A vacation to the Florida Keys is sure to provide your family with the chance to catch up and reconnect without all the stress and hassle of daily life. The Florida Keys stretch around 120 miles south and southwest of the southern tip of Florida. Made up of more than 800 small islands, the Florida Keys use a system of state roads and bridges to connect to each other.
Key Largo is the longest key as it stretches 30 miles. It’s also the first key you arrive on from mainland Florida. Here’s a quick guide to the top 12 Key Largo coastal communities and keys to help you find the perfect vacation rental.
1. Key Largo
As you enter the keys on Highway 1, the first key you arrive on is Key Largo, a popular spot for day trips from visitors to Miami and South Florida. Vacation rentals in the area include cottages, condos, and single family homes. Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is home to 80 species of protected birds, animals, and plants, and you can hike around the park that runs almost the entire length of this key.
2. North Key Largo
Take a break from the tourist-filled streets of Key Largo by choosing a vacation rental in North Key Largo, where you can enjoy peace and quiet while still being close to the action. Rent a boat from one of the local outfitters to spend a day fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving in the clear water. At Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park and Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, pass the days fishing and hiking.
As you drive southwest from Key Largo to Tavernier, leave the crowds behind you, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery unfolding before you. The slower pace in this town offers your family the chance to bike around town or visit the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary for an up close look at some wild birds. Stroll through the downtown area, and stop at a couple of the unique shops to pick up a souvenir to take home.
Locals and tourist alike call Islamorada the “Village of Islands.” It lies on Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key. Your kids will love a day at the Theater of the Seas, where they can watch trained dolphins and sea lions perform a series of tricks. You can also arrange for a dolphin experience for the family. For fresh seafood and live music, enjoy a dinner at Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar.
On Long Key, you and your family can find a vacation rental in the charming town of Layton. It’s so laid back that the hot spots include the post office, a small resort, and a charter company. Spend your days biking around the key, catching up on your reading in a hammock, and frolicking in the water. Hire the charter company for a day on the water to fish, snorkel, or scuba dive.
6. Duck Key
Feel yourself slowing down and the stress leaving your body as soon as you arrive on Duck Key, ready to enjoy its slower pace of life. For more relaxation, book a massage or other spa treatment at the spa at the Hawks Cay Resort. The days move slowly on this key as you bike, kayak, canoe, or explore the local area on foot.
Spanning Knight’s Key, Boot Key, Key Vaca, Fat Deer Key, Long Point Key, Crawl Key, and Grassy Key, the town of Marathon offers a variety of activities and attracts larger crowds than the smaller keys. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters teaches your kids about the local aquatic life and offers some hands-on experience with sharks and stingrays.
8. Big Pine Key
Slow down and reconnect with your family when you choose a vacation rental on Big Pine Key. Half the key is made up of the Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve, which provides you ample opportunity for fishing, hiking, snorkeling, and bird watching.
9. Cudjoe Key
Drive southwest along A1A and cross bridges over the ocean with views that go on for miles to reach your dream vacation rental on Cudjoe Key. Stay on a houseboat so you can spend your entire trip on the water, snorkeling, fishing, swimming, and diving.
10. Upper Sugarloaf Key
Your vacation on Upper Sugarloaf Key features days spent biking, boating, and reconnecting with your family. Rent a boat for a trip out on the water from Big Pine Key Boat Rentals. At the end of the day, stop by Mangrove Mama’s for a fresh seafood dinner. Eat on the patio to experience fresh air and cool breezes.
11. Sugarloaf Key
Take a trip out on the water to some of the best fishing and diving spots when you enlist the help of Sun Dance Charters or Braham Fear Charters. Sugarloaf Key provides your family the chance to reconnect with long walks, bicycle rides, and time spent together.
12. Key West
Key West is one of the most popular key destinations and the tip of the Florida Keys. This popular beach town was once home to writer Ernest Hemingway. Take your family on a tour of his home, and check out the cats that are descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed cat. Enjoy an evening on Duval Street, known for its live music and active bar scene.