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Visiting the Keys on a detour to a central Florida holiday - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

With our normal vacation destination in the Orlando area a visit to the Keys seemed an awful long way away. However we decided to extend our holiday by two days and take in the Keys as part of an arrival detour. By flying two days earlier and into Miami but still returning to the UK via Orlando seemed to make little difference to the airfare nor did it seem to affect the car hire cost for pick up and drop off at different locations. Clearly there is the additional cost of two days car hire and accommodation but well worth considering.

We elected to book 2 nights at the Hampton Inn at Islamorada which we considered mid way on the Keys and would mean with an arrival in Miami of mid afternoon, well within reach in daylight. The reality was that it took a lot longer to clear Immigration and Customs than we’d previously experienced at Orlando and Tampa but we still arrived at the hotel as dusk was setting. The result gave us spectacular views as we crossed the bridges on the Keys of the magnificent sunset. Our room was spacious and comfortable for a family of four and had a balcony with coastline views.

We drove down to Key West, approx an hour and a half, again the arrival is spectacular as you drive along the coast line. Tip there are plenty of car parks in Key West but they all appear to be pay and display and only take quarters or credit cards. We eventually found a car park near the shops that gave us a couple of hours stay with the quarters we had. After a little shopping and a drinks break we were able to return to the car park and top up the meter as it were with sufficient time for the remainder of the day. We were able to explore the delights of Key West, it is incredible how densely populated a small section of land can be without going above 3 stories high. We were able to explore the whole island and harbours comfortably on foot within a couple of hours. Stopping a couple of times on the way for photos we returned to the hotel in time for dinner.

The following morning we drove back up the Keys to Key Largo where we stopped for coffee and pastries. We then made our way to Miami south beach, well worth the drive if just for the views. Finding a parking meter alongside the beach that took banknotes was a blessing but it gave us enough time to walk along the beach and pause for a moment or two to watch all the ”beautiful people”. We then headed north and some 4 hours later arrived at the villa, a two day detour that started the holiday off with something spectacular.

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