Although the most famous of the Florida Keys – Key West – takes you a mere 90 miles from Cuba, the trip there, along the Overseas Highway, has enough sights that you would need a few weeks to cover all of the fantastic adventures awaiting you. So let’s hit the road for a family-friendly southern adventure!
Key Largo – John Pennekamp
John Pennekamp offers snorkeling and scuba diving, glass bottom boat tours, kayak and canoe rentals, a visitor’s center with fantastic aquarium and natural history exhibits of the area, plus three fabulous beaches. Our favorite is Canon Beach, with a replica of a Spanish sunken ship from 1751 only 100 feet off shore, that’s home to some of the most amazing tropical fish you can find! On our most recent visit, we saw several barracuda, tons of multi-colored parrot fish, toad fish, angel fish, puffer fish and plenty other fish as well as crabs scuttling along the sea floor. Mile Marker 102.6
Tavenier – Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
This is a hidden gem that allows visitors the opportunity to get up close to birds that have been injured and are in the process of being rehabbed for release, if possible, or loved, it their injuries are too devastating to be released into the wild again. It’s run strictly on a volunteer and donation basis and has ten different aviaries with falcons, owls, pelicans, hawks and several tropical birds including a hysterical cockatiel that chatted up a storm with us. To date, the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center has rehabbed and released 128 birds! Mile Marker 93.6
Islamorada – Robbie’s Hungry Tarpon
Whether you’ve got the time to spend hitting stops along all of the Keys, or are cruising straight to Key West, there are tons of fabulous shops, cafes and waterside restaurants that are sure to make everyone in the car happy. If you’re looking for a perfect stop for lunch and to do a little shopping at an outdoor marketplace, head over to Robbie’s Hungry Tarpon and make sure to grab a $3.00 bucket of bait to feed the tarpon – you’ll love it! Mile Marker 78
Marathon – The Turtle Hospital
The Turtle Hospital is the only facility in the United States that was specifically created to rehab injured sea turtles and return them to their natural habitat. It helps to educate the public, while it also conducts and assists with research in conjunction with state and local schools and universities, and raises awareness to local and state legislators to make the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles. Tours are available throughout the day, check ahead for times and to make reservations, as they limit the number of people for each 90 minute tour. Mile Marker 48.5
Pigeon Key – Pigeon Key Foundation Historic Tours
Pigeon Key is located right in the middle of the famous Seven Mile Bridge. It was home to 400 workers who helped build Henry Flagler’s railroad that went from mainland Florida to Key West. You can get to Pigeon Key via ferry (make sure to check the times before you head there), or you can walk the a few miles from Knight’s Key to Pigeon Key (although, I wouldn’t recommend this with kids – it’s a long, hot walk). You can check out the historic buildings, as well as the beautiful views from this island – and the best part is that you can actually rent a cabin on the island for groups as small as 15, or the entire island for groups as large as over 70 people. Mile Marker 47
Key West – Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
We found the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center on a trip to Key West in April, when we were exploring an area called the Truman Annex, that’s also home to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The Eco-Discovery takes visitors on a journey into the world native land and water plants and animals of the Keys. You can learn about how necessary it is to help protect and help to conserve the delicate ecosystem of South Florida.
In the 6,000 sq ft center, there are scavenger hunts for kids, interactive exhibits and they’ve even got a mock-up of Aquarius, the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory.
It was a fabulous air conditioned stop for us, and my absolute favorite part was watching “Reflections of the Florida Keys,” a short film on the diverse ecosystem of the Florida Keys by renowned filmmaker and environmentalist, Bob Talbot.
Another favorite hideaway is the Key West Garden Club, located at West Martello Tower, a Civil War Fort dating back to 1863! The grounds are absolutely beautiful, and it’s located between two amazing stretches of Higgs Beach – one of our favorite spots to snorkel.
Travelers from near and far won’t be sorry with a trip to the Florida Keys…it’s one of the most amazing places to tune out from the world around us, and just relax and enjoy the scenery!
– That’s IT Mom Erin
*We were not compensated for the post in any form.