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Destinations Within Florida

Florida Trip Itineraries

Top Ten Nature Sites

Destination(s): Florida Keys

Visitors from around the world are drawn to the Florida Keys to experience the island chain’s priceless natural resources, and the therapy they provide the mind, body and soul. The Keys have celebrated a heritage of conservation and protection of these resources for more than 100 years, demonstrating the region’s commitment to environmental stewardship and the future of the island chain. Find the best of the Keys' natural resources at any of these nature sites, state parks and refuges. read more about Top Ten Nature Sites

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park

  • Mile Marker 37.5
  • Big Pine Key
  • tel:+1 305 872 2353
  • Visit website
  • Key West, 33043

In 2008, the New York Times listed this as one of the top '31 Places To Go This Summer' and it will not disappoint. In 1992, the beach there was named among America's Top 10 Beaches, by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a.k.a. Dr. Beach. Bahia Honda is a days-off dream. With 492 acres, Bahia Honda boasts three sandy beaches -- some of the best in the Florida Keys, which are rare. This one is rivaled only by Marathon's Sombrero Beach. Shallow-water snorkeling and fishing from the beach, plus an abundance of wading and shore birds, kayaking and great views of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge complement the Sand and Sea Nature Center. read more about Bahia Honda State Park

Curry Hammock State Park

Curry Hammock State Park

  • 56200 Overseas Highway
  • tel:+1 305 289 2690
  • Visit website
  • Marathon, 33050

At MM 56 Oceanside in Marathon is the unspoiled, uncrowded Curry Hammock State Park, with beach and picnic facilities. It is an uncrowded oceanfront preserve, with outstanding beach and recreational facilities, kayak launch site, and just an idyllic spot. Curry Hammock is fast becoming a site for launching kiteboards, a sport that is gaining momentum in the Keys, especially in Marathon and Islamorada. A small RV park has been built at Curry Hammock, with approx. two dozen sites, but the RV area's private beach is unrivaled. Quiet, quiet, quiet. And close to any and all day trips throughout the islands. Curry Hammock is still an unspoiled gem in the Middle Keys. read more about Curry Hammock State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

  • Mile Marker 102.5
  • Overseas Highway
  • tel:+1 305 451 6300
  • Visit website
  • Key Largo, 33037

Kudos to the late "Miami Herald" editor John Pennekamp for helping to create the first undersea park in the United States. Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, established by the state legislature in 1961 to protect the miracle of America's only living coral reef, allows access to abundant underwater wildlife, large brain, staghorn and elkhorn coral formations and a four-foot barracuda who likes to be photographed. Only a 90-minute drive from Miami, Pennekamp is incorporated in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a 2,800 square nautical mile span of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamp on both sides of the Keys island chain, Florida Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. One of the park's most popular dive sites is the nine-foot bronze statue of Jesus Christ that rests in 20 feet of water. The statue is a replica of the "Christ of the Abyss" statue in the Mediterranean Sea and was donated to the Underwater Society of America in 1961 by industrialist Egidi Cressi. Underwater enthusiasts can take a reef adventure on a glass bottom boat, snorkeling or scuba diving. If you're not into the underwater scene, John Pennekamp offers two manmade beaches, canoe, kayak and boat rentals and nature trails, as well as 47 campsites, all with electrical hookups and water. read more about John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Visit the Dry Tortugas by charter boat, catamaran or (my favorite) high-speed ferry. The trip is a well-spent day and the crew of Yankee Freedom II knows how to show you a good time. Once at the fort, you can camp overnight on its small beach, or snorkel for a while among the nearby corals. The Yankee Freedom II is state-of-the-art comfort, lunch is included, you cannot go wrong! Even among residents of the Keys, this is one of the favorite things to do with family and friends that visit, or to just a wile away a day exploring, away from phones and work. Book before 3p.m. the day before you want to go! read more about Dry Tortugas National Park

Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site

Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site

  • P.O. Box 1052
  • 1 Mile West
  • tel:+1 305 664 4815 / +1 305 664 9814
  • Islamorada, 33036
Long Key State Park

Long Key State Park

Key Largo Hammocks State Botanical Site

Key Largo Hammocks State Botanical Site

  • Route 905
  • MM 106 Bayside
  • tel:+1 305 451 1202
  • Key Largo, 33070
Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Site and Park

Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Site and Park

  • End of Southard Street on Truman Annex
  • tel:+1 305 292 6713
  • Visit website
  • Key West, 33041
Lignumvitae Key Wildlife Observation Site

Lignumvitae Key Wildlife Observation Site

National Key Deer Refuge

National Key Deer Refuge

  • 28950 Watson Boulevard
  • Big Pine Key Plaza
  • tel:+1 305 872 2239
  • Visit website
  • Big Pine Key, 33043

The National Key Deer Refuge consists of approximately 9,200 acres of land that includes mangrove forests, freshwater and salt marsh wetlands, pine rockland forests and tropical hardwood hammocks, as well as more than 75,000 acres of state waters co-managed to support refuge objectives. Shallow nearshore waters are included as well. These native habitats sustain the tiny Key deer, a subspecies of the North American white-tailed deer, and 21 other threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Since the refuge was established, the Key deer, once nearing extinction because of over-hunting and habitat loss, has rebounded to a healthy population of between 600 and 700 animals. The refuge, which is over 50 years old, is also a stopping point for thousands of migratory birds each year, and a winter home to many North American bird species including the roseate tern and peregrine falcon. Birdwatching is one of the world's largest participatory sports, and the Keys are an ideal location for it, year-round. read more about National Key Deer Refuge