With nearly year-round beautiful weather, including plenty of sunshine and sea breezes, the Lower Keys offer families the opportunity to really get away from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature. From hiking through a Key Deer refuge to sleeping under the stars, visiting the Lower Keys will let you leave it all behind and bond together to create lasting memories.
Beaches for Days
Whether it’s for an hour or all day, Bahia Honda State Park makes a peaceful stop to reconnect with the natural beauty of the Lower Keys. You and your family can spend a day at the beach, or explore more than 500 acres including an offshore island. The Coral Reef Park Co. runs a full-service concessions stand that rents kayaks and organizes daily snorkeling tours to Looe Key Sanctuary Preservation Area.
For a low-key local spot, families will love Veteran’s Memorial Beach, which includes a lovely stretch of beach, bbq pits, shady pavilions, picnic tables, and showers for rinsing off the sand.
Outstanding Animal Sanctuaries
Found nowhere else in the world, the endangered Key deer is a small subspecies of white-tailed deer. The National Key Deer Refuge is a 100-mile-long stretch with habitats that include hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, pine forests, salt marshes, and mangrove forests. In addition to the petite deer, the refuge is home to more than 20 endangered and threatened plant and animal species. It also contains the Blue Hole, the largest body of fresh water in the Florida Keys. Start your visit to the refuge at the Nature Center.
Get away from it all at the Great White Heron National Refuge, an incredibly peaceful animal sanctuary that stretches from the north of Marathon all the way to just north of Key West. With thousands of acres, including shallow saltwater and mangrove island habitats, the park offers nesting, feeding, and resting areas for hundreds of species of birds, including the Great White Heron. The shallow waters provide respite for both Florida manatee and Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, and several species of sea turtles that nest on the beaches. Visitors can experience hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, diving and more.
Kids love camping, and there’s no better way to keep the nature vibes going than sleeping under the stars. The Lower Keys offer several options for accommodations. Sunshine Key RV Resort Marina is a camping and RV park with an adjacent marina and a pool. The Big Pine Key Resort offers camping from rustic to glamping, along with great fishing.
If connecting with nature while exploring a low-key artist community sounds up your alley, don’t miss a visit to Stock Island. Not only is this location the Keys commercial shrimping hub (cue the deliciously fresh Key West sweet pink shrimp dishes!) it’s also an absolute haven for artists. This combination of an active fishing industry and artistic, creative minds is one of the things that sets the Florida Keys apart from the rest of the world. On Stock Island, you’ll find a marina where you can charter a world-class fishing excursion or just sketch the scenery as the ships come in. Explore an array of art studios such as Washed Up which features Florida Keys wood sculptures and woodworking designs, and the Stock Island monthly art stroll. Kids will love visiting Grimal Grove, a historic tropical fruit garden and grower. There’s also a huge array of bars and restaurants (we mentioned the shrimp already, right?). Keep your eyes out for The Lost Kitchen Supper Club, a pop-up dining experience.
Start planning your nature-filled vacation to The Lower Keys today. To learn more about the amazing activities the island has to offer, head to fla-keys.com/lower-keys.
6 Must-Visit Historic Attractions in Key West