Monthly Archives: July 2014
One of the nation’s most renowned road trips involves cruising from one island to another, and it’s right here in the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West. With your Florida vacation at Parrot Key Resort sparkling on the horizon, we have some of the best insider tips for making the most of your drive along the Overseas Highway to reach Key West. The trip of over 100 miles takes around three hours, however with so much to see along the way, we recommend allowing a whole day to soak up the spectacular scenery of the Sunshine State’s stunning island archipelago. After all, there are some important pit stops to make along the way to sample the delights of freshly-caught seafood and Key lime pie.
Ready, Set… Key Largo!
Once you’ve entered Key Largo, you’re officially in the Florida Keys and the unbroken blue horizons of ocean and sky will stretch out before you. Start your road trip off in style with a leisurely breakfast at some of Key Largo’s most talked about dining spots, including Harriette’s Restaurant (Mile Marker 95.7) which offers a warm and welcoming service, wallet-friendly prices and huge muffins to help keep you refueled until the next stop. Doc’s Diner (Mile Marker 99.6) is another tempting breakfast option, popular among locals for its generous portion sizes including tropical French toast and breakfast burritos.
Next Stop: Islamorada
Continue your drive from Key Largo to Islamorada, which sits between the saltwater wilderness of the Everglades National Park and the deep waters of the Florida Straits. Stop at the Rain Barrel Artisan Village (Mile Marker 86.7) which is impossible to miss with its giant fiberglass lobster standing proudly at the entrance of this fascinating sculpture art gallery. There are individual shops all nestled under a canopy of giant Banyan trees selling a tempting selection of unique homemade gifts including unusual jewelry, pottery and ceramics, so allow enough time for some all-important perusing.
Is your stomach rumbling again? It’s nearing lunchtime after all, and if there’s one place in which to indulge over a memorable lunch in Islamorada, it’s Lorelei (Mile Marker 82). As popular for its daytime menu as its evening sunset celebrations, this restaurant and Cabana bar offers one of the best views of Florida Bay which you’ll no doubt happily soak up over seafood tacos or the “Lorelei’s World Famous Fish Sandwich,” all washed down with a Keys-style frozen drink.
The sparkling ocean is looking calm and the afternoon sun is stretching its rays across a cloudless sky; it’s looking too good outside to hop back into your car, so take some time to unwind on one of Islamorada’s finest beaches. Anne’s Beach (Mile Marker 73) is a perfect stretch of paradise, conveniently located next to the Overseas Highway so you won’t struggle to find it. The beach is an ideal spot for sunbathing, switching off for an afternoon nap, cooling off in the shallows, or just taking in the beautiful ocean views.
Marathon or Bust
Your relaxing lunch will set you up for the next stretch as you cruise down Highway 1 to the Middle Keys which are anchored by Marathon, a 10-mile-long island with a family-friendly reputation and a rich fishing heritage. Take a break from your car and stretch your legs by taking your pick of several attractions in Marathon. First, you will come across the Dolphin Research Center (Mile Marker 59) in Grassy Key where you can interact with dolphins and learn about exciting dolphin research. Also nearby way is the new Aquarium Encounters (just after Vaca Cut Bridge at Mile Marker 53). Here, you will find an interactive Florida Keys aquarium experience with daily shark feedings, stingray encounters, and the opportunity to swim among fish on the attraction’s coral reef. Or if you prefer an outdoor nature experience, nearby at Mile Marker 50 is Crane Point, a nature center with walking trails through a tropical hardwood grove.
Further west is a wildlife lovers’ paradise at the Turtle Hospital which is dedicated to helping injured sea turtles return to the wild. If you need to wet your whistle or just bask in the glory of the sea, pop into Tranquility Bay Resort’s beachfront TJ’s Tiki Bar for an island drink (right next door to the Turtle Hospital at Mile Marker 48.5).
Seven Mile Bridge
The Middle Keys not only signal the halfway mark in your Overseas Highway road trip; it is also the point at which you can stop to capture images of the impressive Seven Mile Bridge soaring over the Gulf of Mexico. Running alongside it is the Old Seven Mile Bridge, the hurricane-battered railroad built by Henry Flagler in the early 1900s which is now a popular spot for fishing. After its destruction in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, it was later rebuilt in 1978 and features a rising arc in its center so you’ll feel like you’re driving right off into the sky! There are plenty of places to pull over and take some photos, enjoy a stroll and watch the wildlife fly by.
Just south of Marathon lies the tiny island of Pigeon Key which is well worth a stop, particularly if you’re after a taste of Florida Keys history. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Pigeon Key is a five-acre property which served as a home base for railroad workers operating the Old Seven Mile Bridge. You can reach Pigeon Key by bicycle or foot along the historic bridge (a 2.2 mile trek) or by ferry service which departs from the Pigeon Key Visitor Center and Gift Shop on Knight’s Key (Mile Marker 47).
The Lower Keys
The further south you drive, the more beautifully remote the scenery becomes in the Lower Keys. For some much-needed leg-stretching, stop off at Bahia Honda Key (Mile Marker 37), a tropical island home to one of Florida’s southernmost state parks with beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets and excellent snorkelling. As you drive south into Big Pine Key (Mile Marker 29) there are plenty of places to pull over for a pit stop if your hungers pangs start kicking in, including No Name Pub on Watson Boulevard which serves up great pitchers of beer and pizza.
For classic Keys-style dining, try The Wharf Bar and Grill at Mile Marker 25.5 on Summerland Key where you can enjoy freshly-caught fish and vegetables grown from the restaurant’s organic garden, all served up in a peaceful waterfront setting with indoor and outdoor seating. If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, head further south in Sugarloaf Key at Mangrove Mama’s (Mile Marker 20) for a generous slice of Key lime pie on the sun-baked, palm tree-lined patio, or try Baby’s Coffee (Mile Marker 15), which is famous for its Cuban roasts and Key lime pie to-go.
Final Destination… Key West
As the afternoon starts merging into evening, your last leg of this world-renowned road trip will end in Key West just where the party begins. You’ll arrive just in time to find a spot for your first Key West sunset, and you won’t be disappointed.
Check-in at Parrot Key Resort and refresh before stepping outside to celebrate the moment the golden sun dips into the ocean. Tomorrow marks the start of your vacation in this place known as paradise, so dine out and enjoy the moment until it’s time for a much-needed sleep surrounded by the simple luxury of your Parrot Key guestroom or suite. Sleep tight and let the Key West fun begin tomorrow!
As the summer sun dips into the horizon and the autumn months make their arrival, the warm tropical air still surrounding Key West is blended with a sense of calm following the busy family season, making it a desirable destination for couples of all ages.
With kids back at school, the months from mid-September to early December are filled with peace and quiet yet there is still every opportunity to find fun during autumn, particularly with an exciting line-up of events taking place throughout the season. As the majority of the world braces itself for the start of an inevitable cold snap, the sun is still shining its golden rays over the Florida Keys so you can escape the chilly winds and warm up in paradise.
5 Romantic Reasons Why Autumn is the Best Time to Visit Key West:
1. You Can Space Out With Less Crowds
If you’re traveling with your loved ones or a group of friends, you will enjoy more space to sprawl out on beaches together after the summer crowds have left the island. With the average temperature topping 84 degrees and the ocean remaining beautifully warm, you can take time out to soak up the autumn sun and indulge in watersports without being surrounded by the excitable sounds of families on vacation.
2. Celebrate Federal Holidays and Special Events
With summer tucked away and Christmas looming in the distance, there is still plenty to celebrate in autumn. You can enjoy a long peaceful weekend break or week-long vacation during Columbus Day on October 13 or Veteran’s Day on November 11. Thanksgiving Day on November 27 also provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate in style and make the most of the extended weekend break.
Surrounding these key holiday weekends are a flurry of exciting events in Key West including the Fantasy Fest, the island’s largest event of the year, from October 17 through 26. The festival features outrageous costume competitions, street fairs, a grand parade and themed parties. While the island is peaceful during autumn, this ten-day celebration of flamboyancy will be lively, energetic and full of color.
Other festivals during the autumn months include:
- The Goombay Festival in Bahama Village from October 17 – 18, featuring island-style food, arts, crafts and dancing, a Headdress Ball on October 21 (all leading up to Fantasy Fest)
- International Latin Arts Festival November 7 – 10
- Key West Film Festival November 12 – 16
- Key West World Championship Races November 2 – 9 which brings together high-speed offshore powerboats, all racing in Key West Harbor and surrounding waters creating an unforgettable sight
3. Fall in Love All Over Again
Key West is perfect for couples looking to indulge in a romantic break and autumn is one of the best seasons in which to enjoy some quiet time together. Parrot Key Resort is rated as one of the top three romantic hotels on the island, according to TripAdvisor, with its spacious accommodations and secluded pools nestled among lush tropical gardens, poolside dining and serene atmosphere. When couples venture beyond the privacy and tranquility of the resort, there is a buzz of activity throughout Key West which beckons adventure-seekers, food-fans, sun-worshipers and culture-lovers.
4. Enjoy the Perfect Weather
Although the autumn period is considered Key West’s “shoulder season,” many locals will agree that autumn is the best time to visit Key West with temperatures topping an average of 84 degrees. Combine these warm temperatures with a gentle breeze and Parrot Key Resort is the perfect setting for holding hands on your outdoor balcony or watching a Florida Keys sunset from our sunset pier.
5. Catch a Deal
Autumn is the best time to secure an unbeatable deal at Parrot Key Resort, so if you’re after a budget-friendly getaway then you’ll find a variety of discount options from our specials page. If you book directly through Parrot Key, you are guaranteed our best rates so call 888-504-4174 to speak with one of our on-site vacation planners and secure an unbeatable package this autumn.
Visit Key West in August for regular lobster season and enjoy Key West Lobsterfest! Events include a Thursday night lobster boil, Friday night Duval Crawl, Saturday street fair with lobster-inspired culinary creations, a free concert, and a luscious lobster brunch on Sunday. This festive feast celebrates the start of the regular Florida Keys lobster season. If you can’t make the event, scroll below and view our top picks for lobster during your Key West vacation!
Contact: 305-744-9804 or visit www.keywestlobsterfest.com
Top picks for lobster in Key West during your vacation:
- A&B Lobster House: Enjoy several lobster specialties available
- Blue Heaven: Get your claws on the Lobster Eggs Benedict for breakfast
- Hog Fish Bar & Grill: Go off the beaten path to Stock Island and try the Lobster BLT, Lobster Pot Pie, Fried Lobster Tacos, and Lobster Bisque, all in a dockside setting
- Turtle Kraals: Devour the Lobster Tail at this local Key West icon
- Rusty Anchor: Try the Florida Keys Spiny Lobster
Florida Keys lobsters, known as spiny lobsters, don’t have claws and their meat has a slightly chewy sweetness. The most popular way to enjoy lobster in the Keys is to order it grilled with melted butter or steamed and served with Cuban black beans and yellow rice. For the ultimate lobster indulgence, savor it while watching the beautiful Key West sunset with a refreshing cocktail in hand.
Tempted? Book your trip to Parrot Key Resort now to enjoy up to 15% savings.
Silver Airways has initiated daily nonstop flights between Orlando International Airport and Key West International Airport. Two flights are offered daily and take approximately 80 minutes. The airline is using 34-passenger Saab 340B Plus aircraft for the route.
As well as its nonstop Orlando/Key West flights, Silver Airways offers nonstop service between the island city and Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Tampa, Fla.
In addition, passengers can choose connecting flights to dozens of destinations beyond Florida through the airline’s codeshare and interline ticketing partnerships.
For more information and to book a flight, visit www.silverairways.com.
More than 150 beers and ales, including unique microbrews, are to be on tap at Key West BrewFest, scheduled Thursday through Monday, Aug. 28 through Sept. 1 offering another great reason to stay at Parrot Key Resort this Labor Day weekend
The selection is to include such intriguingly named offerings as Andygator by Abita and Toasted Coconut Porter by Orange Blossom Pilsner. Specialty brews from groups such as the Conch Republic B.U.B.B.A.’s brewing club and shortly-to-open Florida Keys Brewing Company are to be available as well.
BrewFest begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, with a beer school featuring the Dogfish Head Brewing Company at the World of Beer, 511 Greene St. A kick-off party is set for 5 p.m. at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, 4 Charles St., featuring some of the Tuna’s craft and specialty beers.
The celebration’s centerpiece, the BrewFest Signature Tasting Festival with more than 150 beers from around the world, is set for 4-8 p.m. Saturday on Key West’s South Beach at 1405 Duval St. Admission is $35 per person in advance, $40 at the door, or $75 in advance for entry to the tasting and a 3 p.m. VIP hour.
Event information and advance tickets: www.keywestbrewfest.com or 305-295-6519