Visit The Florida Keys
Early March is one of the best times to visit the Florida Keys. It's warm enough to enjoy the water, but it's not yet sweltering and miserable, and flights are cheaper than in mid-winter. On average, the best, least rainy days in March are usually around the first 2 weeks. Time it correctly and you can also avoid the Spring Break crowds.
Each of the Florida Keys is laid-back, and you can certainly visit all of them if you have a car, but which Key is the best one for you to 'home base' out of depends what you're looking for. No matter which Florida Key you settle on, all of the Keys are about the sunsets, the water, and relaxation, and none require heels or a tie.
The Upper Keys
We stopped on Islamoralda on the way in, and for a final sunset on the way out. There are plenty of spots to choose from to pull up a deck, chair, or spot of sand. If you choose to call Islamoralda "home" for a night or a week, there are several good places to visit, and many are family-friendly.
Lorelei Cabana Bar - Friendly, good food and drinks, with waterfront tables by the marina
Postcard Inn Beach Resort - A nice place to stay and dine on Isalmoralda
Wahoo's Bar & Grill - Relaxed Islamoralda spot with a view, jetski and paddle board rentals
Cheeca Lodge & Spa - A slightly more upscale resort option on Islamoralda
The Middle Keys
For a jaunt to the Florida Keys with Husband, my sister and brother-in-law, I decided that Marathon was a good fit; we wanted to be far enough South to see the turquoise water, we wanted to focus on enjoying nature, and not feel too crowded. It was a good place to travel South from, then hit the Upper Keys in and again on the way back.
I chose newly-renovated mini-resort Banana Bay Resort in Marathon for our stay. I had heard of Florida Keys hotels being hit-or-miss. This wonderful, friendly little place is clean, easier on the wallet than many, and has a marina, pool, hot tub and bicycles to loan for exploring Marathon Key at leisure. Charming pathways and landscaping give it a hidden bungalow sort of feel. Banana Bay Resort appeals to couples, groups and families, and will also host beachfront weddings.
The continental breakfast offered more than just bagels and cereal. Each morning I took my green tea to the beach for early morning stretches and to check out the water, then enjoyed waffles or breakfast burritos with my family. A small outdoor tiki beach bar overlooking the water with palm trees, hammocks and loungers is a perfect spot for a peaceful afternoon or watching the sunset before going out to dine.
The beds are comfortable, the rooms spacious, and everything felt new. Our balcony rooms overlooked the marina and the sunrise/sunset. Good news if you have fur family: Banana Bay Resort is one of a few very pet-friendly Florida Keys hotels and resorts. Ask about restrictions, but we saw several families traveling with pets. I couldn't have been more satisfied with our stay here.
If the beach is your style, Sombrero Beach on the Atlantic side of Marathon is the best beach in the middle keys. A seaside park, sparkling white sand, shady palms, picnic pavilions, restrooms, showers and nesting Loggerhead turtles are some of the reasons why residents and tourists alike regularly enjoy a day at this Florida Keys beach. Sombrero Beach is the prettiest dog-friendly beach in the Florida Keys; to keep this beach accepting pets, keep them under control and clean up after them.
Brutus Restaurant - Indoor/outdoor eatery and fish market -authentic Keys style dining
Florida Keys Steak & Lobster House - We got fancy one night! No tie required
Overseas Pub & Grill - Worth it for the kraken mural
Sombrero Beach - Dog-friendly white sand beach & park; ADA access, showers, restrooms
The Sea Turtle Hospital - Observe how injured turtles are nursed to health and released
Better Than Most Water Sports - Leaves from Banana Bay Resort, offers a sunset cruise
The Lower Keys
Across the seven-mile bridge, which spans beautiful turquoise water, you come to the lower keys, where snorkeling, diving, and marine life are the focus.
We visited Deer Key to see the not-so-timid herd of small deer that live on the island. We were not disappointed, as these small beauties of all ages wander through the woods and the yards of residential neighborhoods. Drive slowly and you will likely see them.
National Key Deer Refuge - Fun facts about Key deer!
The Lower Keys have some of the best Florida Keys snorkeling and diving spots. Check out the diving and snorkeling charters off of Big Pine Key and Looe Key as there are plenty to choose from. We booked an afternoon open water snorkeling trip with Looe Key Reef Resort & Dive Center. The reefs we went to are part of a marine life sanctuary and haven't been fished in many years. The sea was absolutely teeming with wildlife; the waters were warm and pristine. We had unbelievably awesome encounters with huge 400-lb. groupers, reef sharks, barracuda, lobsters, leopard rays, a dolphin pod and tiny jellies. I even saw a sea turtle from the boat as we headed back. (Make sure when you dive or snorkel to use reef safe susncreen – I love this reef safe sunscreen from All Good – as the boat captains may check what you apply.
Looe Key Dive Resort- Dive classes offered, plus a hotel.
Captain Hook's - snorkeling & diving off Looey Key
Bahia Honda State Park
We made time for a stop and stroll at Bahia Honda State Park. The whitewashed trees, pure sand, silver sea and thousands of tiny sunbleached white shells were a nice and peaceful break before getting back in the car.
I have to admit that while I was not a huge fan of Key West, it has its charm. The 1900s bungalows on the side streets were cute, I did find a great leather bracelet, and we enjoyed a delicious ceviche flight. If you prefer crowds, random rooster and cat sightings, shopping and partying, Key West will be your favorite Key.
Le Tada - Iconic cabaret & piano bar
Turtle Kraals - Delicious ceviche flight and not too shabby inside
The Hemingway Home - Iconic stop for bookworms
Key West Bicycles - Rent, pedal, drink, eat, shop, repeat