Think of Florida and you probably immediately think of glistening sea, sandy beaches, and the theme parks Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. However, there are quite a few overlooked gems that you can find on the Sunshine State’s southern archipelago known as the Florida Keys. Hopping across those islands doesn’t have to be tricky, either – as you can simply take the Overseas Highway. Here are some of the great attractions you can come across along the way.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Though the Overseas Highway extends across 113 miles, you will only have to travel about ten of those before reaching Key Largo, where you will find this park.
It’s an ideal place to start a snorkelling or scuba diving adventure – not least because, once you are in the water, you could check out hundreds of kinds of fish and marine animals, as U.S. News points out. Alternatively, you could stay dry while seeing the reefs and mangroves from glass-bottom boats.
Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
Key lime pie is a very American dessert – and you can enjoy it at this restaurant. It’s only three miles further ahead on the road trip and offers among the tastiest Key lime pie you are likely to experience on the Keys. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the island setting, there is also a lot of seafood on offer. However, your attention could be especially drawn to the license plates attached to the walls.
You would be about 77.5 miles from the road trip’s end point when you reach the eclectic tropical village called Robbie’s. Here, you could peruse the colourful art being sold in the area or settle down at a table by the bay while listening to flip-flop-wearing men performing music. The opportunity to feed tarpon, however, is the biggest draw at Robbie’s.
The Turtle Hospital
Nearly 30 miles further along, in Marathon, is the Turtle Hospital. Despite its unassuming appearance, it is actually a great place to educate yourself about sea turtles that reside in local waters. Those turtles are endangered, but this turtle rescue and rehabilitation hub is doing its bit to counter this. While here, you can learn more about the animals by joining a 90-minute tour or, if you wouldn’t have time for this, checking out the exhibits at the visitor centre.
Once you finally reach the end of the road, you will be in the island city of Key West. This has been home to many well-known faces. Those include Harry S. Truman, the post-war President who had his Winter White House here, and novelist Ernest Hemingway, who wrote To Have and Have Not and The Snows of Kilimanjaro while living here in the 1930s, Condé Nast Traveller says.
Since there will be a long road journey back to Florida’s mainland, you could stay in a hotel in Key West before embarking on your return trip. The tour operator Ocean Florida offers a choice of Key West hotels that you could strongly consider.