On November 19Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:In Southeast Florida, you get the intimate island feel in addition to the luxurious hotels and dining. Café Boulud, L’escallier and the Restaurant will do much more than merely satisfy your taste buds during your stay. Here are the best restaurants in Southeast Florida:
1. Café Boulud: The authority on French cuisine, Daniel Boulud brings his masterful cooking to Palm Beach with his restaurant Café Boulud. Tucked inside the historic Brazilian Court Hotel, Café Boulud elevates traditional fare like steak frites to utter perfection.
2. L’escalier: L’escalier in Palm Beach is an innovative French restaurant that uses fresh seasonal ingredients to make its dishes shine. But the real reason to come is the vast wine list that would make any oenophile drool.
3. The Restaurant: Inside the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach’s signature restaurant, you’ll find a contemporary and tropically inspired dining room aptly named the Restaurant, where every seat gets an ocean view, and where the menu melds the flavors of the South, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:A number of fabulous festivals take place in the Florida Keys each year. The most popular, Fantasy Fest, is held each October and is a weeklong festival of body painting, parties, parades and more. It is not for the faint of heart, however, and you should probably leave the kids at home for this one.
The Key West Food and Wine Festival takes place every January. The delicious fest includes four days of wine tastings, wine dinners, seminars and more. It is an intimate wine experience that is never overly crowded and always a great time.
Other fun events include lobster mini season, which involves catching lobsters for two days on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, right before the official season opens, and mid-September’s Poker Run, which invites thousands of motorcyclists to travel Overseas Highway for charity, making stops along the way to pick up cards. The ten best hands then compete for a grand prize in a Texas hold’em.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:The best thing to bring home from a trip to the Florida Keys is a piece of art or great one-off item for your home from one of the area’s local boutiques. You’ll find a bunch of places to shop in Key West. Also check out the Hog’s Breath Saloon for a huge selection of wearable souvenirs. If you want to take home some delicious key lime pie, Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe will ship a pie to your door so you can savor the flavor of the Keys long after you return home. Another great food souvenir is one of the locally made hot sauces from Peppers of Key West.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:Loads of fresh seafood and key lime pie — prepare to eat some good grub in the Florida Keys. Here’s a list of the area’s quintessential food experiences:
1. Key Lime Pie. Every restaurant claims to have the best key lime pie. The only way to really find out is to taste them all yourself. Go on a key lime crawl to find your personal favorite.
2. Lobster Reuben. Keys Fisheries in Marathon is famous for their lobster Reuben. They even run a contest to guess how many they have sold. Guess high – they are busier than they seem.
3. Hogfish. You must try hogfish while you are in the Keys. It is a delicate, local fish with a lot of flavor. One of the best places to have it in a sandwich is at Hogfish Bar and Grill (6810 Front Street, Stock Island) just north of Key West.
4. Smoked fish dip. Eaton Street Seafood Market in Key West has the best – not too creamy and loaded with fresh fish.
5. Stone crab. The season runs from October 15 through May 15, so if someone is trying to sell you these delicacies during the summer, don’t bite. Stone crab claws are harvested from the live crab; once removed the crab is returned to the water (where the claws grow back). Claws are usually served with a mustard dipping sauce.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:The upper and middle Keys (Key Largo through Marathon) are known for many things, but nightlife is not one of them. The most nightlife you’ll find is in Key West, which has scores of great bars. Since you won’t have any trouble stumbling over those, we’re focusing on some more unique nightlife opportunities.
Beautiful sunsets call for happy hour on a boat. Sunset sails are extremely popular and several companies offer them. We like Danger Charters in Key West. It offers a wind and wine cruise with a small group so it is never crowded and always fun. However, there are many other operators of sunset sails up the Keys, so consider taking one wherever you are. It’s a beautiful and relaxing way to spend the early evening.
There is also a lot of great live music in the Keys. Two great venues include the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon and Hog’s Breath Saloon, both of which are in Key West. The list of performers changes weekly.
For such a small community, Key West boasts three local theaters. Top-notch musicals, concerts and plays come to the Red Barn Theater, the Waterfront Playhouse and the Tennessee Williams Theater at Florida Keys Community College.
Finally, for another kind of show, hit one of the famous drag performances in Key West. The ones at 801 Bourbon Bar (9 and 11 p.m.) are always a good time. The girls of 801 make sure the crowd is entertained with their raunchy humor, songs and more.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:For a taste of the Florida Keys, take a day trip south from Miami all the way to Key West. Enjoy the beautiful water views as you work your way south over the many bridges. Once you hit Key West, park it and walk or bike around the historic Old Town, where you can stop for lunch and take in a tour of the Hemingway House. As you head back up north, make a stop in Marathon at Pigeon Key to see the historic bridge. A quick glance is all you can afford, though, as you’ll want to check out John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park before it closes. While you probably won’t have time to take the glass-bottom boat tour (next time!), you will get a feel for some of the Keys marine life. Stop for dinner at one of Key Largo’s many great restaurants — The Fish House, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, Pilot House — before heading back to Miami.
On November 19Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:It’s not all grouper and key lime pie in the Florida Keys—not that we couldn’t happily get by eating both. Here’s Forbes Travel Guide’s list of the best places to eat in the Keys:
1. The Flaming Buoy Filet Co. The Flaming Buoy is a Key West neighborhood gem, where the on-site owners are friendly and welcoming. Featuring fresh local seafood, everything is prepared to order. Specialties include lobster macaroni and cheese, fresh catch with banana salsa, and for dessert, a spicy chocolate quesadilla.
2. Azur Restaurant. Azur is wonderful for brunch, lunch or dinner when in Key West. If you can’t get enough key lime pie, order the French toast, which is stuffed with it. Dinner includes tasting plates, “almost entrees” such as roasted beets and gnocchi, and heartier dishes including seafood risotto and snapper.
3. Sparky’s Landing. Located in Marathon in the Key Colony Beach Marina, Sparky’s Landing is a fun place for drinks and has a huge menu featuring everything from fish tacos to burgers and pizzas. Try the gratinee appetizer filled with fresh fish, cream sauce and cheese.
4. Pilot House. It is well worth the effort to find this out-of-the-way restaurant in Key Largo. The food is fresh and delicious and prices are reasonable. Combine that with a water view, glass bottom bar and live entertainment in the evenings and it can’t be beat.
5. Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen. Mrs. Mac’s recently opened a second Key Largo location nearly across the street from the original, license-plate-covered one, but kept all of its popular foods. From salads to sandwiches, everything is fresh. The menu is huge and there is something for everyone. Try the TJ style fish of the day topped with stewed tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeños with black beans and rice.
On November 19Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Hotels in the Florida Keys range from properties with a few tiki huts to luxury resorts with every amenity you can think of. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best places to stay in the Florida Keys.
1. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa (Mile Marker 28.5, Little Torch Key). Accessible only by a three-mile boat ride, this is the epitome of luxury in the Keys. From the chic Colonial décor to the hammocks by the beach to the amazing restaurant and spa, you will find it hard to return to reality. Private bungalows include living rooms, verandas and outdoor showers.
2. The Reach Resort (1435 Simonton Street, Key West). Smaller and more intimate than the sister resort, Casa Marina, The Reach is a Waldorf Astoria property. The grounds are beautiful, as are the rooms with their clean lines, rattan headboards and pops of color. An outpost of Manhattan’s famed Strip House restaurant is located on the premises and it’s a fun and chic place to dine with its red damask wallpaper, box beam wood ceilings and large windows. By the way, the restaurant is a good spot to catch the 4th of July fireworks.
3. Cheeca Lodge & Spa (Mile Marker 82, Islamorada). Cheeca Lodge has been newly renovated and includes a beach, fishing pier, camp for kids, swimming lagoon, golf course, tennis and more — plus its conveniently located near many restaurants and attractions.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:The best shopping in the Florida Keys is in the numerous galleries and unique boutiques, the bulk of which are located in Key West. You won’t find mega-stores or shopping malls — there’s simply no room for them — but what the area lacks in size, it makes up for in uniqueness. Visit the quirky galleries and interesting shops along Duval Street in Key West. Guild Hall Gallery (614 Duval St.) is actually a cooperative of artists. On the other end of Duval Street you’ll find SoDu Gallery (1100 Duval St.) and Frangipani Gallery (1102 Duval St.), both of which feature clothing, jewelry and more by local artists. Just up the street The Green Pineapple (1130 Duval St.) features unique items for your home.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:If you want to take your kids someplace where they can spend their time discovering and being active outdoors, consider the Florida Keys for your next family vacation. Spend your days learning about ecosystems and evenings gobbling up key lime pie. Check out this list from our Forbes Travel Guide editors on the best things to do with kids in the Keys.
1. Visit Pigeon Key, Marathon. Step back in time as you visit buildings from the early 1900s, when Henry Flagler was building his railroad through the Keys. Ride the ferry and see both the new and old Seven Mile bridges.
2. Head to Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. The Eco-Discovery Center in Key West is a great place to learn about the fish and wildlife of the Florida Keys through interactive displays and exhibits. It’s fun for the entire family—plus it’s free.
3. Relax at The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Stroll through a magical environment with hundreds of butterflies. The conservatory houses more than 50 kinds of butterflies, exotic birds and tropical flowering plants.
4. Get moving at Founders Park, Islamorada. Founders Park is a great spot for tennis, water sports, swimming and more. The park includes an Olympic swimming pool, ball fields and a dog park.
5. Tarpon Feeding at Robbie’s of Islamadora. Robbie’s offers fishing excursions but kids and adults also come in droves to feed the dozens of tarpon that congregate at the end of the dock each day. It’s a sight to see these large silver-blue fish open their large mouths and feed on the fish.
On November 19Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question:The Florida Keys offers something different to do at practically every Mile Marker — basically how you identify where you’re headed in these parts. Here are some of the best things to see and do in the Florida Keys:
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo, Mile Marker 102.6). Take one of the famous glass-bottom boat rides, snorkel along the coral reef, sign up for a scuba tour or cruise down the park’s mangrove creeks in a kayak or canoe.
2. Go fishing. Almost anywhere in the Keys is an acceptable fishing spot — off the old Seven Mile Bridge, from the side of the road or on a charter boat. Catch local delicacies like yellowtail snapper and mahi mahi.
3. Bike the tiny streets of Key West. There are several local bike shops that will rent you a bike for the day or week. The best way to take in the Victorian architecture is on a bike.
4. Bahia Honda State Park (Mile Marker 37). Consistently rated one of the best beaches anywhere, Bahia Honda offers white sandy shores, biking trails, birding, boating and camping.
5. Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, you can get to the park by seaplane or catamaran. Either way, it is a lovely day trip from Key West and it’s worth the time to see the majestic tangle of coral reef sheltering the marine and bird refuge. Swim, snorkel or simply walk around the seawall and explore Fort Jefferson, a former military fortress.