3 Days in the Florida Keys
By Leo Jakobson
February 1, 2013
The Florida Keys are perfect for getting away from it all -- but not too far
Jimmy Buffett wasn’t kidding when he sang about changes in latitude causing changes in attitude in the Florida Keys. Meeting groups have a wide range of options for fun, sun, and getting into a “Keys” state of mind.
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Day 1: On the Way West
Get an early start to the day with a half-day fishing charter departing from Islamorada, which claims the title of “Sportfishing Capital of the World.”
Satisfy your dolphin fascination a little more creatively at the Dolphin Research Center on Marathon Key. An accredited, non-profit education, research, and marine mammal rescue facility, DRC offers a wide variety of dolphin encounters in and out of the water, as well as Trainer-for-a-Day and Researcher-for-a-Day programs, and is very experienced in working with disabled persons.
Day 2: Conch Out
Dive into another world during an underwater excursion with Snuba of Key West. A step between snorkeling and true SCUBA diving, Snuba uses a breathing mask tethered to a 20-foot hose that is connected to a raft with the oxygen tanks, letting you get right to the bottom with a 15-minute training session rather than the multiple days of instruction required for true SCUBA gear.
Drive on to Key West and spend a few hours beaching out and enjoying the Conch Republic before wandering over to Mallory Square for the daily Sunset Celebration, where locals and tourists gather to watch the buskers, browse the arts and crafts vendors stalls, sample conch fritters, and take in the country’s most famous sunset.
The northern end of Mallory Square is right next to the end of Duvall Street, so take a slow stroll down Key West’s main party drag — the party goes until dawn. Be sure to stop at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the dive that kept Hemingway sufficiently lubricated to write.
Day 3: Golf and Hemingway
Tee off early at the Key West Golf Club’s Rees Jones-designed course, the largest public course in the Keys.
Wander around Key West’s Old Town historic district, taking in the Hemingway Home and its masses of six-toed polydactyl cats — all descendents of Hemingway’s original pet Snowball.
Enjoy dinner at Blue Heaven, a casual yet esteemed restaurant in a building that has been a house of ill repute, dance hall, and the site of Hemingway-refereed boxing matches. It is also famous for its Key lime pie.