We fell in love with Islamorada at first glance- there’s something so charming, so quaint and so chill about this gems of a stop. Filled with a small-town charm, beautiful palm trees, and a laid-back vibe, Islamorada is a true vacation paradise. The determination of the city is evident in how quickly they are rebuilding after being destroyed in a hurricane last year. Since it’s on route to Key West, it’s entirely possible to miss Islamorada as a whole, but we really recommend spending a few days to explore all that this area of the Florida Keys has to offer.
While you won’t find the same energy as Key West, we promise that you will enjoy your time as much as we did in this little gem of Florida.
HOW TO GET TO ISLAMORADA: DRIVE, FLY
We recommend flying into Miami International Airport and renting a car directly from the airport. Car services are also available, but you will need a car to get around.
TIP: Check out Priceline.com or Rentalcars.com to find a great deal on car rentals. We were surprised at how reasonable car rentals in Florida were.
WHERE TO STAY IN ISLAMORADA
We’ve stayed in our share of inns, but Casa Morada stole our hearts from the moment we checked in. A renovated house nestled in between greenery, Casa Morada is a true gem.
Each unit feels like your own private oasis with a separate bedroom and a living room to allow you to feel more relaxed and at ease. The lower units in the Garden Suites also have walk-outs, and the pool and the ocean views make this the perfect hideaway from the world. You can opt for either Sea View or Garden Suites- we like the Garden Suites, to be honest- it felt more private. There are complimentary kayaks and paddleboards for guests, and you can also take part in yoga classes.
Bonus: You can charter a sunset cruise right from the resort making it the perfect romantic getaway.
THINGS TO DO IN ISLAMORADA
Florida Keys Brewery: Run by a husband and wife team, the Florida Keys Brewery not only has a great outdoor vibe but also has a great selection on tap too! We fell in love with the sour beers on the menu, but they have options for everyone! We recommend spending an evening in the quaint patio area with some friends. It’s a great way to meet new people and enjoy a few of Florida’s best craft beers.
Robbie’s Marina: A wonderful little gem of a place right off the highway- Robbie’s Marina is a colorful collage of art and design. Not only can you grab a bite to eat, but you can also take a one of a kind souvenir home with you. The artwork sold here is unlike anything else we’ve seen.
Also, we recommend the tacos. Always get the tacos.
Dolphin Research Centre: Animals in captivity is a touchy topic for most so imagine our surprise to find a proper research center right in the middle of the Florida Keys. The Dolphin Research Centre is a school that studies dolphins and other water mammals. They also provide medical care, and classes to teach visitors how to interact with sea life in a sustainable and responsible manner, and your admission goes towards supporting a great cause. This is one of the best things to do in Islamorada.
Rain Barrel Sculpture Gallery: If you’re into kitsch, then this is the place for you. This funky, rustic spot right off the main road is the best place for local sculptures, paintings, pottery & gifts. You can’t miss it- there’s a giant lobster outside.
Charter a Boat: You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you heard to Islamorada and don’t get on the water. There are tons of great activities- whether it’s going kayaking, snorkeling, or going diving- there’s something for everything.
Bahia Honda State Park: While technically not in Islamorada it is one of the 10 beaches in the United States and a perfect place to kayak, go on a snorkeling boat tour, go camping or fishing. You can easily spend a full day here. They even have a marina where you can dock your boat for the night.
WHERE TO EAT IN ISLAMORADA:
First of all, let’s just start with saying that you must try seafood and key lime pie anywhere it’s on the menu. You won’t regret it.
We’ve also gone ahead and done some research and pulled together a list of great places to eat because eating is definitely one of the best things to do in Islamorada.
The Fish House
Specializing in fresh local seafood including yellowtail snapper, mahi-mahi, grouper, Florida lobster, and stone crab- this is the place to go if you’re like having seafood. TIP: Get the stone crab if you’re there during the season.
Address: 102401 Overseas Highway Key Largo, FL
Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
Honestly, there’s a reason why they go through hundreds of key lime pies weekly- it’s just that good. Don’t leave the Keys without trying it.
Address: 99336 Overseas Highway Key Largo, FL
Fun beachside atmosphere, and great casual vibe at night. We recommend stopping here if you’re passing by Islamorada.
Address: 81600 Overseas Highway Islamorada, FL
A really cool waterside pub with great beers, good food (we loved the tacos), and a beautiful view of the water. A few meters over from the restaurant is a place where you can feed the tarpons too.
Address: 77522 Overseas Highway Islamorada, FL
We fell in love with the zucchini pasta, the lively friendly atmosphere, and the great views. Show up a little early to grab a table outside.
Address: 88000 Overseas Highway Islamorada, FL
THINGS TO NOTE:
The nightlife is a bit lacking, and most restaurants close a bit earlier, so this isn’t going to be the party hub- but as long as you’re prepared with a few drinks, you’ll be all set!
THINGS TO BRING:
We can’t stress mosquito spray and sunscreen enough. There’s no reason to ruin a perfectly good time in Florida by getting eaten alive by bugs.
If this is your first time in the Keys, and you’re planning on spending a few days there, be sure to save a few days for Islamorada. We recommend this being your first stop to get into the holiday mood. You won’t regret it.
This post was created in partnership with the Florida Keys & Key West! However, the opinions are all ours!