On a recent cold but sunny weekend in South Florida, we packed up and headed to Islamorada. Cheeca Lodge and Spa was our destination, and it did not disappoint. From the very large room and even larger bath, to the outdoor private tub on the terrace, the accommodations were special.

The air was so still, not a ripple went through the ocean – it looked like glass. And once we were ensconced in a cabana on the pristine beach, the chilly temperatures weren't a problem.

The lodge offers fishing, biking, tennis, golf, kayaking, snorkeling and more. It also boasts a spa for those 18 and older and an adults-only pool. It’s the ideal location for business meetings, weddings, family outings or just the perfect getaway. For more information or to make reservations, call 800/327-2888 or 305/664-4651.

 

While Cheeca Lodge has good food, there are new restaurants on the island worth exploring. Chef Michael’s, located in the former Manny and Isa's Kitchen, offers delicious brunch. Don't pass up the shrimp and grits; it’s creamy, cheesy and delicious. If you try the French toast, you may want to share – it’s the size of a birthday cake. One order can feed six people. The black bean soup with rice on the side is also a keeper, and hogfish is their specialty. Make reservations! It’s very popular among both locals and visitors.

 

Spanish Gardens is another newcomer to the area. Chefs use Spanish paprika to jazz up their delicious dishes like octopus and potatoes or wild shrimp with an incredible sauce, served piping hot with a real kick. The tapas are delicious, and the large white bean and goat cheese salad is another superb dish to share. But the highlight is the restaurant’s unique Key lime meringue pie. Jose and Lynnie, the restaurant's owners, aim to please. Check it out. You’ll be glad you headed south for a change.