Stretching along six of the Florida Keys, Islamorada is a welcoming village with a laid-back tropical vibe, providing families with a much-needed respite from the daily grind of life back home. There’s never a shortage of things to do along the connected Keys, and often Islamadora vacation rentals are located just steps away from all the fun and action. With something to appease everyone from the littlest kid on up, this sun-soaked location makes an ideal family vacation spot.
1. Meet the Sea Lions at Theater of the Sea
Enjoy a day spent meeting and greeting some of the native mammals, birds, and fish at Theater of the Sea in Islamorada. This interactive wildlife park is made for all ages. It offers opportunities to swim with dolphins and watch them perform tricks in a natural outdoor setting. Watch alligators, crocodiles, and even sharks in their natural habitats, and take a glass-bottomed boat ride around the dolphin lagoon. The shows at this waterpark run throughout the day, and Theater of the Sea is open year-round, making it easy to plan a visit.
2. Relax at Founders Park
Spend a quiet day at Founders Park, which features a calm, crescent-shaped beach. The sheltered shallows lack an undertow, making them a safe haven for toddlers to splash, and the area is guarded and roped off to further ensure safety. Grab snacks from the concession stand, or pick up a couple of pails and build a royalty-worthy sandcastle. This lush, palm-tree-lined park also has a pool and playground to vary the activities.
3. Learn at the Dolphin Research Center
Dolphin Research Center, home to several rescued, rehabilitated, and center-born dolphins, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding knowledge and understanding of these friendly marine mammals. Several California sea lions also reside at the center, and families delight in watching them work with their trainers. Special programs invite you to splash, swim, and paint with the dolphins before your little ones cool off at the center’s splash pad play area.
4. Take a Sunset Paddle
Combine a stunning sunset with a newly learned sport and the excitement of a nighttime adventure by renting a paddleboard or kayak from Aquaholics Adventures. Once the sun sets, the kayaks and boards light up for a one-of-a-kind, breathtaking experience in nature. Glide through the waters in tandem kayaks and explore the glowing reef below. Older kids might want to take a lesson on a paddleboard, and you can even bring dogs along for free.
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5. Annie’s Beach
Walk or wade along the shores of Annie’s Beach with your kids, and then stroll down the wooden boardwalk to catch a glimpse of the wildlife that lives in this half-mile of natural Florida wetlands. The relaxed attitude of this beach is ideal for winding the kids down in the afternoon before you head back to your vacation home, and the park features picnic tables so you can enjoy dining outdoors.
6. Take a Snorkeling Adventure
Experience the wonders of the sea with a variety of snorkeling charters in and around Islamorada. Many of these tours can be booked for a morning, an afternoon, or a full day, which makes it easy to choose an adventure your kids can handle. See exotic fish, beautiful coral formations, and if you’re really lucky, you can snorkel with a sea turtle — they often show up in the warmer south Atlantic waters.
7. Feed the Tarpon
Feeding the Tarpon from the docks of Robbie’s Marina is an event you cannot miss. These amazing fish has been known to leap several feet out of water when fighting the line or waiting for a snack. The marina sells bait specifically for feeding, making the experience an inexpensive activity for the whole family. The marina also offers exciting fishing charters if you’d like to try your hand at deep-sea fishing.
8. History of Diving Museum
Celebrating man’s love affair with the sea and what lies beneath, the History of Diving Museum is an interactive experience that covers diving from its very beginning. From rescue diving to military missions, this educational museum is an immersive experience for your entire family. A special exhibit is dedicated to South Florida diving and divers.
9. Rent a Boat
Whether you want to sail, or you feel a need for speed, renting a boat in Islamorada is easy to do. A1A Watersports and Boat Rentals offer boats that seat everyone with lengths from 16 to 27 feet. Rent a pontoon for a gentle cruise, or choose a deck boat and head out to fish, swim, or snorkel. Guides are on hand to provide you with maps and directions so your family can make the most of a day at sea. For a smaller, faster experience, rent jet skis instead of a boat.
10. Visit Alligator Reef Light House
A prime spot for snorkeling and exploring, Alligator Reef Light House is a must-see attraction. The crystal-clear, blue waters make for some of the best snorkeling in the area, and you can see all the way down to the sandy bottom. Several area marinas offer trips out to the lighthouse, and the calm waters make this spot ideal for teaching the kids swimming, snorkeling, or paddleboarding. As the day progresses, the gathering at the lighthouse base can get a little rowdy, so you might want to plan a visit earlier in the day.
11. Boat out to the Indian Key State Historic Site
Charter a boat or rent your own for your trip to Indian Key State Historic Site. Established in 1836 by Jacob Housman as a site for his shipwreck salvaging business, Indian Key was the site of a thriving, small community that included, homes, stores, and a hotel. In 1840, the town was destroyed in an Indian attack, leaving behind the ruins of the town. Visitors today hike among the stone foundations, snorkel along the shore, and watch their kids become Junior Rangers at the park.
12. Learn at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
Learn about the several species of native wild birds native at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center. Visitors, including children, are welcome at the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary, which is named after the founder. Residents here include a variety of owls and hawks, turkey vultures, and parrots. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor education center before you leave.
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