What To Do On A Florida Keys Family Vacation

Florida Keys Family Vacation

One of the best ways to give children experiences is to travel as a family. One place to travel is the Florida Keys where children can experience driving the scenic Overseas Highway, snorkeling, kayaking, and seeing and interacting with marine life at aquariums.

The Florida Keys are an archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida, which forms the southernmost portion of the continental United States. The southern most island in the Florida Keys is only 90 miles away from Cuba. The word “Key” is derived from the Spanish word “cayo” which means small island. The Florida Keys (islands) are made up of 1,700 islands. Most of these islands are uninhabited. The Florida Keys, when talk about, are often broken up into three different parts, four parts if you include Key West. They are the Upper Keys (Key Largo), the Middle Keys (Marathon), Lower Keys (Big Pine Key) and then there is Key West.

Here are a few things that families can do on a vacation to the Florida Keys, how to travel there, and where to stay.

Florida Keys’ Overseas Highway

The Overseas Highway (aka “The Highway that Goes to Sea”) connects 43 of the Keys, which makes travel possible between the Keys. This highway is part of U.S. Highway Route 1 in Florida. The Overseas Highway begins in Miami and ends in Key West and is 113 miles long. This highway is consider one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. The most famous part of the highway is Seven Mile Bridge.

Snorkeling Florida KeysSnorkeling In The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are known for good snorkeling. The most popular place to snorkel is Key West. Here’s the secret though, “most popular” doesn’t mean the best place to snorkel. It is the most popular because that is where resorts are located. The best place to snorkel is the middle keys (Marathon, Islamorada, and the Big Pine area).

At Key West and Key Largo you can book snorkel tour boats that canChrist of the Abyss take you out to reefs, but again the best snorkeling is in the middle keys. Perhaps the most popular snorkel spot out of the top of the keys is Christ of the Abyss Statue which can be accessed from Key Largo.

By far the best snorkeling to be found is in the middle keys. The must visited snorkeling spots in these Keys are Hen & Chickens, Alligator Reef, and Cheeca Rocks patch reefs which are close to Islamorada. For Marathon the best spots are Coffins Patch,The Stake, Pillar Patch, and Sombrero Reef. Lastly, there is Looe Key Reef which is just south of the Big Pine area.

Kayaking Florida KeysKayaking In The Florida Keys

The Keys really have embraced kayaking and because of this, finding a kayak outfitter is pretty easy. Most outfitters can be found along the Overseas Highway (U.S. Highway Route 1). Here are a few options for kayaking:

Upper Keys: 

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (mile marker 102.5). This is a popular snorkel destination. The state park has 2.5 miles of mangrove wilderness trails that can be explored. On weekends, at this location, there can be a lot of kayakers out and about. For more information read here John Pennekamp Stake Park.

Indian Key (mile marker 77). On the Overseas Highway at mile marker 77 you can pull over where you will find a small park to launch your kayaks. Indian Key was once a place or wreckers that searched the nearby reefs to salvage wrecked ships. Today many ruins of ship wrecks remain which makes this a fun place to explore. For more information read here Great Outdoors: Kayaking to Indian Key.

 Middle Keys:

Curry Hammock State Park (mile marker 56). Here motorboats are not permitted in the park zone, which is a plus for kayakers. At the park’s day use area you will find a beach that works well for launching your kayak. From there you can paddle miles of shoreline as well as explore the mangrove paddle trail. For more information read here Curry Hammock Stake Park.

 Lower Keys:

Spanish Harbor Boat Ramp (mile marker 34). After Bahia Honda Key you will find the Spanish Harbor Boat Ramp. This spot is a bit busy with people launching their small to medium sized boats. For more information read here A Taste of Kayaking in the Florida Keys.

Key West AquariumSeeing Marine Life In The Florida Keys

For small children who may not take too well to snorkeling and kayaking there are aquariums that you can visit. There is the Key West Aquarium located in Key West. At this aquarium there are a number of things for kids to do, such as petting and feeding tanks where you can touch a shark on its tail. Also at the aquarium there are touch tanks where kids can get up and personal with conchs, sea stars, slate pencil sea urchins, serpent sea stars, sea cucumbers, giant hermit crabs, and horseshoe crabs. Not only is touching allowed, but holding what is in the touch tank is encourage. There are guides that are available to answer any questions that you or your children may have.

How To Get To The Florida Keys

Perhaps the most import part of a family vacation is getting to your destination. With the Overseas Highway linked to mainland Florida getting to the Keys has never been easier. To visit the Florida Keys you can fly into either Miami International Airport (MIA) or Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL). From either of these two airports you can reach the Keys by rental car, bus, or airport shuttle via the scenic Overseas Highway.

In the Lower Keys on Key West there is Key West International Airport. Major airlines such as Delta, American Airlines, and United fly into Key West. Make sure to check with the airlines about flights and routes that provide serve to Key West.

Where To Stay In the Florida Keys

All through the Keys (Upper, Middle, and Lower) there is a large range of choices for where to stay. There are resorts, bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals, and campgrounds for tent and RV camping.

For the Upper Keys there are a bunch of places to stay in Key Largo. Click below on the links to learn more about your options:

Key Largo Accommodations

  1. Hotels, Motels, and Resorts
  2. Guest Houses, Inns, and Bed & Breakfasts
  3. Vacation Rentals and Home & Cottages
  4. RV Parks & Campgrounds

 

For the Middle Keys there are places to stay in Isamorada and Marathon. Click below on the links to learn more about your options:

Isamorada Accommodations

  1. Hotels, Motels, and Resorts
  2. Guest Houses, Inns, and Bed & Breakfasts
  3. Vacation Rentals and Home & Cottages
  4. RV Parks & Campgrounds

Marathon Accommodations

  1. Hotels, Motels, and Resorts
  2. Guest Houses, Inns, and Bed & Breakfasts
  3. Vacation Rentals and Home & Cottages
  4. RV Parks & Campgrounds

 

For the Lower Keys there are a number of places on Big Pine Key to call home for your vacation. Click below on the links to learn more about your options:

Big Pine & Lower Keys Accommodations

  1. Hotels, Motels, and Resorts
  2. Guest Houses, Inns, and Bed & Breakfasts
  3. Vacation Rentals and Home & Cottages
  4. RV Parks & Campgrounds

 

For Key West accommodations there are many options to choose from. Click below on the links to learn more about your options:

Key West Accommodations

  1. Hotels, Motels, and Resorts
  2. Guest Houses, Inns, and Bed & Breakfasts
  3. Vacation Rentals and Home & Cottages
  4. RV Parks & Campgrounds
  5. Reservation Services

Related Posts:

Vacation Tips When Traveling With Children

 

Have you been to the Florida Keys? What was your experience like?

 

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