No Frills Trip: The Florida Keys

No Frills Trip Itineraries are curated by me. I search the internet, use my personal experiences, and contact my friends to find you the best spots and hidden gems! Please note that websites often change and if you find one that is now extinct, let me know! Have something to add? Leave a comment, and I’ll make sure to add it to the trip for the next person.

Email Amy @ bballamys@gmail.com to get your own No Frills Trip designed for you and your family!

 

LODGING NOTE:

Use this link to get you $40 off your stay of $75 or more!

www.airbnb.com/c/asampson36

EVERGLADES

ENTRANCES AND HIKES:

https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/placestogo.htm

  • Pineland Trail: This is a half-mile trail around a Florida pine forest.
  • Pahayokee Overlook: This boardwalk trail has a raised observation platform that provides sweeping vistas of the “River of Grass.”
  • Mahagony Hammock Trail: This self-guiding boardwalk trail meanders through a dense, jungle-like hammock. Lush vegetation includes gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree in the United States.
  • Gumbo Limbo Trail
  • Anhinga Trail
  • Ingraham Highway. The Ingraham Highway was the original road to Flamingo. Now it is an 11-mile hike into the wilderness where, as you walk along the canal-lined trail, you’ll hear alligators splash into the water and see many birds. You can bicycle this trail on a fat-tire bike.

FIRST STOP:

The Ernest Coe Visitor Center

HOMESTEAD AREA:

  • The rural area around the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park is full of interesting places to visit and tasty experiences, including Fruit and Spice Park, Schnebly Redland’s Winery plus strawberry farms and a historic railroad village. This is a guide to visiting the Redland region.
  • Knauss Berry Farm, for strawberry milkshakes and Florida’s best cinnamon rolls, in Homestead.

AIRBOAT TOUR:

I loved doing this! The BEST way to see the gators!

http://www.captainjacksairboattours.com/

TRAM TOUR:

Will take you to the Shark Valley Observation Tower

http://www.sharkvalleytramtours.com/tram-tours/hours-and-rates-for-shark-valley-everglades-tram-tours/

CANOEING/KAYAKING:

https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/canoe-and-kayak-trails.htm

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK

VISITOR CENTER:

The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is a beautiful museum that gives you great information about the park’s four ecosystems.   

HIKING:

The Spite Trail runs the length of Elliot Key for about seven miles and goes through hardwood forests with tropical flowers.  Hiking this trail will give you a good feel about a subtropical forest.

Take the short interpretive trail at Convoy Point or kayak or canoe the park’s mangrove shorelines to get an up close look of a Mangrove ecosystem.

GUIDED TOURS (Boat and snorkeling):

https://www.nps.gov/bisc/planyourvisit/guidedtours.htm

CANOE/KAYAKING TRAIL GUIDES:

SCUBA DIVING:

https://www.nps.gov/bisc/learn/historyculture/maritime-heritage-trail.htm

https://www.nps.gov/bisc/planyourvisit/upload/2015-CUA-List_TOUR-ONLY-1.pdf

One of the longest and most vertical wall dives in all of the Florida Keys can be found in Biscayne National Park.  Appropriately named the “The Wall,” runs from about 65 to 110 feet and includes lots of vertical coral life and fish.

BOCA CHITA:

Boca Chita is Biscayne National Park’s most popular island and home to a 65-foot decorative lighthouse.  The lighthouse offers impressive views of the surrounding area. There is also a short hiking trail and primitive camping. There is no freshwater on Boca Chita so there are no showers or water facilities at their campsites.

THE KEYS

DRY TORTUGAS: – By far one of the coolest parts of the Keys! I took the boat tour, but recommend the airplane tour if you can afford it.

https://www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm

RESERVATIONS TO GET THERE:

https://www.nps.gov/drto/planyourvisit/directions.htm

https://www.drytortugas.com/key-west-tours/#

DIVING:

https://www.adventurewatersportcharters.com/diving/day-dive-trips/

http://www.ultimategetaway.net/about/itinerary/

https://www.nps.gov/submerged/Parks/DRTO.html

http://www.spreeexpeditions.com/

Dry Tortugas Scuba Diving liveaboard, The Ultimate Getaway. Scuba Dive the Dry Tortugas

Seaclusive (Playmate)

Juliet Sailing and Scuba Diving

KEY LARGO:

EAT:

Shipwreck’s Bar and Grill, 45 Garden Cove Drive in Key Largo, 305-453-3153.

Snapper’s Waterfront Restaurant, 139 Seaside Avenue Key Largo (mile marker 94.5) ; 305-852-5956.

Alabama Jack, 58000 Card Sound Road on Key Largo; (305) 248-8741.

TO DO & SHOP:

The Rain Barrel Artisan Village, 86700 Overseas Highway on Islamorada; 305-852-3085.

http://www.hover-tour.com/ Hover-craft tours!

http://www.keepthemflying.org/ Florida Keys Wild Bird Center

http://africanqueenflkeys.com/booking.html Boat tour with rich history about missionaries and wars!

DIVE:

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, 102601 Overseas Highway on Key Largo (Mile Marker 102.5); 305-451-6300. Christ statue underwater!

ISLAMORADA:

EAT:

http://loreleicabanabar.com/

http://marker88.info/ Chef Bobby Stoky’s restaurant

THINGS TO DO:

Party! Full Moon Party at Morada Bay Beach Café, 81600 Overseas Highway on Islamorada (mile marker 81.6); 305-664-0604.

Diving Museum: https://www.divingmuseum.org/

Theater of the Sea: swim with dolphins https://theaterofthesea.com/

Feed Tarpons: http://www.robbies.com/

MARATHON:

Dolphin Research Center: https://dolphins.org/

Crane Point Bird Center, Trail, and Museum: http://f8b.835.myftpupload.com/

Personal fav: Turtle Hospital: http://www.turtlehospital.org/

Pigeon Key: http://pigeonkey.net/

Best Snorkeling spots: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/snorkeling-shore-marathon-florida-63818.html

BIG PINE KEY:

Deer refuge and Blue Hole (alligators!)

And don’t forget to eat at No Name Pub! http://nonamepubestore.com/pub/

BAHIA HONDA:

Go to the state park shoreline there.

KEY WEST:

EAT:

Duval Street has a lot of great options.  You really can’t go wrong there!

TO DO:

Very cool tour. Hemingway House: http://www.hemingwayhome.com/ No reservations needed. http://www.hemingwayhome.com/tours/

Mel Fisher Museum: http://www.melfisher.org/museum.htm 8:30 open

My personal fav! Harry S. Truman Little White House: https://www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com/

Old Town Trolley Ride Tour: https://www.trolleytours.com/key-west

OR The Conch Train Tour: https://www.trustedtours.com/store/conch-tour-train-key-west.aspx

Mallory Square: watch the sunset and sunset celebration

Go take a photo at the southern point that’s 90 miles from Cuba.

 

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