After a long winter it sure has been fun to travel to all of these warm weather destinations!
While the past two trips to Costa Rica and Puerto Rico were for my job as a photographer - our most recent trip was one hundred percent just for fun! I left my big DSLR and laptop at home and enjoyed time with family. These photos are 100% iPhone.. well - I guess the first one is 100% drone!
We got a great deal on airfare to Miami. I think it was because we bought our tickets early - before the holidays. We hadn't planned on taking a warm weather spring break trip but the cheap air fare enticed us. Our boys' number one bucket-list item has been to fish in the ocean so that also was a big motivator.
We flew in to Miami, rented a car and spent about 4 days in a rented VRBO in Key Largo which is an island about an hour away from Miami. We chose Key Largo because of its reputation as a prime ocean fishing destination.
On our first full day there we hired a private charter and spent the day fishing in the ocean. This was our family's big splurge of the trip. And we felt it was totally worth it. If you go to the Keys - plan on finding ways to get out on the water. Whether you do a fishing charter, scuba, snorkle, kayaks, or a sunset cruise - the highlight of the islands are the famous reefs and you need a water vessel to access them.
We stayed in a beautiful VRBO on Key Largo. It was part of a condo complex and was a good match for us.
There were swimming pools and a marina to fish in. There was some hurricane damage still evident. One pool was closed. An elevator was closed. We found debris - including a pocket knife - on the beach. There were also beaches nearby that were closed. I wouldn't say that this was a large deterrent though. I would definitely return to the same VRBO again if I was visiting Key Largo. It felt good to support an area that was still recovering.
The restaurants in Key Largo were soooo good! On the day we went fishing, we brought our fresh catch to a nearby restaurant called Skippers and they cooked it "Key Largo" style for us. It was some of the best fish I have ever had! We had so much leftover, we ate it for lunch the next day!
Another night we ate at a place called The Fish House. It was not fancy. It was old school. Some people might say it is a little cramped but i thought it was lively and wonderful! I had my favorite meal of the entire week. I tried a Seafood Pot Pie there that I have been craving ever since. It had huge scallops, shrimp, a lobster tail and more!
One evening we did a glass bottom boat ride at sunset. It was quite reasonable and a great way to see the reef. We rode with a company called Key Largo Princess Boats. We witnessed all sorts of colorful fish and sea life swim right under us!
We also rented kayaks and explored a mangrove area. We saw a freshwater crocodile and lots of beautiful birds!
Five days later, we returned to Miami. My husband dropped the two boys & me off at a hotel in South Beach. He then returned the rental car & he caught a flight home. He had to get back to work.
So it ended up being the boys and I in South Beach for 4 days! We had a great time!
Miami is such a feast of colors and flavors and architecture and interesting people.
My boys had never seen anything like it.
We spent most of our days at the ocean. Since there weren't a lot of beaches in the Keys - it was exciting for them to spend hours in Miami jumping the waves and digging for shells.
We also visited my favorite area - Wynwood Walls.
Blocks and blocks of fabulous street art!
We spent a bit of time at our hotel pool too. I really liked the hotel we stayed at. It is brand new and the staff truly went above and beyond. They were terrific! The hotel was called The Plymouth.
I felt very comfortable, welcomed and safe there as a mom alone with two boys.
One of my favorite parts was walking down to the ocean to see the sunrise. If you are ever in Miami - make a point to get to the beach for sunrise. It is a magical experience.
Overall - I would say that I really liked the way we split our trip into two parts - the Keys and Miami Beach.
I don't think I would want to spend a full week at either spot. The Keys were great - quiet and relaxing - but we weren't in a walkable area and there weren't any beaches.
Miami was walkable, colorful, vibrant and amazing but soooo expensive and urban. No quiet. No kids meals. $15 continental breakfasts. One morning around 7am we were walking to see the sunrise and we passed a cab with some well dressed youngsters who were returning from a long night out! Ha!
I loved both areas. I would recommend experiencing a combination of them in one trip! That way you get the best of both worlds!