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The Florida Keys
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Be sure to visit the Getting Away Blog at:
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I suggest you purchase the book Hidden Florida before visiting Florida. Everyone visiting Florida (or living there) should have this book in their travel bookcase. Another interesting book is Florida Off The Beaten Path. Another good book is Hidden Florida Keys and The Everglades. A must if you plan to visit the Keys.

I believe the Florida Keys to be one of the truly unique places on earth. And we in the United States are fortunate to be able to say they are ours! It is a very laid back area that is filled with calm and serene beauty. It is a great place for a getaway. For suggestions for accommodations in the Keys, click on Florida Accommodations.

But, if you are looking form more than just peace and quiet, this is also a great place to visit from the excitement of a dive to the great fishing to the interesting and entertaining nights in Key West. Add to this the history, the museums, the art, the excellent food, and the shopping and the Keys become a place for just about everyone.

One of the best ways to get good travel information is to check with folks who know a lot about the area in which you plan to visit. I recommend that after you get the general information you are seeking about Florida and the Florida Keys, you check with Allexperts for specific information about the places you plan to visit. It is a great site!  Allexperts - Florida and the Florida Keys! Ask volunteer experts questions about travel and tourism, and attractions for free! Allexperts and Getting Away With Jim Bruner, working together to give you the best in reliable travel information.

For climate information on the Florida Keys area, click on Climatologies and then click on the map to find Florida.  Contact the National Hurricane Center in Miami (National Hurricane Center) for additional information or warnings.


You should also check these links for some good Florida Keys Information:
Florida Keys Official Web Site
Florida Keys On Line
The Best of the Florida Keys


For specific information on the Keys, just click on the "Key" of your interest below:
Key Largo
Islamorada
Marathon
The Lower Keys
Key West
Diving in the Keys
Fishing in the Keys
Some Favorites In The Keys
Florida Keys Links and Other Interesting Areas
Other Interesting Travel Links
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Key Largo
Key Largo is the first key you reach as you leave the mainland. And, if you are into diving, this is as far as you may want to go as this is considered by many to be the diving capital of the United States, and perhaps the world. Not only do you have the crystal clear waters near Molasses Reef and the underwater caves of French Reef, but there is also the wonderful Pennekamp State Park (Pennekamp State Park) and the National Marine Sanctuary.  You may also want to make a dive on the Benwood Historic Shipwreck

But there is a lot more to do here than dive. Such as the fishing! Or, just finding a quite beach for swimming. In fact, at Dolphins Plus (Dolphins Plus On Line!) you can actually swim with the dolphins!

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For additional information contact the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-822-1088 or the Best of Key Largo.


Islamorada
Tarpon, tuna, marlin, dolphin, and bonefish - that about says it all for Islamorada, the "Fishing Capital of the World." There really is a lot more to do here than just catch fish, but fishing is very important from the deep, dark blue waters of the Atlantic to the backwaters between the Keys and the Florida mainland. And, if you don't want to catch them you can look at them as divers also find this area a favorite diving location. And, if you do not want to get wet, you can see dolphins and other deep sea fish at the Theater of the Sea on Windley Key.

Islamorada is also a favorite for campers with Long Key State Park being a popular destination. Others who enjoy the out-of-doors will enjoy Indian Key Historical Site and Lignumvitae Botanical Site, where you can climb to the highest point in the Keys - 18 feet!

For additional information contact the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-322-5397 or the Best of Islamorada.


Marathon
For me, Marathon is "the Keys." One of the best places to see what the Keys are all about is by visiting the old conch houses on Pigeon Key, which is accessible from the old Seven Mile Bridge (which really is about 6.9 miles), or go for a swim in the cooling waters of Sombrero Beach.

Marathon is also the location of several archaeological digs with the most important being the digs at Crane Point Hammock where you can go back about 7 centuries. And, for me anyway, the nature trails at the Museum of Natural History are well worth a treck after enjoying the exhibits inside the museum. Perhaps one of the most interesting places on Marathon is the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key where you can see where the original Flipper movie was made.

For additional information contact the Marathon Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-262-7284 or the Best of Marathon.


The Lower Keys
The Lower Keys area is the place for lovers of the outdoors. Just head to Bahia Honda State Park where you can find camping areas and cabins for over nights and marinas from which you can head out for some fishing. It is also a wonderful place for picnicking. Another nice way to enjoy the out-of-doors here is from a kayak as you glide along the inland waters of Watson's Hammock.

I really enjoy seeing the famous Key Deer that live in the Lower Keys. A good place to spot them is in the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge which is home to several hundred of the miniature deer. The best time to see them is early in the morning or in the early evening. Also to be enjoyed here are the Great Heron National Wildlife Refuge and the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.

For additional information contact the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-872-3722.  You can also find some good information at Big Pine, and Little Torch Key.


Key West
Key West is filled with good restaurants and some famous bars and legendary pubs where you can relax after enjoying all of the shopping along Duval Street, a little fishing in the ocean, or bathing on the wonderful beaches. And then, at sundown, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets anywhere! If you have never been to Key West - GO! Click here for the Key West Main Page!

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For additional information visit the Getting Away Key West page, or contact the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY or the Best of Key West.

Diving in the Keys
There is a multitude of interesting diving location in the Florida Keys, both close to the shore and off-shore. There is diving for the extremely experienced and the novice. And anyone, regardless of how much experience they have diving, will marvel at the natural reefs of the Florida Keys. It is one of the best places anywhere to enjoy wet wildlife with an abundance of tropical fish along with thousands of other undersea creatures.

For the more adventurous you can seek out and dive on one of the many wrecks in the Florida Keys. Off Key Largo you can find the Coast Guard Cutters Bibb and Duane (Duane Information), the popular Cayman Salvager and Tug off of Key West, the Thunderbolt off Marathon, and the freighter Eagle (Eagle Information) off of Islamorada.

You should also check out these links: The Best of the Florida Keys Diving Guide.  And, before you dive in the Florida Keys, check out this link: Diving Conditions in the Florida Keys


Fishing in the Keys
In the ocean or in the back country, the Florida Keys is a treasure trove of game fishing. Back country guides have already found the best places to fish and you can join one of the popular party boats for a day or night time fishing excursion for snapper or grouper, or take a charter to where the more interesting tarpon and bonefish hand out.

Or, if you are really into adventure, charter a boat and head out into the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic for a chance at a giant blue marlin, a sailfish, or a giant tarpon. Whatever your choice, the Florida Keys is a great place for fishing.

Some Favorites In The Keys
Be sure to let me know about your favorites in the Keys so I can share them with other visitors of Getting Away. mailto:jimbruner@gettingaway.com

Key West...
An interesting way to see the area is by joining a Key West Nature Bike Tour (305/294-1002) on which you can see a lot of out-of-the-way places and things.  The Audubon House (305/294-2116) is a great example of early Key West architecture.  You can see the descendants of Hemingway's six-toed cats when you visit the Hemingway Home and Museum. Plan to spend a little time here and perhaps you will began to get a feel for the personality of the man who lived here.  For interesting and nice overnight accommodations you might like to try the Island City House (305/294-5702) where you can get a feel of old Key West as you hear the floor creak beneath your feet.  The Pier House Restaurant is a good choice as you enjoy good food while you enjoy the quiet piano music. Try the conch bisque and conch fritters with key lime mustard.  For a great burger I like Pepe's Cafe on Caroline Street. And, if you are into such things, the creamed chip beef on toast is good for breakfast.  And if you want some great pasta, ask for the directions to Mangia Mangia. Great food and a wonderful atmosphere in which to enjoy it.


The Lower Keys...
Can't leave the area without a meal at Mangrove Mama's! Great food, but try not to pay any attention to the restaurant or the cats looking for a hand-out. Try the stuffed shrimp with fresh rolls and herb tea.  For a special dinner you should call ahead for a reservation at the restaurant on Little Palm Island (305/872-2524) for a great sunset dinner of yellowtail snapper or the fish of the day.  Some of the best swimming in the Keys can be found at the Bahia Honda State Recreation Area. And for snorkeling try the beach at Little Duck Key Park.  If you are going to spend the night I would suggest the Deer Run Bed and Breakfast (305/872-2800) where you can sometimes see the Key deer roam. You can also enjoy the outdoor hot tub or just sit on the large veranda that overlooks the sea and grounds.  Don't miss the National Key Deer Refuge. You should also book a Canoeing Nature Tour (205/872-2620) with marine biologist Stan Becker if you can.

Marathon Area...
Crane Point Hammock is a good place to get a nice overview of the real Florida Keys as you wander around the 63-acre nature preserve. You will also want to visit the Museum of Natural History of the Florida Keys while you are there.  Be sure to stop by the Dolphin Research Center where you can experience a swim with the dolphins!  To get away from busy Route 1 spend the night in one of the cabins of Conch Key Cottages (305/289-1377).  For accommodations that are just a little different try the Faro Blanco Marine Resort where you can spend the night on a houseboat while you watch the boats in the harbor.  You can get some pretty good German food at Little Bavaria. Although it does not look it, Gallagher's is a great place to eat. They have a great menu with wonderful food - anything from filet mignon au poivre to lobster sauteed in escargot butter with garlic and shallots to chicken and dumplings - for just about anyone. And, don't leave without a slice of homemade pie!  And for some good beer-steamed shrimp, find your way to Castaway. Just ask for directions.

Islamorada Area...
The Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site is well worth the three-hour trip.  The San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve makes another very interesting stop.  I enjoyed my stay at the Ocean 80 Resort. Have a "super fish sandwich" at Craig's. Stop by Manny and Isa's Kitchen and if you ask very nicely they might fix you a wonderful Spanish paella. If not, have one of their Cuban dishes.

Key Largo Area...
The Key Largo Bay Beach Resort is one of my favorite over nights anywhere in the United States. Great rooms (Only about a dozen of the rooms here do not overlook the bay.) and a wonderful restaurant. You can even arrive here by seaplane!  And for something completely different, spend the night underwater at Jules' Undersea Lodge. If you are looking for "just good food," try Mrs. Mac's Kitchen and have one of their wonderful nightly specials.  You can swim with the dolphins at Dolphins Plus. Be sure to head for John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Especially if you are a snorkeler or scuba diver.


Links and Other Interesting Areas
TAVERNIER is immediately south of Key Largo and is a quiet community of choice for visitors wanting easy access to Key Largo and Islamorada activities and dive sites. It is also a great area for boaters as Tavernier Creek provides access to both Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Tavernier is also the home of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Harry Harris Park. Tavernier Key is actually a short distance off of Tavernier. In the 18th century wreckers used this Key as their base during the day and searched the reef at night for booty from ships that had run aground and sank.

Visiting the Florida Keys? Live in the Florida Keys

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ACCOMMODATIONS in The Florida Keys can satisfy almost any taste and budget. You have a choice between nationally recognized motels, large "exclusive" resorts, "mom and pop" resorts or bed and breakfasts. 

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DINING in the Florida Keys is synonymous with some of the freshest and best seafood anywhere. And, with the wide variety of dining locations available in the Keys, you can feast on a large gourmet dinner or, if your on the go, grab a quick fish sandwich. Of course, seafood isn't the only thing the Keys have to offer. You can still get your favorite steak cooked to perfection or enjoy a healthy veggie sandwich or vegetarian meal.  Check the Best of the Florida Keys Dining for some wonderful dining suggestions.

For an interesting way to get to Key West from Naples or Fort Myers, try the Key West Shuttle.  They have been in operation since 1996 transporting over 30,000 passengers to Key West.  The operate 130',  high-speed, all aluminum super cruisers that are powered with 'DDEC" electronic, Detroit Turbo-Diesel engines, producing 4,650 horsepower.  This is a great way to get to Key West without the long drive from Miami.