After taking in your dose of Jimmy Buffet and tours of the Key West Lighthouse and Ernest Hemingway home, head to Islamorada, a quieter Key that has its share of attractions and nightlife. The 7-mile chain is also famous for being the “sport fishing capital of the world” and is located 81 miles south of Key West.A picturesque sandy beach in Islamorada — Photo courtesy of Chris O'Brien Wicklow
Get an early start and grab breakfast at Mangrove Mikes, a local’s joint and family diner on mile marker 82.2. Try their crab Benedict, fresh fruit and pastries. Next, visit Robbie’s Marina, the one-stop-shop for fishing trips, snorkeling excursions on the Happy Cat, boat rentals and all things on the water. Kids (and adults) will love feeding the tarpon and even little ones have their shot at snagging a sailfish, mahi mahi, snapper or barracuda.The Catch of the Day at Robbie's — Photo courtesy of Robbie's Marina
After reeling in the catch of the day or snorkeling in the area’s pristine reefs, skip the margarita and head to Rum Runners, an underrated classic that rarely fills up. This two-story rustic tiki bar has killer views of the sunset, friendly bartenders, and strong drinks (but you can guess what their signature is). It is claimed that the Rum Runner was invented here.
If you need to pick up a few unique souvenirs, just find the giant lobster outside of the Rain Barrel, an artisan’s village full of local work. The pet-friendly village sells whimsical clay works depicting the back country and reefs of the Florida Keys, beaded jewelry, glass sculptures, pottery, paintings and more – most with a tropical island theme. There are several buildings beyond the main entrance to explore, and a coffee and snack shop offers refreshments.
Even if scuba diving isn’t your thing, the History of Diving Museum may surprise you and makes a perfect stop on a rainy day. Artifacts are on display, including diving helmets from all over the world, and there are plenty of hands-on exhibits that keep the attention of kids (and adults) of all ages. The museum frequently hosts educational speakers and special events as well.
Before heading back to Key West (or home), enjoy a fabulous dinner out at Kaiyo Grill which serves Florida-infused Asian cuisine, a unique twist on classic sushi using yellow fin tuna, hogfish and tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. In 2010, the restaurant introduced its wood-fire grill and included items like filet mignon with Gorgonzola, Peking crispy duck and fresh fish with miso glaze and sake-braised shiitake mushrooms. It’s the cherry on top of a peaceful vacation from a vacation.