Winter break was coming up and I knew that I wanted to travel somewhere new. Perhaps Toronto... or maybe Nashville? No, I wanted to get away to the warmer weather.. not delve deeper into the plunging temperatures! Fortunately, we had some family in South Florida so that's when my dad and I decided to grab some last minute plane tickets to Fort Lauderdale and road trip through the Florida Keys to Key West. What better way to escape the cold than to hit the southernmost city in the continental United States?
Excitement was in the air January 9th, a cold Philadelphia morning, as my dad and I walked into Philadelphia International Airport at 5:15 in the morning. We hopped on our plane and almost instantly we were flying over the Atlantic Ocean, headed straight for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport! Once we landed and gathered our things, we headed out onto the open road (aka the Florida Turnpike) en route to Miami. First stops: Wynwood Art District and South Beach!
While it wasn't our original intention to stop here, I wanted to take in every opportunity to visit a new place that I could! Off a recommendation from a friend, we stopped at the Wynwood Walls in the Wynwood Art District of Miami. We walked through the garden with walls full of murals and the surrounding neighborhood full of colorful homes, before stopping at the Wynwood Diner for a brunch that consisted of a Fried Green Tomato Panini and some of the best French Toast I've tasted.
From Wynwood we headed to a different part of town: South Beach. We were headed away from the bright colors and into the art deco style of the hotels and homes that lines the warm, sandy beaches. Restaurants were crowded with people spilling onto the sidewalk, drinks in hand. A collection of dance music blasted from the speakers of different restaurants as girls walked around selling cigars from the boxes that they wore around their necks like oversized jewelry. It was definitely a culture shock and unlike anything that I, as a northerner, have ever experienced!
Well, that was it for Miami. The sun was setting and it was time to begin our road trip through the Keys.
We arrived in Key Largo around dinner time. We unpacked our belongings and headed out to Mrs. Mac's Kitchen, a hole in the wall restaurant known for their world famous Key Lime Pie. Let me tell you... as the first of many slices of Key Lime Pie I had on this trip... it was the best.
The next morning consisted of our combined first Waffle House experience. They really do have some of the best waffle's I've ever tasted. After breakfast we were headed to the first of many state parks: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Despite the weather being less than extraordinary, we still had a great time exploring the beaches and buying 12 of every shirt in the gift shop (that's a slight exaggeration..)
After leaving the park, it was time to head to our next Key: Islamorada. However, I made a slight detour into one of Key Largo's finest junk yards after I saw some sweet rides in the lot. My camera and I may have a slight weakness for vintage cars..
For our final stop in Part 1 we hit Islamorada on the way to Marathon. Driving through the town I couldn't help but notice just how colorful everything was. I didn't think much of it until we were nearly out of Islamorada and I had taken zero pictures. I made my dad promptly turn back around and drive all the way back to the top of the island (don't worry... it only took 10 minutes).
Stay tuned for South Florida Road Trip 2017 - Part 2