Florida Keys for Families a to z guideN
Several nature walks to tour were described in the Beach Activity section: review descriptions of the "Golden Orb" Trail at Long Key State Park, the "Silver Palm' Trail at Bahia Honda, and the Mangrove and Wild Tamarind trails at John Pennekamp State Park.
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory -1316 Duval St.- Key West (305)296-2988
Your Trip to paradise will not be complete without a walk through the magical world of the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, where hundreds of free-flying butterflies inhabit an enclosed, climate-controlled tropical habitat. The most beautiful winged creatures in nature surround you as you stroll among the flowers, trees, colorful birds and cascading waterfall. Marvel at 50 to 60 varieties of butterflies from around the world. The Learning Center explores all aspects of the butterfly world with a short film and educational displays, while the Gift Shop and Gallery offer a wide range of unique gifts. We offer discounted rates for children ages 4 to 12; 3 and under are free.
Native Hardwood Hammock Trails at Tropical Crane Point Hammock - MM 50.5
For kids that want to keep active tour the nature trail. See if they can find the "tourist tree" or Gumbo Limbo which earned its name from the peeling bark. Identify and learn about the Chicle tree which is the original source of rubber and chewing gum. Nature Trail Brochure available to explain the interesting history and story about dozens of trees native to the Florida Keys and helps guide you through this subtropical wilderness.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Park - US 1, Mile Marker 85.5 Islamorada 305-664-2540
Thursday through Monday an hour long tour of 32 acre Windley Key is offered starting at 10 AM and 1 PM and costs $2.50 per person, children under 5 admitted free. Families with young children would be wise to take a self guided tour and pick and choose information that might be of interest to the kids from the park's wonderful Trail Guide available at the park store. Choice of 5 trails with numbered stations along the way. 305-664-25440
National Key Deer Refuge - MM 30.5 - Big Pine - Key Deer Blvd. to Watson Blvd. 305-872-2239. Open 8 a.m. - dusk.
The refuge is a Key Deer haven of approximately 2,300 acres located on Big Pine Key. There you may see in the early morning or late evening hours the small free roaming and endangered Key Deer. These small and graceful creatures inhabit the island of Big Pine which has fresh water and native foliage to provide nourishment. Best place to see Key Deer is along the back roads of No Name Key. Make a right turn at the intersection of Key Deer and Watson's Boulevard. Keep going till you cross a concrete bridge. Drive slowly once your on No Name and start looking carefully. If you see a stopped car it usually means someone has spotted a Key Deer.
The best time of day to see Key Deer is in the early morning or at dusk. In addition to the roadside of No Name Key, Key deer may also be seen along the grassy road sides of Big Pine. Fawns feeding with their moms are seen during May and June.
Blue Hole - Big Pine
Also on Big Pine is a sinkhole called Blue Hole. The Blue Hole has an nature observation platform and a walking trail. Freshwater fish and turtles as well as alligators at times reside in Blue Hole. Located off of Key Deer Boulevard on Big Pine Key , the Blue Hole is a great place for picture taking family photos and videos. 305-872-2239
Watson's Hammock - MM 30.5 - Big Pine
A short walk from the Blue Hole on Higgs Lane will take you to the refuge sign with a flying bird where a nature trail begins through the pinelands of Watson's Hammock. The trail leads under the canopy of trees where you'll see gumbo limbo or "tourist trees" named because of their red color and peeling bark. Also visible are Jamaican dogwood trees. Pieces of this trees bark were floated in local waters by Caloosa Indians to catch fish. The bark's chemical property caused fish to float to the top making them easy to gather, thus, the tree is also known by the lesser name "fish-fuddle tree". In addition to local Key's plant life you'll find orchids, bromeliads, and possibly golden orb spiders.
Jack Watson's Nature Trail - MM 30.5 - Big Pine
A distance of several hundred yards down the road passed Blue Hole brings you to the entrance of the Jack Watson Nature Trail. The trail is about one mile long and the sites along the way are numbered. A tour brochure may be found at the beginning of the trail describing each numbered item. Key Deer have be found within the Hammock's undergrowth or in low lying areas that collect water. 305-872-2239
Dagney Johnson Hammocks Botanical State Park - Mile marker 102.5 - Key Largo
Noted for annual nature lecture series held in January , February, and March
Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Pary - Nature Walk - Thursdays and Sundays 10 AM, meet at gate of Port Bougainvillea Resort, County Rd. 905, North Key Largo,305-451-1202. This 2,304 acre site includes over six miles of trails. Most trails are paved and accessible by bike and wheelchair.
Indian Key Historic State Park - Mile Marker 78.5 Islamorada 305-664-2540 - Boat tour access, kayak access, historic walk offered at this State Park
Nature indoors at A Key Encounter- http://akeyencounter.com - free attraction (educational with religious message) Clinton Square Market Mall on Front Street Key West. - 20 minute nature movie on three huge screens filmed entirely in the Keys, underwater scenes and Keys' wildlife. Open six days a week . Also a Jungle Walk, with live exotic birds like toucans, cockatoos, and maccaws, plus life-like animatronic animals, including a manatee, a bobcat, crocodile, and more.
A GOOD RESOURCE BOOK
The Florida Keys: The Natural Wonders of an Island Paradise
by Jeff Ripple (Photographer), Bill Keogh (Photographer)
The Florida Keys: The Natural Wonders
of an Island Paradise
Editorial Review : Library Journal
"Thoroughly researched and filled with outstanding photographs . . . recommended."
Those who think of the Florida Keys as miles of sandy beaches have much to learn about our southern Florida archipelago.
Each year, about four million people visit the Florida Keys, a 150-mile chain of tropical islands known for its diving, seagrass beds, mysterious mangrove forests, lush hardwood hammocks, rocky pinelands, and both fresh and saltwater wetlands (but not miles of sandy beaches).
The Florida Keys explores the extraordinary beauty of this ecological treasure in stunning color...
A to Z INDEX OF CATEGORIES
SAILING - LESSONS, SAILBOAT RENTALS, SUPPLIES, EQUIPMENT
SANDALS AND SHOES
SCHOOLS - REGISTRATION, IMMUNIZATION (public),
SNORKELING AND SNUBA,
SUNSET CELEBRATIONS AND CRUISES
YOUTH GROUPS, ORGANIZATIONS, AND CENTERS (see also CAMPS),
ZOOS (see ANIMALS )
BY FLORIDA KEYS BEST
Florida Keys Best
386 East Seaview Drive
Marathon, Florida 33050