Considering trip to Florida Keys...Advice?


Taking the family (including teens) to the Florida Keys.

Any advice which keys?

We don’t care about nightlife, bars or clubs.

We like sea activities. Swimming, beach, snorkeling, camping.

Prefer cottages to hotels. Like to cook for ourselves.

We live in Orlando area so it’s arelatively short drive.

Any suggestions?


The only thing that comes to mind is: a friend of mine went down there a few months ago and he was surprised to learn that they Keys has a large gay population. Just so you know. He had no idea and neither did I. I guess it’s akin to San Francisco?

Not that you would for SURE run into anything that you would have to explain to your kids, but I just thought I would throw it in there.


Careful when saying “it’s a short drive from Orlando”… :smiley:
Key Largo (first Key) is roughly 6 hours away… and Key West (last Key) is 8 hours! :eek:

If you’re TRYING to avoid the busy bar scene… then Key Largo is probably for you… or one of the middle Keys…

Key West has the most opportunities for activities, though… they have LOTS of charter boats for snorkeling or traveling down to the Dry Tortugas… not to mention the historical sites like Hemingway’s house, The Southernmost Point, etc… and the nightlife is VERY fun!

Regardless of where you go I’d look into renting a condo… those are usually the best deals…

Oooh I miss going to the keys! DH and I used to scuba dive OFTEN pre-kids… we’d drive down there at least twice a year! But it’s been 6 years since our last visit… :frowning:

Have fun planning your trip!

Oh yeah… what Sina mentioned… that’s mostly in Key West. The rest of the keys don’t see as much of that…


Ahhh there you go!


Okay… I have to share my FIRST experience in Key West!
I was doing my checkout dive for my scuba class in college. It was up in Key Largo. The next night we decided to head down to Key West to see the town… only it just happened to be Halloween (aka FANTASY FEST in Key West!)… :eek:

I swear… it was like the Dante’s 4th Circle of HELL! :bigyikes:

I learned my lesson about visiting Key West on Halloween! :rolleyes:


Key Largo is my choice. I love the quieter atmosphere…and I know this is vague, but there seems to be more of an emphasis on nature and less on nightlife.

What time you go will dictate that as well. Stay away from March/April, lol! :smiley:


I went snorkling in Key West once and it was a lot of fun (I was actually there for a baseball tournament in High School).


Actually, I was planning on April:(


My Uncle Sam used to send me down to the keys rather regularly about 20 or so years ago.

Sunset on the pier on Key West is a must see. Duval Street is all bars, from what I remember, although I’m sure it’s changed some in the intervening years.

Islamorada, Marathon, and Big Pine Key are the bigger keys.


It’s Spring Break season is all… Key Largo will be less crowded than Key West…
Weather’s perfect that time of year, though!


How about a boating trip? I’m sure you could arrange a day trip out on the water on a crewed vessel. My one and only trip to the Keys was chartering a catamaran with my family and it was very enjoyable. One day we had dolphins swimming around the boat and it was very exciting.

I went in March and didn’t notice the crowds much. But then I was on a boat pretty much the whole time…


My wife and I hit Key West during Pride week. Whoa! That was different… That was in June sometime… check their website. Anyway, the Keys are great!! Definitely would recommend renting a convertible for driving the overseas highway! One of the highlights of our trip!


I’ve only really spent time on Key West (my dad lives there).

My husband and I went by ourselves the first time just to see if it was appropriate to take our 10 year old and he thought it was fine (he’s way more conservative about that stuff than I am). Honestly, outside of Duval St. in the evenings, you don’t see much of the gay stuff. I would occasionally see a gay couple holding hands while walking down Duval and once I saw some guys embracing, but that was about it. Most of the really offensive PDAs were committed by hetero couples (with one or both of them typically drunk). There’s a few blocks of Duval that are pretty questionable though. Mostly because of the bars and the shops with the rows of bongs in the windows.

There are really cool things to see on Key West though that do avoid, mostly, Duval. Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square, Ft. Zachary Taylor, Hemingway House (with all the 6-toed cats :D), Southernmost Point, the aquarium, the museum. You can even just drive around and look at all the pretty architecture, check out the beaches, find the Bahamian village, or go on a ghost tour. There’s lots to do. Oh, almost forgot about Jim Croce’s Pirate Museum. My daughter had such a blast there. If you can though, avoid getting there from Duval. There’s a building on the corner that has had mannequins displaying all sorts of lingerie in the windows every time we visited.

There are some neat art galleries on Duval. I forget what they’re called now, but one is across from, I think, Sloppy Joe’s and the other is down the street and away from all the commotion (that one is the larger and most interesting even though they’re both run by the same artist).

There’s also a hotel on Duval that is the tallest building on Key West. You can go to the roof and see almost everything. It’s really cool.

There’s a Ripley’s museum also across from Sloppy Joe’s, but if you go during the day it should be pretty tame.

We didn’t spend much time on any of the other keys, but we did go up to Big Pine Key to see the key deer, eat at No Name Pub, and visit the flea market. No Name Pub is pretty fun with all the money stapled to the walls and ceiling. People will write their names or a message or draw (or all 3) and then they get stapled to the walls. (there are pictures on their website)


Hi All! I am brand new to this forum, but had to offer this info to the person planning a trip to the Keys. This may get a little long, so I apologize. We have been venturing that way for the last several years, for two week stays. This May, we are staying a month so I have been doing a LOT of research on what to do and see. The first year, we rented a cottage at Old Wooden Bridge fish camp. Not at all fancy!!! Teens may not like it, but fun. Since then, we have been renting single family homes thru on Big Pine or Little Torch Key. Some pricey, you just have to find the deals. We found a 3 bdrm double wide for $1,800 for the month. Like this area very much. Centrally located and lots of family things to do. Here are a few. (I will locate by mile marker and can’t quarantee exact accuracy)MM59 Dolphin Research Center; MM53.8 Charter Boats docking (watch their catch), Key Colony Beach; MM53, Artists boutiques (Oceanside) Handpainted & goofy stuff; MM50.5 Crane Point Hammock, Museum & Nature Center; MM50.5 Publix!!! :slight_smile:
MM50 Sombrero Beach, picnic, restrooms, pets OK; MM50 Marathon Garden Club nature reserve, free tours; At the south end oceanside of the 7 mile bridge, a MUST, Bahia Honda State Park, fishing, snorkeling, beaches, concession stand, showers & more; MM48.5 Turtle hospital; MM40 Little Duck Key Vets Mem. Park, beaches, picnic, pets OK; MM30.5 Key Deer Visitors Center for Key Deer refuge (Winn Dixie shopping center, bayside) The refuge offers nature trails & the “Blue Hole”…a watering hole for Key Deer (do not feed them!!!); MM30.5 Big Pine Flea Market, oceanside, Sat & Sun 8 - 2; Key West Butterfly Conservatory, one block north of southermost point; Key West Discovery Undersea Tours (glass bottom boats) a little pricey, $40 per adult…they have a web site. And last but not least, the No Name Pub…noticed you are not into drinking, etc, but you must go there, maybe for lunch. It is a sight to see (true Keys “dive”) but the BEST pizza in the Keys!! In May (16-18) there is an off shore Grand Prix in Marathon. They race under the 7 mile bridge, and May 9 & 10 is the Ladies Tarpon Tourney in Marathon.Hope this helps and hope you enjoy yourselves as much as we do! If I come across anything else, will let ya know! You can get more info on most of these things thru google.


Bahia Honda State Park (on Big Pine Key) is absolutely beautiful. They have camping or cabins for overnight stays.

Bahia Honda has never done us wrong.


You need to see the sunset from Mallory Square in Key West.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit