When we visited Florida, we couldn’t leave without hitting the road to The Keys. We had to cancel our initial trip back home to Guam because of COVID-related documents, so we planned an impromptu vacation to Florida and enjoy the closest place of home away from home.
So, we headed for The Keys.
It was not the most ideal weather–with intermittent rain and cloudy all day, but it was worth the 4 hour trip from Miami. I had planned to visit some places along the way, but because of a late start in our day, I wasn’t able to get to all of them. I’m definitely planning to cross more things out in this list and maybe add more when I have the time to actually plan it.
Here are some places I had visited and planned to visit while road tripping The Keys:
The Southern Most Point In The Continental United States
It doesn’t get more touristy than this. There was a line to take a picture next to the monument. I mean, we drove all the way here, might as well right?
This area of The Key West is a strip of bars, restaurants, and boutique stores. It was nice because it did not have the big city feel of partying. It was very laid back, not Miami-flashy, and a breath of fresh air, especially after having to walk down an eclectic Ocean Drive the day before. It actually felt a little like home. This is definitely a place to visit if you reach down to the Key West.
Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory
Key West. Key Lime Pie? Um, yes! The Blond Giraffe is a quaint little key lime bake shop. Their key lime pie has been dubbed Best Key Lime Pie in Florida. Not only do they serve home made key lime pies, but they also have an assortment of key lime goodies!
Their outdoor patio is a large garden shaded under giant trees. What’s unique about this is that the entire garden is lined with hundreds of love locks, which you can purchase for about $12. You and your “forever love” can leave your love notes and mark your place on “Love Lock Way.”
Cruisin’ Tikis at Mellow Cafe
When you’re headed down The Keys, you have to stop by the Tiki Boat. It’s a unique experience to enjoy your drink in a floating tiki bar! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to experience this because all boats were docked that day due to the strong winds. If you want to visit, the docking point is at Mellow Café in the Key West.
7 Mile Bridge
This is a sight to behold while driving down The Keys. This bridge is unique that it connects the islands in The Keys, starting from Marathon to the Lower Keys and runs US 1 and Overseas Highway. You can visit all the main islands without having to get out of your car, driving through the turquoise blue waters. Surely, though, the views are breathtaking while driving, but make a point to make some stops along the way and enjoy the views!
When you make a stop at Marathon during your trip, make plans to visit Turtle Hospital, a non-proft turtle hospital, rescue, and rehabilitation center. Here, you can take a guided educational tour about turtles, their facility, and even see them in action caring for the turtles.
Bahia Honda State Park
With their award-winning beaches and historic bridge, Bahia Honda State Park is a one-stop shop for outdoorsy activities—camping, kayaking, and snorkeling tours. If you want to soak up the sun and dig your feet in soft white sand, don’t forget to plan a day here.
John Pellenkamp Coral Reef State Park
My initial plan to go to The Keys was to go diving in Key Largo. Unfortunately, the winds were very heavy the entire week, so every charter was docked. If you do plan a dive or snorkel, I recommend John Pellenkamp Coral Reef Park. The reefs are protected and an abundant of marine life. This was the first underwater park in the United States and one of two ONLY living coral reef formation in the Continental United States. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places.
There are many activities you can do with the family from kayaking, boating, snorkeling, and diving. Fishing is permitted, but in designated areas. To snorkel or dive, there are quite a few charters that head out to the reefs. Swimmers at any level are able to enjoy the reefs because the depths are not too deep if you want to snorkel, so visibility is great from the surface of the water. There are scuba diving tours which takes you to even deeper reefs. If you want to freedive, let the charter you book with know and must be certified.
Christ of the Abyss
There is also the famous Christ of the Abyss statue that sits about 25 feet deep. It is a main attraction for divers all around the world. The statue is one of 3 bronze cast from the original mold of Italian sculptor
Guido Galletti. The second cast was made for The Cressi Family (dive equipment manufacturer). The Family donated the statue Underwater Society of America, which in turn donated it to the Florida State Park Service in 1966, where it now lays in John Pennekamp State Park. The original statue and first cast lies in the bottom of Mediterranean Sea off Portofino, Italy, that was placed in 1954. The statue not only is visually stunning from the light rays above the statue, but it also serves as home to a lot of marine life living in, on, and around it. Whether you snorkel or dive, is it a sight to behold and a MUST in your bucket list when visting The Keys.
Drink local beer, and don’t forget to try their sampler flights in their beer garden!
Endangered Key Deer on Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key is one of the larger islands in the Florida Keys. It is also home to the Key Deer. These tiny deer are endangered due to poaching and habitat destruction. Be careful when driving so you don’t hit these cute little guys!
Do you have any plans vising The Florida Keys? Of course, a one day road trip certainly isn’t enough time, so there were many more activities yet to be mentioned. This definitely warrants a Florida Keys Pt. 2 Road Trip for sure!