By Maria Mora

The Reach Resort Waldorf Astoria Collection in Key West
The Reach Resort Waldorf Astoria Collection in Key West

As a Florida native, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Key West three times. For my first Florida vacation in the Keys, I piled into an SUV with six college friends and went looking for the ultimate spring break among lively Key West hotels; instead, we ended up renting a house in a lot next to a bunch of chickens, and watching far too many cooking shows. Later in life, and a little wiser, I was fortunate to return a few more times and finally experienced the tropical, authentic flavor of Key West.

If you’ve never been to Key West, what you might not know is that the area offers some of the hottest nightlife in Florida. Before you enjoy the bars and restaurants on Duval Street, shop for one-of-a-kind art, admire pirate treasure and learn about the area’s rich history. Don’t worry about packing the right shoes; stop by Kino Sandals for an affordable pair of incredible handmade leather sandals. (My cousin makes a trip down every other year to stock up on them.)

My favorite store is Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. I love unique seasonings and desserts and this place has them both, with a fun side of kitsch. As a former English major, I also make it a point to visit the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. (Did you know all the cats at the Hemingway House have extra toes?). If you’re visiting in July, check out the Hemingway Days festival and annual look-alike contest at Sloppy Joes (July 22-24).

While you won’t find many beaches in Key West, you can book a charter boat tour or rent a boat to go fishing or snorkeling. Look into guided tours for a chance to swim with dolphins or visit Dry Tortugas National Park.

As for Key West hotels, you’ll find any number sure to encourage relaxation and recuperation, including classy hotels with spa amenities and gorgeous pool decks. Nothing sounds more appealing to me than getting a massage and laying out on a comfortable lounge chair. Want to kick back at a Tiki Bar? Check out the Ocean Key Resort & Spa and enjoy unique island fare.

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Maria Mora is a memoir blogger and wannabe photographer. She travels extensively throughout Florida and the Caribbean with her two young sons.

Memorial Weekend is a big holiday in Miami Beach/South Beach.  Most hotels close out until close in they will remove restrictions and/or open up inventory.  With that being said, the following hotels have existing promotions so if they are not closed out, they will be available.

•    Newport Beachside Resort  –  40% off 4-night stays
•    Daddy O Hotel  –   50% off each night plus continental breakfast

Diana Schloss, CHRM
Senior Market Manager, Florida East Coast

Below are the top 5 Cheap hotel choices.  Please let me know if this is satisfactory.

•    Newport Beachside Resort –  nestled in North Miami, this pristine Beachfront property’s pool deck overlooks the pier and the Atlantic Ocean. The resort is filled with daily activities for the young and the young at heart. Before your night out, visit the Seven Seas Spa Salon can uplift your soul with their ‘Seven Seas Signature Massage’ or an ‘Elemental Nature Facial’ by AVEDA. Then eat and dance the night away out the infamous Kitchen 305 with three-course dinner starting at $25 per person.
•    Daddy O Hotel  –  The Daddy O Hotel is a new boutique hotel which opened in March of 2010 and offers luxurious king-sized beds, equipped with 42 inch HDTV’s, Keurig Coffee Machines, free Wifi, unlimited free phone calls in the U.S. and to 40 different countries, as well as complimentary continental breakfast daily. The property is located between Aventura and Miami Beach and is within walking distance to the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Ocean and the famous Bal Harbour Shops
•    Best Western Atlantic Beach Resort – Best Western Atlantic Beach Rocks! Great service, great food, great oceanfront  property with poolside bar and great fun for the family with fuse ball, ping pong table and street chess board for everyone to enjoy!  24 hour gift shop for your late night snack.   All at a reasonable price.
•    Fairmont Turnberry Resort & Club  –  The Chesterfield brings the South Beach pulse in doors. Located in the core of the Art-Deco district, a stumble away from Ocean Drive and the beach, this Hot Spot is definitely the life of the party. Famous for its zebra prints, stylish watering holes, and rooms divided into three buildings that range from wild to residence style suite get-away, the Chesterfield is a fused ambiance of absolute decadence.
•    Princess Ann Hotel – known as “The best kept secret in South Beach”.  As one of the lowest priced boutique hotels in South Beach’s Art Deco District, it is centrally located one block from the ocean in the midst of the South Beach ambiance.

Tagged: Florida Vacation

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