The Florida Key are America's party archipelago, stretching 125 miles between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Highway 1, an engineering marvel encompassing 43 bridges, brings you first to the much-written and sung about Key Largo, where John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park protects miles of gorgeous reefs.
Further south, Islamorada is an angling capital with a huge population of the world's most sought-after gamefish - sailfish, tarpon, tuna, and bonefish. Charter boats are at the ready in the island's many marinas, and their savvy captains know just where to find the trophy catches.
You can fly into Marathon, the heart of the Keys. Swim with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center, and take an expedition around Crane Point Hammock, a protected area of historic sites, wild flowers, tropical trees, walking trails, and museums.
America's capital of the laid-back party lifestyle, Key West is a perpetual good time, a place of gingerbread estates, palm-dotted streets, great fishing, and endless sea breezes. A typical day means grabbing a "Cheeseburger in Paradise" at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, toasting the legend of Ernest Hemingway with a cool one at Sloppy Joe's, Papa's erstwhile hangout, and joining the communal nightly gathering in Mallory Square to watch the stunning sunset.
Sunshine and sunsets, good food and good times - the Keys are irresistible.
Sunset Key Guest Cottages - Key West - Go beyond the Keys to this AAA 4-Diamond resort set on its own 27-acre island, just a quarter-mile boat ride from Mallory Square. Dine al fresco with Gulf views at Latitudes Beach Cafe, serving casual American cuisine with a Caribbean flair. Spacious suites and cottages hide among swaying palms bordering a white-sand beach.
Hilton Key West Resort & Marina - Key West - This AAA 4-Diamond resort and marina is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the heart of Old Town. Rooms and suites are appointed with tropical furnishings and private balconies overlooking the Gulf and Key West's famous nightly sunset celebration. The extensive Sunday brunch on the laid-back waterfront terrace at Bistro 245 is a must.
Hyatt Key West Resort & Marina - Key West - Blissful peace and quiet plus unbeatable Gulf sunset views make this resort a top choice on otherwise raucous Duval Street. Hammocks and chaise lounges surround a swimming pool and spa within the intimate garden courtyard. The seafood at Nicola's is best savored outdoors on the covered wooden deck.
Doubletree Grand Key Resort - Key West - This hotel on the quieter side of Key West provides a complimentary shuttle to downtown and the resort's private club on Smathers Beach. The garden courtyard harbors a zero-entry, free-form pool and spa tub surrounded by a sundeck. For dinner, slip into an outdoor table for casual fare and great sunsets at the Palm Haven Restaurant.
Ocean Key Resort - Key West - Between Key West Harbor and Mallory Square in Old Town, this resort provides a dream Key West vacation that includes exotic Balinese treatments and Thai body rituals at SpaTerre. Guest rooms are large and open onto private balconies with views of the Gulf and Sunset Pier. Innovative "conch fusion" flavors are the specialty at Hot Tin Roof.
Hawk's Cay Resort & Marina - Marathon - This luxury resort on a secluded and private 60-acre island offers spacious rooms, suites, and villas with balconies cooled by fresh Gulf breezes. Come meet dolphins up-close and personal, and snorkel at one of North America's only living coral reefs. When it comes to dining, nothing beats the WatersEdge seafood specialties served on the dockside terrace.
Cheeca Lodge - Islamorada - A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and one of Travel & Leisure's "500 Greatest Hotels in the World," this resort ensconces guests in plush rooms and suites, many with private balconies or screened porches. Get together for a couples massage at the Avanyu Spa's oceanside tiki hut, then relax with a cocktail on the Curt Gowdy Deck.
Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort - Key Largo - Recreation abounds at this family-friendly resort that opens onto warm Gulf waters. Relax, sunbathe, and swim at the heated pool, whirlpool, and private beach, and learn to scuba at the PADI 5-Star dive shop. An anchored offshore yacht is the place for gaming and live entertainment, while tensions are dispelled at the spa.
Holiday Inn Key Largo - Key Largo - Lush landscaping and airy, bright sunlit guest rooms set a natural tropical tone at this intimate resort on the Atlantic side of Key Largo. Relax with a cool one from the tiki bar next to the free-form pool and waterfall, and dine on continental fare served indoors and al fresco at Bogie's Cafe. Private balconies overlook a busy marina and fishing village.
Ocean Pointe Suites - Key Largo - Surrounded by a protected mangrove forest, this island getaway on the Atlantic Ocean has everything you need for a relaxing, fun-filled vacation. Oceanfront suites are equipped with whirlpool tubs and balconies, a private boardwalk leads to a secluded, romantic beach, and recreation includes lighted tennis courts and a large heated pool.