FLORIDA KEYS TOP 10
- Snorkel the Fort
A 70-mile boat ride from Key West drops you in Dry Tortugas National Park. Explore Fort Jefferson’s towering red brick walls and abandoned cannons, and then hit the beach to snorkel a coral-covered moat and discover tropical fish in the protected waters.
- Best Sunset Spot
Come evening, people gather on the Old Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon — a remnant of Henry Flagler’s railroad that went to sea (the rusted guardrails are the actual tracks) — for panoramic views of the sun’s swan song and the new bridge rising to infinity.
- What Lies Beneath
Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary’s U-shaped reef sits five miles offshore of Big Pine Key. Snorkelers and divers alike find 150 species of fish and 50 species of coral in depths from 6 to 30 feet. Its off-the-beaten-path location guarantees a thriving ecosystem.
- Old Drinking Stops
You can’t make a trip to Islamorada without quaffing a cold one at Lorelei. Look for the iconic mermaid sign, sunsets and salty boat captains bellying up to the bar. The Green Parrot, an 1890 relic in Key West, is the quintessential dive bar where anything goes; live music makes it a late-night go-to place.
- Mimosas in Paradise
Board Woodson, departing from Little Torch Key, for a ride to Little Palm Island, where a Sunday brunch far from the maddening crowd awaits. Indulge in mimosas and French toast with almond cream while gentle breezes refresh and the surrounding tranquil flats create your nirvana.
- Conch Fritters
Since 1947, all sorts of folks, from bikers to millionaires, have flocked to Alabama Jack’s, an open-air shack tucked in the mangroves off Card Sound Road north of Key Largo. The reason: baskets of deep-fried conch fritters (think Bahamian cousins of the hush puppy).
- Street Party
Walk Key West’s Duval Street from ocean to gulf. This vibrant stretch starts with a quiet Atlantic sunrise, art galleries, boutiques and upscale restaurants before morphing into a concentration of bars and ending with a circuslike sunset celebration on the Gulf of Mexico.
- Cast a Line
Beginning in the 1940s, these legendary marinas — Robbie’s and Bud N’ Mary’s — have been home to offshore captains and backcountry guides who earned Islamorada the title of sport-fishing capital of the world. Here, the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay allows anglers to chase everything from tarpon to sailfish year-round.
- The Man in the Moon
Stilt walkers and fire blowers roam the sands at the Full Moon Party at Pierre’s and Morada Bay in Islamorada. This monthly kick-off-your-sandals beach party on the Gulf promises bonfires, a conga line and fireworks.
- Overseas Beach Break
Soft sandy dunes, warm crystalline water and shallow sandbars have landed Bahia Honda State Park, east of Key West, a place on many “best of” lists. Snorkeling in the shadow of a railroad trestle bridge is the perfect marriage of history and nature.