I’ve had a running list for a long time of things I want to do I call “local to me” before I move to another place. One that has been lingering for almost 10 years of living here was finally accomplished last week when Patricia and I took off for the Florida Keys.
We needed the trip. I needed a reboot. It’s been a tough, crazy, stressful bit of time lately and we just needed to get away. So we found a cheap hotel in the Keys and went for it (we booked it on Hotwire so didn’t know the reviews were so bad – it was about as reviewed!).
The “Upper Keys” start with Key Largo and they are about 300 miles from our house. The “Lower Keys” end with Key West and it’s about 400 miles from here. So even though they are close, they aren’t a day trip there and back. We decided to stay in the “Upper Keys” in Islamorada for 2 nights so our drive there wasn’t too bad and that gave us a full day trip to Key West and back.
I have some observations and highlights for you.
The Florida Keys are awesome, but it depends on what you want to do. If you’re big into fishing and diving, it may be the best in the country. But it’s a long way to go for beautiful beaches and drives. Central Florida offers great alternatives: the causeways and bridges in Tampa are just as beautiful, the beaches in the Sarasota area (like Siesta Key) are perhaps even better than the Keys, and the Cape Canaveral National Seashore offers similar and closer land and marsh.
The Keys offer isolation and that can be good or bad depending on what you’re looking for.
Going down we took I-95 all the way to the end then merged onto US-1 the rest of the way. Although it’s not that far from the end of 95 to the Keys (about 40 miles), there are A LOT of stop lights! Coming home we bypassed it on the Florida Turnpike! But I wouldn’t have it any other way for it makes getting to Mile 0 that much more fulfilling.
I know Key West is known for Jimmy Buffet stuff, but I barley noticed any Parrotheading.
I don’t care what the books and reviews say, the Keys are hot.
The end of US 1 at Mile 0 was kind of anti-climatic. It just ended at a regular intersection. Cool nonetheless.
I had 4 goals to accomplish:
- Make it to Mile 0 – the end of US 1 that runs along the entire East Coast
- Have great Key Lime Pie in Key West
- Have good Conch Fritters
- See some Key Deer
Other highlights included driving over the 7-mile Bridge, miles and miles of scenery, actually petting a wild deer, and going to the southern-most point in the US (barring Hawaii).
But the best highlight of all was experiencing all of this with my beautiful wife by my side.