Are you planning a trip to the Florida Keys? Here are five travel tips to help make your trip to the Florida Keys a trip you will never forget!
Stop at a State Park
The Florida Keys are home to ten state parks. Each of these parks is worth a visit, but make sure to pay a visit to at least one while you are in the Keys. Fans of history shouldn't miss Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West, where you can see the fort which protected the city for 100 years. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, off of Key Largo, was the first underwater state park in the United States. At Indian Key Historic State Park, visitors can see the tropical ghost town which was the seat of Dade County when Miami was just a spit of land at the edge of a swamp. If you have time, visit all ten of the parks!
Bahia Honda State Park
Curry Hammock State Park
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Indian Key Historic State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
Long Key State Park
San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
Get Closer to the Water
If you're traveling the 113 miles of the Overseas Highway between the mainland and Key West, you'll be traveling over 42 bridges. A full 15% of the drive is spent on bridges. If you're in the Keys, you shouldn't just look at the water as you cross bridges, though, you should find a way to get closer to it! Take a dip at one of the beaches. Snorkel or scuba dive the Florida Reef, which is the third largest coral barrier reef in the world. Take a spin on a jet ski or book a fishing excursion on Islamorada, the Sportfishing Capital of the World. A visit to the Florida Keys isn't complete unless you find a way to experience its blue waters up close and personal!
Be a Tourist
The Florida Keys are full of activities for tourists. While some look down on these tourist activities, you should embrace them while you're in the Keys. Stop to feed the tarpon at one of the marinas. Visit Theater of the Sea, which is the second oldest marine mammal attraction in the world. Look for manatees off of the docks. Take a picture with Betsey, arguably the largest lobster in the world. If you don't live in the Keys, you are a tourist. Embrace it!
Choppy the dog loves Betsey the Lobster!
If you're planning to spend some time in the Keys, remember to book a hotel early. If you are looking to travel on a budget, cheap places to stay are few and far between. Even with a bigger budget, hotel space on the small islands of the Keys is limited. During the peak tourist season in winter, there may not be a hotel room to be found anywhere from Key Largo to Key West. Make sure to have a plan for lodging before you head across one of the bridges from the mainland to Key Largo!
Don't Bridge Count
There is a term used for people who drive the Overseas Highway to Key West without stopping to explore: Bridge Counters. Trust us, it's not a term which is used fondly. Thankfully, with all there is to do in the Keys, you shouldn't need to be one. If you aren't interested in the activities detailed above, make up your own itinerary. Stop at a restaurant. Have a drink at a bar. Pull over to the side of the road and read a book with the windows down. There are an endless number of things to do in the Florida Keys. You just need to take the time to stop and enjoy them!
Even a cloudy day in the Keys is a great day to explore.
If you are looking to learn more about the Florida Keys or Key West, please purchase our books, 101 Travel Bits: The Overseas Highway and 101 Travel Bits: Key West.