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Sea Turtle resting on the Coast Guard Cutter Duane at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo

Florida

The Florida Keys: Snorkeling, Hiking, Marine Life and More

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    Florida

In the Florida Keys, these 9 attractions offer opportunities to relax on the shore or seek adventures in the crystal-clear waters.

A trip to South Florida and the Florida Keys is a trip to paradise. This string of beautiful islands separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its beautiful reef and beaches. There are plenty of outdoor activities to pursue on and in the water as well as beautiful tropical landscapes to explore. Here is a list of places to visit in this tropical paradise.

Audubon House and Tropical Gardens

Captain John Huling Geiger, a harbor pilot who also worked salvaging valuables from shipwrecks, began construction of the beautiful Audubon house in 1846. Due to the frequency of shipwrecks along the offshore reef of Key West, Geiger’s family became one of the wealthiest in the city. Located on the waterfront, this American Classic Revival-style home is a model of quality workmanship and design. The gardens are equally beautiful with orchids, bromeliads orchids, bromeliads, rare tropical palms and crotons. Butterflies and birds flit about the native and exotic plants. Bring your camera to capture the stunning beauty of the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens.

Bahia Honda State Park

Relax on the shores of Bahia Honda State Park at Mile Marker 37 in the Florida Keys. The park is over 202-hectares of tropical greenery and shoreline. Visitors can swim, birdwatch, take a nature hike, go snorkeling, fish, kayak, camp and enjoy a picnic. This scenic destination has some of the best nearshore snorkeling in the Florida Keys. Rent a snorkel and use an underwater camera to take photographs of the soft corals, small coral heads, tropical fish, queen conchs and spiny lobster living in the clear waters of Bahia Honda State Park.

Escape to paradise on the shores of Bahia Honda State Park

Escape to paradise on the shores of Bahia Honda State Park
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Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trail

In the heart of Marathon’s shopping district, Crane Point Hammock is 25.5 hectares of tropical beauty. Stop in the Crane Point Museum to see the 600-year-old dugout canoe, Bellarmine jug, Key deer, turtles, snails, snakes and whales. View the nine-minute film for an overview of the area and stop off at the lagoon to watch the locals fish. Go for a hike on the nature trail and see numerous rare and endangered species, unique archaeological riches, thatched palm and hardwood hammocks, mangroves, tidal lagoons, wetland ponds and other exotic tropical trees. Visitors can also take a guided kayak tour and learn about the exquisite nature in the area.

Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill at Fisherman’s Cove

The Big Chill at Mile Marker 104 is a waterfront dining spot that perfectly captures Key Largo’s breathtaking sunset. Dine on the bay in the all-glass main dining room, where you can eat fresh local seafood, a full raw bar, steaks and salads. Relax in the pool while you sip on a frozen drink and enjoy the view or sit back in your own private cabana. Join the fun at the tiki bar, where there is live entertainment every night, or check out the current sports game in JJ’s sports bar.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park covers around 52 nautical square kilometers of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. Established to protect and preserve a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental USA, it contains a variety of tropical vegetation, shorebirds and marine life. Go on a snorkeling tour and see beautiful and diverse coral reefs and marine life. If you’d rather not get in the water, take a glass-bottom boat tour for underwater views while sailing along in comfort and style. Get close to the mangroves by renting a kayak, paddleboard or canoe and have a picnic with the family as you play in the gorgeous clear waters.

Go snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for spectacular views of the reef and marine life

Go snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for spectacular views of the reef and marine life
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Key West Key Lime Pie Co.

To taste award-winning key lime pies, stop at the Key West Key Lime Pie Co. The pies are made fresh daily with only natural ingredients, real key lime juice and a handmade graham cracker crust. This iconic Key West dessert is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. You can even enroll in a cooking class and learn how to make these delicious confections.

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The Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital is dedicated to rehabilitating endangered sea turtles and returning them to their natural habitat. The hospital has treated and released over 1,500 sea turtles since opening in 1986. The hospital also actively conducts research into the causes of fibropapilloma, devastating viral tumors that affect over 50 percent of sea turtles, as well as working toward environmental legislation to ensure beaches and water are safe and clean. A visit to the Turtle Hospital will take you on an educational guided tour of the facilities and the sea turtle rehabilitation area, where you can feed the permanent residents.

Endangered sea turtles are healed within the safety of the pools at The Turtle Hospital

Endangered sea turtles are healed within the safety of the pools at The Turtle Hospital
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Theater of the Sea

If you want to get close to dolphins and sea lions, Theater of the Sea is the place to go. The mission of this amazing destination is to provide a home to the animals while sharing them with visitors to inspire awareness and sensitivity toward them, the environment and conservation issues. Many of the animals living here cannot be released for a variety of reasons, including injuries sustained in the wild. A general admission ticket will give you access to dolphin, sea lion and parrot shows in addition to a bottomless boat ride, lagoon-side beach, and guided marine-life tour with tropical fish, sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, alligators and crocodiles. If you’d like to swim with the dolphins or sea lions, make a reservation in advance of your visit.

Meet dolphins when you visit Theater of the Sea

Meet dolphins when you visit Theater of the Sea
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Waterfront Playhouse

In Key West’s Mallory Square, the Waterfront Playhouse has delighted audiences for 75 years. Using a pool of talented actors, directors and designers, the theater has a six-show season that runs from August until May. This professional nonprofit theater is dedicated to producing stimulating and dynamic high-quality theater to entertain and challenge viewers from around the world. Reserve tickets ahead of time and enjoy a night at the theater during your stay in Key West.

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