If you're a Canadian Snowbird trying to get away from winter or a sunseeker in search of plenty of sunshine, make sure to put the Keys, a Florida paradise, on your travel bucket list!
These islands, bathed by the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, form a tropical paradise just waiting for you.
Eve Murphy, co-founder of soNomad and a seasoned Keys aficionado, spills the beans on her must-see places for a magical road trip in this archipelago!
Key Largo: the Gateway to the Keys
First stop, Key Largo! Located about an hour's drive south of Miami and 90 minutes south of Fort Lauderdale, Key Largo is an inevitable pitstop on your Florida Keys adventure.
Spending the night here lets you ease into your journey while allowing the charm of Key Largo to enchant you. Get inspired by Eve Murphy's recommendations, co-founder of soNomad, to make the most of this stop.
Where to stay in Key Largo?
Approved by Eve, the Reefhouse Resort and Marina offers a luxurious getaway with a breathtaking view of the Gulf of Mexico. With its 17 acres, the resort offers private beach access, a seaside spa, a heated outdoor pool, kids' activities, and a seafood menu that delivers on every level.
If you're into water sports, you'll be in heaven in Key Largo. Whether you choose paddleboarding, a jet ski tour, or simply chilling by the sea, you'll discover the activities that make the region famous.
Where to eat in Key Largo?
For an authentic culinary experience, check out Hobo's Cafe, a true local institution. It's a must-visit for Eve and her family when they pass through Key Largo. This gem is famous for its Key Lime Pie, a delicious lime pie served in a very original mason jar.
Key Largo Must-Sees
Only leave Key Largo after visiting the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater park in the United States. You can explore the stunning coral reefs through scuba diving or snorkelling.
For a unique experience, opt for a glass-bottom boat tour that allows you to observe the region's rich aquatic life without getting wet.
Key West: The Southernmost Point of the United States
Your adventure in the Florida Keys continues by crossing the famous "Seven Mile Bridge," which, as the name suggests, stretches for seven miles above the sparkling waters of the ocean, offering a breathtaking panoramic journey.
Head to Key West, the last stop on this journey through the Keys and the true jewel of this archipelago. The small island oozes appeal and captivating stories.
Fact or myth: some say that on a day with optimal visibility, you can see the outlines of Cuba, located just 90 miles off the coast of Key West. Even though science sadly confirms that it's impossible, don't worry; Key West proudly boasts the distinction of guarding the southernmost point of the American continent, celebrated by the famous "Southernmost Point Buoy." Get ready to snap pictures that will make your friends back home jealous!
Where to stay in Key West?
During your stay in Key West, the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel is an option that gets Eve Murphy's stamp of approval for its spectacular location. The hotel offers a choice between classic rooms and suites. If you're travelling with family, opt for a suite to access a spacious living room and a kitchenette.
Activities abound, with a pool, direct beach access, the possibility of kayaking, or even embarking on a jet ski adventure. However, remember that the hotel is slightly set back from Duval Street and the main attractions. You must take your car or use the hotel's shuttle to explore further. Note that the hotel is not pet-friendly.
However, for those who only travel with their faithful four-legged companion, The Reach Key West is the ideal place. This establishment welcomes pets for an additional $75 fee and is Eve and her family's preferred option when travelling with their dog. You can enjoy a beautiful private beach, a rare thing in Key West, and be just a few minutes walk from the famous Duval Street.
What to do in Key West?
Get inspired by Eve's suggestions as you explore the must-visit places in Key West. Start with Duval Street, the main street in the downtown area that extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. This legendary street has gained fame thanks to its various restaurants, shops, and vibrant nightlife. Remember to savour the seafood delights, as Key West is renowned for its conch-based dishes and fresh seafood that will tease your taste buds.
One of the most iconic moments in Key West is definitely the sunset at Mallory Square. This is where the heart of the decades-old tradition, the Key West Sunset Celebration, beats. As local artists and vendors come together to create an incredible cultural experience, you'll witness a colourful vibe that will leave a lasting impression in your memory.
If you're a literature and history enthusiast, visiting the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum is necessary. You can meet the famous six-toed cats that roam freely, a curiosity that will amaze the younger ones. This unique experience will keep your children entertained since, let's be honest, museums aren't usually their idea of a good time.
Finally, for an unforgettable adventure, consider renting a boat to explore the neighbouring islands, lounge on remote beaches, swim in turquoise waters, and admire the lush fauna of the Keys. Pack your diving gear, and get ready to discover a fascinating underwater world.
What attracts so many visitors to the Keys?
"We shovel sand, not snow" (a famous quote from the Keys). If that does not convince you, what will?
Discover for yourself why this place has a worldwide reputation. Got more time? Visit the islands between Key West and Key Largo, like Marathon, Islamorada, Big Pine Key, Sugarloaf Key, and many more. You'll be captivated by sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, stunning sunsets, and a laid-back atmosphere. So, get inspired and start planning your next trip to the Keys.