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Ian
Eastbourne

Ian from Eastbourne asked

How to spend 4 days in the Florida Keys and Everglades?

This April we're finishing our Orlando/Disney break with 4 days staying around the Keys and Everglades and would welcome recommendations on where to base ourselves and what we should do.

We were thinking of staying one night in the Everglades (Everglades City) on the way down from Orlando; this would give us a full day there to do a nature walk, perhaps an airboat tour, etc. We're not really sure where to stay to get a real Everglades experience or whether it makes more sense to just stay in the Keys and do a day trip to the Everglades.

We were thinking that Key Largo looked like a good base, with a day trip out to Key West and then a couple of more relaxed days to do some snorkeling, boat trips, etc.

We're a young family with a 6 year old daughter. She loves the water, wildlife, and the beach. We love food, history, people, and kitsch like tiki bars.

Thanks for any insights!

Florida Keys   Everglades National Park

4 Answers
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answered by
Chad from Denver

Robbie's in Islamorada is great for kids; huge tarpon (1.5-2M long!) fish hang out at the docks and you can feed them for a few bucks.  Kids love it!


If you're familiar with the drink "Rum Runner" it was invented at Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle.

There is a non-profit sea turtle rescue place a bit further down, The Turtle Hospital, which I'm sure kids would like as well.  


Finally...Make sure you get out on the water.  The Keys have beautiful water and are generally calm out to the reef.  There are plenty of places to go snorkeling / diving if you're up for it, and if not there are always glass bottom boats for you to enjoy.  

Source:  I lived in Islamorada for 2 years.  


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Ian
Great stuff, thanks Chad. Holiday Isle looks like a tiki paradise, I'd love to pay it a visit. The glass bottom boat sounds like a good idea too, just in case my daughter isn't happy snorkeling.
 

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Chad
It's worth stopping for a drink...probably not a lot more. Honestly, it has a lot of potential but IMHO it doesn't live up to it. That said, anywhere that a drink was "born" deserves a mention :)
 
 
 

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answered by
Polly from Washington, DC

Whether or not you stay in Everglades City, if you're headed down to the Keys, definitely plan a stop near Homestead. The main visitor's center for Everglades National Park is about ten miles outside of town, along with the wonderful, easily walkable Anhinga Trail. (We asked a ranger where the best place to see alligators was - he told us he'd give us a refund if we didn't see one on the trail. We ended up seeing about a dozen.)

Make sure to budget a half hour to grab a milkshake at the Robert Is Here, Inc. fruit stand. So good! From there, you can head for John Pennekamp Coral Reef Sta State Park for snorkeling. While you might want to save snorkeling for another day, especially if you decide to stay on Key Largo, we did all the above on a day trip from Miami.




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Ian
The Anhinga Trail looks like an essential for a trip to the Everglades, thanks! I'll check out Homestead. John Pennekamp Coral Reef was on our list, it looks superb for snorkeling.
 
 
 

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answered first by
Rachel from St. Louis

This will put you a bit off-path but if you love kitsch, it might be worth it. The Weeki Wachee Mermaid show in Weeki Wachee Spring park is a total throw-back to the 50s. Basically it's women dressed up as mermaids performing in a giant tank. Maybe not the best message to send to a six-year-old girl, but maybe you can emphasize the atheleticism. As far as history goes, if you're in Key West, you have to have a drink at Hemingway's favorite bar, Sloppy Joe's Bar, even if it's become a bit touristy. You can also see his home at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. It's such an interesting place but if you're allergic to cats be aware that they roam the grounds as well as the museum--long story but Hemingway had a six-toed cat once and these are its descendants.


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Ian
Thanks Rachel, that all sounds great. The Mermaid show in particular may be worth the drive as we'll be in Orlando for 9 days -- my daughter is obsessed with mermaids! We'll definitely be checking out some of the Hemingway history as well, thanks for the tips.
 
 
 

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answered by
Charles from Virginia

The Sawgrass Recreation Park airboat rides are excellent. Around I-75 and highway 27 intersection. You could do that after the drive from Orlando and then stay in Weston (Florida) or continue south to Shark Valley Observatory Tower off Tamiami Trail and stay maybe in Florida City. Mrs. Macs in Key Largo will satisfy your kitschy tastes. Card Sound Rd is a wonderful alternate road to enter Key Largo; make sure to drive it  in one direction.


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Ian
Thanks Charles. Mrs Macs looks fantastic, we'll definitely pencil that one in. Thanks for the tip. That Observation Tower looks like a magnificent view, great stuff.
 
 
 

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