The Florida Keys: No need to leave the US to find a tropical paradise

Steve and I just returned from our fourth visit to the Florida Keys. Many, many years ago, early in our marriage, we did a day trip to Key West from the Miami area.  It is a beautiful drive through the Florida Keys, but this trip can make for a very long day with lots of driving. Most of the Overseas Highway is two lanes, which can cause traffic back-ups and longer than normal drive times.

We returned to the Florida Keys for the first time in 2012 for a week over New Year’s.  We stayed at our timeshare in Key Largo at Anchorage Resort & Yacht Club.  This small resort sets on Florida Bay.  It is a basic resort offering clean accommodations, great staff and beautiful views from each waterfront unit.  Each evening, breathtaking sunsets  can be enjoyed from the large screened lanai. During our stay, we again made a day trip through the Keys to Key West.  Though closer than Miami, it was still a very long day making the roundtrip drive from Key Largo.

Last year, we visited the Topsider Resort in Islamorada, staying in one of our timeshares.  The units at Topsider are individual pedestal cottages.  The resort sets on Florida Bay and offers a nice beach area and pier with complimentary boat dockage available.   Determined to see more of Key West, we decided to make another day trip down to the Southernmost Point, take a trolley tour and see some sights.  Islamorada is closer than Key Largo, but the time in Key West was too short before we found the need to begin the drive back to the resort.

This year we again stayed at the Topsider Resort in Islamorda.  However, we finally determined that day trips to Key West were never going to provide enough opportunity to see and experience Key West.  This trip included a Key West stay prior to heading up the Keys to Islamorada for our week at Topsider.  The three days and two nights in Key West allowed us to see many sites and take a fun food tour with Key West Food Tours.

Our accommodations in Key West were incredible. This was not a timeshare stay.  We stayed at the Atlantis House, which sets across from Rest Beach, the White Street Pier and a quick bike ride from Higgs Beach, the Southernmost Point and Duval Street.  I couldn’t imagine a better location or accommodations in Key West.  They may exist, but I’m not familiar with them.

The Atlantis House offers two private suites off of the residence of Steve and Kayla.  After checking in and being given a tour of the Master Suite and all it had to offer, as well as being provided with useful information; we never saw our hosts again.  However, we were encouraged to contact either of them if we needed anything. They have several great bikes for their guests to use, a beautiful tropical garden area with several quiet sitting areas, and units that anticipate the needs of their guests.  We wanted for nothing during our stay.  Steve and Kayla also offer tours and services as add-ons. Steve is a boat captain and Kayla is a massage therapist.

We stayed at the Atlantis House over the Valentine’s Day weekend. The Master Suite offers a very romantic setting for a couple.  The suite is very unique with many beautiful antiques and eclectic furnishings.  The large jetted tub and walk-in shower were heavenly. The little kitchen area offers a bar sink, refrigerator and microwave.

The weather was mid-70’s and sunny during our stay.  We rode the bikes all around.  They were very convenient and it was so enjoyable to get out in the fresh air and feel the sun.  The White Street Pier and Higgs Beach area were great places to enjoy the sunset each evening versus our previous sunsets at Mallory Square.  It was much more peaceful and enjoyable.

Before leaving Key West, we continued the Valentine’s celebration at Latitudes at Westin’s Sunset Key Resort.  To visit the restaurant requires a 10-minute boat ride across the harbor to the resort.  Seating for dining is available indoors, on the patio or on the sand.  The service was excellent and we both enjoyed our dining experience.  We waited about 20 minutes for the boat to return after we finished our lunch.

We had an enjoyable ride up to Islamorada.  We stopped and picked up a few supplies at the Publix in Marathon.  We arrived in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset from the pier at the resort.  Our unit is third from the water and offers nice beach and water views from the deck and living area.  Our week was mostly spent relaxing onsite and visiting a couple of nearby restaurants.  The onsite pool was heated perfectly and the hot tub was nice and hot.  There is nothing fancy about the resort or units at Topsider, but we sure have enjoyed our stays the last two years.

Next year, if you need a sunny, tropical break from the cold Winter days without leaving the great 48, consider the Florida Keys.  Our eight days there provided a welcome break and re-energized us until Spring arrives.


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