I came back from my birthday trip to Florida with exactly 32 photos taken on my “big girl” camera, and 5 lbs distributed evenly on my 5 foot 1 inch frame. I will describe it as 7 days in paradise with many wonderful food options.
The trip started by flying to Miami, renting a car, and traveling about an hour and a half to Key Largo. That’s right, we chose to stay in Key Largo as opposed to the famous Key West, although we did drive there for a day.
Where to Stay: If you’re looking for a beach front hotel, the Hilton Key Largo didn’t disappoint. I was pleasantly surprised when I went in the water and felt how warm it was. You can push a beach chair right into the water and spend the day away. There are two bars right there for food and drinks. You can also rent jet skis, paddle boards, and schedule fishing and snorkeling trips right there. There are so many fish swimming and the visibility is incredible. I was lucky enough to be able to swim right next to a mom manatee and it’s 4 babies! Amazing experience!
What to do: There are many activities to choose from. You can charter a boat to take you Deep Sea Fishing. We were on the Phoebe II and the guys caught enough fish for all 7 of us to eat for dinner. We had a great experience with Chelsea Charters in Islamorada. Expect to pay around $700-900 for a 4 hour trip and you’ll also have to tip 15-20% to the captain’s mate.
Snorkeling/Diving: I’ve been working on my fear of fish, and the team at Rainbow Reef Dive Center were great to work with! They took us out about 40 min to two different spots, and some of us snorkeled, and some did scuba. I saw lots of beautiful fish and had a great time!
Where to Eat: Remember the fish caught during the Deep Sea Fishing trip? The mate will fillet your fish for you and you can take it to many different restaurants where they will prepare it for you on the spot. Our captain recommended the Lazy Days restaurant and it was the perfect choice! The cost to prepare your catch is $15.99 per person. We asked for it to be prepared in the “Lazy Way” (encrusted with panko bread crums, sauteed, topped with diced tomatoes, scallions and parmesan cheese), and asked for the chef to choose the other ways. It was by far, the best fish I’ve ever had. It was also here that I had my favorite Key Lime Pie!
A day trip to Key West was perfect! The famous Duval Street is full of shopping, many art galleries, awesome food and a great vibe. There are not a lot of hotels with a beach front, which was one of the reasons we stayed at Key Largo.
I also found a macaron store and loved the flavors I got there! Le Macaron French Pastries was very cute and the raspberry, vanilla, salted caramel and key lime strawberry flavors were all delicious!
We spent 5 days in the Keys, then drove to Orlando for 2 days. We stayed at the Disney Hilton Springs location. The hotel was fantastic! Imagine my delight when I saw they even had cheese bread (brazilian pao de queijo) for breakfast. Two big pools, a hot tub, within walking distance to downtown Disney (now called Disney Springs), shopping and restaurants. Even better, you can picked up at the door to go to the disney parks. We went to the Magic Kingdom for an entire day and spent the next day relaxing at the hotel pool. I’m thinking next time I go to Disney again, I’ll probably have kids…