Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas on the Keys

The holiday season has arrived in full force, yet again!  Holiday parties and Christmas soirees are the norm in most suburban communities across the United States. But maybe, some of you want to get away from the holiday hubbub and enjoy a vacation in a place with  blue skies, fluffy clouds and azure waters?
Pier  at the Cheeca.
 How about a contrarian celebration in a far flung paradise ?? 
Join me on this travel feature to the Florida Keys as we cross the scenic Overseas Highway to celebrate Christmas on the KEYS. Why not trade-in your traditional white Christmas for a tropical Holiday this year? Even Santa loves to get away from the cacophony!

The great American road trip has been our family's all season favorite pastime for the last 15 years! There is no better way to experience this beautiful country's heterogenous landscape! And so, each year we pack our bags and our camera (of course!) and get into our car and hit the road. Yes, in the winter too! Over the years, books and atlas' have been replaced by GPS and smart phone apps but little else has changed about our cherished quest!

And today, I am featuring a few pictures from our 2010 Christmas road trip to an ultimate festive jaunt - the Keys! 
Route 1 or the Overseas Highway features on many must-do road trip lists as a hot favorite! So, if you haven't explored this route yet - I urge you to get on the road now!

Here is what the experts have to say about this iconic drive and I couldn't have said it better myself!

"The 113-mile (181-kilometer) drive on Highway 1 from mainland Florida to Key West induces sensory overload. Besides the natural beauty along the route—tidal flats, teal waters dotted by distant islands—the so-called Overseas Highway awes you in its own right as an engineering marvel. Its concrete stretches across impossible expanses of water, the Atlantic spreading out to the left, the Gulf to the right."  - National Geographic, Drives of a Lifetime

Read the rest of this travelogue here
If you are looking for a holiday gift - here is a great book!
"Island hopping to Land's end, this one-of-a-kind highway offers the promise of radiant seascapes, exotic underwater worlds, and animals found nowhere else in America" -  Reader's Digest, The Most Scenic Drives in America

For me, the trip began with a stay at the Cheeca Lodge, an Islamorada Key resort. 

Holiday trees cheerily welcome guests at the Cheeca!
To enjoy holiday hospitality in a plantation- style retreat in the backdrop of tropical weather  far away from  freezing winter temperatures was an exotic experience in itself - one that will stay etched in my memory forever.  The design and decor enthusiast in me is always looking for travel accommodations that are a bit indulgent. However, I try to be budget savvy and avoid the high price of highbrow travel and look for off season deals!
The many shades of comfort!

 Overall, the Cheeca did not disappoint but their "secluded private beach" was not much of a beach at all! Even so, the property had lots of other family friendly amenities of boutique distinction that made for a great stay!

Now, the trip down the Overseas Highway all the way down to the Key West, flanked on either side by shimmering waters and stunning seascapes was an unforgettable Holiday treat. We could not have possibly soaked it all in from the inside of our automobile and so we made several stops at quaint little highway eateries and beaches and state parks. 

Red tortillas  - after all, it's the Holidays!
Bahia Honda was beautiful! The pristine beach and the architecturally interesting bridge was well worth the pit stop.
the old bahia honda bridge - mesmerizes in all its metallic glory!

Now, Key West is a happening holiday hot spot! The tourists fill  Key West with its Joie De Vivre! 
A customary picture stop at the Southernmost point of continental USA, a stroll down the island's streets to marvel at the architecture of the kaleidoscopic Victorian homes and a tour of  Duval street  to feel the energy of enthusiastic tourists completed our afternoon. We saved the best for last - Mallory Square! We had heard about the legendary sunset celebration and made our way to Mallory Square, just in time! And what a carnival it was too! All in honor of the gorgeous nightly sunset! 

Street performers, holiday tinsel,  lights, live music and a few cocktails provided the perfect accompaniment to a splendid sunset and my patient husband captured it to perfection making it one of the most memorable sunsets of our life!

 The convivial spirit of Key West makes it an ideal holiday destination!

Whether you are there for some sport fishing action or just to experience Island culture - the KEYS do not disappoint. And in this case, a road trip on the magnificent Overseas highway is your destination! We bought home many memories of seashores peppered with palm trees, turquoise blue waters, lighted holiday inns and the Island's die-hard festive spirit!

 I will recall these images fondly as I celebrate Christmas in frigid temperatures this year!
Hope you enjoyed our holiday travel feature but if you'd rather stay home and watch the twinkle of the lights on your christmas tree by a warm fire and sip hot cocoa while you wait for Santa and Rudolf, then stay tuned! I am featuring my (Deepa's) holiday home soon and you are all invited!


p.s: All pictures are from my personal archives and copyrighted to Aalayam. Please do not use without permission!

1 comment:

  1. I miss the beauty of Key West these holidays but for sure to visit this summer. I love the location since you introduced it. We, backpackers from Tropical Life Style love to travel and for sure to visit this place soon!