After the past year of missed events and travel, people are anxious to reconnect with the individuals and activities that matter most. In many cases, that means reconnecting with family to make new memories and strengthen bonds. The Florida Keys are an ideal place to satisfy that desire.
The 125-mile-long chain of islands stretching out into blue-green water at the southernmost tip of Florida, known as the Florida Keys and Key West, is a vibrant area where families have countless opportunities to reconnect and make new family memories.
Loaded with adventure, natural beauty, and history, visitors can walk among shipwreck artifacts, kayak among brilliant mangrove islands, “meet” sea turtle patients at the world’s first veterinary-certified sea turtle hospital, and explore remote national parks. The island chain offers countless opportunities to reconnect in the keys through shared experiences and memory-making adventures.
Florida Keys & Key West hosted my stay in the Keys. All opinions are my own.
1. Enjoy A Family Road Trip
What better way to reconnect than together in one vehicle or multiple cars, all stopping at the same locations? You will find miles of wide-open gorgeous seascapes with ocean and sky spanning as far as the eye can see, and don’t forget the endless unique roadside stops to prospect.
Five distinct destinations are featured in a family road trip to the Keys: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine, the Lower Keys, and the southernmost island in the continental United States, Key West.
Each offers its own vibe and distinct pleasures. Any of them could be your home base for the vacation, and all offer reconnection opportunities.
2. Drive On The Florida Keys Overseas Highway
The shared adventure begins with simply driving the famous Florida Keys Overseas Highway, including more than 40 bridges. The landmark Seven Mile Bridge is a sight to behold. Florida’s designated All-American Road is a great way to begin your reconnection.
3. Explore The Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary
The Keys encompass four national wildlife refuges, two remote national parks, 10 beautiful state parks, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary provides protected waters surrounding the entire subtropical island chain, including the continental United States’s only living coral barrier reef.
Those open spaces offer seemingly endless opportunities to reconnect with the natural world and each other. Enjoy time spent immersed in nature and share unforgettable experiences with friends and family.
4. Visit The Florida Keys State Parks
The Keys’ most protected, secluded, scenic, and well-kept beaches are within the region’s ten state parks.
The most popular are Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the Lower Keys’ Bahia Honda State Park, Islamorada’s Indian Key Historic State Park, and Key West’s Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Each park has unique landscapes, amenities, and pleasant opportunities for early morning walking or hiking. Campgrounds and picnic areas provide shaded respites. Florida state parks are a perfect setting to reconnect with family.
5. Take In The National Parks
The Keys are home to two remote national parks. Biscayne National Park is located as you enter the keys, and then at the very end of the keys, 70 miles west of Key West, is Dry Tortugas National Park.
Biscayne National Park encompasses islands, coral reefs, and shoreline mangrove forests in the northern Florida Keys.
Dolphins, turtles, and pelicans live in the Biscayne Bay Lagoon. The underwater Maritime Heritage Trail links shipwrecks and other dive sites.
Dry Tortugas National Park includes seven islands, plus protected coral reefs. The Garden Key is home to beaches and the 19th-century Fort Jefferson. It is only accessible by boat or seaplane.
Shortly after you leave Key West, you will be out of cell range, so you are guaranteed a day of everyone being unplugged and enjoying nature and each other. Do take your phone to take photos of this fantastic national park.
Both of these national parks offer plenty of wide-open spaces to explore and reconnect with family members.
Pro Tip: If you tend to get motion sickness, take Dramamine before departure.
6. Make A Splash With Water Activities
The soothing salty water in the Keys is refreshing and revitalizing. Families can experience the serene joy of Keys living by trying paddleboard yoga, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, aqua-cycling, or kayaking. An eco-tour to spot frolicking dolphins or sea turtles is fun for all ages.
Vacationers can explore the offshore islands of Indian and Pigeon Keys and snorkel in warm, turquoise blue-tinted water. They can try the cross between snorkeling and scuba diving (SNUBA) at multiple places in the Keys.
7. Cast A Line With Fishing
One of the Keys’ most popular action-packed adventures for the entire family to enjoy is fishing. Whether along the reef, in deep blue water, or the backcountry, you can enjoy some of the best saltwater fishing in the world.
Friends and families can fish together on private half-day or full-day charters. Many restaurants offer to cook your catch for you to enjoy.
Fishing “party boats” are also available and provide education, bait, and more.
Pro Tip: Remember to practice sustainable best practices to conserve the unique Florida Keys ecosystem and fisheries for future generations.
8. Walk Along The Beach Together
There are beautiful beaches to enjoy whether swimming or just walking along the edge of the sea. Walking the beach together is a great way to reconnect and create memories, and it is the perfect activity for all ages.
9. Learn At Historical Sites
In the Keys, there’s history to fascinate everyone: tales of pirates and sunken treasures, Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, Civil War-era forts, and even the “Little White House” of former President Harry S. Truman.
Follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway by visiting his house and discovering the spots where he wrote, drank, and fished during the 1930s.
Key West’s Old Town district is the largest predominantly wooden historic district in the United States.
10. Bask In Nature
There are endless ways to reconnect with nature and family in the Keys.
Family groups can explore lush botanical gardens, unique aquariums, a butterfly conservatory, a hospital for turtles, or a wildlife refuge that protects tiny indigenous Key deer.
A playground for all ages, most vacationers spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying the vivid, colorful scenery, warm fragrant breezes, and miles and miles of open spaces of the Keys.
11. Lend A Hand With Voluntourism
Spend some time making a difference and participate in a “voluntourism” adventure as a family. Helping others or the environment is a great way to reconnect in the Keys.
You can help preserve the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States as a part of voluntourism. You can also donate some time with Habitat for Humanity, the wild bird rehabilitation center, or various other places. Learn more about voluntourism here.
12. Taste The Food
Unique dishes, fresh fish, and the family around the table. What could be a better way to reconnect in the Keys? Sharing a meal is a way to connect and make memories.
The Florida Keys is a foodie’s paradise. There is a restaurant to suit every taste and pocketbook.
When we visited, we tried different fish dishes each evening. Don’t forget about dessert. Your vacation isn’t complete without eating a piece of Key lime pie.
13. Watch A Sunset Together
Gather at Mallory Square to watch the sunset. It is doubtful you will find a more beautiful sunset anywhere.
14. Take A Family Photo At The Southernmost Point
Take a short stroll to the Southernmost Point of the United States and take a family photo in front of the monument.
15. Find The Perfect Accommodations
Consider a villa or spacious condo so the family can share kitchens and living areas but have private bedrooms. If staying in Islamorada, check out the Pines and Palms Resort. Their Tarpon and Bonefish Villas have two and three bedrooms and you enjoy private beach access for just your family.
Camping is also big in the Keys. Many of the state parks accommodate campers.
Pro Tip: The Dry Tortugas National Park permits camping by application and they are usually booked a year in advance.
Reconnect In The Keys
The Florida Keys are a great place to reconnect with family, nature, and adventure. Wherever you visit in the Florida Keys, you will find simple pleasures and fun activities to share with the special people in your life. At the same time, you will be creating memories that last a lifetime.
You can learn more about how to #reconnectinthekeys by contacting Florida Keys visitor information.