Looking to get away, but don’t have either the time or budget to take a full week-long vacation to some far-flung destination? In our Weekend Road Trip series, we’ll show you how to get away from home without breaking the bank…or having to buy a plane ticket.
Home Base: Miami
Weekend Destination: Key Largo
Total Driving Time: 1.5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Route: Florida 821 Toll S to U.S. 1 S
Tucked away on a 12.5-acre plot of land lush with tropical hardwoods, this 190-room hotel sits on its own cozy, private beach. It offers all the activities you could expect to find at any waterfront property: snorkeling, fishing, jet skiing, paddle boarding and more. You can even go swimming with the dolphins! The property features two large, outdoor heated pools with calming waterfalls, a fitness center and, if you’re feeling super stressed, you can book a massage to help you truly relax. When you’re not taking advantage of all the amenities the hotel has to offer, a quick three-mile drive takes you to downtown Key Largo.
Also on its own private beach and surrounded by a coconut grove, the cozy 20-room Azul Del Mar will feel like home away from home. Each room in this former fishing camp is decorated with cozy, homey décor reminiscent of a family beach house. Each morning, guests enjoy a beachfront breakfast of breads, fresh fruit, freshly made orange juice, tea and coffee. You can lounge by the pool or grab one of the property’s kayaks and paddle the day away in the Bay of Florida. Have no desire to leave the comfort of the Inn? Not a problem. Stock up on food and take advantage of the grills available for use, or the full kitchen in the Coconut Palm Inn Suite with Bay View.
This tiki hut-styled restaurant, perched right on a dock overlooking the ocean offers an array of Caribbean food. Start off with the trio of ceviche (shrimp, conch and the fresh fish of the day) or the spicy conch chowder. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with the Thai seared tuna, served on top of a coconut fried rice cake, grilled pineapple and sweet orange Thai chili glaze. And don’t miss a chance to experience brunch here. Every Sunday a jazz band plays while you sip on your build-your-own Bloody Mary and indulge in the succulent lobster benedict.
This no frills waterfront restaurant has something to offer for everyone. Start the night off with the lightly fried conch fritters, served with a key lime cocktail sauce. (Yes, you read that right.) There are plenty of seafood options, but we suggest going for the fall-off-the-bone slow roasted baby back ribs. If you're there for Sunday brunch, try the Eggs Oscar: a toasted English muffin topped with grilled steak, a poached egg, grilled asparagus and Hollandaise sauce.
This local spot is perfect for ladies looking for a great deal on fashionable clothing and accessories. This shop has a plethora of styles, all with an affordable price tag. Don't worry; if you fall in love with the place, you can continue with your obsession from home—they put select inventory online for you to purchase, and will even ship it to you for free, if you spend $100.
Laying by the pool and cooling off in the ocean is a great (and essential) part of any getaway in the Keys, but it's good to take some time to get to know the local culture. What better way than at an art gallery? Key Largo Art Gallery showcases the work of 25 award-winning local artists. You'll see everything from oil paintings to jewelry to giclées (digital prints made on inkjet printers) and more.