Planning a travel itinerary can be a very challenging piece of work, even when you have already decided where you are going to. This is where looking up for good tourist spots ahead of time where you can engage yourself into entertaining and lively tasks might be worthwhile. This will help save your time, and you can create everlasting memories when you’re finally at your travel destination without fretting about the small things.
If you are planning on an expedition to the state of Florida, then you should unquestionably consider taking a detour around the Florida Keys and here’s why,
The Florida Keys is a strip of tropical islands located off the southern tip, i.e., South of Miami, stretching about 182 km or 113 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It is connected by bridges on the overseas highway. The Florida Keys is a well-known destination for jaw-dropping landscapes, beautiful terrestrial and aquatic wildlife, vast beaches with glistening emerald and turquoise water, lush mangroves and thrilling watersports like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and swimming.
Also, this place has a rich history as it was once home to the pirates. Other than that, the place’s architecture, cuisine, and nightlife make it a topnotch tourism destination.
Here are some of the most spectacular destinations that you need to visit when traveling to the Florida Keys:
1. Duval Street, Key West
Duval Street is the heartbeat of the city of Key West. Being not more than a mile long, its diverse cultures, bars, museums, shops, and attractions, make the city come to life. It can be said that this street has the lion’s share of tourist spots in Key West. It is an excellent place to spend your time going through history, eating tasty food, and sightseeing picturesque architecture.
Duval Street is also the home to festivals like Fantasy Fest, which includes different themes each year and a parade with huge floats and people dressed up in costumes. Moreover, Duval Street also hosts a lot of other family-friendly events and activities.
2. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is located on Duval Street, Key West, and is one of the most legendary and history-rich residences as it is the former home of American journalist and author Ernest Hemingway. His home and museum have many significant pieces from the past like Spanish furniture and a gorgeous garden with a number of cats that are descendants of his pet cats that still reside there. We recommend you to take a look at his prose in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms at his bookstore and take a souvenir home.
3. Mallory Square, Key West
The spree begins at Mallory Square as the sun goes down. It hosts a nightly sunset celebration, which is energetic and vibrant as vendors and tourists gather around to admire the golden sunset. After that, the party starts with circus performers like fire jugglers, cats walking on tightropes, dogs on tricycles, sword swallowers, and clowns put on a fun show. Don’t forget to tip the performers after you enjoy the show.
You can also find a Sponge Market in this area and a museum displaying sponge harvesting. Many other shops like surf shops, treasure stores, and clothing boutiques can be found in the area.
4. Southernmost Point of the Continental US
Southernmost Point is an oversized colorful landmark that represents the lowest spot on the map of the United States. We recommend getting that gram-worthy aesthetically pleasing photo to post on your Instagram and Pinterest boards because this would definitely signify your trip to the Key West. This is something you should definitely add to your to-do list.
5. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
It is a glass-enclosed conservatory with a plant-filled habitat,which is also located on Duval Street. Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for some peaceful and calming vibes on your trip. It contains almost 100 unique species of butterflies along with more than 30 species of exotic and rare birds soaring freely in an enjoyable environment.
There is also a learning center attached to the conservatory where you can learn more about the butterflies and birds through books and films. It is a very educational experience for all ages. Other than that, there is also a gallery and gift shop.
6. National Key Deer Refuge
This place is located in the Big Pine Key area and is probably the most unusual yet thrilling adventures you can experience. The National Key Deer Refuge has a small amount of deer’s having a short stature from an endangered species found only in that particular area. You can go out hiking with your friends and family in search of seeing those deer.
Biking or kayaking throughout that area to see the Blue Water Hole pond is also an option if you want to see turtles and alligators.
7. Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park is located on the Big Pine Key and is home to one of the most breathtakingly beautiful beaches in all of Florida. It is divided into two beaches, one that directly connects with the ocean and the other from where you can see the old railroad bridge. Both of them have rare underwater flora and fauna. You can rent all the beach or watersport equipment you need from here to go snorkeling and boating. There are separate camping and picnic sites available as well.
8. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is located to the south of Big Pine Keys and is perfect for the people who like to escape into the water. Being situated almost 7-30 ft. into the water, it is definitely an out of this world experience.
The most commonplace that you should visit here is Looe Key Sanctuary Preservation Area by registering yourself to snorkeling tours to see the coral reef. It is both a fresh and educational experience as most of the reef is dedicated to research.
9. Dry Tortugas National Park
The Dry Tortugas National Park is a conglomerate accessible only by a boat or a seaplane located few miles away from the Key West Island. It is home to Fort Jefferson, which was built in the 19th century and is massive enough to cover the whole island from one corner to another. This park offers a variety of activities like snorkeling through green corals and seagrass, looking at shipwrecks inside the sea, bird watching, and camping and stargazing at night. Many areas around the park can be visited through a boat.
10. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is an underwater park located near Key Largo. It is one of the first undersea parks of the country and features a wide variety of underwater life as well as many shipwrecks that can be explored through scuba diving. The park has a beautiful shell-covered beach and many picnic areas.
There is also a learning center where you can learn more about the marine wildlife you see during snorkeling. In addition to that, you can book a variety of tours, out of which the most popular is the glass-bottom boat tour and kayaking tour through the lush mangroves.
Moreover, the African Queen Canal Cruise is also a popular way to explore Key Largo.
Marathon is a commercial fishing area located in the center of the Middle Keys. If you are passionate about fishing, the marathon area offers you deep-sea, reefs, and flats fishing. Alongside the clear water beaches, another popular location present in Marathon is waterfront restaurants. Many different water activities like jet skiing can be enjoyed here. With top tourist attractions like Aquarium Encounters, many high-quality resorts can be found in this area for a comfortable stay.
12. Dolphin Research Center
Dolphins are probably the most cutest and lovable mammals. If you want to spend a day looking at dolphins, The Dolphin Research Center located near Marathon is for you. Here you can watch dolphins, and sea lions perform alongside trainers. Have a closer look at them and take pictures, and even spend a day swimming with the dolphins. The research center also offers a camp where they teach kids more about these mammals. We recommend taking your kids there.
13. Turtle Hospital
Did you know that there is a dedicated hospital for injured sea turtles? Visiting the Turtle Hospital located in Marathon and learning about how this rehabilitating rescue facility work would be a whole new experience for you. The education and learning centers teach and train you on how to nurse sick turtles. In addition to that, several tours are available that allow you to see rehab tanks and feed the residing turtles.
About 2,000 turtles are rescued and medically treated by this facility to date.
The Florida Keys is at the epitome of exotic vacation spots in the world. It is the type of place where traveling can bring a sense of peace to your mind. Here you can enjoy to the fullest because it involves countless activities that you can engage yourself in. Some places not mentioned above around the Islamorada area like Theater of The Sea and Key History and Discovery Center will help sum up your vacation and bring it to a great end.
Before you embark on your adventurous travel journey, going through this article can help you narrow down the places that are worth a visit.