The Florida Keys

Aside from being a beautiful vacation spot, the Florida Keys is a very unique place and to me, it holds a huge part of my heart. (WARNING: Super sentimental post coming!!)

Every year for the past eight years, my family has been lucky enough to visit this tropical paradise for weeks on end. In the beginning, the tradition was staying for one week. Eventually, this turned into visiting for a month at a time.

I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity I have each year and I’m even more grateful that I have gotten to experience it with my childhood best friend. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone who has been a constant in their life for 15 years, but I am blessed to have her and her family act as my second one.whiddon and johnson fish kids

From Key Largo to Islamorada and now Marathon, we have rented homes in so many different little keys. Each one has special characteristics that keep the memories from fading. Personally, my favorite key is Islamorada because of the numerous experiences we had there, but I think I’ll start from the beginning.

The first time we rented a house was in Key Largo and we were in town for a week. Every day, us 11-year-old kids would wake up at the crack of dawn to go out on the water. We have a boat so snorkeling was the center of the trip. Key Largo is the diving capital of the world and known for its unimaginably beautiful reefs. One of my absolute favorites is Dry Rocks that contains the Christ of the Abyss statue. It is a huge, colorful and flourishing reef that has a statue along the edge that’s great for pictures.

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However, as years moved on, we moved down through the keys and stayed in Islamorada. The great thing about this key is that it still has that touristy vibe, but isn’t as crowded as Key Largo. More people actually reside here but it definitely is vibrant and “keys-ey.”

One of the best restaurants and a place you have to stop at is Robbie’s. It is a local Bayside restaurant that has vendors sell souvenirs and amazing fresh fish. However, the aspect that makes it such a hit is that it is surrounded by Tarpon and you can feed them with your bare hands. They will actually jump out of the water and take it straight from your fingertips! Scary and exhilarating at the same time! Here is a picture of my little brother almost feeding the tarpon with his toes!clarkie tarpon

Islamorada is also home to Islamorada Fish Company and Bass Pro Shop, which is another pit stop anytime we drive by. The store is massive and is great if you need fishing shirts. There is also a delicious restaurant right out the back doors in case you need another meal.

Another plus of Islamorada is that you will definitely see locations from the Netflix original Bloodlines. A majority of the show was filmed in this key, in spots like Lorelai’s and The Whistle Shop.

Recently, my family decided to stay in Marathon, which is a key that is pretty far south and close to Key West. Marathon is more of a residential area but still has beautiful waters. Not as touristy but some incredible restaurants and just south of the key itself is the monumental 7 Mile Bridge.IMG_0572

As we make our way to the bottom of the keys, we tackle the one and only, Key West. Although we have never stayed in Key West, I am always sure to at least make a day trip down there. From Sloppy Joes to the famous Duval Street to Mallory Square for the sunset, there are plenty of things to do. If you want to shop, you can choose from clothing to jewelry to Kinos, which is a go-to place and a well-known flip flop store and I shamelessly own about eight pairs. If you want activities, there is parasailing, renting scooters, watching the sunset, photo opportunities especially at the Southernmost Point. IMG_0550

But if you want some good quality dining, the options are endless. Whether you’re in the mood for burgers, fish, pizza or key lime pie on a stick, you can turn the corner and pick your place. However, my all time favorite restaurant in Key West is the cutest little places called Blue Heaven. I will never take a trip to Key West without stopping here for breakfast.

Blue Heaven is a slightly hidden little spot covered with trees and full of local Key West roosters running around. They have plenty of options for picky eaters, but also very savory items too. And if eating with the roosters isn’t your thing, just ask to sit inside! Dining at Blue Heaven is a unique experience and a pretty hot spot.FAE67CB3-3B7B-4249-88F4-964914174608

The Keys has turned into a second home for me however, I am always finding new things to do and try. It is a place full of opportunity, fun and adventure. So if you take anything away from this post, here are some go-to spots to things to do: snorkel at any reef you can find, go parasailing, fish on a charter boat or your own, watch the sunset every night (it’s always different and always beautiful), try local restaurants (Blue Heaven, Robbies, Island Fisheries, etc.), visit John Pennekamp State Park, and be sure to take lots of pictures even if they don’t do the scenery justice!

IMG_3455me and key lime pieparasailing

 

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