Thursday, April 26, 2007


So we're back from Florida. Truthfully, when we were planning this little getaway, we would have much preferred to go on a cruise or to a resort in the Caribbean, or even to Key West. But since none of those were options at this point, we settled on regular ol' Florida (not to be confused with Key West, Florida, which in my mind at least, is a totally different animal). Originally it was supposed to be Sanibel Island, but then I read about the "red drift" and we decided to bail on that idea. Our little tour around southeastern Florida just came about in the last month or so.

Since we had already been to Miami and Fort Lauderdale and knew what to expect, we were really looking forward to seeing what Key Largo was all about. And it turns out, we really, really liked it. It's not quite Key West, but it's close. Very laid-back attitude, friendly people, great atmosphere. Things are, however, somewhat spread out, so you do need a car (which we had). It's only an hour south of Miami and it's only about a 5 minute drive or so to everything on the Key itself. Plus, the next key, Islamorada, is only about 30 minutes away, so we went there one night for dinner. We went to Lorelei's for sunset and honestly, the sunset there is probably better than any other I've seen because there are no other islands blocking the sun's desent into the ocean (at least not for sunsets in April).

I definitely recommend our hotel. You can tell it's an older hotel, probably one that the Marriott aquired and remodeled in recent years, but it still looks somewhat outdated from the outside. But it was only $199 a night and we got a $50 credit towards food. The interior furnishings, while not super-sleek, are perfect for the location. I can't think of the style at the momemt but I want to say it was like British Caribbean. I seriously wanted to steal the beds in that place.

It rained the day we were in Miami, so we just did some shopping. Although I have to say our hotel there was pretty neat, all art-deco. Our room was super small, but looked like a show room out of a Pottery Barn catalog. It had a great sized pool, plus its own beach. Carrabas, which is a chain restaurant is located on the premises. We didn't eat there, but they do have an outdoor tiki bar and I imagine that that's pretty cool on a nice beach day. The staff, well, we were in Miami so folks aren't as friendly as in the Keys, but we didn't encounter any real problems. We had dinner that night at Oh! Mexico, a restaurant on Espanol Way. I can't find a link to Espanol Way, but it's basically a little street closed off to traffic with a host of Mexican and Spanish restaurants and some funky stores. Here's a link of reviews of the restaurant where we ate. It wasn't the best Mexican food ever, but it was pretty good and the menu had lots of variety.

After the day of rain, we were all about the beach in Fort Lauderdale. Our hotel there was immaculate. We had a great balcony overlooking the ocean. The room was beautiful and the hotel grounds were expansive. There was a huge pool and private beach. As lovely as it was, we preferred the Marriott in Key Largo. The Marriott Harbor Beach in Ft. Lauderdale was very sleek and polished and once you were inside the hotel, you no longer felt like you were at the beach. I suppose this is an issue that comes up frequently when you have beach in a city. But basically, when you came off the beach (all sun-burned in your beach cover up) you felt completely out of place walking through the lobby. There were lots of business travelers so when you got on the elevator with people in suits, you were very aware that you had sand stuck to the side of your face and smelled like sunscreen. Again, it was a gorgeous hotel, but unless you were on the beach or by the pool, it didn't feel very beachy. I think we prefer something a little more laid-back. We ate at Le Bonne Crepe one night, which was delish (if you're in Philly, it's something like Beau Monde), followed by sundaes at Kilwins. The other night we went to Hooters for wings and I can't wait to tell my children one day that their father once took me to Hooters when I was 6 months pregnant. Classy.

Anyway, if you're looking for a beach getaway, think about Key Largo. Rooms are reasonable and it's only an hour drive from Miami. I enjoyed our little Florida adventure. I'm sure it's only a matter of time until our next vacation is planned...



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