Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trip Review

Several people have asked about our trip to the Keys, wanting info for planning their own trip. So I'll try to give a review of what we liked and didn't like. I apologise to my stamping buddies up front for posting this as its not stamping related....but I will be posting again tonite for you all!

First off, we have some great deals to share. Brent used to purchase our flight tickets. This sight tells you WHEN to buy your tickets at the LOWEST price. It predicts for you, and also emails you telling you when to buy. It was very accurate, he uses that sight quite often, as he flies often. For our car rentals, he always uses They guarantee one of the top 5 car rentals and so far every time we have used it, we ended up with Hertz. Really cheap! We also left our car at They had a coupon and gave great service. When they picked us up from the airport and took us to our car, he had us stay in the warm van while he scraped the snow off our car and got it started! He got a big tip for that...what a treat for us.

We flew into Fort Lauderdale and drove down to Florida City. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which we did NOT like. The room smelled funny. That day we went to Alligator Farm It was FUN! Do it! I loved the air boat ride..even the 360's he did. I had bad hair the whole trip and the ride didn't help!

As you can see, I wasn't to crazy about holding the alligator, though. My daughter LOVED it. I can't figure that girl out. She freaks over spiders but likes stuff like this. Here is our 6'6" son lookin short for a change!

Then we headed to It's an awesome fruit stand that sells fresh shakes. I had the key lime and it was wonderful. We loaded up on fruit for the week, trying several kinds we had never heard of before. I would've spent MORE time there as they had so many different food products to browse.

Both places are just minutes from the highway and easy to find, so if you're headed down to the keys be sure to stop. We also had planned on going into the Everglades National Park, which was very close also, but didn't have the time. Next trip for sure. Yes, we plan to go back...and back...and back again!

We stayed at It was close to Marathon, which is in the middle of the keys. We got a good deal on a villa. It was an incredible resort, perfect in every way, and they spoiled us rotten. We would go back in a heart beat. The villa had lots of room and the kids each had their own space, which was really nice. We loved their pools, the fire pit at nite, their marina, and their restaurants. Here's a few photos.

We spent alot of time at the resort in the sun and pools. It was our favorite thing to do. A few days we ate right there. The Grill Side was good and Tom's Harbor house was outstanding. Service was great...there was always someone around to get you a drink, towel, anything you needed.

We had plenty of fresh fish every where we ate...dolphin,crab,Mahi,grouper,yellow fin tuna to name a few. We had it grilled,fried,blackened, and sauteed. All was awesome, the kids couldn't get enough. Our daughter decided to eat fish for every meal while on our trip, she did too, and never tired of it!

I am big on ALL food so I had checked Food Network for places and several sites for reviews. We were not disappointed. Here are some of our favorite places we tried. Alot of them had live music and you eat outdoor on the water. Here's a few: on MM102. We ate there on the way back to Fort Lauderdale,too, and you can see our son is a bit tired of my picture taking....

. {MM82} was awesome,too! Chilly that nite by the water,though, so we had jackets on. January temps were in the upper 70's and low 80's for us. we took forever to find, way in the boonies. When we got there it was packed with a long wait so we left, but the pizza smelled great and we were sorry to miss it. Next trip! We ate lunch with friends at Wahoos...great food and setting by the water! MM 83.5

My favorite was Porkey's at MM47.5.

It was a BBQ joint on the water. The food was SOOO good! The fish was incredible,too. I'm a big BBQ fan and the pork was to die for. They also had deep fried key lime pie that was great! We ate there a couple of times we liked it so well. The music was awesome and the staff so friendly!

We did do a few things other than relax at Hawks Cay. But it was hard to. Once you get down there, you have a lot planned, but end up sittin in the sun sippin something cold. This was an interesting place

For a dollar you could feed the tarpons off the dock. It was fun! We all really got into that. The guys checked out fishing there and had planned on going out, but never got to that either. Next trip! One day Brent and our son went snorkeling with a friend who has a place in the keys. They had fun and saw a shark and a stingray. Here's the sunset from their dock. {bay side}

My daughter and I took advantage and did some shopping. We found some cool sarongs. As you can see, I didn't model mine!It was an awesome day and we ended it that nite playing a fierce game of Farkle back at the villa. Another day we headed to Key west. That was interesting. Bars and more bars! We did try a few... . Also I hafta say that was alot of fun. We also ate there and the food was GOOD. The music even better! We went to the Southern most point and had our pic taken. The museum was incredible. They had a Disney produced 3-d sound program that literly sent shivers up my spine! The artifacts were great and they have the only authentic pirate chest dating back to the 1600s. Sooo fun! We also saw the Maritime Museum. WOW. Tons of artifacts and I held a $15,000 gold bar. Yes they had security men. There was an emerald worth $250,000,too. Fascinating place! The celebration at sunset on Mallory Square was VERY interesting. Alot of acts to are a few. One day we went to and did the glass bottom boat tour. Saw alot of stuff I can't remember the names of! That was fun! You could also do a ton of stuff there. We had planned on renting Kayaks, but ran outa time. Next trip!

On our way back to Fort Lauderdale we stayed 3 miles from the airport at Mariot Springhill Suites.We had plenty of room, soft beds,lotsa pillows, and a great breakfast there before we flew home. I like to stay at Marriots and have a membership there. If you sign up for their card you get free nites and points. So I used some on this. There were several things we had planned but didn't get too. Like Alabama Jacks for the conch fritters that are heaven on a plate,, Barracuda Grill MM 49 is not much to look at but supposed to have fantastic food, A lobster Reuben at , which is a great beach{we did go stop at a few beaches..Smathers for one}

the Everglades Park, at MM83, and too many places in Key West to mention!

All in all there isn't much we would do different and plan to go again in a couple years to do what we didn't get time to do. The plane trip back was rough but like I said, the best part was that the 4 of us were together for a whole week! What a blessing God gave us!

Wait a minute, I changed my mind, I do have one regret and one complaint! My regret is I didn't eat a key lime pie on a stick, and my complaint is...doesn't anyone stamp or scrap in the Keys? I didn't see ONE craft store...and believe me, I was looking!

Florida Keys


Florida TourBook 2006 Edition

SouthFlorida 2009 Fodor's

Tourism Sites:
Hope this all helps plan your trips!


jody said...

Thanks for the trip show-and-tell. I love it. It looks like you guys had a great time. Love it all. Thanks for sharing!

Rebecca said...

That trip looks so fun! That one picture of the sunset is absolutely gorgeous! I can't believe you didn't see any crafting stores. Those people might have the ocean, but if they don't craft, they don't have it all!!!!

Melissa said...

Wow! Sounds like you had a great vacation. The alligator was too cute!

jenny said...

Hey mom, you did a very good review of the trip! The only thing you didn't mention is how much Jenny missed Zoe. No, it was a great time, I would do it again in a heartbeat, next time I'm going to leave with a better tan though! Can't believe what a difference 80 degrees and negative 20 degrees is! Glad I put my long johns on in the airport!