It seems like it is impossible to find even a few minutes to slip away by yourself, much less a few days, but sometimes the best thing you need is a little bit of R&R. Leave the smartphone at home, turn off the computer, convince your kids that a weekend with Grandma and Grandpa will be fun, and just leave it all behind. The best place to do that on short notice and with limited time is Key West, Florida.
Everybody dreams of a tropical island as the ultimate getaway spot, but nobody dreams of having to find their passport, changing their currency and going through customs. Key West is the only Caribbean island that does not require any of that. That means while other island travelers are waiting in long sweltering lines, you will already be in a taxi off to enjoy a meal at one of the many Key West restaurants.
Something else most people do not dream about is the white knuckle experience that can happen when you fly into a small island airport. Although Key West is serviced by four major airlines with connections across the country, if you would rather forgo that experience, no problem. Key West is also the only Caribbean island connected to the mainland by a highway, meaning the large familiar airports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale are only a few hours away by car.
The point of a weekend getaway is to relax and recharge. For some people, that means spending time in a hammock with a good book next to the pool, or lounging oceanside while napping to the sounds of the waves. Other people need to keep moving to get their batteries flowing, however, and Key West has plenty to keep them occupied. All of that beautiful ocean means water sports like Jet Skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, paddle boarding, kayaking and dolphin watching.
That same ocean also means fresh seafood, and no trip to Key West is complete without going out for a fantastic meal prepared in the island's signature New Island Cuisine style of cooking. This combination of traditional methods of preparation combined with fresh seafood and island fruits and spices results in a dining experience you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Combine that great food with a beautiful outdoor patio and you might wish that dinner would never end.
Time alone may be hard to come by, but it's worth making the effort to have it happen. To get the most out of it, pick a place that is easy to get to and will not cause any more stress than you are already feeling. For best results, take two plane tickets to Key West, Florida and do not call anyone until Monday morning.
Jack Terry is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who lived in Key West for several years. http://www.rooftopcafekeywest.com