I would love to be able to see the world. Unfortunately, my boss doesn’t see that happening anytime soon, and if he fired me so I’d have the time, it would severely limit the money I had. A few years ago, I discovered the next best thing. If I couldn’t see all of the world, then I would go somewhere that a lot of the world has seen: Key West, Florida.
Key West has a recorded history that goes back almost five centuries, meaning that when the United States finally became a country, people had been calling Key West home for 150 years. These people first were the explorers from Europe, followed by fisherman and sailors from New England and the Bahamas, sponge divers from Italy, cigar makers from Cuba, and artists, musicians, writers and chefs from all around the globe.
This influence can be seen on every block, and each time I go back, I try to discover a little more of it. There are walking tours that point out the architecture, museums that celebrate the various influences, brightly colored paintings hanging in the galleries, and so many Key West restaurants with menus that make you think you’ve visited a hundred different places.
Before I go, I decide what I want to explore when I get there, and by the time I’m done, I have several new ideas for my next trip. At the rate I’m going, I’m going to have to quit my job just so I have time to get it all done in my lifetime.
Every year for work, I have to attend several different conferences. Most of these happen in large stale convention centers in Midwestern towns or hotel complexes conveniently located next to an airport. I’m not sure who thought having a conference in Key West was a good idea, but I was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
When I posted on social media that I would be going, many people who had been there before started telling me all the places I should go. I made up a list of the most recommended places, and when I had free time I went to check them out. I expected to enjoy myself while I was there, but what I didn’t expect was how amazing the dining experiences were.
In my mind (thanks to several childhood vacations to beachside tourist towns in New England) I expected every restaurant to offer their own version of deep fried seafood and that would be about it. I was blown away by the level of creativity and flavor that some of these Key West restaurants had come up with. Needless to say the seafood was as fresh as could be, I had some amazing crab cakes and, of course, I had to try what each place claimed was the best key lime pie on the island.
My husband wasn’t able to make the trip with me, but as soon as I got home, I told him to start planning some vacation time. I can’t wait to go back and try all the places I missed while revisiting those that are already my new favorite.
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.
Anyone who has gone on a spring break trip usually has a story about some crazy romance that lasted just as long as the vacation did. We all thought that happened to one of our friends when we went down to Key West for spring break several years ago. Little did we know that the two of them stayed in touch, made the long distance relationship work, and even took a couple of vacations on their own back to Key West.
Naturally, when it came time for their wedding, they first thought of honeymooning in Key West. Then they decided to have an island wedding as well. Since they had met during spring break, and many of the people whom they would be inviting had been on that same trip with them, they decided to have the wedding the same calendar week. Talk about a trip down memory lane.
We tried to do as many of the same silly things we had done back then – late night karaoke followed by an early morning Jet Ski tour – but found we didn’t bounce back the way we used to. Luckily, calmer heads prevailed and this time, we spent doing things we hadn’t thought of all those years earlier. This included visiting some of the Key West restaurants and having the best meals of our lives.
They got married on a sailboat right as the sun was setting, and we sailed back into the harbor under the starlight. As they went off to start their honeymoon, the rest of us tried to do the Duval crawl one last time. We were all in bed long before last call!
This is my senior year of college and my friends and I wanted to do something special. We’ve done spring break trips to destination vacation spots the last few years, but this year, as seniors, we wanted to do something extra special. That was when we decided on Key West, Florida.
It had everything that we would normally want in a spring break vacation. We could spend the days hanging out on the water. That meant both if we felt active and could snorkel on the reef or we were feeling a little more relaxed. Those days we could just lay down on the beach. Volleyball was there if we wanted to join, but if not, we could just sleep off the night before.
Something that made Key West stand out opposed to other Caribbean island vacations was the level of quality found at the Key West restaurants. We knew this would be one of the last chances we’d all be together until graduation, and then after that, who knows when we would see each other again. That made it important to us to have one night together having a dinner that was important.
Turns out we found such a great island we did the dinner three times. None of them were as heavy as the first, mostly because it took us very little to feel how great spring break in Key West Florida can be. Everyone we met was so warm and engaging that when we were out celebrating, we found plenty of people willing to celebrate with us.
Everybody wants their vacation to be something legendary…something they can tell stories about for years to come. What’s the point of going on a great island vacation if the memories don’t stay with you? The problem with that is it can create no end of stress in choosing where to go. Ironic, isn’t it… planning a vacation to take away the stress from your life only to create more stress in the first place? That is why you need to trust the more than 9 million people who make Key West their destination vacation choice every year and plan your trip to the southernmost island.
Many of the issues that people worry about when planning a trip to a new location are taken care of even before you first set foot on the island. Key West is the only Caribbean island you can drive to, so your travel options are not limited. It has the conveniences of major national chains, both for shopping and dining, that complement the many Key West restaurants and shops which give the island its charm. There is no language barrier or currency exchange to worry about, and, unlike some other tropical islands, the political situation is only as troublesome as the 24-hour news channels will lead you to believe.
Of course, good luck finding any television tuned to those channels. Living there is like a permanent island vacation and people just want to relax. The closest Key West comes to watching the news is keeping an eye on the weather channel, just so they can decide if it’s a better day to go snorkeling and fishing, or enjoying a cocktail and listening to some live island music.
Planning a vacation is something you dream about the entire year or so leading up to it. This is a time for you to kick back, forget about work and have fun with your closest people! There has been a recent trend in people going on destination vacations. There are no longer only destination weddings. Now you can plan a wonderful and exciting destination vacation and not get married!
Planning your island vacation is going to be a very exciting time. You will get the chance to fantasize about your perfect vacation and research all of the options available to you. No matter where you choose to go, you may want to consider the holiday season. This is typically a slow time for resorts so they will probably be running some great specials on their accommodations and activities. The farther south you travel, the warmer it gets! Technically, your winter/holiday vacation could be a summer vacation if you travel to the other side of the world! How amazing would it be to come back home with a suntan from lying on the beaches in Australia? Your friends would certainly be jealous and probably proceed to tell you about how miserable they were snowed in at their relatives’ house with everyone around them bickering!
There is no such thing as too much planning when it comes to a vacation. After all, you are uprooting your entire life for a week or two and must be prepared to conquer life and your island vacation during this time.
I like amusement parks as much as the next guy. In fact, I probably like them more. I’m a roller coaster junkie, and I love the fact that all of my nephews are now tall enough to join me on even the biggest machines. When I’m planning a vacation, though, I don’t look to see what amusement parks are nearby. I want my vacations to be something I can’t do anywhere else…a true destination vacation. To that end, island vacations often work the best, because no amount of construction and scenery changes can replicate the true feel of an island getaway, and my favorite destination has always been Key West, Florida.
Vacations are big deals, and they should be. As much as I love amusement parks, so many of them now feature the same rides where, at the end of the day, the only thing different is the souvenir t-shirt you bought. To me, those are day trip getaways. My vacations are much more special. I want something I can’t do just anywhere. I want to sit down for some patio dining, I want to taste fresh seafood, have a slice of the best key lime pie, all while watching the stars start to twinkle. Basically I want to know that when I’m telling the stories about my island vacations, I know exactly where and when it happened. Vacations don’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them as such. The next time you’re planning, make it a destination vacation and take my advice and visit Key West, Florida.
When it comes time for you to pack your bags and get on a plane to go on your fabulous island vacation to Florida, you need to make sure you have made a list and checked it way more than twice! There is so much packing and planning involved in going on vacation anywhere, but if you are planning on spending an extended period of time in the sun, you certainly need to plan a little more.
Months out from your island vacation, make a list of things you know you cannot live without during your vacation. This is going to take several weeks because you probably will not think of everything in the five minutes it takes you to begin the list. It is an ongoing process, much like planning a wedding. Think about what you will be doing every single second of every single day and try to predict things you will inevitably need but will likely not consider packing as your vacation date approaches. It is also a wise idea to categorize the things you will need for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleeping, traveling, walking, activities, being on a plane or in a car and transportation once you are there. Being the person that thinks of everything they will need for their island vacation is probably not likely, but you can certainly try your hardest to impress not only your partner, but yourself too! Always remember – practice makes perfect! This is the perfect excuse to go on more vacations.
I get along great with my mother-in-law now, but I almost didn’t, and it was all because of, you guessed it…the wedding. My wife and I had been to a few island weddings and we decided that was what we wanted: a simple affair on the beach at sunset, with a wedding reception that featured great seafood and an outdoor dining place where we could dance under the stars. Unfortunately, my wife was an only daughter, and when her mom saw that engagement ring, she went into overdrive trying to micromanage and plan every little detail for us. It got to the point where the two of us, plus my wife’s dad, scheduled an intervention.
We went out to dinner, figuring a public place would diminish the likelihood of a “scene”, and tried to explain the reason we wanted an island wedding and wedding reception was because we weren’t looking for a stressful environment for anybody. She was skeptical at first, but when we invited her to come with us to Key West while we made the arrangements, she decided she could use a vacation.
We imagined that she would watch us like a hawk, asking questions and making demands, but when she saw how professional all of the Key West restaurants were in making arrangements (not to mention how beautiful she found the island), she understood what we were looking for. At our island reception, I saw her having the time of her life, and she confided that from now on, island weddings were the only type of weddings she was going to attend.