When it comes to planning a family getaway in the Sunshine State there’s no need to wait until winter’s chill sets in. The Florida Keys offer so much for families, you can justify a trip at just about any time of year. Even during the hot summer months, aquatic activities and amazing resort pools promise cool, fun-filled days. Here are some of the ways to keep cool down in the Keys:
1. Take a dip with dolphins
Head over to Dolphin Connection, located adjacent to Hawk’s Cay
Resort, to commune with their six resident Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. You’ll learn all about these amazing mammals before getting onto a submerged platform in a sheltered lagoon with a trainer. Each participant at least 4’6” tall can join in the fun (those with shorter children should opt for the dockside experience). In addition to interacting with the dolphin assigned to your group you can purchase photos that capture this memorable encounter.
The Florida Keys Aquarium is the perfect place to introduce novice snorkelers to the experience in a sheltered environment. Their Coral Reef Encounter involves donning wetsuits and fins before descending into their coral reef tank for a guided snorkel with more than 2,000 local reef fish and rays. A dive instructor identifies fish and assists you with feeding rays before guiding you over to a small hole in the plexiglass wall between this tank and the sharks so you can safely feed these predators as well. The Aquarium also offers hands-on exhibits, including touch tanks and various tours throughout the day.
Enjoy the last hours of daylight from the water while on a Sebago Watersports sail, departing right from the marina in Key West. Opt for a more premium excursion, where an open bar and a variety of hors d’oeuvres more than keep hunger at bay. The captain will occasionally let kids steer the boat, which is equipped with a bathroom and plenty of covered and open-air seating.
Fury Water Sports has a variety of excursions on the water, including a three-and-a-half-hour option, with activities such as jet skiing, parasailing, banana boat rides, and a mini water park of inflatables. A catamaran takes passengers to an offshore dock where all activities depart. It’s equipped with a bathroom, snacks and drinks but you should bring your own towels and sunscreen and come prepared to get wet.
Havana Cabana Key West may not be located right in town, but it does offer regular shuttles there and back and boasts the largest pool in Key West, complete with weekly live entertainment and events, poolside games, the Mojito Pool Bar and Floridita Food Truck for libations and snacks. Hawk’s Cay Resort on Duck Key has a main pool besides a sheltered lagoon (great for kayaking and paddle boarding), an adults-only pool and the kids’ Pirate Ship Pool, near the Coral Cay Activities Center. Playa Largo Resort in Key Largo has inflatables for kids to use in the pool. At dusk, the nightly Eventide celebration has guests write intentions to cast away bad energy onto paper that is then thrown into a floating bonfire that’s set out on the water. There’s live music and snacks and drinks for sale. After dinner, on the other side of the pool, you can make your own s’mores by the fire pit.
Check into Casa Marina resort and book a sand sculpting class with award-winning sculptor, Marianne van den Broek. She’ll work with groups of any size, tailoring sessions to the age and number of sculptors. Craft anything from a castle to a family pet or portrait. While lounging by the pool you can come back to look at your creation throughout the day. For a real splurge, rent a cabana, where you can cool off, recline and eat lunch– just be mindful of iguanas who will grab a free meal at any given opportunity!
Wherever you reserve a table in the Florida Keys, there’s a good chance it’s with a view of the water. Fun spots to fuel up include The Hungry Tarpon at Robbie’s of Islamorada, Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Turtle Kraals Bar & Restaurant, Snook’s Bayside Restaurant & Grand Tiki Bar, and Hogfish Bar & Grill. For more refined waterside dining, visit the A & B Lobster House, Lighthouse Grill at Faro Blanco Resort, and Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen + Bar.
There are many other attractions, sights and tours in the Florida Keys – enough to warrant at least a week-long visit. These refreshing options will keep your mind off the heat and on the wonderful memories you can build here any time of year.
For more information on the Florida Keys visit https://fla-keys.com or call 1-800-FLA-KEYS.