Florida Keys

When: May 1st 2013- May 12th, 2013

Total length: 12 days

                                4 days Key West

                                7 days Key Largo

Departure: Miami, FL

Weather: Rainy the first 3 days, sunny and hot (30° C) the remaining time

Getting there

Our trip started off with a flight to Miami, using WestJet. We then rented an accessible van that was a side enter. The rental was for the entire 12 days, and is essential. There are charter vans (inaccessible) and the greyhound (too long), which made the rental the best option. This particular rental allowed drivers to be a minimum of 21 years of age.

    The van given was great! It was spacious and felt brand new. Two wheelchairs (a large and smaller electric) fit in with ease.

Key West

Our drive from Miami to Key West was approximately 4 hours. We chose to rent a condo in the 1800 Atlantic condominiums, right along the ocean. It was a safe, and only a short drive to “downtown” Key West.

Note: The condo that we booked and the condo that we actually stayed at were not the same. Due to balcony construction, we were given an ocean view instead. However, it was not accessible in the bathroom. We did go and shower in the unit we originally were to rent, as you can see the photos. Although we did not stay in the unit, I would recommend it to everyone.

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First Bathroom: I did not use it, as it has a bathtub.

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Second Bathroom: This bathroom has a shower with a 4-5 inch step over, in which I pivot transferred over it. I took a chair from the balcony and placed it in the shower. The seat did lie back significantly. The shower head was not on a long house.

Pool Area: The pool area was very nice, overlooking the ocean. There were doors to get out into the pool area, which were not automatic.

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Downtown Key West

The weather the first day gave us a pretty good sense of what a tropical storm is like. We decided to take a walk downtown to visit some shops and found that the streets would flood within minutes. We were told this was unusual and not a common occurrance. Therefore, if you want to avoid this happening on a really rainy day, avoid lower downtown!

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Hemingway House

This place was great! We loved walking around the old building, looking at the cats and memorabilia. The second story is not accessible, so we watched a video in the kitchen that gave the tour for us, as well as a bit of history on Hemingway. It was probably even better than actually going upstairs. There were also many cute polydactyly cats. The pathways could get a bit narrow at times, but people got out of the way.

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Shopping

We found the shopping to be a disappointment. It was just the regular touristy junk. There were a few stores that were nice, but nothing too special. Check out Kermit for Key Lime pie and treats.

Restaurants

We ate lunch at a really interesting food spot named Bo’s. The décor was very eclectic. We tried the Conch Fritters, something that is a must in the Keys! The washrooms were scary, don’t even try.

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We also ate at a restaurant named Grand one day. We found the Duvall area to be very loud and over commercialized. But sitting at this old Key West Veranda house was a sanctuary from it all. The restaurant was quiet, even with the HardRock Café right down the street. There is a ramp at the back of the restaurant, and a small step to get onto the front porch. The food was pretty good too.

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One night we got take out at a little restaurant named Lupita’s. The food portions were huge, and the food pretty inexpensive. The salsa was great!

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Cemetery

We did a quick drive through of the above ground, white-washed gravestones. Many books have had their scenes set there and so I though I’d check it out!

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Overall thoughts on Key West

I would say that for a non-drinker or partier, I did not really find Key West to be that great. It was very commercialized. However, to be fair, the weather was not the best. Next time, I would try and head to the beach and do a tour of the area. In order to ensure better weather, I would head in June.

Key Largo

We then drove up the coast to our condo at the Yacht Club. We rented a two bedroom place at a great price. It was in a gated community, so we felt very safe here. The property was along the ocean, with a great beach for wheelchair users.

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The Condo

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The second bedroom had a stow-away bed and a queen. Next to it was a bathroom, which we found a bit narrow. Fortunately, the bedroom and the bathroom area were closed off with a door to the main area for extra privacy. We placed a camping chair in the shower (small step)

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The second bedroom was really nice, but there was a bathtub in the ensuite bathroom.

The living room and kitchen were comfortable and very nicely done. There was cable tv and internet as well.

The balcony overlooked the tennis courts. There was a step over, and not easy for a chair to get over.

The washer and dryer were in a separate room right next to the front door (exterior to the apartment). It was under lock and key as well.

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The Beach on site

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The beach had beams along the perimeter to keep the sand in. It was not accessible to get over, so we pulled a loose one out. This particular one was the first beam, next to the flag pole. Once over, the sand was the same consistency as a fine gravel driveway. It was perfect! There were many chairs and shaded umbrellas with tables as well. The water access was down some steps.  The water was crystal clear, with practically no waves.

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Walking further down the pathway, there was another pathway that jetted out to the sea. At the end there was a gazebo, where people could fish. The pathway was a bit rocky with potholes.

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On site there were also a couple of pools, along with a lagoon to swim in.

Grocery Store: There was a Publix a short drive away and a few restaurants nearby.

Glass Bottom Boat Excursion

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In order to get to the dock, we had to walk through a gravel driveway, on grass and onto a ramp that had a bit of a lip because of the grass.

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This boat was deemed accessible, as there was a ramp onto it. However, the lip onto the ramp was a bit extreme. A lot of pushing and shoving got me onto it. The ramp was also a bit steep, but we managed!

The tour first began with a 20 minute or so ride out to the coral reef. The boat then hovered over it, as a tour guide explained various aspects of the flora and fauna. If you get sea sick very easily, this trip might not be for you. I got a bit queasy trying to focus on the bottom, as the boat swayed back and forth.

The name glass bottom boat is also a bit misleading, as only some panels in the middle were, and you cannot walk over them. This might have been for the best too, for sea sickness reasons. You could also order drinks on the boat. The inside was airconditioned. You could also walk outside to the back of the boat. Stairs led to the top deck. I do not remember seeing any accessible washrooms (ask ahead if this is something you would need). The entire trip was not long either.

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We later went to a diner named Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen to have lunch. The food was typical diner food. The atmosphere was neat, as there were license plates lining the walls, and money all over the ceiling. The key lime pie was really good.

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Lobster Trap Art:  This is a store that we passed along the highway and had to stop. The artists (husband and wife) owned the place, and were there to sign your purchases. The picture frames of the unique photos were actually old lobster traps. The prints and frames were also reasonably priced.

Beach: This beach (Anne’s Beach) was gorgeous. The water was crystal blue, with the depth as little as two feet for a far distance. The boardwalk was smooth and accessible, with covered verandas to sit and overlook the beach and water. We went on an off day, and most of the verandas were filled up. I wouldn’t  recommend going on a busy hot day, unless you brought your own umbrella to sit on the beach. It was extremely hot. I did not try to go on the sand, as I probably would have gotten stuck.

The washrooms were accessible, but really run down. There wasn’t toilet paper!

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Giant lobster: this place was pretty interesting (named the Rain Barrel) . They had many little shops throughout, along with a small food stand. I really liked the pottery place, located right in the back. It doesn’t take long to walk through, but worthwhile nonetheless!

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Random Activities

Tower of Pizza: We ate here and loved the pasta. It was very homey and had large portions

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We also ate here ( I think it was Snappers) and there are mixed feelings. The atmosphere was pretty nice, as the restaurant was on the water. I did not like my food (lobster tacos) but my party did like theirs. It can get cold and windy in the restaurant, as it is open to the ocean.

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Shopping: outlet mall. This was an okay mall. Nothing special. It was about 40 minutes away.

Overall Thoughts of Key Largo

I absolutely loved it. The condo was great and relaxing. There wasn’t much else to do within that area, but I was content with this. I would definitely like to go back!