Florida Keys Road Trip Day 1: Miami Beach

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Last week, we flew to Miami and started on a week-long Florida Keys road trip. Ever since we started RVing, I’ve heard rumors and tales about the beauty of the Keys. People talk about it like it’s a can’t-miss religious experience.

But Florida’s a lot bigger when you’re trying to drive your house to the southernmost tip of the state and in three years of travel, we never could justify all the extra miles just for the hype of the Keys.

Then, two months ago, Winnebago received this letter:

“On behalf of the Florida Keys & Key West tourism council and Encore RV Resorts, we cordially invite you to discover the Florida Keys in an RV “glamping” trek through America’s Caribbean islands Monday, May 1, through Friday, May 5.

You’ll traverse the Florida Keys Overseas Highway – Florida’s only All-American Road – in your own Class C RV.

Oceanfront RV sites will be provided at two Florida Keys-based Encore RV Resorts: Fiesta Key RV Resort and Marina on Long Key and Sunshine Key RV Resort and Marina in the Lower Keys.

The itinerary will include exploring Florida Keys’ above-water and underwater offerings, discovering offbeat and family-friendly attractions along the Overseas Highway, savoring fresh-caught fish and Florida Keys seafood at eclectic waterfront eateries, and visiting various environmental centers.”

UM, sign me up!

They forwarded the opportunity along to a few of their bloggers, like us, and Heath jumped on it instantly. I suppose I can’t really nag Heath about how incessantly he checks him email anymore, because in this case it paid off and we got the gig! (We’ll be writing a few stories about our experience over at WInnebagoLife, Winnebago’s blog, if you don’t follow them already!)

We try to be as helpful as possible on our blog and give actionable advice, so here’s my advice on how to land yourself a free trip to the Florida Keys: marry Heath Padgett. He has real life superpowers. (Sorry, he’s also taken.)

Since we just started our Youtube channel and are trying to learn how to do vlog about our travels, we filmed every single thing we did in the Keys (lots of fried fish included!) and will be releasing six episodes over the next couple weeks.

I’ll give you the inside scoop of everything we did on the trip, what I recommend doing and what I recommend skipping, so if you’re trying to plan your own Florida Keys Road Trip, let us be your guide.

Check out our first episode below, and then scroll down for recommendations and details on what to do, where to stay, and where to eat next time you’re in Miami!

Florida Keys Road Trip: Day 1

 

 

Where We Camped

Miami Everglades RV Resort

I say it in the video and it really holds true, this campground is a resort for adults, not kids. I mean, look at this sign:

You get a brief tour of this resort and our cabin in the video, but I don’t think it really shows how legit this campground is. As far as RV resorts go, this one was classy as all get out.

A few amenities to expect:

  • Ginormous pool
  • Hot tub
  • Pickleball court
  • Shuffle board courts
  • Basketball court
  • Mile-long walking trail
  • Clubhouse with lending library and full kitchen
  • Patio with outdoor grills
  • At least seventeen great places to take a nap underneath palm trees

Where We Ate

Breakfast: 11th Street Diner

Heath found this dive on TripAdvisor, but if you still have cable, you might have seen it on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Heath and I split the South Beach Breakfast here, which included bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and fruit. Definitely a meal to split! After starting our day a few hours before sunrise, we ate every single bite of breakfast…except for the cantaloupe.

Lunch: La Playa Grill

Me: “What do you want for lunch?”

Heath: “A tiki hut.”

Me: “Okay, I meant more like burger, or pizza, or Mexican.”

Heath: “I just want to eat outside where I can see the ocean and drink out of a coconut or something.”

Wish granted:

Weirdly, this awesome little restaurant is right next door to Biscayne National Park and it was really delicious. The reviews said don’t expect quick service, but you’re eating with a view of the waves hitting the shore, quick service would just mean you had to leave sooner!

Heath ordered the fish and chips, his go-to whenever we’re near the ocean and I ordered fish tacos with mango salsa. I’d like to consider myself a connoisseur of fish tacos, and these ones were pretty incredible. It looked like they slightly fried the corn tortilla, so it was sturdier than other tacos. Delicious, and the best fish tacos of the trip. (Best fish tacos in the world: Shark Pit in Lahaina on Maui)

Bonus: They gave us free chips and salsa. THE WAY TO MY HEART.  ❤️

Dinner: Bellini Italian Bistro

When in doubt, ask the locals. And the staff at Miami Everglades insisted that we must go to this little Italian restaurant. I’m always hesitant of Italian restaurants because 1) I’m gluten free and 2) too many people serve pizza and call themselves Italian.

But these guys were the real deal, heavy accents and menu in Italian and all. Heath ordered a Salsiccia pizza, or sausage pizza. I ordered the Salmone Alla Senape, which means something in Italian I’m sure, and I was brought salmon and broccoli with a lemon dijon mustard sauce that sounds disgusting as I type it but is at the top of the list of things I need to learn how to make, stat. It was incredible! Mustard and salmon? Who knew! Highly, highly recommend.

Neither of us could finish our plates, so we took our food back to our cabin and ended up eating it for breakfast the next day.

Things to Do

South Miami Beach

If you want an expansive white sand beach will plenty of sun, surf, and people watching, look no further.

florida keys road trip miami beach

South Beach is ranked in the top ten beaches of Florida for good reason. It’s beautiful and littered with fit Floridians on their morning jog in the sand. They almost inspired me to exercise, but I took a glorious nap in the sand instead.

There are tons of little shops and restaurants nearby, plus public bathrooms where you can change out of your dingy airplane clothes and into a bikini. We only spent a few hours in this area and left for Biscayne just before lunch. By that time, the roads were getting more congested and all the parking spots were taken. I definitely recommend arriving early if you plan on spending a day on the beach!

Biscayne National Park

Heath and I really wanted to explore Biscayne the right way, but since we didn’t get to the park until lunch time and the water was too rough for a boat ride, we missed out on fully exploring this national park.

We did however take the 1/4 mile trail they have on the mainland side of this park and we cooled off in the crystal clear water.

99% of the people at Biscayne were fishing. It is THE THING to do. I saw a 10 year old catch a fish with his friends, and it was adorable.

The mainland offers the short “hike” plus a visitor center with a diorama of the different underwater flora and fauna you’ll find in the park. If you want to get out on the water or over the islands, there are boat tours available, but they are pretty pricey. The park offers boat tours for $39/person, but they weren’t offered on the day we visited. Serious bummer. (You can see the schedule on their website here.)

There’s of course much, much more to do in Miami, but in our short little stint in the city, we did as much as we could! And, well, we were in bed before 8:30 PM, which is when I imagine Miami really starts to shine.

Up Next: Our first time renting an RV! (And why you should never use Cruise America)

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