Don’t just head down US 1 to get to favorite tourist destination, the Florida Keys! Alternate route, Card Sound Road, boasts one of the most local of local bars/restaurants/hangouts: Alabama Jack’s. Located near the Card Sound road bridge’s toll booth, this old Key’s landmark is not to be missed! Nestled in a group of floating bungalows (which is a nicer way of saying off-the-grid, over-barnacled old house boats), Alabama Jack’s is surrounded by Card Sound Bay and miles of mangroves. The open-air restaurant is one-of-a-kind and boasts some of the best conch fritters in the Keys–which says a lot!
If you’re searching for an authentic dining experience surrounded by the natural beauty of the Keys landscape then this is a must-see on your way down to my next recommended location: John Pennekamp Sate Park!
Located at mile marker 102.5, this state park was the first under-sea park ever in the U.S.. Designed to conserve the coral reef, Pennekamp provides patrons with camping, snorkeling, kayaking and diving experiences in idyllic surroundings. I spent most of my summers as a child and teen camping with my father and brothers in the park where we would go fishing, kayaking and, when I turned 13, I got my PADI certification for scuba diving all while staying at the park!
As you head down the Keys make sure to plan to visit Pennekamp for a morning snorkeling trip or afternoon kayaking through the mangrove trails.
This must-stay hotel at mile marker 68 embodies that Jimmy Buffet, island lifestyle that is signature of the Florida Keys. Located in the middle of the Keys, you’re central to tourist hot-spots like Holiday Isle and Key West. What I love most about this location is the unimpeded waterfront views and the feeling of privacy and tranquility.
When my parents took us to Lime Tree Bay decades ago, it was pretty much a run-down motel with shuffle boarding and creaky lawn chairs. We LOVED it anyway!! My brothers and I would play at the resort beach all day and we would have dinner at the Italian restaurant next to the hotel. The location is unbeatable and that laid-back island attitude instantly changes you! Now that the hotel has been completely renovated (it has certainly earned its new name “Lime Tree Bay Resort”) this is my top recommendation for a hotel in the Keys!
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