With a short drive to our destination in the Keys, we took time to visit a local institution for breakfast. The corner drug store has a diner serving up some good breakfast food for the locals. We really like to "live like a local" in our travels to be able to experience the true magic of an area.
After breakfast in Homestead, we hooked up and headed south. We strategically chose a RV resort midway through the keys, near Marathon, at MM 58. This way we could easily explore the north keys and the southern keys since it was a good drive in each direction and there was still some snowbird traffic .
As an added bonus, Grassy Key RV Resort was the best price we found at $72 per night after the 10% Good Sam Discount. What we didn't know is how much we would love this quaint little RV park. We drove past some of the other larger rv parks that others rave about, for quite a bit more, and we were not impressed. This little resort packed a big punch with a great pool and sundeck, spotless laundry and gathering room, sand beach to relax and watch the sunset, designated pet area, surveillance cameras, boat docks and a kayak launch area, not to mention the sites were full hook up with WIFI and cable. We could even see the water from our site.
Sunsets here did not disappoint! After being inland FL for 5 months, we enjoyed the evening show over the water!
While in the Keys we sampled some great food, including fresh shrimp off the boat, scallops, amazing Cuban food and of course, key lime pie! Well, to be honest, we sampled key lime pie a couple times!
We even smoked some ribs with the fresh corn we picked up at the Harvest Host stop in Miami.
One of the things on our To Do list was to check out the FL State Parks in the Keys. We started at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. This park is relatively small on land but includes 70 nautical square miles and extends 3 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. Here we booked a glass bottom boat tour to check out the coral reefs. Unfortunately the day was really windy, which meant that the boat rocked a good bit and it did affect the viewing of the reefs. Some folks needed to go up on deck and get fresh air. They were a little bit green around the gills! It was really cool to see the fish, coral and we even saw a nurse shark and turtle. The ride out to the reef was even a nice tour of the mangroves. Pictures just can't do the reefs justice.
We checked out Bahia Honda State Park another day and took our electric bikes to explore the park. Nice campground, if you can get in! At Bahia you can see the bridge to nowhere that used to be the railroad to the keys and then the Overseas Hwy bridge through the area. This park also has one of the only decent sand type beaches in the keys.
The final state park we visited was Long Key State Park. This is an often overlooked park, but we enjoyed taking the unique hike through the mangroves. We didn't quite know what to think when we approached and inland part of the trail that is affected by high tide, but we preserved... shoes off and keep trudging through!
We also made time to visit some other interesting venues. Right down the road from us was the Dolphin Research Center. This was by no means a Sea World type tourist attraction, but a wonderful research, education and sanctuary for over 25 dolphins, sea lions, exotic birds and iguanas. There were several educational sessions a day that demonstrated the intellect of dolphins, their medical care, and their behavior. It was very interesting and we loved seeing the different personalities of each dolphin. They were really just as interested in looking at you as you were of them. The birds were also really entertaining and were in a lovely Veterans Park area within the center.
We took one entire, long day to visit Key West. Getting there by 9am, we were able to get parking right down on Mallory Square in the old section of Key West. To be honest, most of Key West is just like any other city. Besides the couple highlights we visited, we were a bit underwhelmed. To catch the highlights of the Old Key West area, we jumped on an Old Town Trolley. We were able to see Hemmingway's House, the southermost point, the original Hard Rock and Margaritaville Café and Sloppy Joe's, made famous by Hemmingway. We also took a tour of the Little White House where several presidents spent time and even met with worldwide dignitaries. We then gathered up our courage and did our first parasailing trip. It was beautiful up there. You felt like you were just hanging in one place while the boat zoomed all over the water. It was also jaw dropping to see all the huge multi-million dollar yachts everywhere. It was a long day but we felt like we got a good feel for Key West and all it had to offer.
We really enjoyed relaxing in the Keys for the week and were glad to check the box. It wasn't too busy with tourists and we were able to explore the entire area from Key Largo to Key West.
We are slowly catching up with our posts...finally! Next up...The Everglades Big Cypress National Preserve.
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