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Please critique my 10-day FL itinerary
Old 11-03-2010, 12:57 AM   #1
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Please critique my 10-day FL itinerary

I am planning my first trip to Florida from Dec 21 to 31. The days are set and I already booked my round-trip ticket to Miami. Since I've never been to the great state of Florida before, I would like to see if the collective wisdom of the board thinks my itinerary is feasible, and if I'm missing anything major.

About me: 32-year-old woman traveling solo

What I like: Beaches, sun, coffee shops, snorkeling, seafood (hopefully not too expensive), architecture/colorful buildings, wildlife, art

What I don't care about: nightlife, unsafe places, overpriced restaurants, spring break party crowd, self-indulgent artists

Day 1. Arrive in Miami in the afternoon, stay in South Beach
Day 2. South Beach
Day 3. Drive to and stay in Key Largo (got Hampton Inn points to burn)
Day 4 & 5. Key West, probably do some snorkeling
Day 6. Back to Miami (or the vicinity of)
Day 7. Everglades
Day 8. Everglades
Day 9 & 10. Siesta Key or vicinity, or even Tampa? Is it too cramped for the schedule?
Day 11. Drive back to Miami, fly back home at 4 p.m.

Does it sound like a reasonable plan? I am hoping to keep the lodging budget to around $120/day. All suggestions are welcome! (restaurants, things to do, hotels/B&Bs you love, etc.)
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:13 AM   #2
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I am very jealous. (I enjoy most of the same things; it is getting too cool for me in the Midwest; and, have not been to Florida in a while.)

This sounds like a reasonable tour of south FL to me; however, there is a lot of driving at the end which I might find a bit too tiring. If it were me, I'd probably just head back north of Miami for the last couple of days. There are lots of cool little town from Hollywood through West Palm Beach (and probably as far north as you would care to drive) with nice beaches and cheaper lodging than Miami. (South Beach definitely is not to be missed though.)

On your next trip, you might consider seeing the panhandle and maybe some of central FL. They are very different from the areas you plan to visit; but, quite nice in their own right.

I am considering a trip to southwest FL in the near future just because I have not spent much time in that part of the state.

Have fun.
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:31 AM   #3
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Although the Siesta Key area is really nice, that trip and/or Tampa would be better saved for another time (too long a drive). If you want to take another side trip for a day or two, try Naples/Marco Island.
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:32 AM   #4
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That is an ambitious trip. I would give the Keys an extra day and shorten the everglades to a drive thru as you head to southwest Florida .You then have your choice of beaches from Marco Island to Fort Meyers . Siesta Key is nice and fun but it is a party crowd and maybe not what you are looking for . Sanibel may be more your style . Siesta key is just off Sarasota Florida which has art a cute downtown with lots of historic shops or you could go to Venice ,fl. historic downtown, lots of Spanish buildings ,quiet pretty beaches , little outside cafe and a shorter drive back to Miami . Tampa is too far . I don't really know the east coast of Florida so maybe somebody could chime in on that part .
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:58 AM   #5
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Everglades are really cool. Are you going all the way to Flamingo? The only place to stay (without an RV) is a National Park motel, and you probably need reservations.

If you do manage to stay in Flamingo, be sure to take one of the mangrove boat rides.
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:49 AM   #6
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We thought Key West was over the top touristy and didn't care for it. We thought the other, lesser known keys, were much more intersting.

South beach has a lot of Art Deco architecture though you can probably see it all in a day. We took our time there, spent days on the beach and evenings people watching from a bar/restaurant with sidewalk seating. Lodging is expensive.
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:21 AM   #7
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Might want to check this out, particularly if a launch happens while you're there:

NASA - Kennedy Space Center Home Page
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Old 11-03-2010, 11:24 AM   #8
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That is an ambitious trip. I would give the Keys an extra day and shorten the everglades to a drive thru as you head to southwest Florida .You then have your choice of beaches from Marco Island to Fort Meyers . Siesta Key is nice and fun but it is a party crowd and maybe not what you are looking for . Sanibel may be more your style . Siesta key is just off Sarasota Florida which has art a cute downtown with lots of historic shops or you could go to Venice ,fl. historic downtown, lots of Spanish buildings ,quiet pretty beaches , little outside cafe and a shorter drive back to Miami . Tampa is too far . I don't really know the east coast of Florida so maybe somebody could chime in on that part .
+1 on everything Moemg said. DW & Dd just returned from Tampa and enjoyed it (wedding), but it is far and SW Fl is a nice area to visit.

Not much excitement in Florida east coast north of South Beach, although I hear the latest tourist events are new tours of foreclosed condos. The short tours take days....
There is a large tourist attraction up near Orlando - but it's mostly for families with lots of disposable income and young children that like rodents.
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Old 11-03-2010, 11:51 AM   #9
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Our very busy Freebird might weigh in here, but here's her thread asking for Florida suggestions for a solo trip from this past spring, which might be interesting for you:

My next adventure...need ideas for FL
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:35 PM   #10
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Wow! Thanks for all the suggestions! I will definitely check out these places. Florida seems to have so many interesting little cities/towns. Since I'm from the Midwest, I am used to attractions being 4-6 hours apart from each other.

It sounds like Freebird and I have a lot in common, except I don't have a doctor ordering me to go south. I think half of Minnesota heads south between December and April to keep our sanity.

Thanks again for all the great ideas!
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:10 AM   #11
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Everglades are really cool. Are you going all the way to Flamingo? The only place to stay (without an RV) is a National Park motel, and you probably need reservations.

If you do manage to stay in Flamingo, be sure to take one of the mangrove boat rides.
I did a little research and it looks like this place is closed.

Flamingo Lodge is No More | National Parks Traveler

That's too bad. It sounded really cool!
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:41 AM   #12
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Good luck with your trip GoodSense. Florida is a beautiful state.

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Florida seems to have so many interesting little cities/towns.
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:42 AM   #13
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Check online for the destinations you are going to they usually have tourist booklets they'll send out it may help you decide . If you want to do snorkeling your best bet is the Keys . Also in December our weather cools so for beaches the further south the better . A few places in the Everglades have air boat rides . Take bug repellent ! Also make sure you have gas before you start that drive .
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:57 AM   #14
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Also in December our weather cools so for beaches the further south the better .
I'm planning a Florida trip in February. If I went to the beach it would only be between Clearwater and Siesta Key. Do people go to the beach in that area even in February?
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:44 PM   #15
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GoodSense:
SW Florida is awesome. If you make it to Sanibel Island (near Ft. Meyers) I recommend a nice, leisurely lunch at the Sanibel Marina (Gramma Dots Restaurant). It's inexpensive and delicious. They have great Grouper sandwiches. Another good eating place, a little further down on the next island (Captiva Island), which connects to Sanibel, is an old English Pub styled family restaurant known as The Mucky Duck. They are situated right on the beach and have wonderful sunsets. Enjoy! That is a wonderful time to be in Florida.

P.S. Do not miss snorkling on the reef out of Key West!
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:47 PM   #16
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I'm planning a Florida trip in February. If I went to the beach it would only be between Clearwater and Siesta Key. Do people go to the beach in that area even in February?

They definitely go to the beach but only a few brave souls go in the water .
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:41 PM   #17
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Given your desires beaches, sun, etc. I wouldn't bother with the Tampa area. I think you might like Clearwater better, but I'd skip the area altogether after Miami, Key West and points south. I lived near Tampa for 3 years and it's nice, but not worth the trip with your interests after south FL IMO. But I hope you enjoy your trip regardless...
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:44 PM   #18
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Thanks! I think I will skip Tampa for this trip then. It's a vacation, after all (even though I have a tendency to pack in way too much). It looks like the area near Naples is pretty neat, too, and not too far out of the way. If I am feeling ambitious, I will probably drive up to Sanibel Island. But if not, at least I have seen a bit of the gulf side.

One thing I find extremely strange is the price difference between car rental out of Miami airport vs. a neighborhood location. Take Enterprise, for example. Car rental at the airport starts at $600/week while the same car is renting for $130/week from a location 5 miles away. Is it just supply/demand??
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodSense View Post
I am planning my first trip to Florida from Dec 21 to 31. The days are set and I already booked my round-trip ticket to Miami. Since I've never been to the great state of Florida before, I would like to see if the collective wisdom of the board thinks my itinerary is feasible, and if I'm missing anything major.

About me: 32-year-old woman traveling solo

What I like: Beaches, sun, coffee shops, snorkeling, seafood (hopefully not too expensive), architecture/colorful buildings, wildlife, art

What I don't care about: nightlife, unsafe places, overpriced restaurants, spring break party crowd, self-indulgent artists

Day 1. Arrive in Miami in the afternoon, stay in South Beach
Day 2. South Beach
Day 3. Drive to and stay in Key Largo (got Hampton Inn points to burn)
Day 4 & 5. Key West, probably do some snorkeling
Day 6. Back to Miami (or the vicinity of)
Day 7. Everglades
Day 8. Everglades
Day 9 & 10. Siesta Key or vicinity, or even Tampa? Is it too cramped for the schedule?
Day 11. Drive back to Miami, fly back home at 4 p.m.

Does it sound like a reasonable plan? I am hoping to keep the lodging budget to around $120/day. All suggestions are welcome! (restaurants, things to do, hotels/B&Bs you love, etc.)
Definitely do an airboat ride in the everglades. Cut out some of the driving, maybe stay in the keys or south beach an extra day.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:51 AM   #20
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Thanks! I think I will skip Tampa for this trip then. It's a vacation, after all (even though I have a tendency to pack in way too much). It looks like the area near Naples is pretty neat, too, and not too far out of the way. If I am feeling ambitious, I will probably drive up to Sanibel Island. But if not, at least I have seen a bit of the gulf side.

One thing I find extremely strange is the price difference between car rental out of Miami airport vs. a neighborhood location. Take Enterprise, for example. Car rental at the airport starts at $600/week while the same car is renting for $130/week from a location 5 miles away. Is it just supply/demand??
Some of the difference in car rental prices may be taxes and other surcharges. There is no reason to stick to an airport rental if you can get to and from an offsite location.
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