Miami, South Beach & Key Largo!!!!

White Sands of Miami Beach

White Sands of Miami Beach

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

After taking a Royal Caribbean cruise along the Caribbean for a week, we wanted to spend some time on land in Miami. Our ship, The Allure of the Seas,  sailed into Fort Lauderdale Everglades Cruise Port and then we rented a car and drove about 30 minutes to Miami.

Guest Room

Guest Room

The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is an oceanfront property with breathtaking views. The picture above is the view from our room. The long stretch of beach is a great route for running or taking long beach walks with the family. We spent more time along the beach then poolside, although I must say that the pool side lounge chairs are similar to beds. They are amazing to take a nap on and our kids loved them. The pool area is exclusive for guests, outlined by a fence along the beach. The St. Regis offers fresh fruit in a silver platter pool side and attendants walk around with other treats. Sunblock is available for guests to use in the pool area as well.

St. Regis poolside

St. Regis poolside

It is a fantastic, relaxing atmosphere. The St. Regis is located on  Collins Avenue and directly across you will find shops which serve as an international destination. The shops include  a collection of prestigious designer boutiques, bistros, and outdoor cafés compared to those in New York, Beverly Hills, Paris, London, and Milan.

If you prefer a hotel in the area which is a little more low-key, kick back and family friendly….check out the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, FL. It is only about a 7 minute drive from the St. Regis Bal Harbour. The property has several lagoon pools, including an infinity pool. We stayed at the St. Regis while our friends stayed at the Westin Diplomat which worked out great because we were able to experience the perks of both hotels.

Westin Diplomat

Westin Diplomat

Pool at Westin Diplomat

Pool at Westin Diplomat

Founded in the 1920’s, Hollywood, Florida, is an intimate community of 126,000 and is located on the coast between Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Hollywood is quite popular with sun-seekers, offering palm tree-lined streets, beautiful beaches, myriad diversions and trendy, redeveloped downtown. Aside from the sunbathing, championship golfing, and countless other recreational pursuits, visitors to Hollywood are pleased by the wide array of shopping options in the nearby Aventura Mall, The Shops at Bal Harbour, and Sawgrass Mills.

Pennekamp State Park

Pennekamp State Park

IMG_6100

The kids wanted to stop off for some fishing, so we stopped at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Pennekamp is a Florida State Park located on Key Largo in Florida on the Atlantic Ocean waters. It was the first underwater park in the United States. The main attractions of Pennekamp are the coral reefs and their associated marine life. There is a really cute gift shop with souvenirs that say “Key Largo” and amazing ice cream! You must try the chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Our son caught his first whiting fish!!! The Whiting Fish is a common food fish of the cod family found inIMG_6066 the northeastern Atlantic Ocean around Europe and the Mediterranean regions. Our son was thrilled as he is used to catching fish of the Pacific.

While the kids went fishing, a few of us took a glass bottom boat ride on the Spirit of Pennekamp. The boat takes passengers on a ride to view a unique glimpse into the serene undersea world. At 65 feet in length, this high-speed catamaran is capable of transporting up to 130 passengers to the various nautical destinations of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The itinerary includes a number of shallow reefs teaming with wildlife. Tours are 2 ½ hours long. I could not believe the boat tour was only $24!!!! By far the best deal in town. $17 for kids 4-11 years old. I highly recommend the boat tour.

The reefs may be viewed from glass-bottom boats, or by snorkeling or scuba diving. Other activities available in the park are canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming and wildlife viewing. Full-facility and youth/group campgrounds are available.

There is a lot to see at the visitor center which features a 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium and six smaller aquaria, as well as natural history exhibits about the park’s different biological communities and ecosystems and a theater showing nature videos.

South Beach

South Beach

South Beach!!!!!!

We couldn’t be in Miami and not visit South Beach!! After researching authentic Cuban food in the area, we drove to Puerto Sagua located at 700 Collins Avenue in South Beach. Finding parking was rather interesting. Collins Avenue is very busy, with bumper to bumper cars even in broad daylight. The food was very good and our kids got to experience plantains with their meal. I highly recommend the cuban sandwich, although everything was wonderful. The menu offers a wide range of dishes from croquettes to beef oxtail soup. I must warn you that clothing seems to be optional in South Beach. We brought our kids and there were people walking the streets as well as dining in restaurants in what looked like thong underwear. It is quite interesting and a cultural experience. Personally, I was thinking I should have brought disinfectant wipes with me.

The Fish House, Key Largo

The Fish House, Key Largo

Visitor's Center

Visitor’s Center

Upon entering Key Largo, be sure to stop of at the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Florida Keys Visitor Center!! The Visitor Center has information about the entire Florida Keys. Brochures and maps are available for accommodations, attractions, diving and snorkeling, fishing, dining, weddings, nature and ecology tours, shopping, water sports and, of course, there are clean restrooms.

It is a great place to stop in and grab souvenirs too! They sell post cards, shirts, stickers and jewelry. Don’t miss the fascinating and informative display that includes a 1700s-era British cannon, one of 13 cannons found in a reef patch offshore of Key Largo.

The staff were very informative about where to go with kids, where to fish and the most important….where to eat!!! We were on a search for conch and the lady who helped us knew just the place to go.

Next stop, The Fish House!!!!

Key West Beer

Key West Beer

After stopping off at the visitor’s center in Key Largo, we had to try the CONCH that everyone talks about.

Fish House Sign

Fish House Sign

So off we went in search of The Fish House, specializing in the finest seafood available. The Fish House opened just as the Conch Republic was born. “Since the key to terrific seafood lies in the freshness, we made that our trademark.  At our very doorstep we find one of the most prolific areas in the world for marine life, including a host of edible fish. Daily we supervise the harvest of the finest eating critters on earth, and we put them on your table while they are at their tastiest peak. Fresh-caught fish arrives daily at the dock and is brought directly to The Fish House.  Our experienced staff hand picks the best fish, separating it by size, then weighing it.  The fish are then carefully filleted on site, combined with only the freshest ingredients and spices, and cooked to perfection.” taken from the Fish House website

Whole  Yellowtail Snapper

Whole Yellowtail Snapper

From the outside of the restaurant, it doesn’t look like much. They have fun kids menus “for the minnows” with crayons and a great drink menu consisting of Cognac, Brady, Tequila, Single Malt Scotch, Ports and Sherry for adults! The Fish House offers a “raw bar” where you can order oysters by the dozen or half dozen, shrimp, smoked fish dip or stone crab. They also have a full sushi menu. We ordered the Conch Fritters which are made of ground conch in seasoned batter served with cocktail sauce. They also have lobster mac n cheese on the menu!!! We ordered the Whole  Yellowtail Snapper, a true keys delicacy.

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

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Buffet, Cafe or SUBWAY??

Subway Miami

Subway Miami

Buffet, Cafe or SUBWAY®?? This blog is all about how to travel 5 Star on a dime…. and we do. More recently we have incorporated SUBWAY® into our travels since they have restaurants in 102 countries!!! Bet you didn’t know that. They have more restaurant locations than any other chain worldwide. Eat Fresh!

We all know SUBWAY® is healthier than fast food, great to bring to sporting events and to the beach of course, but did you know that you could save $32 per day on eating out for a family of four by choosing SUBWAY® for one of your meals? That’s a savings of $224 per week. The average cost to go out to lunch at a restaurant is about $12 per person with drink, tip and tax. Okay so you don’t want to eat at SUBWAY® every day, than eat there every other day and save $128 in a week.

Our family enjoys sitting down to fine dining for hours but we also like to grab something on the go that is healthy. When traveling from plane, to train, to ship and rental car sometimes you just need to grab something quick and easy that you can eat on the go or pack away for later. But then how do you please 4 different appetites you say? I like wheat bread but the kids prefer white . Our daughter won’t eat mayonnaise, mustard or any veggies other than pickles and olives. SUBWAY® will be more than happy to make it half one way and half another and even better, they will wrap each half separately. Did you know that they serve nearly 2,800 sandwiches and salads every minute?

What’s in it for the kids? SUBWAY FRESH FIT FOR KIDS™ meals are great for kids because they include a freshly made sandwich on a mini sub roll, a SUBWAY FRESH FIT™ side choice of  sliced apples and a drink choice of 1% low-fat white milk or a 100% juice box.

Fresh Fit Sandwiches: There are 8 sandwiches which have been certified by the American Heart Association. SUBWAY® is the first restaurant to earn The American Heart Association heart check and for that reason ALONE, this is why I chose to write this post. Look for the red heart with the white check mark inside. Those are the Fresh Fit choices which consist of: Black Forest Ham, Oven Roasted Chicken, Roast Beef, Subway Club, Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, Turkey Breast, Turkey Breast and Black Forest Ham, and Veggie Delight.

Here’s what I love, SUBWAY® offers freshly brewed, non-sweetened ice tea, bottled water, 1% milk and VitaminWater!! This is a great option for our family, as we do not drink soda. In addition, they offer healthy choices such as apple slices and Baked Lays.

Pizza gets old fast and it’s so greasy! Don’t get me wrong, we love pizza. At SUBWAY® our family of four splits two $5.00 foot long’s. That is only $10.00 and then another $1.50 or so each for drinks. We love to grab SUBWAY® for lunch but it’s great anytime. They even offer breakfast!! At breakfast, you have the option of 3 different breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites for under 200 calories (steak, egg white and cheese/ egg white and cheese/ black forest ham, egg white and cheese). Even better, breakfast is only $3.00 and includes a coffee or 21 oz. fountain drink of your choice. You can’t even buy a coffee for $3.00 at your local coffee chain!

Our favorite thing to do is grab a sub while on a long car ride and take it with us. Then each person can eat when they are hungry. All SUBWAY®’s are fairly consistent when it comes to pricing. We live on Kauai and the sandwiches are more like $6/$7 foot long’s but that is still very cheap.

Tired of sandwiches? Try the chopped salad which includes tasty chicken, turkey and roast beef, plus fresh garden veggies like crisp spinach and crunchy cucumbers.

Subway Kauai

Subway Kauai

St Regis Monarch Beach

St Regis Monarch Beach

Last year we took a family trip to Laguna Niguel, California and stayed at the St. Regis Monarch Beach which was fabulous. We only ate one meal at the hotel as it adds up for four people real fast. We stopped at the local SUBWAY® located in the Plaza de La Paz Shopping Center more than once and picked up sandwiches to bring back to the hotel. In fact, we ate sub sandwiches as we watched the election on T.V.

International Menu’s:

SUBWAY® brand maintains the same menu worldwide; however, menus do change in order to accommodate the different dietary needs of consumers where appropriate. In India, the population is largely Hindu and do not eat beef, or Muslim who don’t consume pork, these ingredients are substituted with chicken, lamb, or turkey.  Customers can add or eliminate ingredients based on their own dietary needs since all sandwiches are made to order.

Health Facts:

In 1997, SUBWAY® introduces 7 under 6™ menu, featuring seven sandwiches with 6 grams of fat or less.

In 2000, SUBWAY® makes the biggest change to its menu by introducing four gourmet sauces and seasoned breads.

In 2007, SUBWAY® launches its Fresh Fit® and Fresh Fit for Kids™ meals.

In 2010, SUBWAY® offers a variety of breakfast options which include sandwiches and melts, with the choice of egg whites or whole eggs, veggies, toppings, and sauces.

In 2011 SUBWAY® introduced avocado to their menus, a super food.

In 2012 SUBWAY® brand was recognized as the “Most Loved Fast Food Chain in the US” by YouGov’s BrandIndex Buzz Rankings. The American Heart Association’s awarded a Heart Check Certification on a number of menu items and meals at SUBWAY® restaurants.

Please read other healthy options and ways to stay fit while traveling by clicking on the topic “Travel Fit” on the right hand side of the page

5wheelsto5star is featured monthly in Destinations Travel Magazine