Family Road Trip to Key West

Discussion in 'The Sandbox - AKA Flatistan' started by Fireman1000, Feb 20, 2019.

  1. Fireman1000

    Fireman1000 Long timer

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    Gray GA
    My wife and I want to do something a little different this year for our family summer vacation. We're thinking of taking a road trip down to Key West, stopping along the way to sight see and do some cool stuff. 9 days to do it in. According to Google Maps it's 12 hours straight there from our house, so I would think that 9 days is plenty to get us there and back, and be able to smell the roses. Maybe camp a night or two. My kids are, daughter (15) son #1 (14) son #2 (8). Daughter wants to see Miami, sons would like Cape Canaveral. All of us would like to do Crystal River or Jenny Springs. We've done Disney and Universal, so those aren't on the stop list. Maybe a couple days at a beach somewhere. Any suggestions on cool local places to see or eat? Is this doable? Fun, family friendly cities? Thoughts?
    #1
  2. seatec

    seatec Dutch Transplant

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    Clearwater for the world's best sunset. You can camp in my front yard. I'm 10 minutes from the beach
    #2
  3. aprracer

    aprracer Adventurer

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    12 hrs by plane maybe..lol Can take up to 6-7 from WPB.... TRAFFIC.. CR and the Springs are both great places and best places to swim in fresh water... and you don't have to worry about the red tide we get in summer along the S Coasts.. Camping is easy in summer, plenty of places.. Cape is also a great place as well. Plan to stay in Keys, make reservation ASAP for best deals..Remember, FL, camping, summer equals mosquitoes..
    #3
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  4. motomike14

    motomike14 Thumper Crusader Supporter

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    I consider myself a "seasoned vet" with Florida, so my two cents:

    1) camping in the summer near key west would be downright unenjoyable. That place is hot. Like Africa hot. As is all of Florida past May 15th. But Key West the lows are nights barely get below 84 or so, it just never ends.

    2) Sight seeing outside Miami/major metropolitan areas; east coast there a lot of unique little beach towns. St. Augustine is larger, but a good swing through; Flagler Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Cocoa Beach, Jensen Beach, Juno Beach and even Delray Beach still have some innocence to them. Delray is the most "Miami like" in terms of the town and it's attractions. However, a nice little stop. All the others I mentioned are small in their own right, but all are my "cool stops" kind of places for food or just to check out a small beach town. Delray has a cool surf museum, pinball museum, among other random things, just for example.

    3) Food? I know a bunch of places in those small beach towns. I will compile a list of places that are unique and worth looking into. Time and how much you plan to spend "off the beaten path" could sway some of your decisions.

    4) DeLeon Springs state park could be something to look into. They have a swimming area, fabulous pancake place, and you're still only about 45 minutes from Daytona to take the short trip down to New Smyrna.

    5) If you stay near Cape Canaveral, look into maybe renting a jet ski to ride in the intracoastal, or get some surf lessons. Another good way to kill half a day and do something different. Near Juno Beach/Jupiter you can do stand up paddle tours or other small boat tours, good way to do something different. And, when you get hot, you can just hop in the water and back.

    I would do some research on your "most hit" points and figure how far you can afford/want to travel off that path. There's a lot of little hidden gems, but having some plan where you plan to stay near certainly helps.
    #4
  5. Ernbo6

    Ernbo6 Ad augusta per angusta. Supporter

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    Have fun and enjoy. I did something like that with my kids.
    We rented a 15 passenger van and removed the back seat which is where our luggage and camping supplies went.
    I called it car camping and we headed out west and I got both kids a National Parks passport and we went park hopping.
    From the Gateway Arch in St.Louis to Idaho’s Craters of the Moon Park, we hit all the big ones, so you have a great time.
    I’d do A1A south from St. Augustine, see all of the parks and activities down to Everglades then head south.
    Key Largo is great and affordable but staying on Key West is pricey.
    #5
  6. danh600

    danh600 Long timer Supporter

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    I spend lots of time around Crystal River. I might forget to check back so PM me if that's a place you end up wanting to do. I spend about 2 weekends a month in that area. I know many of the restaurants, springs, roads and rivers.

    Two things to look into for that area.
    1. The Rainbow River - short river of crystal clear water. Fun to go down with the family. There are lots of vendors to get a kayak, SUP or a tube from. They will also shuttle you. There is a State Park campground near the river.
    2. Kings Bay - Another great place to Kayak. Springs and places to swim.

    Depending on your budget there are tons of things to do. Hell, tons of things to do with a small budget.
    #6
  7. Sandspit

    Sandspit Been here awhile

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    Camping in FL during the summer??...ugg, sweaty, buggy, sleepless nights, 93 degrees during the day w/ humidity that makes it feel like 105+. Many do it, I suggest a tent with good airflow.
    .
    Possible route would be camping Anastasia State Park check out St. Augustine then drive south then west to Spring(s), there are many, camp, swim, cool down, back to A1A to Cape Canav. which unfortunately is getting more expensive to enter every year, from there couple choices, head south on A1A/US 1 or I95 to Stuart Rocks, Bath Tub reef then on to Palm Beach and cruise the A1A stretch from Palm Beach south until you get your fill of amazing water color and amazing houses...or from the Cape head West to the Gulf Coast Anna Maria island down to Captiva Sanibel Island (expensive to stay but worth it) nice sunsets.
    .
    Continue heading south to the Keys avoiding Miami , camping in the Keys I hear is impossible as sites are booked year in advance, may have to pay $$$ for hotels...For middle of the state "stuff" St. Johns river has Hontoon Island campground you have to canoe over to, also many airboat outfits like Twister Airboats not far from the Cape. Everglades airboats as well.....This is leaving out the panhandle which has its charm and unique environment (Scallop Season is in summer).
    .
    Hope this helps. BTW if you need a place to stay, I am in the Melbourne Beach area right across the street from the Ocean, but we have a few pets, cats, dog, chickens, etc. Plenty of surfboards and surf fishing rods but the waves are usually not to good in the summer, beach fishing will land you Whiting, Sail Cats, and if lucky a Black Drum or Sheepshead
    #7
  8. south

    south Been here awhile

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    Not sure of your exact definition of "family friendly cities", but, having frequented Key West for decades, and having lived there for a number of years, it may be worth a mention that while the (non-KW) Florida Keys are certainly family-oriented, Key West itself can be more of an "adult" destination. Firstly, there's the slew of bars and the 24/7 active drinking lifestyle. Next, despite the fact that, strictly speaking, there are no clothing optional/topless public beaches, due to its cosmopolitan/worldly (primarily tourist) population, it's not uncommon/unheard of to have women going topless at some of the beaches. Then, there's the sizable LGBT(Q and all the rest of the alphabet) population and assorted businesses/clubs/drag shows/etc. that cater to those particular demographics. And, lastly, there are a number of annual events--"fantasy fest", the "pride week" etc. that you may wish to time your family visit to avoid. Don't get me wrong, Key West is a great place, and there're plenty of families living and visiting all the time; just a heads up that it may be a little eye-opening for the kids, and you may find yourself having some impromptu discussions you hadn't anticipated.

    As for the rest, if you do plan on Crystal River--i.e., spending some time on the west coast of FL--Dunedin can be worth a stop for both its Main St. and Honeymoon Island (state park); downtown St. Petersburg is just impossibly hip and happening: all kinds of restaurants (including more than a few micro/craft breweries) and shops, and the Dali and Chihuly museums, plus the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of History (lots of baseball stuff), and Sunken Gardens botanical gardens--all in a beautiful waterfront setting with parks and marinas full of boats, etc. Then there are the area beaches from (touristy/spring break-y) Clearwater Beach down to (quieter) Pass-a-grille, and then Fort DeSoto Park (great beaches and still has parts of the fort and cannons to wander through/around).

    Further south, there's Bradenton/Sarasota and then Ft. Myers/Naples/Marco Island which all have their appeal/attractions, albeit with a bit more of a senior citizen vibe.

    Lastly, depending where you cross the state (if you do end up crossing the state), Bok Tower Gardens on Hwy 60 outside of Lake Wales may be worth a (1-2) hour stop (if you can time it to coincide with one of the daily carillon bell "concerts" (1pm and 3pm), so much the better.
    #8