Are you looking for the perfect vacation destination? Look no further than the Lower Keys, Florida! With its serene views of crystal clear waters and unspoiled wilderness, it’s the ideal getaway for any kind of traveler. Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or an action-packed family trip, there are plenty of things to do in the Lower Keys. From snorkeling and fishing to hiking and kayaking, there’s something here for everyone. Here’s our top 10 list of fun-filled activities that will make your trip one to remember!
A List of the Best Things to do in the Lower Keys, Florida
- Bahia Honda State Park
- Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
- Indian Key Historic State Park
- Pigeon Key Historic District and Museum
- The Dolphin Research Centre
- National Key Deer Refuge
- The Mangroves
- Smathers Beach
- Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
- Marathon, Florida
1. Visit Bahia Honda State Park
If you love all things nature, Bahia Honda State Park is the perfect place for you! Observe the island’s flora and fauna, either through bird-watching, boating trips, hiking, or simply by relaxing on the palm-lined beaches. Additionally, other readily-available activities include kayaking and snorkeling excursions along the reef. At night, watch the magnificent sunset and gaze at the stars.
2. Dive at the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
Whether you’re an experienced diver or a new snorkeler, the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary has something to offer everybody. At the sanctuary, observe a wide variety of animal, plant, coral, and marine life depending on the season. The Marine sanctuary is also home to numerous shipwrecks, which are beautiful sites for bountiful marine life and mystery.
3. Indian Key Historic State Park
Accessible only by boat, the Indian Key Historic Park is the perfect getaway to swim, sunbathe, and picnic. Additional activities include fishing, paddling, and snorkeling. Kayaks are readily available for rent from local companies. Meanwhile, if you prefer to stay on land, explore the historic community of Indian Key on the various nature trails.
4. Pigeon Key Historic District and Museum
Looking for a secluded island paradise for all ages? Pigeon Key is the perfect place for you and your family. Explore the island’s vibrant history on a family-friendly tour past the Old 7 Mile Bridge and the Pigeon Key museum. Afterwards, tan on the beach, pack a picnic, swim in the ocean, and snorkel to your heart’s content. In addition, enroll your children in the Pigeon Key Marine-Science Summer Camp for hands-on learning within the Florida Keys ecosystem.
5. The Dolphin Research Centre
The Dolphin Research Centre located in Marathon, Florida is an interactive and educational facility, perfect for family and friends. Purchase a General Admission ticket and observe the dolphins and sea lions in and outside of their training sessions. For a more hands-on experience, purchase a VIP package and spend a fun with the dolphins and sea lion family. Likewise, other fun activities include painting with a dolphin, accompanying a trainer for the day, or playing with the dolphins. Finally, for a fun family experience, purchase the “Family Dolphin Splash” package and interact with the dolphins in the water!
6. The National Key Deer Refuge
Calling all animal lovers- the National Key Deer Refuge is the place for you. The Refuge houses more than 20 endangered and threatened animal and plant species. Additionally, the National Key Deer Refuge is the only home to the endangered Key deer, the smallest subspecies of white-tailed deer in North America. In addition, spend the day hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, bird-watching, and foraging.
7. Kayak the Mangroves
Kayaking the Mangroves is an experience for everyone, whether you’re with family, a group, your partner, or solo. The Mangroves provide protection, food, and nesting areas for a wide variety of species, from crustaceans to beautiful coastal birds like the brown pelican and roseate spoonbills. By paddling the Mangroves, you will be able to observe the wildlife up close and personal. Unsurprisingly, there are many kayak tours to choose from, most catering to individuals with any level of paddling experience.
8. Relax at Smathers Beach
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a more relaxing day, head over to Smathers Beach! The largest public beach in Key West, Smathers Beach offers a multitude of fun activities, from parasailing to jet skiing. Smathers Beach also offers many amenities including beach chairs, picnic areas, beach volleyball nets, restrooms, and showers. The beach is free to visit, but parking will cost $5 per hour– a small price to pay for a wonderful, fun-packed location.
9. Visit The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
If you love all things literature, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is the perfect place for you. It is here that Hemingway penned “A Farewell to Arms” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. Each room contains memorabilia about Hemingway’s life and work. Another important note for any cat lovers– many of the cats that currently reside on the museum grounds (around 60 cats) are believed to be descendants of Hemingway’s cat Snow White. The Museum also has a bookstore and gift shop for those who want to bring back a piece of their experience at Hemingway’s home. The house is open every day of the year (even holidays) from 9am to 5pm.
10. John Pennecamp Coral Reef, Florida
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. The park is home to the only living coral reef in the continental United States, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in marine life. Exploring the underwater world of the reef is a highlight for many visitors, with its colorful fish, turtles, and other marine creatures. For those who prefer to stay above water, kayaking and paddleboarding through the calm waters of the park’s mangrove channels offer a peaceful and serene way to experience the beauty of the area. Additionally, the park offers hiking trails and picnic areas for those who want to enjoy a more relaxed outdoor experience. Whatever your preference, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park has something for everyone.
11. Shop and Dine in Marathon, Florida
Combine your beach therapy with a little retail therapy in and around the local shops of Marathon Key. Stock up on artisanal clothing, beach supplies, fishing equipment, or one-of-a-kind mementos for friends and family back home. Afterwards, visit the local restaurants for a unique and local seafood menu, but there are also cute breakfast spots, French restaurants and Cuban cuisine.
In all, the Lower Keys of Florida are a hidden gem. Whether you’re travelling solo, with friends, as a couple, or with your entire family, the Lower Keys has something for everyone to enjoy. The unique ecosystem provides an incredible setting for nature and animal lovers, as well as those seeking different types of adventure. There are plenty of activities sure to make your stay in the Lower Keys an unforgettable experience. So don’t wait! Pack your bags and come join us in the Lower Keys.
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