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If you’re driving to the Florida Keys from pretty much anywhere else in the Sunshine State, you’re going to navigate the final stretch of US-1 for around two hours. Once you’re outside of Key Largo the turquoise waters start to show their true colors, but with your eye on a final destination at the end of the road you’re usually too focused to stop. However, if you’re going to pull off for a little time to splish and splash we have to recommend Bahia Honda State Park. Just pay attention to the mile markers, because if you blink you just might miss the entrance to the beach.
This state park sits at around mile marker 37 in the Florida Keys, and from what we saw on our recent stop, it might just be the best place to take a break between Key Largo and Key West. The park is open each and every day of the week form 8am until sunset, and admission will set you back $8 per vehicle under the assumption that your car is filled with passengers—it’s just $4 if you’re venturing in all by yourself.
Whoever's in charge of doing tourism ads for the Florida Keys and Key West has something of a mischievous streak. Either that of they're smart enough to know that hijacking well-known brands is much easier than creating new ones. They've launched a commercial reminding potential tourists that real-life experiences like canoeing or snorkeling trump hours and hours of playing Brick Breaker. That's kind of blasphemous, but in fairness, it's probably also kind of true.
The ad isn't entirely accurate we suspect there actually are apps where you can overpay for a three-star hotel before marching your family around derelict tourist traps until everyone's equally miserablebut it's still a clever little spot. It could have been slightly improved by dropping that hackneyed "real experiences" line at the end. And we have to wonder whether or not there's a cease and desist letter from Apple in the mail for them. Still: clever little ad.
Check it out, after the jump.
The Florida Keys Tourism Council is trying to raise awareness about the endangered Sea Turtles who nest on their beaches. And what better way to get people's attention than by letting them watch cute little turtle hatchlings emerge from the nest for the first time and find the ocean all on their own?
Every summer on Big Pine Key, in the lower Florida Keys, turtles crawl ashore at night to dig nests and lay about 100 ping-pong-ball-sized eggs. After covering them with sand, the turtles return to the water. Approximately two months later, the baby turtles are born.
Summer-Signature-Cocktails-Map / Beer Travel / Drinking Travel / Key West Travel / Florida Keys / → All Tags
While the summer is at its peak and you're no doubt tired of chugging bottled water under the sun at tourist sites, we're going to hit some of the world's best watering holes and down their famous summer cocktails. Bottoms up!
When one thinks of an evening spent in Key West, sipping some of the more alcoholic local flavors, drinks like Key Lime Martinis or the Key West Cooler come to mind, but at local favorite Green Parrot Bar, the regulars tipple something decidedly more down-home.
For one of the cheap, but tasty Root Beer Barrel Shots at the Green Parrot, you must first bypass all of the tourist-trap bars along Duval Street. The Green Parrot isn't faronly a couple block away on Whitehead Streetbut it's divey, Florida Keys laid-back ambience is a world away. Sure you can get key lime drinks here as well, but if you've been scarfing key lime pie all day anyways, we'd recommend the Root Beer Barrel.
We've spilled more than a few pixels on the subject of kayaking, but that's because it's just such a perfect vacation activity. It's cheap, it's fun, and it always provides a unique perspective on your destination. Last year might have been the year of the kayak, but the trend is showing no signs of abating, if a story in Friday's New York Times is any indication. It highlights a kayaking adventure in the Florida Keys, where the abundance of shallow water, mangrove swamps, and marine life make the kayak the preferred mode of transportation for those seeking to leave the highway behind. With so many kayak outfitters on either side of the Overseas Highway, "it is entirely plausible to go on three different types of kayak trips, in three distinctly different environments in the Keys, all inside of a single day." Sounds like a nifty challenge to us.
In Key West, for example, the Lazy Dog Kayak Company will ensure that your kayaking won't come at the expense of your drinking, as an open-air bar is located just 20 feet from the put-in area. Those looking for more action can join a kayak fishing expedition organized by Key Largo-based Florida Bay Outfitters. A sizable tarpon is strong enough to pull your kayak around for half an hour, giving you the ride of your life. And to really feel like you've left civilization behind, Reelax Charters on Sugarloaf Key will ferry your kayaks in a motorboat to remote beaches and mangrove islands about as far away from pavement as you can get in the Keys.
But whatever kayak journey you take, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views and that unique feeling of floating that somehow makes all your troubles seem smaller.
[Photo: The New York Times]
Thanksgiving Alternatives / Thanksgiving-Alternatives-Map / Thanksgiving / Florida Keys / Kiteboarding / → All Tags
If you’re going to skip town on your family for Thanksgiving, you might as well go somewhere warm. Heading down to the Florida Keys is a good bet for nice weather and beach time, and the relaxed atmosphere doesn't allow for Black Friday insanity.
For dinner, head to Pepe's on Caroline Street. This is one of the oldest restaurants in Key West, and the place serves up a Thanksgiving-style meal every Thursday.
Then, instead of watching the parade on TV, head out to the water where kiteboarders are planning to congregate during the holiday weekend to put on a show for anyone watching. If the winds are blowing the right way on Saturday, a group plans to ride about 80 miles through the water from Islamarada to Key West.
[Photo: Stig Nygaard]
If you've already picked a new cheap place to live you might as well start planning your first cheap vacation as well. National Parks are always a great choice for affordable trips, and there may soon be one more to add to the list. The Miami Herald reports that Monroe County, home of the Florida Keys, is looking to become the nation's 59th national park.
The Keys have strict regulations against building and development, and local officials worry that residents will soon bring lawsuits claiming they have the right to build, sell or develop vacant land in the islands. So officials are off to the state capital to ask for $1.2 billion to buy up the turf.
Although another national park would be nice, lawyers have already begun contacting residents asking them to resist any possible sale. One Key Largo attorney even noted that this idea was, "The dumbest thing I've ever heard."
· Monroe County Makes Pitch for National Park Designation [Miami Herald]
· National Parks coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: Lee Coursey]
More Keys fun...
The Florida Keys want to let you know that they escaped hurricane damage this year, so you should plan your visit immediately.
Crass? Insensitive? Well, this is the place that Hemmingway said "Murdered the Vets" back in 1935.
· Also: No Katrina and No Wit [Gawker]