Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Key West and the Fabulous Waldorf Astoria

After Key Largo, we set out to drive through the entire chain of Florida Keys to Key West. The journey was fun.

We stopped at Bahia Honda en route. This is another awesome state park many people recommended.

We saw protected sea turtle nests. One of my biggest goals in motherhood is to get my kids to experience life intensely and authentically. 

As much as we love zoos and parks, there is nothing like seeing nature and critters like this outside of the aquarium and in person. 

We enjoyed three days at the amazing Waldorf Astoria, which is perhaps the nicest resort we have ever stayed at. It was a treat for us. The Hampton Inn and Double Tree are more our style. We love nice resorts, but with as much as we travel, it makes more sense to stay at reasonably priced resorts.

We arrived without our room ready, so the hotel sent us out for free cocktails and conch fritters. Heavenly. 

Kids collected bracelets around the grounds after they read and learned about each historical point. Of course, I loved this. 

The hotel is old and fabulous and felt a lot like The Del Coronado. 

Ocean view. Laine was in love. 


After enjoying the pool and resort, we met a professional photographer at the beach and then in town. 

It was fun. Always my favorite souvenir. 

We walked into town and wandered through Mallory Square. 

Couldn't help but eat at Caroline's! 

My husband. Love this photo. 

Did some shopping and loved this candy store. 

So perfect for Jack since his obsession is Hersey's. 

We read historical markers everywhere, much to the kids' dismay. This was the original bank in Key West. They couldn't have cared less. 

Stopped at the Southernmost Point in the U.S. so that we didn't have to wait in the two hour line during pool and ocean time the next day. 

Jack found the entire situation belittling and "stupid", so he's standing behind the marker. Awesome. 

Laine now sleeps in her own spot, regardless of whether there is a bed for her or not. Girl needs her space sometimes. 

One last day of Key West and then we were back en route to California. Coming soon! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Key Largo Day 2 - Snorkeling Expedition

Our hotel in Key Largo was filled with giant critters. We had a blast watching these guys. Manatees greeted us each morning, too, and we could see jellyfish from the shore.

We visited John Pennekamp State Park for a snorkel excursion and it was the highlight of our trip. So, so amazing for us all to be in the water, exploring sea life together.

As always, Jack was cautious and claimed, "I'm not doing it" as we drove out.

We had to pull him out of the water.....he loved it most!

The boat ride there and back was awesome, too.

Jack asked me to "take a picture of Lainey and me like this". I nearly fell down in shock and then quickly snapped it before he changed his mind.

That night, we visited IslaMorada for dinner. It was lovely.

Could we have had a better table?! Heavenly.

I'll post pics once I get my underwater camera photos back.....but here is part of what we cool. Snorkeling with the statues.

The next day, we ventured further into the Keys to see Key West and I spoke nothing but Hemingway the entire trip. :)

More from Key West next post!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Key Largo Day 1

So, we left Orlando and headed to the fabulous Florida Keys. We had considered Cocoa Beach or Clearwater or other nearby ones, but that seemed too easy for us.

The drive in is awesome.

Kids practiced snorkeling in preparation for an expedition the following day.

And, we played a lot, too.

There were critters everywhere. Tons of fish, huge iguanas and even a baby manatee who greeted us every morning.

We stayed in Key Largo for two nights and just took it easy for the first evening there. Next up, major snorkeling trip!