You have an idea where to stay , so now need to know what to do in the Florida Keys that’s new and exciting. Here’s Part 2 in the series of Staycation: The Florida Keys and Key West, highlghting Keys parks, experiences and tours. For Part 1, click here.
What to do in the Florida Keys: Parks
In the Lower Keys, the 524-acre Bahia Honda State Park is in the final stages of a full restoration with completion scheduled in the fall. The Sandspur area on the park’s north side is undergoing a $2.96 million restoration of its mile-long Sandspur Beach, its 24-campsite Sandspur campgrounds, a 155-car parking area and two shower towers at the day-use area. Trolley tours or pedestrians currently are not allowed in the Sandspur area. Known for sandy beaches and shallow-water swimming, the park is located at 36850 Overseas Highway. Visit floridastateparks.org/bahiahonda or call 305-872-2353.
Want to experience social distancing with a fish pedicure? At Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trail in Marathon, you can. And it’s free, included in the price of admission. Visitors to the attraction can dip their toes in the Crane Tidal Pool, located near the park’s Point, and let minnows nibble on their feet. Social distancing is easy at the 64-acre park located at 5550 Overseas Highway. Visit cranepoint.net or call 305-743-9100.
Mote Marine Laboratory recently announced two new science-based coral restoration partnerships in the Keys: with Bud n’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada for a new land-based coral nursery for restoration of the reef at Cheeca Rocks, and with I.Care, Islamorada’s newest environmental awareness group, to work with citizen-divers to help outplant Mote-supplied coral fragments onto the reef in Islamorada and monitor them. Cheeca Rocks is one of seven “iconic reefs” identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for Keys restoration support. Mote’s Keys facility on Summerland Key, the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration, offers a “Reef Revival” program that enables novice and expert divers to experience hands-on reef restoration. The center is located at 24244 Overseas Highway and complimentary weekly public tours are scheduled to resume in July. Visit mote.org or call 305-745-2729.
Key West Food Tours, created and curated by island city native Analise Smith, launched a new all-outdoors walking tour, Old Town Culture Walk: Bahama Village, Gatoville & Key West Cemetery with Key lime pie included at the end of the tour in Bahama Village. The 1.5-hour tour which covers a mile of walking, is offered for up to 10 people, and priced from $39 per person plus tax.. Visit keywestfoodtours.com or call 305-570-2010.
Up the Keys Eco Tours offers private sightseeing tours including three new excursions: a “volun-tour,” a yoga tour and a Key West walking tour. The first offering gives visitors an opportunity to experience the Keys’ unique environment for a day to learn about the Lower Keys’ history, culture, ecology, Key deer or how to plant mangrove seedlings. The operator has teamed up with the nonprofit volunteer “Conch Republic Marine Army” and Big Pine Kayak Adventures for a guided tour and kayak excursion. Guided tours leave Key West with door-to-door service in air-conditioned 15-passenger vans. The yoga tour offers instruction at an off-the-beaten-path location with a certified yoga instructor, hotel pickup and yoga mat for a minimum of six guests. New walking tours are customized to feature history and architecture, ghosts, pubs, happy hours and a “welcome to Key West.” Visit upthekeys.com/voluntourism or upthekeys.com/yoga or call 305-587-5575.
At the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, the United States’ only butterfly facility housing flamingos, small groups can now book relaxing, informative Twilight Tours. Participants can discover butterflies from some 50 to 60 species, and exotic birds from more than 20 species, in a spacious glass-enclosed habitat as the sun begins to go down. Tours feature a blend of nature viewing, learning and serenity in the lush rainforest-like setting. For a separate experience, lovers of pink flamingos can “Flamingle” with Rhett and Scarlett, an 8-year-old male and female breeding pair, during daily late-afternoon “Flamingle” encounters. The conservatory is located at 1316 Duval St. Visit keywestbutterfly.com or call 305-296-2988.
Want to mix it up and just do something new and different for the day? Check this out in case you missed it: