This is a time that many of us need a unique getaway, and there is nothing better than a relaxed journey from South Beach to Key West. Are you looking to plan your next epic road trip? We have plenty of ideas for accommodations, dining, beaches and activities along the way…
The Savoy Hotel & Beach Club is a boutique property on Fifth Street in South Beach that has reopened with enhanced safety protocol to ensure the wellbeing of their guests due to COVID-19. Following a multimillion-dollar renovation after the destruction in 2017 by Hurricane Irma, the newly remodeled 31-suite hotel is the perfect location to start a relaxing Florida vacation in Miami before heading down to the Florida Keys.
The Savoy Hotel & Beach Club’s pool deck is tastefully painted in brightly colored floral prints with lush trees surrounding the two pools and daybeds. A serene vibe from the small tiki bar with great tropical drinks and lite bites makes it a very inviting setting for couples, friends or families. Quite different from some of the typical Miami pool parties with live music; this beachfront property offers a laid back and low-key pool scene.
This Art Deco building with a beach modern feel has oversized suites that provide ample space to sleep, or simply lounge in the separate living area in several of the suites that offer up to two balconies and separate bedrooms. They also provide chairs on the beachfront; and currently completing a cafe, restaurant and meeting space set to open in the near future.
“South of Fifth” on South Beach is one of Miami’s best-kept secrets. Rent a Deco Bike and ride along the beach path to South Point Pier, stopping for a lobster roll at the Lobster Shack or some soft shell crab tacos at Lolo’s Surf Cantina. Jump in the ocean and spend a lazy afternoon at the beach, then pull up a chair at the Smith and Wollensky outdoor bar for sunset, which is sure to be the best spot in town to end the day. With so many restaurants within walking distance, you have your pick of some of Miami’s favorites including Joe’s Stone Crab, Prime 112 and Red Steakhouse.
Make sure to spend a day off the beach at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach indulging in treatments in their private Spa Suites and the best bay views from their pool deck. (The Spa is scheduled to reopen after the renovation in spring 2021, but offering treatments in the Spa Suites currently) Don’t miss their Japanese style restaurant, The Lido Bayside Grill, a great place for drinks and umami-packed bites. Reflecting the spa ethos of the property and stunning waterside views, the menu is guided by locally sourced seafood and seasonal produce. Plays on citrus and fermentation are woven throughout the menu, which includes an extensive raw bar, chilled dishes, fried options, a steamed selection and expertly-grilled offerings. Unlike anything in the immediate area, this is the ideal destination to enjoy picturesque sunsets that are paired with Japanese-inspired plates and drinks.
Now you are ready to hit the road to the Florida Keys to find Kokomo. The beautiful water views along the bridges and the bits of the Everglades National Park you pass make the drive itself a favorite experience.
First stop is Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton. Recently reopened after a multi year closure from the recent hurricane, the property is back and better than ever. If you are looking for some sun, sand, sea and safety, the Hilton has you covered with their Hilton Clean Stay promise to guests. Located along the waterfront overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, it is the premier hotel in the area. The property has two heated swimming pools, adults only and family friendly with waterfalls and a pool bar surrounded by outdoor games like bocce, ping-pong and bicycles that make it a great place to enjoy a sunny Florida day.
There are two beaches on site that offer very different experiences. Coconut Beach with its world class water sports center is perfect for those looking for activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, parasailing and jet-skiing. If lounging under a palm tree in the shade with a novel is more your style, then choose a book from their collection in the lobby and pull up a chair on Hammock Beach. Lay in the bay (or alongside it) and let your worries melt away as you listen to the sounds of the water while watching the schools of fish swim by. The water is so clear you can just gaze out and see fish, without the need for your snorkel gear or goggles. However, if you do want to venture out for a snorkel or dive, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the best location in the area, and well worth a day trip. You can also do an everglades airboat tour or swim with the dolphins nearby so there are plenty of options.
The waterfront restaurant at Coconut Beach, Dry Rocks, offers their own Patron tequila and has a great selection of tacos and casual bites with swings, live music, fire pits and high top tables making it a relaxed, no reservation destination. Calusa, the fine dining restaurant serves up a fantastic breakfast buffet with an omelette station and in the evening is the best spot for the sunset on property offering a fine dining New Orleans style menu. The indoor fitness center has state of the art equipment, and there are multiple event spaces for both conferences and weddings. Many of the rooms offer waterfront views, and if you are on the Hammock Beach side, inquire about a room on the fourth floor where your balcony will look directly out to the bay, above the trees below. The beds are extremely comfortable and they have designed the rooms with some unique beach artwork and decor.
While you are in Key Largo, make sure to visit Mrs Mac’s Kitchen for some alligator tenders, local mahi-mahi, and their famous key lime pie. After trying several versions of key lime pie in the area, it was unanimous that theirs was the best. Sundowners is another favorite where you can sit out along the water enjoying oysters, hogfish and a Key Lime graham cracker rimmed martini. For sunset views and a scenic outdoor bar, Marker 88 is a must, and offers a more upscale experience in Islamorada.
After you have lived the good life in Key Largo continue heading south. Before arriving in Key West, stop at a local favorite at Mile Marker 10, Geiger Key Marina Fish Camp Restaurant, on the “backside of paradise” soaking in the last bits of total solitude.
Mile Marker 0. You made it to Key West. Masks Required; Explore Safely.
Positioned just off Duval Street, you have several options for accommodations ranging from the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa along the water on one side near the historic pier, to the Casa Marina Key West, a Waldorf Astoria Resort near the Southernmost Point. For those looking to stay in that laid back mood, you can also opt for Sunset Key Cottages on their own private island just a five-minute boat ride from town. The property has its own beachfront, tennis courts and pool as well as a fine dining establishment Latitudes with coveted reservations. A must do when you are in town if you can’t stay there is to take the boat over at sunset and enjoy a cocktail and dinner while taking in the 360-degree water views.
Back in town everyone congregates along Mallory Square and Sunset Pier at the end of the day before heading to Duval Street to bar hop among the hundreds of watering holes. Local favorites include Green Parrot, Margaretville, Sloppy Joes, Willie T’s and Irish Kevin’s. If a dinner and martini is more your style try Louie’s Backyard which in its posh outdoor setting or Prime Steakhouse.
During the day, the Historic Pier is a great place to walk around and shop or watch the giant Tarpon swimming alongside the docks when they feed them at 4pm. Sip on coffee from the Cuban Coffee Queen while shopping at the many conch and shell souvenir shops; listen to live music pouring out of bars and restaurants; or explore the various diving, fishing, sailing and snorkeling options along the docks. The Ernest Hemingway House, Truman’s Little White House and Fort Zachary Park are all great places to see while you are in town and make sure to try Kermit’s chocolate dipped key lime pie on a stick.
Once you have officially made it up and down Duval Street, get your obligatory photo at the Southernmost Point for a photo, or soak up some sun on a jet-ski tour around the island to savor your time… as many locals say, they came for a visit and never left once they found Kokomo.