advertisement

Consider this tour a South Florida sampler. We've custom-built an itinerary that will provide you with a local's-eye view of some of the best diversions So Flo is known for. Whether you're into being a beach bum or a beachcomber, a club hopper or someone who prefers to swing a club, a nature lover or people-watcher -- there's something for everyone on this tour.

Days 1 & 2: Arrive in Key West 

After arriving in the so-called Conch Republic, or Margaritaville if you will, plan to spend at most a day or two here. A full day on the 4*2-mile island is plenty for exploring, but if you're into doing the Duval Bar Crawl, you may want to leave yourself with a day to recover from that inevitable hangover. Focus most of your sightseeing energy on Old Town, where you'll see stunning, restored Victorian-style homes; lush, tropical greenery; and the old Bahama Village. Make sure not to miss the sunset celebration at Mallory Square and, if possible, do dinner at Blue Heaven in the Bahama Village. Then hit the Duval Street bars if you're so inclined. The next day, either spend the day relaxing at your hotel pool -- we recommend the Gardens Hotel or Simonton Court for a true Key West experience -- or explore the Historic Seaport and all its shops and Key West kitsch.

Day 3: Miami: Coral Gables, Little Havana & South Beach 

Take the 3-hour drive on the Overseas Highway to Miami -- one of the most scenic drives you'll ever take, albeit sometimes a boring one. If you've seen it before, just fly. Make a pit stop in Coral Gables where you can either get a bite to eat on Miracle Mile or cool off in the Venetian Pool. If you like what you see, check into the historic Biltmore Hotel. If not, make sure to at least see the hotel and then continue on to SW Eighth Street, otherwise known as Calle Ocho, the heart of Little Havana. Either take an organized walking tour or go it on your own. A tour is recommended for those who are interested in the history of the neighborhood. If not, peruse the cigar stores, the old men playing dominoes in Domino Park, and buy an old Cuban phone book at Little Havana to Go. Grab a Cuban coffee at Versailles and then head north to South Beach and watch the cruise ships leave from Smith & Wollensky. Spend the night in the trendy South of Fifth area at the Hotel St. Augustine, known for its sublime spa bathroom, or for a real spa hotel on the bay, The Standard, which is anything but.

Day 4: South Beach 

Wake up early and catch the sunrise on the beach. Have breakfast at the Front Porch Café. Stake your claim on the sand and spend the morning on the beach or check out the original Miami supermodel: the Art Deco District via a walking tour. Hit Lincoln Road for lunch. Try David's Café for a delicious, inexpensive Cuban feast. Shop along Lincoln and Collins avenues before having a cocktail at the Rose Bar at the Delano Hotel. Walk that drink off out back on the paved path along the beach and stop at the delightfully deco Raleigh for an old-fashioned cocktail or freshly muddled mojito. Return to your own hotel for a disco nap; wake up around 9pm. Have dinner at Prime One Twelve if you can score a reservation (if not, try the equally sublime, yet lower key Red the Steakhouse around the corner), and then hit the clubs: Wall, Mansion, Cameo, and SET. If you're still up for the boogie, hop in a cab and head to LIV at the Fontainebleau. Grab a late night snack at La Sandwicherie or the 11th St. Diner and then crash at your hotel.

Day 5: From South Beach to Fort Lauderdale 

Have breakfast and watch the club kids coming home from the night before at Front Porch Café or the Big Pink. Get in the car and take A1A north -- the scenic route. Hit the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, our version of Atlantic City without the casinos. If you're hungry for lunch, have the world's best burger at Le Tub. Continue along A1A until you reach the famous Fort Lauderdale strip. Take a break at the world-famous Elbo Room and watch the action on the beach. If you can't, uh, elbow your way to the bar there, consider cocktails at Beach Place where spectacular views of the ocean make it okay to go to a chain restaurant on vacation. Spend the night at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Boulevard or, for a trendier stay, the W Fort Lauderdale.

Day 6: Sand, Seminoles & Santana 

Hit the famous Fort Lauderdale Beach, where Frankie and Annette used to play beach blanket bingo. Then take a bit of a diversion and head west to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where you may catch a concert by a Billboard-charting artist or even Jerry Seinfeld; hit the jackpot on one of the hundreds of slot machines (the hotel claims it pays out $12.9 million daily!); try your hand at blackjack and poker; or relax by the pool which is almost as nice, if not nicer, than the one at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas. Also check out the Seminole Okalee Indian Village and Museum, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 5716 Seminole Way, Hollywood (tel. 954/797-5551; www.semtribe.com) before heading over and out to spot signs of real wildlife in the Everglades.

Days 7 & 8: Seminole Indian Reservation & Everglades National Park 

Travel 45 minutes west on I-75 to the Seminole Indian Reservation, which encompasses over 69,000 acres of the Everglades' Big Cypress Swamp. Hop on a swamp buggy at the Billie Swamp Safari to see hogs, bison, 'gators, and deer. Continue west to Everglades City, check into the Ivey House B&B, and ask owners Sandee and David if they can hook you up with a special, insiders' tour of the 'Glades.

Days 9 & 10: The Palm Beaches 

Skip Boca Raton unless you feel like hitting the Town Center mall and head directly to Delray Beach, where its Atlantic Avenue is full of stores, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Check into the Sundy House and peruse the hotel's Taru Gardens. The next day, do not miss the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens before moving on to West Palm Beach where you should check into the Hotel Biba and do a little antiques shopping in downtown West Palm. At night, check out the clubs and restaurants in downtown West Palm, on Clematis Street. Make sure to have a beer and enjoy the view at Bradley's.

Day 11: From Mar-A-Lago to the Moon -- Well, Jupiter, at Least 

Spend the morning driving around Palm Beach proper, making sure to stop and catch a glimpse of Donald Trump's palatial Mar-A-Lago. Stop by Worth Avenue to see the ladies with little dogs who lunch and shop. It's the Rodeo Drive of South Florida, truly, and you can't miss the people-watching there. For an actual glimpse inside a Palm Beach manse, go to the Flagler Museum where you can explore Whitehall, Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler's wedding present to his third wife. Go back to reality and head toward Jupiter, the home of Burt Reynolds. Check into the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach.

Days 12 & 13: The Treasure Coast

You may not find gold in your exploration of the Treasure Coast but you will find Jonathan Dickinson State Park on Hutchinson Island, where you should rent a canoe and explore the plethora of botanical treasures. If you're into snorkeling and diving and feel like delving deeper, check out the most popular artificial reef in the area, the USS Rankin, an old WWII ship that was sunk in 1988, located 7 miles east-northeast of the St. Lucie Inlet. Check into the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort and Marina and consider taking the Loxahatchee Queen for a 2-hour tour of the area. Next, head to Vero Beach and Sebastian for a taste of old Florida. Sports fans will want to check out Dodgertown despite the fact that no major league team currently Springs there. Check into the completely unique Dritftwood Resort or, for music fans, Gloria Estefan's oceanfront Costa d'Este Beach Resort where the only rhythm that's gonna get you is that of the waves gently swishing on the ocean. If not, check into the Vero Beach Hotel and Club and do dinner at the Ocean Grill if your budget allows. If not, The Beachside Restaurant at the Palm Court Resort is a great spot for blue-plate specials and, for NY-style pizza, Nino's can't be beat.

Day 14: Lake Okeechobee or Bust?

If you can't extend your trip to include a side trip to Lake Okeechobee, consider it for next time. In the meantime, fly home out of either Palm Beach International Airport, 35 miles south of Vero Beach, or the Melbourne International Airport, which is less than 35 miles north of Vero Beach.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.