The Florida Keys extend for 113 miles along the Overseas Highway, from Key Largo to the southernmost point in the United States in Key West. The upper and middle keys encompass Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon and are separated from the lower keys by the 7 mile bridge. The upper and middle keys are closer to Miami and along them there are countless things to do for families. We recently spent four days island hopping and got to enjoy a lot of what the upper and middle keys have to offer. Here are our favorite things to do in the area with kids.
Visiting the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center (MM 93.6)
The Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is a non for profit organization where local birds are brought in for rehabilitation, there are also some permanent residents who can not survive in the wild. My kids really enjoyed walking along the boardwalk and looking at various species of native birds including hawks, owls and parakeets. There are also pelicans and other birds roaming around freely. There is a recommended donation of $5 per person which goes towards supporting the organization’s mission.
Getting Up Close and Personal To Local Marine Life at the Theater of the Sea (Tavernier MM 84.5)
We just fell in love with the Theater of the Sea, from it’s lush gardens filled with exotic and colorful orchids to it’s fun animal shows the Theater of the Sea is not to be missed if you are traveling to the Florida Keys. The dolphin show is outstanding and there is also a sea lion show and a parrot show. There are multiple opportunities to interact with the animals, from swimming with the dolphins and feeding beautiful multicolored parrot fish or even swimming with nurse sharks! The show schedule is extremely well organized so that you can go from one show to the next and the staff really goes out of their way to ensure you have a memorable experience. General admission is $31.95 for visitors 11 and older and $21.95 for kids 3-10 years, this includes all the shows and the opportunity to swim with the parrot fish in the lagoon. There is an extra fee for the animal interactions with the dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, sea turtles and sharks.
Checking out the History of Diving Museum (Islamorada MM 83)
The History of Diving Museum has a great and very interesting collection of diving helmets and artifacts and you and the kids will learn so much about the history of diving. This is a great place to visit even for those of us who are not diving enthusiasts. The entrance fee is $12 for adults and $6 for kids 5-11, kids younger than 5 enter free.
Feeding Tarpoon At Robbie’s Marina (MM 77)
When we travel down the Overseas Highway we always stop at Robbie’s Marina. Here you can explore the funky market and have lunch at the Hungry Tarpon while overlooking the water, they have some amazing fish tacos! From Robbie’s Marina you can rent waver runners, rent a boat or embark on a snorkeling adventure but what attracts more people is feeding the huge tarpon that hang around the piers. You can get a fish bucket for for $5, just beware of the pelicans who are not shy at all and will grab the fish right out of your hand!
Sombrero Beach (Marathon MM 50)
One of the few beaches in the Florida Keys, Sombrero Beach has beautiful whit sand and there is usually not a lot of people there. It is common to see stingrays and other sea creatures like horseshoe crabs. There is also a playground for the kids.
Where To Stay
Key Largo: In Key Largo the Marriott Courtyard Key Largo is great option. Right on the waterfront and close to Dolphins Plus the hotel overlooks the marina and it’s an ideal option for families that want to get on the water either to explore the reefs scuba diving or snorkeling or embark on a fishing adventure.
Islamorada: Located in Islamorada The Islander, the newest Guy Harvey Outpost Resort has rooms that include a kitchenette, a private screened lanai and many are just steps from the beach. All of the rooms are on the ground floor and are decorated with Guy Harvey paintings giving them a fun and fresh look.
Duck Key: Hawks Cay Resort, located in Duck Key between Islamorada and Marathon, features a gorgeous view of the ocean, a private salt water lagoon surrounded by sandy beaches where kids can swim, snorkel and kayak, a large pool and the highlight of any stay: the opportunity to interact and swim with dolphins on their private Dolphin Lagoon. If you are looking for a truly memorable experience Hawks Cay with it’s dolphin encounter programs is the ideal option for families.