US Rte 1 and the Florida Keys

Florida is probably one of the most frequented vacation destinations in our country.  But no trip to Florida is complete without a drive to Key West.

Begin your journey just south of Miami in the town of Florida City.  Anything north of that should be seen on another vacation unless you have nothing but time on your hands.  In Florida City you can enter the east park entrance of the Everglades National Park.  Travel 38 miles west to a ghost town called Flamingo.

No residents, this is a true ghost town. The site is located near present-day Flamingo (this is a marina and campground area) at the far end of Campground Loop C is the Coastal Prairie Trail. This is a hiking trail only, no vehicles. The old town of Flamingo is approx 4 1/2 miles down the trail, near Slagle ditch. Beware, the trail may not be well marked or easy to follow in places, and may be partially underwater during the summer. Take caution and be prepared, wildlife may be encountered along the way.  Not a whole lot of the old town remains but is still an interesting hike.

All the way up and back on this 38 mile stretch will keep you in touch with nature.  Stop and go, in and out of your vehicle, there is so much to see and explore.  While in the Glades, just remember those alligators you see may appear to be lazy or maybe even dead, but believe me, they are faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall tree stumps.  Oh yes, and probably hungry too.

Continue your journey south on Rte 1 to Key Largo, your first stop along the Keys and a great place to spend your first night.  Why not try the Sunset Cove Beach Resort. This place offers a true island atmosphere with beautiful private beach sunsets. Affordable accommodations range from cottages to waterfront suites, all of which are pet friendly! The property’s tropical vegetation, tiki huts and beach are the perfect setting for a lazy evening and a photographic sunset.

The crystal clear waters of the Florida Bay can be enjoyed from their dock, beach or a complimentary kayak. As well, your peaceful retreat includes a daily complimentary continental breakfast, use of the charcoal bbq pits/grills and memories that will last a life time.

As we travel further south we come to Islamorada. The must see in this small community is the Theatre of the Sea where you will find an educational and entertaining marine animal park where performances are up close and personal. At Theater of the Sea you can swim with dolphins, sea lions, and stingrays in their natural salt water lagoons through an interactive swim program. The lagoons and lush, tropical gardens are home to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, sea turtles, tropical and game fish, sharks, stingrays, alligators, marine invertebrates, colorful parrots, and birds-of-prey.

Next stop — Marathon. — First warning… Obey all traffic laws.  These locals could care less if you are a tourist and not familiar with local driving habits.  Watch for hidden school zone signs…  and hidden local deputies waiting patiently to hit you with a $400 ticket.

Other than that, Marathon is a family oriented destination with many attractions for the entire family to enjoy such as the Dolphin Research Center, Pigeon Key Island, The Turtle Hospital, and Crane Point Hammock. It is full of family friendly activities and amenities.

There are also exciting water sports to try like kite-boarding, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, deep sea or reef fishing trips, boating, jet skis, or maybe finding your very own private, secluded island or stretch of beach to relax and kick-back!

Fresh seafood and good times await, so don’t hesitate, go to the Islands of Marathon today!

And finally, Key West, the home of many well known celebrities, the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and of course, Jimmy Buffett.  The laid back lifestyle, southern charm and Caribbean flavor are what make Key West what it is today. Figures throughout history have visited Key West, some making it their permanent home for a while, others enjoying the tropical climate while they escape the harsh winters of their permanent residents. Key West has a lot to offer tourists from around the globe. The Key West Lodgings offer a broad range of amenities. While some visitors may enjoy a quaint bed and breakfast or guesthouse tucked away on an Old Town Key West lane, others love to be pampered and would enjoy one of the waterfront resorts and luxury hotels that dot the island. Of course Key West also has a few chain hotels to suit travelers looking to just make a quick weekend getaway. Just like the rest of the keys, Key West has plenty of things to do. World class fishing exists both on the shallow water flats and in the deep blue sea beyond our barrier coral reef. The shallow flats offer tarpon, bonefish, permit and barracuda plus many other species to take a cast at. The offshore waters hold plenty of opportunities for sport fishing for sailfish, tuna, dolphin, marlin, snapper and grouper.

And the best thing of all!!!  There is no way back to Miami but the way you came.  This means you get to do it all over again in reverse.

Enjoy your automobile cruise to the southernmost point of the Continental USA.

Published by Rick Backstrom