Sunday, December 19, 2010

Florida Keys Trip

At the start of vacation we spent a few days in the Florida Keys.  There's always great travel deals to be had just prior to Christmas!!

Here's a Google Map showing our trip...
View December 2010 FL Keys Trip in a larger map

After landing on Thursday, we drove south towards the Keys.  We made a quick stop at a Walmart in Homestead, FL for some critical supplies (Corona Beer and water) then crossed over onto Key Largo.  We stopped for lunch at Sundowners On the Bay.  Jeanne had a Cuban Sandwich and since I wanted to dive right into some local seafood, I went with a Blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich.  Both were excellent.  Large portions. At this point on Thursday the weather was pretty grey and the temp was only in the lower 60's.  We'd love to return here for sunset on a warmer day!  During lunch we were joined at the next table by "George" the resident heron (I think it was a heron).

We stayed at the Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key.  Great location and a great resort.  It was very quiet during our stay, but there was a small wedding party that arrived on Friday for the ceremony and reception on Saturday night.  Thursday night we ate at Alma Restaurant right in the resort.  We were tired from a long day of travel, so it was just a light dinner sitting at the bar.

Since the weather report showed improving temperatures during our visit, we decided to hop in the car Friday morning and head to Key West.  It was a Cheeseburger in Paradise at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville on Duval Street and some shopping.

There are not a lot of nicer restaurants in the mid-Keys, but prior to the trip I had found a couple dining rooms at higher end resorts that sounded interesting.  Friday night we had quite a dining experience at The Dining Room at the Little Palm Island Resort.  As we were waiting to board the plane at Logan, I received an email confirming our reservation.  Here is what was included in this email:

"We would like to remind you of a few of the Island Customs. No children under the age of 16 are allowed. Although dress is upscale island casual, men are required to dress in collared shirts...The time of your reservation is the departure time for the motor yacht to the island. Please plan on being at our Welcome Station 10 to 15 minutes prior to departure. The motor yacht ride is 15 to 20 minutes from our Welcome Station to Little Palm Island."

Since all of the Keys are islands I assumed that this resort was right off of the Overseas Highway, so the boat ride was a pleasant suprise.  The captain did a quick safety briefing before departing.  He also asked that we not "feed the Key deer on the island any food from our table during our stay".  More to follow on this below...

Dinner was excellent and the service was even better.  Jeanne had the arugula salad with gorgonzola cheese and the Veal Chop with corn risotto. I went with the tuna tartare appetizer and the Yellow Snapper with Key Lime Beure Blanc.  For dessert Jeanne had the confit pineapple with sour cream ice cream and I had the key lime pie with bruleed citrus fruits.

After dinner we sat by the fire pit and listened to the live band that was playing in the bar.  While we waited for the next boat back to the mainland, we took a stroll around the island and ran into one of the very friendly key deer.  Jeanne fed it some leaves from one of the trees.  Very impressive....

Saturday morning we sat in the sun, then went for a late lunch at the Sunset Grill.  This is the ultimate Keys location.  The whole place is one huge tiki bar.  It's right at the start of the Seven Mile Bridge and positioned perfectly to view the sunset.  Jeanne had a curry chicken salad sandwich and I did sushi.  I went with the bartender's suggestion of the "Seven Mile roll".

On Saturday night we wanted to go to our favorite place from our last trip to the Keys, Morada Bay in Islamorada.  They were hosting a wedding on Saturday night so we just headed back to the resort.  We ended up going here for lunch the next day.  Nothing beats eating at a table on the beach with a margarita in our hand and our toes in the sand!

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