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Because you can't spend all day every day journeying around IgoUgo, editors round up the highlights: members' notable trips, newest reviews, favorite destinations, contests, and more. Have a question or idea? Let us know!

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Guest Blogger zabelle Tours the Florida Keys

Guest Blogger zabelle Tours the Florida Keys Photo

Photo by Dutchnatasja

Posted on April 1, 2008 in Traveler of the Week

When we asked IgoUgo members to submit ideas for a guest blog post, zabelle answered with an inspiring pitch on the Florida Keys. Here, in her own words (and in a few borrowed from other IgoUgoers enamored with that Keys pace), she takes us there.

“Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes”—this Jimmy Buffet lyric sums up the vibe of the Florida Keys. This is one spot with a tropical, Caribbean climate that you don’t need a passport to visit. Grab your sunscreen, your flip-flops, and a wide-brimmed hat; the average temperature in the Florida Keys is 77.8, and you can pretty much guarantee that there won’t be a nip in the air or the water.

Stretching 125 miles from south of Miami to Key West, the Florida Keys are made up of over 1,700 islands, many of which are privately owned and some of which can be purchased or rented. The main islands for most visitors are Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Lower Key, and Key West.

You can reach the Keys by car on the Overseas Highway, by plane into Key West International Airport, or on a cruise ship. Whichever way you arrive, be prepared to enjoy the bright blue sky and the sparkling blue sea, where water sports abound. You can parasail, snorkel, jet-ski, kayak, do some deep-sea fishing, or just kick back in your beach chair and thank God that you are not dealing with the winter chill.

The Keys have been a favorite destination of some of IgoUgo’s outdoor-loving travelers.

Kebamo has this to say about Marathon: “This quiet little jewel is the perfect place to get away, with clean, white beaches that are not crowded, plenty of room, and blue water to swim or snorkel in. This little jewel is a must-visit place!”

Member mtemail suggests visiting Dolphins Plus, Inc., on Key Largo: “The natural swim is just that—you wear a snorkel and mask and swim around the pen as the dolphins are doing the same.”

And weps00 takes us diving in Islamorada: “If you enjoy wreck diving, then you're in for a treat. Whether you dive the Bibb, Duane, Eagle, Grove, or other wrecks within a 45-minute ride, every dive will be different.”

We have all met creekland on the IgoUgo message boards, and here she introduces us to snorkeling off Key West: “The Dry Tortugas is a great place to learn to snorkel. Much of the water is shallow, and snorkeling is literally right off the beach.”

The Florida Keys have a lot to offer besides outdoor activities as well. For those who prefer arts and culture to sea and sand, opportunities are plentiful. To find out what is going on, visit www.fla-keys.com/calendarofevents. You will find local theater, antiques shows, craft fairs, and many more activities awaiting you. Both Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams made their homes in Key West, and Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all spent time at the Winter White House on the Naval Station in Key West.

The motto of Key West is “One Human Family,” and that certainly applies to the entire Florida Keys. There is a general air of acceptance here; it’s as if you leave your differences behind and come here to mingle.

Not to leave the party animals out, Duval St. in Key West offers round-the-clock entertainment. One place I can recommend is Sloppy Joe’s: yes, you guessed it, the Sloppy Joe was invented here, and even at lunchtime, there will be live entertainment. This was a favorite hangout of Ernest Hemingway when he made Key West his home.

Recently, on March 16, all eyes were focused on Islamorada as the HGTV network gave away their dream house, which is located in the Shore at Islamorada community. Some lucky viewer joined those select few people who call the “Shores” their home.

For the rest of us, we can always dream—or we can just come and stay at one of the quaint hotels, motels, and B&Bs that dot the Keys.

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