Greetings! I’m back for a blog about my recent trip to the Florida Keys and Miami Beach. For our 5 year marriage anniversary, Aditya and I wanted to do something different. We created full itineraries and plans for Andalusian Spain, the Algarve region of Portugal, Ireland, and the Florida Keys. We looked at the pros and cons of each of these trips. We have always wanted to go to the Keys, and decided to go with it this time over an international trip for a few reasons. I wanted to have a relaxing beachy vacation, but not a cruise this time, surprisingly! I wanted to grab a short flight, be on land, and be able to get around easily in an English speaking place. After reviewing our pros and cons lists a few times, the #1 seller for both of us was the fresh fish. We looooove locally caught, sustainable, fresh fish. I must mention that Hawaii has the best fish, and is our favorite place on earth, but the flight is just so long (11+ hours from Boston). The fish species found in the keys are mostly the same as the ones found in Hawaii, like grouper, mahi-mahi, snapper, and wahoo to name a few. All these factors considered helped us narrow down to the Florida Keys. I read a lot about the keys online and found that they are not exactly known for their beaches. Also, I was unsure about what to expect after getting mixed reviews from people who have been to Key West. So, in order to get a beachy vibe squeezed in, we added a few nights at our favorite east coast beach, Miami Beach. We are familiar with that area and have regular spots that we love there, so it only made sense to add in a few nights in SoFlo.
Planning this vacation took a bit of time, because I wanted to narrow down which keys were worth staying at overnight. We ended up choosing Key Largo and Key West. We figured we would be able to get a feel of the other keys on our drive down and back up. Initially I had selected simple hotels/motels, but Aditya insisted that we should splurge a bit and get resorts to have a super relaxed and easy feel. That ended up being a great choice, because we found a beautiful resort in Key Largo, with a gorgeous beach, perfectly manicured grounds and palm trees, free roaming iguanas, lazy hammocks, and picturesque sunsets. The other key we stayed at was Key West and it was exciting and quirky, and is chock full of rich history. I was expecting the Overseas Highway (highway that links the keys to Miami) to be much scarier than it actually was. It was a breeze and was a beautiful drive. I think I’ve been on much scarier drives, like up the Santorini hills with no guard rails, eek!
This vacation was a perfectly blended mix of relaxation, tropical vibes, beach, culture, art, socializing, sunsets, ocean views, and culinary experiences. Here was our general itinerary:
- Fly BOS to FLL, Uber to Miami hotel
- 1 night in Miami Marriott Biscayne (Hertz rental onsite)
- Grab car at hotel, drive to Key Largo
- Stay at Playa Largo, Autograph Resort, Key Largo – 3 nights
- Highlights: Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, private beach on resort, sunsets
- Drive Overseas Highway through the keys to Key West
- Highlights: sweeping ocean views, a taste of the different keys
- Stay at Southernmost Resort, Key West
- Highlights: resort is easy walk to Duval St, Hemingway House & Rum Factory, Custom House (history), Duval Street (bar hopping and shops), sunsets at Mallory Square, Southernmost Point of the continental US
- Drive back up through the keys to Miami Beach
- Stay at Marriott Stanton, South Beach – 3 nights
- Highlights: beach, Mangos, Hakkasan, Akash, Jaya at the Setai (dinner and a performance), NaiYaRa, Wynwood Walls
- Uber to FLL
- Delta SkyLounge – free drinks & food
- Fly FLL to BOS
Here are some pics from my trip. By the way, all photos are by me! My phone takes great pics, lol.
I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the Playa Largo resort was! We are gold members at Marriott so were able to get a complimentary room upgrade and free breakfast as well. The resort had a private beach, with soft white sands. The water was warm and calm. It was so relaxing to just laze around here.
I wasn’t aware of all the history here. When you think of Key West you think tropical, but the island is surrounded by the largest coral reef in the continental US and fifth largest in the world, so beaches aren’t exactly great here, and the smell of seaweed can get strong. There is so much history here, from the unfortunate incidents of slaves being “transferred” and dying mid-travel, the haunted Robert the Doll who is locked away in the Fort at the East Martello Tower, and the famous artists/writers/poets Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams residing here for a period in their lifetimes. Hemingway was a super big deal here, and we were able to check out his family’s rum distillery and hit up a few of his favorite bars like Sloppy Joe’s. We had plenty of delicious key lime pies, and each restaurant/cafe had a different take on the original.
The spa girls at the Playa Largo suggested some cool spots in Key West so we checked them out, including a placed called Kino sandals where Cuban women make comfy and great quality handmade leather sandals. There is a heavy Cuban influence since Cuba is just about 330 miles by boat, and the island is known as the Conch Republic. Each morning we would grab some fresh Cuban smoothies and sandwiches at Ana’s Cuban Cafe across from our hotel, so delish! We did a few tours – the trolley and the haunted night tour. Everything was fun and insightful, despite the heat! Sunsets at Mallory Square were surreal! Another adorable fact is that Key West is a bird sanctuary, so the chickens roam freely and cannot be touched or harmed. We caught a family of chickens and their chicks crossing their road near the Southernmost point and waited about 20 minutes for them to pass. It was just so cute!
Although we are fish lovers, by the time we got back to Miami we were dying for some curry, because, well, we are brown. We went to Akash for dinner our first night at Miami beach, and I would definitely recommend it. It’s a newer Indian spot here, and the owner was so generous; he chatted with us and gave us some free kulfi!
If you know us, you know we adore Miami Beach. This is our fav spot on the East Coast other than NYC and Boston of course. During our time in Miami, we hit up our usual spots – Mango’s for live entertainment, Hakkassan for some modern Chinese food (and my first time trying dim sum), and NaiYaRa for excellent Thai food.
For our anniversary night, we went to the Jaya at the Setai and had dinner in an outside garden that had live acrobatics and entertainment. I’ve always wanted to check out the Jaya and this was the perfect opportunity. Dinner was good, but not very authentic Indian. The dinner included a live show in the pool which was really awesome. We also hit up a small speakeasy called Repour where I got a gin cocktail and beat Aditya at a game of Mario Cart (although I’m pretty sure he just let me win, lol). In downtown Miami, we had a chance to check out the Wynwood Walls for some cool art.
It was an incredibly relaxing vacation, and was much needed! Now we are back to the grind of things with freshly re-centered and refocused minds. This is why I think some R&R is so essential in life, especially with the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life and our careers.
I’ve been planning on doing some random posts about social and cultural issues, so I will just have to make time to come around to those. I also wanted to do a post on hobbies and how we spend date nights locally when we don’t feel like travelling.
Hope y’all have a great summer and enjoyed this read! 😘