Pigeon Key

Pigeon Key

Photo by Averette at en.wikipedia, Creative Commons

Florida Keys Itinerary for a 1 day RV Holiday

Image from www.byways.orgAnne’s Beach Image from www.byways.org

Day 1

Start: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Key Largo's star attraction is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - the first underwater preserve in the United States. It is the only coral reef in North America and is home to over 55 types of coral, sponges, shrimp, crab, sea turtles, lobsters and eel, as well as over 600 species of fish. The glass-bottom boat tours carry passengers through the park’s reefs where they can view this abundant underwater wildlife. The land base includes a 30,000-gallon salt-water aquarium and hosts other activities include snorkeling, diving, boating, camping, kayaking, fishing, swimming and picnicking.

Stop 1: Florida Keys History of Diving Museum

Directions from previous place:     Follow Mile Marker signs to Mile Marker 83.
Distance from Previous Site:         19.5 miles / 31.2 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:    26 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:          1 hour

At the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum, the international story of 3,000 years of underwater exploration is told and the special role that the Florida Keys played is celebrated. Stroll through numerous exhibits with hundreds of rare dive helmets, armored dive suits, old navy gear, ancient diving machines, and an atmosphere decompression chamber, as well as photographs and oral history.

Stop 2: Robbie’s Marina

Directions from previous place:     Follow Mile Marker signs to Mile Marker 77.5.
Distance from Previous Site:          5.5 miles / 8.8 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     8 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:          30 minutes

Robbie’s Marina, with a beautiful view of the bay, captures the Old Keys lifestyle. It’s always feeding time at the dock, where you can get a bucket of bait fish and hand-feed dozens of tarpon, some up to six feet long. Boats, kayaks, and tours are all available to see dolphins, sea turtles, eagle rays, sharks, osprey and egrets. Fishing charters are ready and waiting, whether you want deep-sea or flats fishing in the “back country.”

Stop 3: Anne's Beach

Directions from previous place:     Follow signs to Mile Marker 73.5.
Distance from Previous Site:          4 miles / 6.4 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     6 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:          1 hour 30 minutes

At Anne’s Beach, stretch out on the sand and slip your toes into the turquoise water to enjoy a swim in the calm, clear Atlantic Ocean while kiteboarders take advantage of the tropical sea breeze. See fishermen, stone crabbers, and lobster farmers capture their bounties. Linger along a secluded boardwalk and picnic at shaded tables among the native mangroves.

Stop 4: Dolphin Research Center

Directions from previous place:     Follow signs to Mile Marker 59, bayside
Distance from Previous Site:          14.5 miles / 23.2 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     20 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:            2 hours

The Dolphin Research Center was founded in 1946 as a marine research and educational facility, and is home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. Enjoy educational tours and shows in their bayside theater. Enter the exciting world of the dolphins by participating in a playful, structured, interactive program. Call ahead to reserve a deep or shallow water dolphin encounter.

Stop 5: Pigeon Key

Directions from previous place:     Follow Mile Marker signs to Mile Marker 47, bayside.
Distance from Previous Site:          12 miles / 19.2 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     20 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:           2 hours

Walk or bike to Pigeon Key on the historic Overseas Highway Bridge to see the 5-acre island that served as a base camp for the hundreds of men who built the Key West Extension of the Railroad. The 100-year-old tin-roofed, wood clapboard buildings are now a museum. Visitors find many photo opportunities on the historic bridge and tropical island. Snorkeling and picnicking are also a pleasure at this unique location.

Stop 6: Bahia Honda State Park

Directions from previous place:     Follow Mile Marker signs to Mile Marker 37, Oceanside
Distance from Previous Site:          10 miles / 16.0 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     12 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:             1 hour 30 minutes

Bahia Honda State Park is home to one of the top “Top Ten Beaches in the United States” and offers camping, fishing, diving, snorkeling, hiking and kayaking. Walk onto Flagler’s Historic Railroad trestle and enjoy the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico views. Relax on the beach, take a swim in the calm, clear water, explore the nature trail, or picnic in one of the pavilions. For a few hours or a few days, the park has year around appeal.

Stop 7: Southernmost Point

Directions from previous place:     Follow Mile Marker signs to Mile Marker 0. Turn left from Truman Avenue (FKSH) onto Whitehead Street and drive seven blocks to its end at South Street and the Southernmost Point marker.
Distance from Previous Site:          37.6 miles / 60.2 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:       1 hour
Suggested Time at This Site:          15 minutes

The Southernmost Point marker is one of the most photographed landmarks in the United States. The giant yellow, red, and black striped, buoy-shaped monument marks the Southernmost Point in the Continental Untied States, noting that Cuba is only 90 miles away. The site also commemorates the brave Cubans who drowned trying to reach the land of their dreams, “The Leader in Democracy.”

Stop 8: Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Directions from previous place:     Located .25 miles south of Mile Marker 0. Return on Whitehead Street driving eight blocks to the corner of Olivia Street.
Distance from Previous Site:             0.35 miles / 0.6 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:        2 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:              1 hour

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is where one of America’s most honored authors called home for more than 10 years and visited frequently in his later life. He found solace and great physical challenges fishing the turquoise waters surrounding Key West. Tour the rooms and gardens that inspired the most prolific period of the Nobel Prize winner’s career, and meet the living descendants of his legendary six-toed cats.

Stop 9: Key West Lighthouse and Keepers’ Quarters Museum

Directions from previous place:     Located .25 miles south of Mile Marker zero. Walk across Whitehead Street from previous stop.
Travel Time from Previous Site:     1 minute
Suggested Time at This Site:           1 hour

Key West Lighthouse and Keepers’ Quarters Museum is the 15th-oldest surviving lighthouse in the United States and was brought to its present height of 86 feet in 1894. Visitors can climb 88 steps to the balcony for a spectacular view of the island, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, and tour the Keepers’ Quarters that hosts a lighthouse Fresnel lens large enough to walk into, historic instruments, maps, and photos depicting its rich maritime history.

Stop 10: Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Directions from previous place:     Located .6 miles from Mile Marker 0. Continue from previous stop on Whitehead Street driving three blocks. Turn left on Southard Street and follow the signs to the park entrance.
Distance from Previous Site:          0.25 miles / 0.4 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     5 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:          2 hours

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is named for its Civil and Spanish-American War Fort. On a guided tour or on your own, be sure to bring a camera for the incredible view from the top of the Fort of the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. BBQ in the shade of trees, or lay out on the sandy beach. Snorkel and see reef fish, coral, lobster, sponges and stingrays in the calm, clear water.

Stop 11: Schooner Western Union Maritime Museum

Directions from previous place:     From previous stop return on Southard Street to Whitehead Street and turn left. Drive three blocks to Caroline Street and turn right. Drive four blocks to William Street and turn left (see public parking lot to your right and the Schooner Western Union straight ahead). Located 0.75 miles from mile marker 0.
Distance from Previous Site:          1.25 miles / 2.0 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     8 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:          2 hours

Take a sunset sail on one of America’s oldest working wooden schooners, built in Key West in 1939. Be part of the show coasting past the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration into the tranquil waters of the Atlantic while the fiery sun disappears from view.

End: Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

Travel Time from Previous Site: 5 minutes

The journey on the Florida Keys Scenic Highway, parallel to the Overseas Heritage Trail, is an incomparable destination itself. Seeing the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico out either window is an unparalleled experience, their shallow shelf of clear water reflecting bright turquoise, emerald, and aquamarine. The reef keeps the near-shore waters calm as evidenced by boats of all kinds on the horizon. The tempo slows and relaxation sinks in as palm trees sway in the tropical breeze. And the bridge crossings bring you the sense of being out on the island chain in a way that only traversing the Keys by land can.

Totals for Day 1

Total Distance Traveled:     104.95 miles / 167.9 km
Total Travel Time:                     2 hours 53 minutes
Total Stopping Time:              14 hours 45 minutes

Featured content and image from www.byways.org

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