20900
Florida
The Best of Miami and the Keys
Explore Miami’s Historic District, taste the cuisine of Little Havana, view beautifully vibrant reefs and visit the estate of Hemingway as you discover the wonders of South Florida.
Rating (4.4)
Program No. 20900RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
3,499
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13 days
12 nights
32 meals
12 B 10 L 10 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Program Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Miami, FL
D
Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove Hotel

Activity note: Check in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to pick up your arrival packet containing your name tag, the up-to-date schedule, and to confirm the time of dinner and the orientation session. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Dinner: Our dinner at the hotel is a plated, three-course meal with soup or salad, choice of entrée, dessert, and beverage.

Evening: Take the rest of the evening to settle in, relax, and prepare for the full day ahead.

DAY
2
South Beach Art Deco District, Wynwood Art District, Lecture
Miami, FL
B,L,D
Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel with fruit, coffee and tea.

Morning: With an expert historian and preservationist, we’ll go on an architectural walking field trip through the world famous Art Deco district. The first neighborhood from the 20th century to be recognized as a National Register of Historic Places, many of the 800 buildings were constructed from 1923 to 1943. Our expert will point out many of the bright pastel buildings with sleek curves, shiny chrome, and relief ornamentation featuring whimsical flora, fauna, and ocean-liner motifs.

Lunch: At a casual restaurant close to our afternoon exploration of Wynwood.

Afternoon: We will continue with our expert as we explore Wynwood Art District, a restoration haven that is home to an artistic community that has bloomed since the turn of the century by capitalizing on pre-existing graffiti in what used to be the warehouse and manufacturing district of Miami. The neighborhood features a collection of previously unused buildings that have been developed into galleries, venues for performing arts, and other creative business ventures, as well as one of the largest street art installations in the world.

Dinner: Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant.

Evening: End the day with a lecture on Henry Flagler and the Overseas Railroad. One of Miami's premier historians will share the greatest railroad story ever told, setting the stage for the next leg of our journey. Henry Flagler became immensely wealthy as a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil during the Gilded Age. He visited Florida while seeking a salubrious climate for his ailing wife in the late 1870s and later returned to build and develop resort hotels and railroads along the east coast of the state all the way to Miami. His vision extended even further, to the Keys. The construction of his train line was almost as challenging as the Panama Canal, and the finished product became known as the Overseas Railroad.

DAY
3
Cuban Exiles, Little Havana, Perez Art, Performance
Miami, FL
B,L,D
Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day outside on city sidewalks and uneven terrain; walking and standing for up to 1 hour inside the museum.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Begin the day with a lecture about Cuban Exiles in Miami with a local expert. Learn about the impact Cubans have had on Miami culture and traditions while expanding your knowledge of the relationship and history between Miami and the island that sits just south of the city. Then, we’ll go on a walking field trip with a local expert to see and learn about the history, culture, and people of Little Havana. Many cultures have characteristic games and in Little Havana, it is dominoes. We’ll begin our walk at Maximo Gomez Park, where locals gather to play. Along the way, we’ll stop for Cuban coffee and other delights before departing via motor coach for lunch.

Lunch: At a Cuban restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood.

Afternoon: After lunch, board the coach for a visit to the Perez Art Museum, where we will explore with a docent. Take in the museum's prided and diverse collection of contemporary and modern art from around the world, and learn about the mission of the museum to engage with the thriving artistic community and promote the arts in the area.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant with the group.

Evening: After dinner, enjoy an evening performance of flamenco dancing and live flamenco music.

DAY
4
World War II, New World Symphony, Botanic Gardens
Miami, FL
B,L
Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; walking and standing for up to 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will spend the morning learning about Miami's role in WWII from expert lecturer Dr. Judi Berson. Later, we will board our motorcoach for a visit to the New World Symphony.

Lunch: Lunch is at a local restaurant on Miami Beach with the group.

Afternoon: After lunch, visit the Holocaust Memorial and Botanical Gardens. In 1984, a small group of Holocaust survivors joined together to develop a permanent memorial in Miami to the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis. The Botanical Garden is a tropical oasis in the heart of South Beach featuring bromeliads, palms, a Japanese garden, a native garden, a "living wall" vertical landscape, and a collection of flowering trees and vines.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Miami City Overview, Free Time
Miami, FL
B,D
Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; getting on and off the three steps of the motorcoach.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach for a narrated drive around Miami. Our expert will point out some of the most significant highlights, enlivened by lush vegetation and beautiful flowers this time of the year. Stops include sites in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables before heading back to the hotel.

Lunch: Lunch is on your own today to sample the local fare. This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. Afterwards, meet the group back at the hotel for dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy dinner with the group as a farewell to Miami.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Deering Estate, To Key Largo
Key Largo, Florida
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Key Largo

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on uneven terrain including grass and cobblestones; getting on and off the motor coach using the few steps provided.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and board the motorcoach for our transfer to Key Largo. Along the way, stop at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens for a tram ride through the carefully organized gardens that seamlessly blend art and science. Designed in 1938, its founders sailed around the world collecting diverse tropical plants before being forced to return to the United States due to the outbreak of World War II. Afterwards, explore the gardens on your own, watch the birds, or sit back and relax.

Lunch: Enjoy a picnic at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens.

Afternoon: Our next field trip will bring us to the Deering Estate, which boasts an impressive pine rocklands ecosystem. Learn about the many other flora existing within this 444 acre estate and conservation efforts in South Florida. Re-boarding our motorcoach, we’ll continue on our way to Key Largo and check in to the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy a buffet featuring a variety of tasty choices.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Glass-Bottom Boat Ride, Windley Key Fossil Reef
Key Largo, Florida
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Key Largo

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on uneven terrain including grass and cobblestones; getting on and off the motor coach using the few steps provided.

Breakfast: With provided vouchers, enjoy what you like from the hotel’s buffet featuring a variety of hot and cold items including fresh fruit, coffee, tea and juice.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach for our first field trip of the day to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a Florida treasure. At the welcome center, we will explore the amphitheater and browse videos and aquariums. We’ll then go for a glass-bottom boat ride into the only underwater state park in the continental US with a fully intact coral reef consisting of many varieties and species of living coral.

Lunch: Enjoy a boxed lunch at Pennekamp Park.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will head to the REEF education center on-board our motor coach. At REEF we will learn about marine ecosystems, and how conservationists are working to protect their environments, with a lecture from a marine park expert. After, we will board the motor coach again for Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park. With a park ranger, we’ll walk along 8-foot high quarry walls to see cross sections of ancient coral and learn about the quarry and its operation. Formed of limestone and fossilized coral, the land was sold to Henry Flagler and the Florida East Coast Railway to build the Overseas Railroad in the early 20th century.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
History of Diving Museum, Florida Keys History Center
Key Largo, Florida
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Key Largo

Activity note: Walking and standing for up to 1 hour at a time inside museums; getting on and off the motorcoach using the few steps provided.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll set out on the motorcoach to the History of Diving Museum to learn all about diving both internationally and locally. Learn the role that South Florida and specifically the Florida Keys have played in the history of diving while viewing and interpreting artifacts, antiques, documents and photographs first hand.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: This afternoon, learn about the history of the Florida Keys and specifically the Upper Keys at the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center. Hear about the aboriginal people of Indian Key and the Spanish sailors that landed here in the 1700s. Browse through the different exhibits available at the time to see artifacts and first hand accounts of these early years in the Florida Keys.

Dinner: At a local restaurant with the group.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Dolphin Research Center, Turtle Hospital, To Key West
Key West
B,L,D
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on uneven terrain including grass and cobblestones; getting on and off the motorcoach using the few steps provided.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll set out on the motorcoach for a day of animal encounters to our first field trip of the day at the Dolphin Research Center led by an expert from the center. The Dolphin Research Center promotes cooperation and education between humans, the environment, and marine mammals while helping distressed whales and dolphins. Some resident Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions were born here; some came from other facilities or were rescued, rehabilitated, or deemed unfit to be released back into the wild, and now have a home for life at the center.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll go next to the town of Marathon, where The Turtle Hospital has an important mission: rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing different species of sea turtles. We will have an expert-led exploration of the facilities, including the rehabilitation area and a presentation on sea turtles. You may even have an opportunity to feed some of the permanent residents! Continuing our ride to Key West, we’ll check into our hotel with some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a plated, 3-course dinner with non-alcoholic beverages included.

Evening: Regrouping in our meeting room at the hotel, we’ll have a brief orientation to Key West to set the stage for our activities here.

DAY
10
Architecture Lecture, Mel Fisher, Walk Key West
Key West
B,L,D
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on uneven terrain including grass and cobblestones; standing and walking inside the museum for up to 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a lecture and overview of the intricate architecture of Key West. Later, we will head to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum where we will learn about marine archaeology and see treasures including gold and silver bars retrieved from beneath the sea. Dedicated to educating the public on maritime and colonial activity in the New World and preserving maritime culture resources, the museum celebrates 500 years of history. As a special highlight, we will go behind the scenes to see the conservation lab.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Explore the distinctive architecture, courtyard gardens and hidden pathways of Key West's Old Town on foot with an expert guide.

Dinner: At a local restaurant with plated meals and non-alcoholic beverages included.

Evening: Walk as a group to see the famous Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Dock. Here in Key West, watching the sun go down is a daily ritual. Even more, it’s a festival with arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, vendors, and a crowd of thousands consisting of locals and visitors alike. People begin gathering about two hours before sunset for this multi-cultural “happening” that embodies the spirit of Key West.

DAY
11
Harry Truman, Little White House, Hemingway House
Key West
B,L
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on uneven terrain including grass and cobblestones.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Our expert will provide a fascinating overview of President Harry S. Truman’s days in Key West at what came to be known as The Little White House. Florida’s only Presidential site, the Harry S. Truman Little White House was constructed in 1890 as housing for naval officers. Its most important usage was as President Truman’s winter White House from 1946-1952. Having learned about President Truman and his time on Key West this morning, we’ll walk to the Little White House. President Truman’s first 19 months were grueling and left him physically exhausted. His doctor ordered a warm vacation and Key West was chosen. The President and Mrs. Truman arrived in November 1946 for a week of relaxation. He fell in love with the climate and small town charm, returning to the Little White House for 11 presidential working vacations and five post-Presidential trips. Truman claimed Key West was his second favorite place on earth — surpassed only by his hometown, Independence, Missouri.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: The next stop on our learning adventure is the Hemingway House. An expert will lead us through the former residence of one of America’s iconic writers, whose personal life was as colorful as any of his characters. Hemingway lived in Key West for three years after arriving from Havana and bought the house in 1931 as a wedding gift for his second wife, Pauline. Learn about their lives and times in Key West and about the house itself. Personal touches are everywhere, from European antiques to trophies and skins that were the legacy of African safaris. It was here that Hemingway produced some of his best known works including “To Have And Have Not”, set in Key West. Look for descendants of his six-toed cat who still live on the property.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Audubon Lecture, Key West by Boat, Audubon House and Gardens
Key West
B,D
Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on uneven terrain including grass and cobblestones; boarding and de-boarding the boat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Hear from a local expert about John James Audubon. America's greatest wildlife artist and early naturalist began exploring Florida in 1831 and visited the Keys and Dry Tortugas the next year. He left having seen 22 different bird species, and created drawings of each for his "Birds of America" folio. Audubon's painting of the white-crowned pigeon features the Geiger tree found in the front yard of the appropriately-dubbed Audubon House where he stayed in Key West. Afterwards, enjoy seeing Key West by boat and learning about its shorelines and history aboard a schooner cruise.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Regrouping at a designated time and place, we will walk to the Audubon House and Gardens. We will have a guided exploration of the place Audubon lived and worked while in Key West as one of the town’s founders. In the center of the lot was a garden of native and imported tropical plants Audubon used in his images of local birds. Learn about Audubon’s life and work here as well as the history of the house itself, which was the first restoration project in Key West (1958) and is still considered the gem of the island's restoration movement. The home displays 28 first edition Audubon works.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a farewell meal.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
13
Transfer to Miami, Program Concludes
Miami, FL
B,L

Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 11:00 a.m. Do not book flights from Miami International Airport until after 3:00 p.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: The motorcoach will depart the hotel for Miami at 8:30 a.m.

Lunch: Boxed lunches will be provided to eat on the bus at your leisure.

Afternoon: Drop-off at Miami International Airport is estimated to be by approximately 12:30 p.m. (depending on traffic). We advise booking onward flights from Miami International Airport or other travel plans for no earlier than 3:00 p.m. The motorcoach will also return to the first hotel after the airport drop-off. This concludes our program. We hope you have enjoyed this Road Scholar learning adventure and look forward to having you on other programs in the future. Please stay in touch and share your memories, pictures, and comments via the Road Scholar Social Network. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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