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If you are looking for a tropical destination, but do not want to leave the states; you may want to consider the Florida Keys. This destination reminds us of the Bahamas and the Caribbean. We love the Florida Keys!
The Keys are about an hour from Miami starting with Key Largo. There are several main islands from Key Largo to Key West. It takes at least 2 hours to get from Key Largo to Key West (based on traffic). On weekends, it can take up to 4 hours to get from one point to the other with traffic.
Our two favorite islands in the Florida Keys are Islamorada and Key West. There are so many fun things to do for families in the Florida Keys. Let’s dive into our list.
Robbie’s of Islamorada
Our first top thing to do in the Florida Keys is on the island called Islamorada. You can grab a bite to eat at the Hungry Tarpon, rent boats or kayaks, or shop. A must do at Robbie’s is feed the tarpons.
You buy a bucket of fish and can feed the hungry tarpon on the dock. Feeding the tarpons is a lot of fun. However, fighting off the pelicans is just as much fun. Plan a few hours at Robbie’s on your way through the Florida Keys or as a day trip.
Living in Florida, we love sea turtles! Our favorite sea turtle hospital in Florida is The Turtle Hospital in Marathon. You get a behind the scenes look into The Turtle Hospital. You learn how they rescue, rehabilitate, and release sea turtles. We love the up close experiences with these sea turtles. It is an amazing learning experience for the whole family.
You can even “adopt” a sea turtle of your own. Your contribution of $35.00 a year helps provide food and medicine for your sea turtle.
You will receive a photo and biography of your turtle, a certificate of adoption, and updates on your turtle throughout the year.
Rent a Boat
If you have experience with boats, we recommend renting a boat from Robbie’s for a ½ day or full day. Two of our favorite reefs are driving distance from Robbie’s including Cheeca Rocks and Alligator Reef.
Pack a lunch and your snorkeling equipment for your day on the water. Cheeca Rocks is a reef with so many beautiful tropical fish and sea turtles. This is one of our favorite snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys.
Another unique experience is snorkeling by Alligator Reef. This is a huge lighthouse in the ocean. It is truly amazing.
If you do not have experience with boats, you can reserve a snorkeling excursion with one of the local companies. One of our favorite local companies is Fury. We recently took the Ultimate Adventure with Fury.
This included parasailing, jet skis, water obstacle course, banana boat ride, and snorkeling. The snorkeling was on the 3rd largest Great Barrier Reef. We saw tropical fish, sharks, and sea turtles. It was an amazing day of snorkeling and family fun.
Rent a Kayak
If you are looking for some adventure, rent a kayak in the Florida Keys. We have rented several kayaks throughout the Florida Keys. Our favorite rental spot is Robbie’s. We like to kayak throughout the mangroves or to Indian Key Historic State Park.
You can explore the island or even snorkel around it. It is a longer kayak (about 30-45 minutes) so we do advise this adventure for tweens or teens.
Day in Key West
Our next top thing in the Florida Keys is to spend a day in Key West. This is the very Southern tip of Florida. You can enjoy some time shopping and eating on Duval Street. For some evening fun, we love watching the sunset and entertainment on Mallory Square.
Be sure you look out for chickens and roosters. They are everywhere in Key West and are protected. It is another fun thing to do in Key West. Your kids will love looking for chickens and roosters.
Did you know there is a National Park in the ocean near Key West? This National Park is called Dry Tortugas. You can only get to Dry Tortugas via a ferry called the Yankee Freedom III or by seaplane. There is a fort called Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas with an incredible walkway around the island. You can explore the fort or snorkel around the island.
We loved our experience in Dry Tortugas. They even have a Junior Ranger Program for the younger kids. The ferry takes over 2 hours to get from Key West to Dry Tortugas, so it is a long boat ride. You are also boating into the ocean, so it can get rough. If you get seasick, you may want to skip this adventure.
We have traveled around the world. However, some of my favorite sunsets are in the Florida Keys. We like taking a sailboat sunset cruise. We got to experience a lot of sunsets on the Jolly Rover II during a recent sailboat adventure.
We were on this sailboat for a week. However, you can reserve an evening on the Jolly Rover II or a catamaran cruise on Fury. It is such an incredible way to enjoy a Florida sunset.
The next top thing to do in the Florida Keys is the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. We love this butterfly garden. There are hundreds of butterflies in this tropical paradise. You will see 50-60 different butterfly species from around the world. You will also get up close with colorful birds including super chatty flamingos.
This is a walk through experience and only took us about an hour. After the butterfly garden, you can wander through their fun gift shop. Our whole family loves the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.
The Florida Keys are not known for their beaches. However, there are a few hidden gems in the Florida Keys. One of these gems is Sombrero Beach in Marathon. We consider this beach the best beach in the Florida Keys.
They have an incredible playground for the kids, soft white sand, turquoise waters, and even palm trees to set up a hammock. It is a perfect spot to soak up some sun and cool off in the water.
Key Lime Pie or Key Lime Pie on a Stick
If you come to the Florida Keys, you have to get a slice of Key Lime Pie or Key Lime Pie on a Stick. The Key Lime Pie on a Stick is a frozen slice of Key Lime Pie covered in chocolate.
You can get these treats at almost every restaurant. You can even purchase whole pies at Publix (the local grocery store) for about the same price as a dessert at a restaurant. That is our little favorite tip in the Florida Keys.
Theater of the Sea
Our next top thing to do in the Florida Keys is the Theater of the Sea. This family owned attraction is in Islamorada. You will see dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, fish, sharks, alligators, birds, and more. You can also reserve lots of behind the scenes tours with the animals. We love these up-close experiences at Theater of the Sea.
Be sure you pack your swimsuit and snorkel gear. You even have a spot to cool off in the water and get up-close with beautiful parrot fish.
Drive around Big Pine Key to Look for Key Deer
A fun and free activity in the Florida Keys is driving around Big Pine Key looking for Key Deer. You can find Key Deer at the National Key Deer Refuge.
However, we usually just drive the back roads throughout Big Pine Key and see them standing right by the road. They are so little. It is fun to spot them with your family.
Jet Ski Tour of Key West
While in Key West, you may want to add a tour around this island. We love the jet ski tour around Key West. This was an epic adventure for our family. You learn more about Key West and get a different tour of the island from the water. We took our jet ski tour with Barefoot Billy’s. They were amazing!
To stay up-to-date with the latest Florida Keys deals and to book your next family Florida Keys vacation with the top travel experts, be sure to get in touch with our team at Destinations In Florida. We can also help with booking many of the adventures we mentioned, above.
These are our top things to do in the Florida Keys. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.