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1 week Florida (not Orlando) - where would you recommend?

(23 Posts)
HalfSpamHalfBrisket Tue 04-Mar-14 18:54:00

We have a 2 week holiday. For the 2nd week we will base ourselves in Benidorm Orlando but I need some inspiration for the 1st week.

We are going August - so it's hot and humid. We fly into Fort Lauderdale.
It's just me and DP (early 40s), and we have been before but only catching a day or two here or there either side of Orlando.

I'd love some quiet and/or quirky beaches, some small resorts or place out in the sticks (Miami scared the bejeezus out of us last time we went).

We usually only stay 1-2 nights in a place then move on, but I'd like to chill out a bit more this time.

Oh yes, we are terrible cheapskates too so want bargains please. Where would you go? Any secret escapes or fab motels/bed and breakfasts? Where are your "must see" locations?

mummymeister Wed 05-Mar-14 07:39:06

we did a 2 centre holiday last time and spent the first week in Islamorada lower florida Keys. right next to John Pennekamp park and the snorkelling. only about an hours easy drive from Miami and like another world. would go back again like a shot. pm me for more details. magical trip canoeing in the everglades, 1.5 hr drive up to the madness of key west. lots of stops on the way for beaches, cycle rides canoeing.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Wed 05-Mar-14 23:13:28

That sounds fab - I've not been down to the Keys. I'll have a look on Trip Advisor & may pm you, thanks.

The "Florida is like Benidorm" thread has now got a fair few recommendations as people are keen to point out that there's a lot more to Florida than just the Mouse.

NormHonal Wed 05-Mar-14 23:20:23

The Keys, definitely. Beautiful.

Not much help on your other questions, sorry!

Annebronte Thu 06-Mar-14 18:07:02

The Keys are fabulous. We also loved Sanibel on ten Gulf Coast. Very low key development, much of thd island is a nature reserve, the best sea shells in the world! Has a really nice holiday feel, but in a peaceful way.

Annebronte Thu 06-Mar-14 18:08:47

The gulf coast; not ten! If you go for Sanibel, make sure you stay gulf side, not facing the mainland. I'd recommend the Westwind Inn on Sanibel.

Annebronte Thu 06-Mar-14 18:11:45

Another interesting place is Everglades City (not a city at all! A tiny little town!) Very pretty, lots of houses on stilts and water everywhere. You can go over a bridge onto Chokoliskee Island...then you're really in the stix!! We did a great kayaking trip from Chokoloskee.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Thu 06-Mar-14 18:37:59

Thanks all - doing tripadvisor porn and thinking of sunshine (yeay!)

ruby1234 Sat 22-Mar-14 13:37:44

Yes, I agree - the Keys are great.

We stayed at the Mermaid and Alligator in Key West - the best place we have ever stayed.

We travelled to Miami, stayed a few days, then drove part down the Keys and stayed at Islamorada, then drove to Key West for a few days, then drove back stopping at Key Largo for a night, then we flew to the Bahamas for a week. Flights to the Bahamas take only about an hour from Miami airport, so easy to do for just a few days if you fancy a change from Florida.

maa9144 Sun 23-Mar-14 14:45:38

The breakers hotel in palm beach

SorrelForbes Sun 23-Mar-14 15:25:52

Sanibel, Clearwater, St Petes Beach, St Petersburg - all lovely.

mrscardigan Sun 23-Mar-14 20:29:55

Will be watching closely.....I'm trying to organise two weeks post Disney in Florida for myself, DH, DS (11), DD (7) and my mother. Seem to be going round in circles and my head hurts.

Initially thought of 3 nights in Anna Maria Island (Cedar Cove resort...anyone been? or recommend another?)
Then 2 nights at Miami Beach. DH wants to go but I'm not sure if there'll be much for the kids.
Anyhow then onto to the idea where to go. I'm just picking hotels and have no idea where they actually are or what else is there to do around. Islander Bayside Islamoralda? Is Tranquility Bay worth the extra $$?
Just googled Captiva and Sanibel and now I'm thinking about looking at them too. Already spent best part of 3 hours looking at places on AMI and the Keys! Could really do with some direction.
Thought we'd go back up to Orlando at the end and do Kennedy Space Centre, Universal, Seaworld etc.
Have you ever stayed in Key West with children?
Added problem is there are 5 of us and so it's always 2 hotel rooms (twice the cost!), as can't find any self catering beachfront properties for less than a week's rental period.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

ruby1234 Mon 24-Mar-14 15:59:09

Hi, DH and I went a couple of years ago, we stayed in Miami Beach at the Park Central on Ocean Drive, it was very nice, lots of eateries around and right on the beach.

Driving down the Keys we stayed at HAMPTON INN, 80001 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, 33036.(305) 664-0073Mile Marker 80 which was really nice (bit Holiday inn like). We had a large room with 2 big double beds, and I think you could get extra beds if required. Pool and right on the edge of the sea. Outback steakhouse on site was really nice too.

At Key West we stayed at THE MERMAID AND THE ALLIGATOR, 729 Truman Avenue, Key West, Florida 33040. 800 773–1894 / 305 294-1894, absolutely lovely, but probably not suitable for children. Not sure you would find loads to do in Key West for children, beach was nice and safe. Interesting graveyard with cryptic writings on gravestones was nice for a walk around. Lots of restaurants and bars, but as we went as only adults, not sure what would suit with children.

I think Duck Key, not quite as far down as Key West was maybe more geared to children.

On the drive back up the Keys we stayed at COCONUT PALM INN, 189 Harbourview Drive, Tavernier, 33070 - now this would be ideal for children, we had a suite/apartment which had cooking facilities etc, looked out over the sea, nice fenced swimming pool, barbecue facilities and you could use the canoes etc if you wanted to. Nice eateries nearby too.

Further up Florida on the Gulf Coast is Fort Myers beach, huge beach nice for children, also Siesta Key where you can dive for sand dollars - you could go direct from Miami across the Everglades to there - maybe miss off the Keys until you are just adults going?

SconeRhymesWithGone Mon 24-Mar-14 16:05:48

Cedar Key is quaint, small, and quirky. DH and I spent our honeymoon there.

SconeRhymesWithGone Mon 24-Mar-14 16:13:43

Sorry posted too soon. We always stay at the Island Place on Cedar Key.

Also, I should point out that Cedar Key is not part of the southern keys. It is an island off the west coast north of Tampa.

Speaking of which, Tampa is a great place to visit, too.

cupcake78 Mon 24-Mar-14 16:15:56

I'd go up to the pan handle . Pensacola and Tallahassee are lovely. Lots of springs/swamps and amazing beaches. Not touristy at all.

Florida keys are lovely!

SconeRhymesWithGone Mon 24-Mar-14 16:21:40

I live in Florida. When our children were young, we often vacationed on Captiva and Sanibel. I love Key West, but we went there usually without the children, although DH did take them camping there once. (I don't camp.)

alemci Mon 24-Mar-14 16:23:09

naples is nice for a stopover but I like st petes beach.

mrscardigan Mon 24-Mar-14 16:36:26

Thank you! I'll go off and research all those fab suggestions!

Does anyone know how Captiva and Sanibel differ from Anna Maria Island? We do lots of beach holidays (never in US) so this time want to experience typical Floridian/American beaches/resorts.

It's possibly a once in a lifetime trip so want to make sure we'll be going to the Must See places, iyswim.

SconeRhymesWithGone Mon 24-Mar-14 17:44:53

I think Captiva and Sanibel are probably a bit quieter than Anna Maria. It is hard to say what is typical because all these beach communities have their own unique qualities. Anna Maria might have more for the children; it is busier, but still has some of the old Florida feel.

efeslight Wed 26-Mar-14 21:47:04

Just got back from 2 weeks in Florida - started on Captiva Island for 4 nights at the Captive Island Inn - not luxurious but quite sweet, I loved Captiva, also visited Sanibel and the nature reserve/lighthouse area.

then drove down to Islamorada for 3 nights at the Breezy Palms - yes, it was breezy, but the beach is right on your doorstep -

then down to Key West for 4 nights - this is quite a drive, but very scenic.

4 nights in Key West at the Courtneys Place, then back up to can visit the Everglades from Naples.

The beach in Captiva was very quiet, don't know what it is like in the height of summer, but the beach goes on for miles...

In Key West the butterfly centre was lovely, Key West garden club was free and a really lovely shaded walk for our 2 kids, aged 2 and 4. There were also a nice playground on the beach near the garden club. There is also an aquarium there which we didn't see and plenty of boat trips to go on. The beaches aren't great in Key West, I don't think.

We avoided Miami with 2 small kids, went there on honey moon after becoming obsessed with the TV show, Dexter, but don't think its so nice with kids.

erictheelf Tue 01-Apr-14 20:24:36

from what i understand from being there, Sanibel and Captiva are a little more upmarket than Anna Maria - a little less laid back and slightly more expensive. What put me off Sanibel was all the talk of the no see um bugs as anything that flies/hops and bites find me very tasty and i then blow up like a beach ball blush!

CurlsLDN Tue 01-Apr-14 20:31:48

For our honeymoon we did a week in the keys and a week in Orlando, it worked really well.

You can drive between the two, I believe it's one long road. We flew, it took about half an hr from key west to Orlando, and cost about £30 each, v easy and cheap!

I can't recommend the keys highly enough! If you're into your food (as we are!) try and find the episode of man v food where Adam Richman goes to key west, I think it's on YouTube, you'll be dreaming of key lime pie and conch fritters!

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