. Key Colony Beach has a court and there is one in Islamorada, but I'm not sure if it's private or not.

On the bright side! The Keys are a fantastic place to fish, swim and enjoy. there is plenty to do for the boys and you. For a two week stay consider renting a house/duplex or condo. www.vrbo.com is a good start.

Melbourne, Florida
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for Melbourne, Florida
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2. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

I agree with bluewater, middle keys are best then you can take day trips to the upper & lower parts of the keys. As far as shopping, if you want malls, outlet malls or any type of typical american shopping you will need to do that in Miami & Ft. Lauderdale. The keys have many interesting and unusual shops with lots of tropical clothing, souveniers, art work, etc. Key West does have a few regular stores for the cruise ship crowd but if you are looking for bargains it's not the place.

www.vrbo.com is great for homes/ condo's and duplex type rentals.

Hope you have a great vacation!

South Florida...
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for Miami, Key Largo
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3. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

With 2 weeks, I would split your time between the Upper Keys and Key West. They have such different feels and its hard to fully appreciate either one without staying there.

player52
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4. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

When we are there we usually spend some time in Key Largo, Bayside Inn they have a 1 br suite, with kitchen or 2 bed room for more economy with small refer and micro. key largo princess glass bottom boat ride. wild bird center be sure and be there around 3 or 4 pm they feed the pelicans on the water, john pennecamp coral reef park is there. Dolphins at theater of the sea. in Marathon they have the new Aqua Ranch where you can feed or swim with the HUGE cobia fish. Turtle hospital make reservations. Oh and I almost forgot Robbies near Islamorada where you can feed the Tarpon. Everyone that goes should spend a couple nights in key west. Be sure to do the Mallory square sunset party. Near Big Pine Key there is No name key with No name pub there greaaaat pizza. If that is your sort of thing.

Not many tennis courts here and abssolutely no malls in the keys. There are some great shopping strips in Key West though. And small shops along the sides of US1 along the way. Each one is different and has different things. There are lots of great places to eat as well.

South Florida...
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5. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

I have to agree...middle Keys as you have access to Key West or the upper Keys with no problem. I always stay at the Hampton Inn in Islamorada. July you will find VERY hot weather and high humidity so I would forget tennis. Remember the Keys are coral formations so there are not expansive beaches as there are on either coast. All sand is brought in and the "beaches" are made for visitors. One place the boys might enjoy is Shark Valley...it is northwest of the Keys but not terribly far. Extremely interesting and there is a tram that takes you through the Everglades. Key Largo is the very beginning of the Keys and you might as well be staying in Miami or Homestead as it does not have the Keys feeling. Key West is far removed from the remainder of the Keys...not mile wise but in travel time as there is one two lane highway. It is a fun trip for a day though. One nice thing to do out of Key West is to take a snorkel trip to The Dry Tortugas. It is a really funky town where you are apt to see ANYTHING.

Ipswich, United...
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for Malta
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6. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

I see the OP was in October so hope this isn't too late (plenty of time until July!).

All 4 of the loactions are worth visiting and each has its own merits - staying mid way would offer access to both upper and lower keys as others have said.

Having been to Key west before we now tend to stay in Key Largo if we visit the keys as it offers arguably better SCUBA diving (plenty of water sports throughout the keys though).

For malls - theres a Prime outlet at Florida City so stop off there on the way to/from the keys - they have a food court. There's a decent Bealls (prounonced bells) outlet at the Tradewinds centre at mm 101.5 in Key Largo along with a few other stores and a good Chinese. Seperate shops for womens/mens & household.

St. Moritz...
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for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
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7. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

We usually base ourselves in Islamorada for our holidays, taking a daytrip to Key West just for the drive there over the bridges - otherwise we prefer Islamorada.

Tennis in Islamorada: the refurbished Ocean Dawn has a Tennis court (and a small beach)

As for outlet malls: after arriving in Miami, we usually travel the Alligator Alley to Napels or Fort Mayers Beach for an overnight. There is a big openair outlef with a lot of brands there, specially the ones the Europeans are looking for. Then on our way back to Miami, we take the Turnpike up to Sawgrass Mill Mall for some shopping and then enjoy a Miami extension before returning home.

We arrive with nearly empty bags - other than your fishing rod, you dont need a lot in the Keys and on shorts and T-shirts you can stock up for nearly no money at Bealls Outlet in Key Largo. Then we can fill our luggage at the end of our holidays at prizes we would never dare to dream of in Switzerland.

St. Moritz...
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for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
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8. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

just an addition to my post: The mentioned detour Miami-Napels and from there to the Keys is a very scenic route and gives you a good impression of the Everglades.

Alexandria, Virginia
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9. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

I vote for Islamorada, it has some of the most fantastic views and beautiful blue/green water and charming and friendly local people. Good restaurants with a view as well, and bars and activities like Kayaking and snorkeling trips.

10. Re: Where to stay in Florida Keys?

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