Elizabeth and Steve's 2011 Trip to Key West & Miami

Nine days in Florida -- a great vacation! And my first time in Key West and Miami.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

 

Flew to Ft Lauderdale in the afternoon. Dinner at Delicias Peruanas in Hollywood (north of Miami). Drove south past Miami and stayed at a generic hotel in Homestead, which got us closer to the Keys, to make for more exploration time during the drive to Key West the next day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Key West, Florida

Drove to Key West. Yay! On the way had a great lunch at Lazy Days Restaurant in Islamorada. Outdoors, beautiful weather, looking out over the ocean. And delicious Key lime pie -- so nice!

Arrived at our condo, the Coconut Mallory -- a timeshare we shared with friends Steve and Lyndy.

Dinner at Abbondanza. Not bad food, but silly-large portions.

Saturday,, November 19, 2011

 

Had a great, relaxed day exploring Key West with our friends. Drinks and appetizers at Cheeseburger in Paradise. (They're coasting a bit on Buffet's name and their location on Duval Street, the tourist main drag.)

Watched the sunset from Mallory Square.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

 

Another day exploring Key West. Rented bikes from Eaton Bikes -- a great way to get around! Sunset from Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, which is much more peaceful than Mallory Square!

Then an outdoor dinner on the patio at Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery. Very good food and drinks -- highly recommended!

Monday, November 21, 2011

 

Boat trip to the Dry Tortugas (a National Park), 70 miles west of Key West. What a cool place! In addition to some great snorkeling (saw fishes & coral), we saw many of these very cool Magnificent Frigatebirds, with seven-foot wingspans, but which weigh only three or four pounds.

Magnificant Frigatebird in the Dry Tortugas

They spend hours on the wing, and are adept at preening while flying. (The white-headed birds are juveniles.)

Magnificant Frigatebird in the Dry Tortugas

Magnificant Frigatebird in the Dry Tortugas

A male Magnificent Frigatebird, with his bright red display pouch.

Male Magnificant Frigatebird in the Dry Tortugas

Magnificant Frigatebird in the Dry Tortugas

Dinner at Louie's Backyard, great dining on the waterfront; a real treat.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

 

Drove up Highway 1 to Big Pine Key (and saw a few Key Deer). Stopped at Blue Hole, and managed to get this shot of a dragonfly, which hovered for a fraction of a second over the water while I snapped this image.

Dragonfly in flight

Another dragonfly, in flight.

Dragonfly in flight

American Coots on Blue Hole.

Had lunch at No Name Pub. (No, that's not a photo of me!)

Visited Bahia Honda State Park on the way back to Key West -- a nice beach. (And pronounced Bay'-uh Honda -- who knew?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

 

Explored around Key West on a tandem bike rented from Eaton Bikes. Fun! Visited the Hemmingway House, the Audubon House and climbed the lighthouse for a nice view.

Back to Mallory Square for a nice sunset. Then dinner at El Mason de Pepe, off Mallory Square. Good Cuban food, and a very nice patio.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

 

Got up early and rode our (rented) tandem bike to see the sunrise.

Had a guided kayak tour with Lazy Dog kayak tours around -- and through -- mangroves between Key West and Stock Island. Our guide pointed out all sorts of wildlife (Cassiopeia jellyfish, sponges, mangrove snapper, a ray, ...) that we never would have seen otherwise. A great thing to do!

Lunch at the Southernmost Beach Cafe a great open-air location. We weren't expecting much from the food, but it was good! As were the drinks.

Another sunset from Mallory Square.

Sunset from Key West

And a (non-traditional) Thanksgiving dinner at Mangia Mangia -- tasty pasta and good wine!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Everglades National Park, Florida

Left Key West. On the way out, stopped again at Lazy Days Restaurant on Islamorada for a great lunch.

Then on to Everglades National Park (the Homestead entrance) where we saw this Anhinga, with its beautiful feather patterns.

Anhinga sunning itself

And this alligator!

Aligator!

Another Everglades creature.

Snake in the Everglades

Snake in the Everglades

This Anhinga is barely under the water's surface, with a just-caught fish in its beak.

Anhinga, underwater, with a fish

A Kingfisher at Mrazek Pond -- one of my favorite birds! And great "hair"!

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

A Great White Heron (a rather rare bird) at Mrazek Pond.

Great White Heron

Great White Heron

And an Osprey. Big talons!

Osprey

Then on to our small "boutique" hotel, SoBeYou, in Miami Beach, which was great. Our room was off a small palm-filled courtyard with a pool. And not too far of a walk from Ocean Drive, but far enough away for quiet sleeping time.

Walked to Puerto Sagua Restaurant for dinner -- good Cuban food!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Miami Beach, Florida

Good breakfast at our hotel -- waffles! Then walked to Ocean Drive and took the Art Deco Walking Tour, which was a perfect way to start off our visit. The Art Deco architecture in Miami Beach is so cool!, and this 90-minute walking tour was a great intro to the area.

This photo shows the "Art" in the Art Deco Welcome Center sign, and a reflected palm.

Art!

Toured the Wolfsonian Museum, which had some good art exhibits.

Lunch on the patio at the 11th Street Diner. A 1948 Art Deco dining car, transplanted from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania to Miami Beach in the early 90s.

I had brought a lightweight tripod for our trip, and used it to get some twilight and night photos of some of the buildings along Ocean Drive. The neon and twilight and Art Deco are so nice together!

The Carlyle on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, at twilight

Hotel Victor on Sunset Drive, Miami Beach, at twilight

The Strand, at 1024 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, at night

The Breakwater on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach

Dinner at the Thai House, on their outdoor patio. (So nice to eat outdoors!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

 

A day of exploring Miami Beach, by car, and on foot.

The Jackie Gleason Theater.

The Filmore Theater, Miami Beach

A good Cuban lunch at Sazon Cuban Cuisine.

Eventually a meandering drive back south to "our" part of South Beach. Dinner at Catch 10 -- slow service and just-okay food for the price. Oh well...

More twilight photos on Ocean Drive.

The Breakwater on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, at twilight

The Breakwater on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, at twilight

The Edison on Beach Drive, Miami Beach, at twilight

And here's a detail from the above photo -- cool car! (Quite different from the ubiquitous Bentleys and Ferraris!)

Car in Miami Beach

The bar at the Clevelander, Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, at night

The bar at the Clevelander, Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, at night

The Park Central on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, at night

Monday, November 28, 2011

 

We drove into Miami (from Miami Beach) to visit the Design District. Then Villa Vizcaya -- an amazing and over-the-top mansion and gardens constructed in the early 1900s by a wealthy businessman. Then on to Key Biscayne for a delicious outdoor lunch (and mojitos) at the 100% Natural Restaurant.

South on Key Biscayne to the Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park, at the southern tip of Key Biscayne, with a beautifully restored lighthouse.

On the way back from Key Biscayne I took this 30-second exposure shot of the Miami skyline from the causeway leading to Key Biscayne.

Miami skyline, from the causeway to Key Biscayne, Miami, at night

Nighttime shots of the Bacardi Buildings in Miami. Interesting architecture!

Bacardi building, Miami Beach, at night

Bacardi building, Miami Beach, at night

Dinner at Maya Tapas & Grill on Lincoln Road. So-so food, but nice to be outdoors on the ped-only Lincoln Road.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

 

Flight home.