FLORIDA KEYS – A necklace of islands that begins just south of Miami, the laid-back Florida Keys are connected by the Overseas Highway’s 43 bridges – one almost seven miles long – over the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The area is divided into five regions: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine and the Lower Keys, and Key West. Each has its own flavor, attractions including historic museums, flora, fauna, seafood restaurants, fishing, diving, watersports and boutique-type shopping. Vistas of the Keys feature deep-blue seas, nodding palms and olive-green mangroves. Sharing this eco-paradise are white herons, roseate spoonbills, pelicans, sea gulls, ospreys and countless underwater creatures. The coastal waters of the entire 125-mile island chain, which is paralleled by North America’s only living coral barrier reef, have been designated the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Ideas for First Time Visitors:
- A drive across the new Seven Mile Bridge, the longest segmental bridge in the world, Marathon Key
- Drive the Keys on the All-American Road
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (snorkeling or glass bottom boat) Key Largo
- Have your photo taken in front of the giant Lobster at the Rain Barrel Islamorada
- Feed the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina, MM 79, Islamorada
- Tour the Dolphin Research Center Marathon
- Swim, sunbathe and explore Bahia Honda State Park Lower Keys
- Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West
- Ride the Conch Train or Trolley Tour in Key West
- Experience the Sunset Celebration at mallory Square in Key West
Ideas for Repeat Visitors:
- Tour on the African Queen, Key Largo
- Kayak or paddle boards the flats in Islamorada
- Visit historic Pigeon Key, Marathon
- Visit the Turtle Hospital in Marathon
- Discover the Key Deer Refuge, Lower Keys
- Hire a backcountry guide out of Sugarloaf Marina and explore dolphins, turtles and other marind and bird life in the Great White Heron National Refuge (15 miles north of Key West)
- Experience the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Key West
- Take a Sunset Cruise in Key West
- Explore America’s most remote national park, the Dry Tortugas, either by passenger ferry or seaplane service
Enjoy garden tours, as well as learn about the Florida Keys environment and how it affects gardening in a wide range of topics for discussion and education. Visit website for schedule of monthly lectures, typically scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., 5210 College Road.
Each Wednesday the Center is to host a weekly Bloodline mini-binge, showing two episodes at 2 p.m., from seasons 1 & 2 of the popular Netflix original series. Free for members, non-members $5. Theater has limited seating (35).
Enjoy a special exhibit celebrating and honoring the Spiegel Grove, intentionally sunk 15 years ago off Key Largo. This exhibits highlights all who served on this great ship, missions it participated in, the efforts in preparing her for sinking and the environmental impact the artificial reef has had on the area. The exhibit is to be on display through Labor Day.
Distance from Major Airports
- Miami International Airport to Key Largo – 60 miles
- Miami International Airport to Islamorada Key – 80 miles
- Miami International Airport to Marathon Key – 111 miles
- Miami International Airport to Lower Keys / Key West – 160 miles