Nestled about 90 minutes south of Miami in the Florida Keys, Islamorada has claimed the unofficial title as the "Capital of the Upper Keys"—and it's easy to see why. With some of the western hemisphere's best sport fishing, party-'til-you-drop nightlife, and pristine parks and nature preserves that complement stunning white-sand beaches, this tropical paradise composed of four enchanting islands is the poster child for the perfect beachside Escape.
Best described as boathouse chic, the rooms at the Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle
feature driftwood floors, maritime stripes, and rustic handcrafted furniture that wouldn't be out of place on the pages of a coastal shelter mag. Quotes from great American novelists are hand-stenciled on the walls, adding to the whimsical, retro vibe. In addition to modern amenities like a flat-screen TV and iPod docking station, these accommodations feature one king-size or two queen-size beds and a private balcony.
The palm trees and bright yellow lounge chairs surrounding the turquoise pool only steps from the Atlantic are just as deserving of a photo op as the white Adirondack chairs around the glow of the fire pit at sunset—shots of the entire property will most likely make it into your album.
Serving Rum Runner Cocktails since 1972 (they were apparently invented here), the resort's open-air, thatched-roof tiki bar
is the place to order up a welcome drink. And the concoction of banana liqueur, rum, brandy, and grenadine isn't the only thing to check out—the hot spot also has live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.
For dinner, settle in at Shula Burger
, the Postcard Inn's casual offshoot of the Don Shula steakhouse fame. This spot is more than just a burger joint; the array of toppings says it all: baby greens, Gruyère cheese, red onion jam, and double-cut peppered bacon. Add a side of fried pickle spears or sweet potato tater tots, but save room for a cupcake or hand-dipped milkshake.
Bring a waterproof camera to capture your own postcard-worthy images, then rent snorkeling or diving gear and head out into the clear Keys water. Rent a boat or jet ski at the marina
, which also offers guided sunset cruises and fishing excursions
—Islamorada is the self-proclaimed "sport-fishing capital of the world," after all.
When you're ready to dry off, head over to the nearby Theater of the Sea
, an aquarium and wildlife park that promises up-close encounters with dolphins and colorful creatures of the Keys. Another idyllic site is Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
, a fossilized coral reef dating back more than 125,000 years. There's plenty to do in the Florida Keys—but if you'd rather just relax on the beach or dine on fresh seafood, there'll be plenty of time for that, too.