Florida is a tough state to cover in just seven days alone. To best capture everything the Sunshine State has to offer, we’ll focus on one region at a time. First, we’ll head to Florida’s southernmost islands. Here’s how to spend seven days in the beautiful Florida Keys.
Day 1: Find Your Way to the Keys
Key West International Airport (EYW) is the most convenient location to fly into in order to access the Florida Keys. If flights to and from are too pricey or too limited, another popular airport visitors use to access the Florida Keys is Miami International Airport (MIA). Depending on where your accommodation lies, MIA might be closer, as Key Largo is only an hour away. Key West, on the other hand, is a whopping nine hours from Miami. Don’t even think about skipping a rental car for this trip, as accessing everything the Keys have to offer is nearly impossible without one. Those craving nightlife are likely to find desirable, although pricey, accommodations in Key West, while those seeking a more centrally-located accommodation will find more affordable options in Islamorada, Marathon, or even Key Largo (for those wary of straying too far off the Florida mainland).
Day 2: Dry Tortugas National Park
When I first read about Dry Tortugas National Park, I was stunned that I hadn’t heard about it sooner. Often overlooked by tourists, as it requires traveling by plane or ferry to visit, Dry Tortugas sits nearly 70 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. What makes this treasure a must-see is historic Fort Jefferson surrounded by crystal blue waters, sea turtles, coral reefs, and seabirds. Day-trippers receive guided tours of Fort Jefferson and have the option to kayak within the park’s crystal, calm waters. Adventurous travelers can also camp overnight, although they are responsible for bringing along all necessary camping supplies.
Day 3: Robbie’s of Islamorada
Robbie’s of Islamorada has earned its beloved reputation in the Keys as the number one place for giant tarpon feeding. Try your hand at feeding jumping fish that can grow up to 8-feet in length, and weigh between 30 and 80 pounds on average. Robbie’s also serves as a hub for fishing trips of all kinds, including night fishing trips, shark fishing, backcountry fishing, and much more. If you’re hungry, order fresh fish tacos, a bowl of conch chowder, and a frozen pina colada from the waterfront Hungry Tarpon Restaurant to cool off in the Florida heat.
Day 4: Wildlife Watching
Animal lovers will find no shortage of activities in the Florida Keys, as wildlife and opportunities for birdwatching are in abundance. In the Lower Florida Keys, the National Key Deer Refuge affords visitors the opportunity to spot adorable key deer that are unique to the region. In Marathon, register for an educational program with the Turtle Hospital in order to tour the facility, learn about sea turtles, and feed long-term turtle residents under the supervision of employees.
Day 5: Beach Day
While the Florida Keys aren’t known primarily for their stretches of sandy beaches like other tropical destinations such as Hawaii or the Caribbean Islands, there are a number of sandy beaches throughout the Keys that are ideal for relaxing by the turquoise sea. Sombrero Beach in Marathon is an excellent public beach with volleyball and picnic facilities, in addition to being a great spot to see turtle nesting during the months of April to October. On Key West, Smathers Beach is a popular tourist beach with plenty of sand to go around.
Day 6: Bahia Honda State Park
Big Pine Key’s Bahia Honda State Park is one of the top state parks in the Florida Keys, packed with sandy beaches, boat tours, camping facilities, and birdwatching. Visitors who pay the entrance and parking fees are able to rent kayaks, hike nature trails, snorkel or scuba dive, and purchase snacks and souvenirs. Take a stroll across the picturesque Bahia Honda Railroad Bridge, built between 1905 and 1912, that was an essential portion of the East Coast Railway in the Bahia Honda Channel.
Day 7: Catch Your Flight
Whether you’re departing from EYW or MIA, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for potential traffic delays in order to make it through airport security and head home. If you have time before your flight, it’s never too early to stop along the road at a local cafe or restaurant for a slice of key lime pie for one last treat before your return to reality.