Every year when summertime is around the corner, I can’t help flooding my mind with cherished memories of my dad taking all of us on our yearly one-week vacation to the Florida Keys, his favorite place. My father was a certified workaholic whose sole mission in life was to work for his wife and children so he could provide us with everything we ever wanted, including the best family vacations. He succeeded.

While other parents enjoyed taking their kids to Disney World, he loved leading us to that gorgeous wonderland at the southernmost tip of Florida and always said those of us who lived in South Florida had paradise in our own backyards. We had the best family vacations and created so many beautiful family memories in Marathon Key, FL and I have always remembered the hotel we always stayed in; the Continental Inn. My father would always get us a poolside room there and we were sure to have a suite-type room complete with a kitchen and a living and dining room.

We would wake up early and fish off the hotel jetty on the south side, catch mangrove snapper using live shrimp, and we would quickly run the freshly caught fish straight to my mom where she would fillet them and fry them right there on the spot! Talk about fresh fish! Once we got tired of fishing, we would jump in the pool and stay there for hours. At night you would find our family chowing down at one of the area restaurants in Marathon unless my mom was in the mood to cook a seafood dish.

Looking back, my father found one great spot we all liked and made it our own. It was almost as if we owned a little chunk of the Florida Keys and we looked forward every year to our one-week getaway, never to be disappointed with the choice.

Creating lasting memories for your family is one of the most important facets of living a fulfilling life. The special times you share today will become such a huge part of your kid’s lives that they will carry with joy and pride forever. Kids never forget these kinds of moments in their lives, even when they are well into adulthood. I’m in my 50’s and it feels like it was yesterday when I was fishing off the jetty for hours on end at the age of 12 while Dad was sitting under a beach umbrella, smoking his Marlboro’s and listening to the latest music from Three Dog Night and Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

My greatest memory of these family vacations is that they made us all stop and come together, strCreate lasting memories at the Continental Inn in Marathon key, FL.engthening an already-powerful family bond beyond belief, year after year.

My father passed away recently and at the wake, we showed a beautiful array of slides on a TV monitor with pictures mostly from our family vacations in the Florida Keys. Dad was smiling from ear to ear in almost every picture and I was beaming with pride as I explained what we were doing in each slide to friends and family members who were curious to know.

These days, I smile from ear to ear every single time we enter Key Largo, FL as we make our way down to Marathon Key. Nothing has changed much and the Continental Inn looks almost the same as it did 40 years ago with the exception of upkeep and a few upgrades. I’m trying my best to create the same lasting memories for my kids but I don’t really have to try that hard. In the Florida Keys, creating memories becomes almost effortless!