Dolphin Research Center
Spend a day playing with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. The Center offers a variety of programs, including: Trainer for a Day, Researcher for a Day, Dolphin Encounter, and Dolphin Dip. The Dolphin Research Center is located about 1 hour north of Key West; it is open 7 days a week and does require advance reservations for all interactive dolphin programs.
National Key Deer Refuge
The National Key Deer Refuge, located on Big Pine Key about 30 miles north of Key West, is home to the truly unique Florida Keys deer. The headquarters for the Refuge is housed in the Big Pine Key Plaza off Key Deer Boulevard. Visit the Key Deer in their native habitat.
Dry Tortugas National Park
The Park is another memorable experience. Accessible only by plane or boat, this is the farthest-at-sea national facility in the continental US. The National Park is made up of seven islands which are located almost 70 miles west of Key West. For more information about the park, visit www.dry.tortugas.national-park.com.
If you want to take a boat to the park, we typically recommend taking a fast ferry. The ferry will take you round trip and includes a guided tour, breakfast on board and a picnic buffet at the park. This is an all-day event, departing at 8 am and returning about 5:30 pm.
Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
The Butterfly Conservatory is a magical experience. Walk through a habitat made up of a variety of birds, flora, and butterflies – thousands of butterflies! Here, you’ll be able to learn about the migration and lifecycle of these graceful creatures.
With over 200 species of birds migrating through the Keys throughout the year, there is always a new species to view. While here, be sure to keep an eye out for frigate birds whose feathers weigh more than their skeletons! Also, watch out for the osprey that nest on the utility poles in the early months of Spring.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Learn about our fragile Keys ecosystem at the eco-discovery center. Wander through over 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory. Don’t miss this chance to learn about the Key West ecosystem… and did we mention it’s free?
Turtle Kraals Museum
This tiny museum has a big story to tell. Once home to turtle processing and canning, Key West is now an advocate for the sea turtles. Let a tour guide explain the importance of preserving the environment, in the world’s only sea turtle museum. Hopefully you’ll become just as passionate about sea turtles!
Audubon House and Gardens
Visit the home of the tropical gardens that inspired the Audubon guides. You’ll be able to see a variety of First Edition Audubon works of world-renowned ornithologist, John James Audubon. The Key West Audubon tropical gardens will awe nature lovers with its impressive native and exotic plants.
Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden
Did you know there is only one frost-free botanical garden in the continental United States? Our tropical environment, with ample rainfall, allows most trees to retain their leaves in the dry season (December through late May). The Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is home to many endangered and threatened flora and fauna.
Key West Aquarium
If you’ve ever dreamed of getting up-close-and-personal with the sharks, turtles, stingrays and other tropical fish, now you can. The Key West Aquarium is home to a wide variety of sea life and is actively involved in conservation of the delicate eco-system of the Florida Keys. Come interact with the aquatic wildlife!
Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, on Key Largo, encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles and is the only underwater state park. All visitors can enjoy the view of the reef from a glass-bottom boat tour or get a closer look by scuba diving or snorkeling. You can also canoe and kayak through the park’s waters. Be sure to check out the visitor center’s 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium!
The park is located on Key Largo, approximately 2 hours from Key West.