Clear blue waters, salty air breeze, tiki bars, fishing, and sandy beaches. Sounds like paradise, right? It is!

The Florida Keys are one of my all-time favorite vacation destinations. Having visited Key Largo for the last 8 years, I quickly fell in love with everything about this area. If you don’t know much about the Florida Keys, it’s important to note that Key West, the most southern point in the U.S., is actually a three-hour drive from the uppermost Keys, like Key Largo and Tavernier. Highway 1 is the only way in and out of the Florida Keys. The warmth of the weather is matched with the warmth of the people.

Here are just a few additional reasons why I love the Florida Keys so much and why it’s definitely a destination you should explore if you haven’t already.

1. Beaches

The beaches and water of the Florida Keys are well-known. People from all over the country, and even the world travel to the Keys each year to bask in the warm waters and sunbathe on the beautiful sandy beaches.

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Some of the best beaches in the Keys are located inside of national parks. Parks to note include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park located in Key Largo, Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon, and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West. These are just a few of many gorgeous and well-kept national parks and beaches along the 113 mile Florida Keys. The white sands and clear blue water are truly unmatched and offer countless aquatic sports and endless fun!

2. Restaurants

You’ll likely work up an appetite with all that fun in the sun and dining options in the Florida Keys are endless! Tiki bars, fine dining, and drinks with umbrellas are paired with Cuban inspired dishes and tropical music. The atmosphere at most Florida Keys’ restaurants is relaxed. You’ll feel transported to a tropical island.

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My favorite spot is Lorelei’s Restaurant and Cabana Bar located in Islamorada, just south of Tavernier. This restaurant truly offers something for everyone. With two bars and completely outdoor seating, guests can choose to sit at the tiki bar and tables alongside the beach or sit on the outside deck. Both spots offer amazing views of the Islamorada sunset. The menu is vast with local catches, burgers, salads, and sandwiches. The Cabana Bar offers breakfast too!

Some other hopping spots along the Keys include Latitudes, located in Key West, the Butterfly Cafe found in Marathon, and the Square Grouper located in Cudjoe Key.

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3. Atmosphere

When I think of the Florida Keys the first thing that comes to mind is the laid-back atmosphere. Not only are the people of the Keys extremely pleasant, polite, and welcoming, but no one ever seems to be in a hurry. Some people attribute this to the age of the population - the Keys is undeniably a retirement destination for many. Sure, this might play a part in the slow pace found here, but the sunshine seems to impact everyone’s mood, leaving people smiling, patient, and helpful.

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You’ll also find a Cuban vibe in many parts of the Keys, due to the Miami population that frequents the area. It’s amazing and enlightening to experience another culture so close to home. From the cuisine to the parties and the language - it’s a truly exotic experience.

4. Boating

A discussion of the Florida Keys wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the water. Boating and fishing are some of the people’s favorite past times in the area. Whether you own or rent a boat during your time here or pay for a charter, the fishing in the Keys is like nowhere else.

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You’ll catch a wide range of varieties including, but not limited to:

  • Dolphin (mahi-mahi)
  • Grouper
  • Snapper
  • Wahoo
  • Amberjack
  • Kingfish

If fishing isn’t your thing, that’s okay! Enjoying a day out on the water can mean visiting one of the Keys’ countless sandbars. Throw down an anchor, pour a drink, turn up the music, and relax in waters that kiss your shins and ankles. Bring a lunch along and make an entire day of it!

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5. Activities

Water activities available in the Florida Keys are vast. With plenty of coral reefs to explore, snorkeling is an adventure everyone should try. If you prefer above water activities, there are endless opportunities for kayaking, parasailing, water skiing, windsurfing, and jet skiing just to name a few.

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If you’re looking to get off the water for a bit, there’s plenty to do. You can visit the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon, the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, or take a photo op by the Southernmost point buoy in Key West. There are endless opportunities for shopping as well, with beach shops, antique stores, and spots like Mallory Square where you can shop, eat, and watch the sunset.

Visit the Florida Keys

The next time you consider a family vacation to this southern state, perhaps swap a trip to Disney World for a trip to a tropical paradise along the Florida Keys. The beaches, laid back attitudes, and easy living will make this one of your favorite and most

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memorable vacation spots!