The good thing about having kids that are actively involved with their school is that it keeps them occupied. The bad thing is that it makes it hard to plan a vacation during one of their vacations. We were hoping to visit Florida this year, but we couldn’t pull it off during spring break and I figured the summer would be too hot. Certainly it would be cheaper and less crowded, but would that make up for the heat?
My husband started doing some investigating and discovered that if we went farther south, it might actually be a little bit cooler. Key West may be the southernmost city in the country, but thanks to its location and the trade winds that are usually blowing, it is one of the cooler spots in all of Florida. Of course, weather isn’t the only consideration, so I decided to look into how family friendly a vacation it would be.
Turns out we might not even be able to fit everything in. We decided to fly in and out of Miami and spend the first couple of days on the mainland before heading down. Now that I’m seeing everything that we could possibly do – swimming with dolphins, camping overnight at a National Park 70 miles from the nearest island, jet skiing, parasailing – we might just skip the mainland all together. We have plenty of time to make up our minds, but if the kids are half as excited as we are about going to Key West, that may be the only stop we make this summer.
I love to travel whenever I can, so I’ve set up a few different notifications with various travel websites. Last week I got a deal on airfare and a hotel in Key West for a quick four day getaway, and I figured why not? The hotel had free Wi-Fi, which is all I need for work (ah, the joys of the telecommute!) so I dug out my spring clothes, packed a bag and headed off to the airport.
The trip was everything I needed to recharge my batteries after a long, cold winter. After sleeping in, I would take my computer down to the pool so I could enjoy the warm weather and my breakfast while I finished that day’s assignments. The lull of getting out to walk the streets, listen to live music and experience the fresh seafood and key lime pie at some of the Key West restaurants was motivation enough to make sure I worked quickly. With each last email sent, I was free to explore.
What really made the trip more special than other island vacations I’ve been on is the sense that this island is not just a man-made destination but a vibrant city with hundreds of years of history. I got a chance to meet a few locals and find out more about where they call home, and even indulged my inner child by going to the aquarium where I got to pet a live shark. The first thing I did when I got home was look at my calendar to see when I can go back there for more than just a few days.
My wife and I were looking over the holidays to plan a trip somewhere warm and tropical for March. We knew it was going to be another nasty winter and wanted to escape it for just a bit. Both of us wanted to visit someplace new, so we took the recommendation of friends and booked a trip for Key West, Florida.
We went in with pretty high expectations, and I have to say that not only were they met, most were exceeded, but none more than our experiences at the Key West restaurants. I guess we just figured that an island basically in the middle of the ocean that caters primarily to tourists would have serviceable predictable meals. Boy were we wrong! On multiple nights, we found ourselves having exceptional dining experiences. The menus were fresh and inventive, the seafood was some of the best I’d ever tasted, and the atmosphere, even in the nicest of restaurants, could be best described as “casual elegance.”
Just as surprising was the number of great meals we had at places that we’d least expect. Several times, we stopped in harbor side restaurants or little hole in the wall joints just to grab a quick bite to eat. Even in these places, it was evident that everyone took pride in what they were doing. Before the week was half over, we were already struggling, trying to decide if we should continue to visit new places or return to those that had already become our favorites. We settled for going to new places, but with promises to return to Key West as soon as we can.
When you grow up and exit the years in your twenties, your priorities shift just a little bit. You may have children now or you could be just entering the adult portion of your life and want to act accordingly. Instead of planning island vacations around booze and late night partying, you will probably choose a more historical site where you can relax, learn about a different culture and participate in some interesting, foreign activities.
As you quickly make the transition to your adult years, you will also become more intrigued with fine dining and even outdoor dining when you are on vacation. Sometimes being outside will be a more quiet dining experience than hearing all of the people all around you in a crowded restaurant. Many things change as you get older…this is merely one!
Your island vacation should also be planned around the presence (or lack thereof) of children. There is a special breed of people who take their children on vacation. Not too many people want to hear a screaming baby when they are trying to soak up some rays on a quiet beach. However, they paid their money, too, so you cannot argue. However, this can be avoided by doing adequate research for making your reservations. There are some companies who strictly prohibit children from being a part of their resort.
When you have your heart set on an island wedding, you will certainly need to get started sooner rather than later. It seems as though everyone who is planning on getting married in the next year or so also wants to travel to a tropical location in order to tie the knot. This makes perfect sense, especially if you are getting married for the second time or are a little older than your typical twenty-something bride. It seems as though big weddings are for youngsters these days. When you are older, you realize that all of the planning and money spent on a wedding simply is not worth it.
Your island wedding will definitely be an event people will never forget. They are in a tropical island paradise where everything is all about them and being pampered. Who would not want to participate in this? There will be plenty of entertainment on the island. From steel drum bands to acoustic guitars serenading you on the beach, you will certainly be able to get your groove on in style and decadence. Just make sure you do not forget your suntan lotion for during the day when you decide to go on an outdoor excursion like deep sea fishing or horseback riding on the beach. No one wants to look like a lobster in all of their wedding photos! Photoshop is good, but why risk being in pain the entire trip? Lather up…your skin will thank you for it in a few decades for sure.
Everybody probably remembers the first time that they rode a bike. The question is, how many people remember the last time they did. Nowadays, if you ask people that question you will get one of two answers. Either they are physical fitness junkies who will tell you extensively about their favorite twenty-seven mile loop they ride every week, or they are people who just came back from a vacation in Key West, Florida.
One of the charms about taking island vacations is an opportunity to experience a completely different culture and, even though it is a part of the United States, Key West, Florida is no exception. This island paradise has a history that goes back over five hundred years, so naturally, there has been a lot of cultural melding happening. This can be seen in the unique architecture of the houses and it can be tasted in the amazing food put out by the Key West restaurants. The best way to experience all of this unique culture is by forgoing the car rental agency and finding a bike shop.
There are many different locations around the island that will rent you a bicycle to help you explore the island. Most of the locals use a bike as their primary means of transportation, so there are plenty of places to lock up when you are out for fine dining or just the best key lime pie. Best of all, the leisurely pace that riding a bike affords you will let you see the beauty of the island in a way you just couldn’t get by being in a car. For the truly adventurous, you can even rent a bicycle built for two.
Everyone (and I mean everyone) has a story about being at a wedding reception, having a great time and remarking on how amazing everything was, except the food. Overdone steak, dry chicken, bland pasta, unidentifiable fish… it’s the one constant in everyone’s experience, and in many cases, there’s nothing the couple can do about it. These giant reception halls only offer a limited number of choices. That is why you should skip the wedding factories and follow the trend of island weddings. With a destination wedding, you can have a reception that people will be buzzing about for months.
If you have your wedding in Key West, restaurants there aren’t designed to be conveyer belts of food. They are meant to offer stunning examples of fresh seafood, with tropical fruits and other flavors you can’t get at home, and they are used to cooking for people from all across the country. They have the tips for picking a great reception menu, by offering people plenty of choices, including a few tried-and-true conventional options for the less adventurous guests in your wedding.
Dining is an art form in Key West, home to the idea of casual elegance. When it comes to planning the perfect menu for your reception, this takes the form not in a formal sit down four-course dinner, but a constant stream of small plates, appetizer sized portions of entrée styled dishes so that people can taste a little bit of everything, while being sure to fully enjoy themselves. You can have prime rib any Saturday you want. Make your wedding reception memorable with Mahi-Mahi and fully enjoy the atmosphere of your island wedding.