Feb 26, 2018

Key Largo

...5 days, 4 nights, free airfare, rental car, and hotel, 6 cities and 600 miles driven in between.

We had not been on an actual leave-the-state vacation since May 2013.
Every time we vacation, we go to South Beach, Miami.

Then we moved to our forever home in early Fall 2013, and infertility consumed our lives until the tail end of 2017

During those trying years, we vowed that if it wasn't in the cards to have a child after all our hard work, we would pack up and use all the points we racked up on that damned credit to take a vacation.

So that's what we did.

In the last five years, we charged every single thing we could (and then immediately paid it off), including all of our fertility treatments, to our credit card.
That's over $100,000 in bills....to get the amenities of our vacation for "free."  

I list how many points, aka, dollars we spent for all of the free stuff in case you're looking for a good deal.

So our vacation was the price tag of whatever we purchased while in Florida, which ended up totaling roughly $1,300, or $260 per day for 5 days.

Here is what we did!

Day 1: 
We flew into Ft. Myers (155 CC points) and picked up our rental car (188 CC points). I had reserved an intermediate sedan with unlimited mileage as I knew we would be driving a lot. When we got there, we immediately regretted our decision for such a small car and I ended up haggling with the guy at Alamo to give us something better. We ended up driving away in a no-frills, 4-banger, missing an antenna, Jeep Compass. 
Not our finest moment, but we made it work.

We drove an hour to Ft. Myers Beach where a good friend of ours lives. 

Mark was reunited with his bromance and we ate fish tacos at Junakoo right on the ocean. 

We drank far too much the first day, the second day...Hell all the days. That's what vacation is for right?

Day 2: 
The next morning we said our good-byes and drove 165 miles through the Everglades to Key Largo, where we saved a box turtle from the road.

But first, we stocked up on essentials at a local Publix in Homestead. 

The next 3 nights we stayed at a Dive Resort called Amy Slate's (626 CC points). The Keys are incredibly expensive, but rooms seemed a lot more sensible in Key Largo vs. Key West.

At check-in, they gave us an upgraded apartment with more space, but when I say this place is no-frills..I mean it. I had to keep reminding myself that it was just a place to sleep and shower. Keep your standards low if you stay here. The beauty is on the OUTSIDE of this place, not the interior.

We ended the night with a sunset boat cruise and some beers on the small shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico.

Fun fact: There are NO beaches in the Keys. None. Zero. Zilch. What little beachfront there is doesn't have direct access to the ocean like the main state of Florida does. We had no idea!

The area has very little internet and phone access as well as they are still re-building from Hurricane Irma. It was a nice change of pace to not be glued to our phones. 

Day 3: 
We packed the essentials and drove 100 miles to Key West. The locals are mostly retired, so even though the speed limit was 55 at times, I don't ever believe we broke 45mph. Give yourself 2.5 hours to get to Key West from Key Largo if you are driving during the day.

Key West is a very walkable town with a lot of good bars, local music, and boat scenery.
We watched large pelicans swim over extra-large Tarpon fish by the charter boats, mingled with a cruise ship full of Ohio State people at Sloppy Joe's Bar, and watched an incredibly kick-ass NOLA band at Green Parrot.

The night ended with dinner at Salute and a rather quick driver home, as it was after 9pm.

You will save even more money if the bartender forgets to charge you for drinks. That happened to us at Green Parrot. We didn't even realize it until the next day!

Side note: My hair is always fabulous in the Southern heat. I didn't use any sort of hair tools while I was there and I will NEVER complain about that!!

The overall verdict about the Keys is that....we aren't really Keys people. It's still an incredibly beautiful area and we were happy to explore, but without a desire to dive or fish, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot more to do besides eat and drink. 

We are beachfront people with more of a Miami-flare...so that is exactly where we headed the next day.

Day 4:
We packed up after a quick breakfast in our apartment and headed to Key Biscayne to explore. We landed at our first beach in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. They have a beautiful light house and we got a chance to see some power boats, a blimp, and some beautiful scenery along the water.

Key Biscayne has a lot of local raccoons, and I ended up feeding them some chips on our way out.
They were surprisingly domestic which was hilarious to us!

We toured all the local real estate in Key Biscayne. There was a completely run-down property for sale for a measly $8.5M so we figured we should start saving now to be able to afford a tiny home by the year 3078.

We made our way back up to South Beach where we ended our day.
The beach, the scenery, the bars...all so familiar and fun!
Mark lost his debit card along the way so you know it was a good time.

Day 5:
Our last day of vacation! After driving over 550 miles at this point, we slowed way down and soaked in every second we had left.

Breakfast was at the famous Mrs. Mac's Kitchen in Key Largo. They did NOT disappoint! Snow crab, eggs, mimosa's and key lime pie, of course!  I highly recommend!

We headed back up to the top of Key Biscayne and landed at a public beach called Virginia Key.
The water was shallow and warm, with plenty of locals (and puppies!) along side of us.

We brought our speaker and jammed to tunes for the reminder of the day, tanning and drinking beers.

The last day was by far our favorite. 
We headed to the airport at MIA Saturday evening to drop off our rental and take our AA flight home (275 CC points). My backpack held us up for a bit of time while security dug through it because I accidentally jammed a bunch of water bottles in it without thinking (because of the booze).

All in all, we had a truly fabulous time. Escaping the Chicago cold in February may easily become a yearly tradition moving forward! We talked about Ft. Lauderdale and areas more north the next time!

Thank you for following along!! XO

1 comment:

  1. yeah for VACAY! So glad you and Mark got some time away.

    Love the hair pic, it looks so good. In Florida mine is generally a hot mess - ha!