Photo Credit: Joe Parks

The Florida Keys are made up of more than 1,700 small islands along the southeastern tip of the state of Florida. They culminate in Key West, a place which has long captured the imagination of countless people. The keys themselves are tropical, bohemian and laid back; a vacation to the Keys promises adventure and relaxation. Tucked throughout various corners of these intriguing islands, visitors can find a plethora of surprising attractions and unforgettable sights. No matter which one of the islands you visit, you’re bound to be mesmerized by the friendly and welcoming nature of the people who call them home.

Sightseeing and Attractions: Key West/Florida Keys’ Best Kept Secrets

Since being connected by a series of bridges several decades ago, the Florida Keys have been heavily traveled and explored by tourists and vacationers. Still, plenty of surprises and interesting places await the intrepid travelers who choose to visit these idyllic island getaways. A few of the prime spots to see include:

Scuba Diving

All along the Keys, there are plenty of prime opportunities to go scuba diving. While there are many large operations to sign up with, there are also plenty of small ones as well. Drive along the Keys until you arrive at a place that you simply can’t pass up; chances are, a place to explore beneath the surface of the water is within a reasonable distance. By approaching this activity this way, you can open doors that you otherwise never would get the chance to.

The Key Deer

As a chain of islands that are located on the ocean, the Florida Keys aren’t the first place where one would expect to see deer. Yet these islands are home to a special species of deer which are called Key deer. The National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key is a prime place to check out these graceful creatures. At more than 9,000 acres, it is a spacious sanctuary for deer – and makes for a very memorable stop along the way.

Caribbean Shipwreck Museum

The Florida Keys have seen their fair share of shipwrecks, and by stopping in at the Caribbean Shipwreck Museum on Key Largo, you can learn a lot more about them. Several artifacts and exhibits are available, including the first slave shipwreck. Indeed, the Henrietta Marie and many of her artifacts are located at this unusual and unique museum. It’s easy to spend several hours exploring the museum and educating yourself about the seafaring history of this part of the world.

Seven Mile Bridge

The Seven Mile Bridge is the main thoroughfare that finally linked the lower keys to Key West. Several portions of the original Seven Mile Bridge are still standing. Today, they are often used as convenient fishing perches and are a lot of fun to explore. Make a point of stopping by and getting out to check them out for yourself.

Best Kept Secrets For Families & Couples

The Florida Keys are awash in excellent opportunities for families and for couples. Whether you’re looking for a romantic place to enjoy the sunset – or a place where the kids can wear themselves out – you’ll find it somewhere among these picturesque islands. Check out one of these attractions, for instance:

Bahia Honda State Park

Frequently voted as the most romantic and beautiful beach in the United States, Bahia Honda State Park is an excellent place for couples to snag a secluded and scenic spot. There are few beaches to really relax on along the keys, making Bahia Honda State Park a true standout.

Theater of the Sea

Over in Islamorada, families can spend a pleasant afternoon checking out parrots, dolphins, sea lions and other critters at the Theater of the Sea. This is a family friendly place, and is a more compact version of the popular Sea World amusement parks.

Key West Cemetery

Adults who want to see a more historic and interesting side to a city that’s often known for its nightlife should head over to the Key West Cemetery. Built in 1847, it features many above-ground crypts, mausoleums and other graves due to the very hard-to-dig-in limestone below. Visit it at night for added thrills!

Eating - Sample the Local Cuisine

If there’s one kind of food that goes hand in hand with the Florida Keys and Key West, it’s Key Lime pie. You simply won’t find a more delicious dessert on this chain of islands, and you won’t find a better or more authentic version of Key Lime pie than in the Florida Keys. Order a slice at a local restaurant, or bring home a whole pie to enjoy in your room later.

When To Go & How to Get There

A tiny airport does service Key West, but most people fly into Miami International and drive down. This is also a great option because it allows you to check out the stunning sights of a freeway that is surrounded by the sea. Keep in mind that the going can be slow along the freeway down the Keys – but the sights are unforgettable.

If you get to choose when to visit the Florida Keys and Key West, you should aim for between December and May. That’s when the temperatures are high – and when hurricanes won’t come along and spoil your plans. The weather is generally stunning during those months, so prepare to have a lot of fun in the sun.