A Portrait Of The Florida Keys -- A Florida Travel Guide

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Check the weather conditions before planning your day. Key West's largest beach has all the ingredients for a golden tan: picture-perfect stretch of sand, chair rentals, volleyball courts and a calm breeze. Located on the southern shore of the island, the man-made beach offers calm shallow waters and a slew of water activities from Sunset Watersports.

Rentals include Hobie Cat sailboats, windsurfers, paddle boards, kayaks, Sun Fish sailboats and jetskis. They also offer a parasailing, where you can see the entire island from the air. The beach itself is free and has restrooms open until p. Like most Keys beaches, the waters can be a little rocky, and seaweed washes up on shore. It's a popular wedding spot, so don't be surprised to see multiple wedding parties jockeying for position at sunset.

Recommended for Beaches because : Key West's largest beach has all the ingredients for a golden tan: picture-perfect stretch of sand, chair rentals, volleyball courts and a calm breeze. It's backed by the Southernmost Cafe, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner at reasonable prices. Resort guests get complimentary use of the chairs, but rentals are available to non-guests. There are no public restrooms, and coolers aren't allowed.

The Florida Keys Aren’t Ruined—They Just Grew Up

This makes it a convenient stop for a dip in Old Town, but not the best place for a day trip. If you wake up with the roosters, you can catch one of Key West's breathtaking sunrises either from the beach or the pier. Recommended for Beaches because : This public beach may be small, but it's conveniently located at the Atlantic end of Duval Street.

The on-site Southernmost Cafe is a bonus. Claudia's expert tip : Catch your rays in the morning to beat the crowd and follow with a scrumtious lunch at the cafe. Fort Zachary Taylor is blessed with a well-maintained, sandy beach with chairs, umbrellas and water sports equipment for rent. Completed in , the fort played important roles in the Civil War and Spanish-American War, and visitors can tour the National Historic Landmark at 11 a. Fishing is permitted in certain areas. The three-story fort once held the largest collection of Civil War cannons in the U.

Recommended for Beaches because : Enjoy a sandy beach, stellar snorkeling, beachfront cafe and nature trails all in the shadow of a three-story brick Civil War Fort. Claudia's expert tip : On the third weekend of each month, see the fort come alive as local re-enactors engage the public in historic demonstrations. The shallow waters surrounding the islands are perfect for snorkeling amid the ruins of Fort Jefferson.

Tour the fort to learn about its construction and Civil War prisoners like Samuel Mudd--the doctor who assisted John Wilkes Booth after his injury. This remote park is only accessible by seaplane or ferry. Recommended for Beaches because : Take a seaplane to the Dry Tortugas where it's easy to pretend you're castaways in paradise. Claudia's expert tip : Before you go, visit the Dry Tortugas Park website for a list of do's and don'ts as well as what to bring.

The three soft sandy natural beaches at Bahia Honda State Park would be enough to set it apart from the rest of the Florida Keys. But when you add in the nature trails, unparalleled reef snorkeling and a piece of railroad history, you get one of the most unique state parks in the country. Located 37 miles north of Key West, the park is a camper's dream--if you can score one of the coveted spots. At Sandspur Beach, which is the largest on the island, dump your gear at a picnic table under one of the three pavilions.

Grab a floatie and hit the clear shallow water.

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On the southern side of the island, Calusa Beach rests in the shadow of the steel trestle railroad bridge--a remnant of Henry Flagler's railroad destroyed in the hurricane. Recommended for Beaches because : Soft sandy shores, calm crystalline waters and historic trestle bridge--from the ill-fated railroad--led Dr. Beach to deem the park America's Best Beach. Claudia's expert tip : Book early if you want to score one of the coveted camping spots. A budding photographer, she can usually be found stalking a sunset.

Despite being a tad More About Claudia. Follow 10Best Like 10Best. Stretch your budget: 10 best free things to do in Key West View the List. Attraction Slideshow: Beaches in Key West. Photo courtesy of Ocean Key Resort. Sunset Key. Photo courtesy of Barefoot Billy's Watersports. Marquesa Keys' Isolated Beaches. Photo courtesy of Dave Cannon. Higgs Beach. Smathers Beach.

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Photo courtesy of trvlto. South Beach. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. You can tour the fort, walk inside the cells, watch weapon demonstrations and more. Then, hit the beautiful sandy beach, snorkel in the warm shallow waters, grab a kayak and explore the magnificent scenery or just soak in the sun.


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Poets, artists, authors, actors, politicians and musicians have flocked to this tiny island paradise and most never turned back. Make a splash in the aqua blue water Surrounded by gorgeous crystal waters, Key West offers a multitude of things do to in, on and above the water.

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The Commotion on the Ocean is the most popular, offering a live concert as you cruise into the beauty of the sunset. If you're looking for a view from the mainland, then check out the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration. It's starts every night about 2 hours before the sunset. You can visit the Dry Tortugas during the day, head back to the hotel for a quick cleanup, then walk down to the end of Duval street and experience this famous tradition.


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