Special to the Sentinel
12:41 PM EDT, May 16, 2014
A drive through The Florida Keys & Key West is one of the best scenic road trips in the U.S. Only one road connects the 100 mile long island chain. It began as Flagler’s Railroad, it became the legendary Overseas Highway and now it has been designated an All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways Program. The drive has magnificent scenery, significant historic value and recreational significance making it a vacation in itself.
This journey transports you through hundreds of little islands nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Overseas Highway begins in Key Largo, home of the Everglades National Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Popular for the eco-adventurists with many activities including kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and snorkeling. Go back in time to historic Tavernier or experience a family outing at Harry Harris State Park.
Continue south to experience Islamorada, known as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World. This village of islands prides itself on fresh seafood, fine dining and plenty of marinas. There is also an artisan village with a colorful collection of arts, crafts and other island treasures.
Just beyond, you will reach Marathon, a retreat for families and boating with its plentiful activities, accommodations and marinas. Here you’ll feel like your driving on water as you coast over the world famous 7-mile bridge. You can also engage in a dolphin encounter where Flipper’s original 1950’s movie was shot.
The pace becomes slower as you enter Big Pine Key & The Lower Keys. Here, you can see our endangered Key Deer feeding and frolicking in the Key Deer Wildlife refuge – home to several hundred miniature deer. And if you want to find out what a gorgeous beach is really about, visit Bahia Honda State Park, one of the nation’s top beaches. Stay for the beautiful camping, marinas and picnic grounds.
After you leave The Lower Keys, you will reach “the end” (of the road), Key West, the southernmost point in the continental United States. John Audubon and Ernest Hemingway lived here. One had a passion for preservation. The other, a great zest for living. That combination gives Key West its unique personality. Here, you no longer need your car. You can tour the city by foot, bicycle, trolley or electric car and enjoy the Bahmian village, history, theaters, museums, galleries, sidewalk cafes and legendary pubs.
For more information visit: fla-keys.com or call 1-800-fla-keys.
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