Orlando to Key West is a journey of approximately eight hours but this is going to be a road trip adventure, so we are going to string things out a little. Over the course of a long weekend, in fact. You are going to leave behind Orlando with its multiple theme parks and teeming population and head into the wild and natural environment of the everglades.
Along the way, we will be visiting Fort Lauderdale and experiencing some of what that city has to offer with its beachfront setting and sea adventures. From there we hit the Everglades; the vast sub-tropical wilderness with its famed wetlands that have made it a World Heritage site.
As if that were not enough, we now start island hopping along the Florida Keys archipelago with its stunning coral reefs, sea views, and unforgettable art galleries. Finally, our adventure will draw to a close on the southernmost tip of the US in Key West with all that that city has to offer.
Key West may be the final stop on your road trip but it certainly has plenty to offer in the way of things to discover. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a walk-through butterfly house. Here you will find yourself surrounded by every size and color of butterfly, many of which will happily alight on your skin or clothes. There are also birds and tropical pink flamingos
The Florida Keys Discovery Center is a natural history museum displaying 6000 square feet of interactive information around the local flora and fauna. There is more, however, as right next door is a Fort Zachary. This is a Civil War landmark through which you can walk and explore.
As if that were not enough, a short walk from the fort is the area’s most popular snorkeling spot. Here you will be able to snorkel the crystal clear waters in total safety and admire what this underwater paradise has to offer.
Just a seventeen-mile drive will bring you to Fiesta Key RV Resort and Marina. Here you are surrounded on three sides by ocean and it is the perfect setting from which to watch the sun go down and perhaps enjoy some craft beer from the last stop. The kids can enjoy a swim in the sea or in the park’s swimming pool.
In the resort, you will find the Lobster Crawl Bar and Grill where you must try some of the local delicacies. Conch comes in either fritters, chowder, or ceviche and is considered one the best regional seafoods. Key West is also home to pink shrimp so for seafood lovers, there is plenty on offer. Finally, here lobster comes in every different form that a food addict could possibly hope for. Don’t forget Key Lime tart as a dessert.
After the everglades, you will perhaps be ready for something a little more arty. Just an hour down the road you will not be able to miss a giant lobster which marks the entry to Rain Barrel Village.
This small arts and crafts center consists of dozens of wooden cabins situated in a lovely tropical garden. Here you will find plenty of restaurants, seafood, and craft beers. In fact, the choice is enormous. The village is home to numerous artists and creators and you will be able to watch them produce their wares including jewelry, pottery, and clothing, to name but a few.
There is something here for all the family. The collective has been open for forty years and the gardens have allowed them to create a real tropical oasis. There are more than 500 artists exhibiting in the various galleries so this is a vital center of support for artists of the everglades area.
From Fort Lauderdale, it will take an hour and a half to reach the Royal Palm Visitors Center where the extensive information displays will prepare you for a walk along the Anhinga Trail. This comfortable boardwalk trail is a nature lover’s paradise that you won’t want to miss.
Not only will you get a close-up view of the sawgrass marshes but you are also likely to see alligators, turtles, herons, and perhaps even a python or two. Sawgrass survives only in a wetland environment where it provides the ideal habitat for many wild animals and birds. The word Anhinga means snake or devil bird and is a type of darter that is found in this area. They can stay underwater for up to a minute and dive depths of 60 feet.
The park is home to many other rare and endangered species of both reptiles and animal. One option you may like to consider is the starlight tour where knowledgeable guides will introduce you to creatures you may not see during the day.
Three hours and fifteen minutes of easy driving will bring you to Fort Lauderdale. Pick up your rig early in order not to waste a moment of this fun-filled adventure. Coming from Orlando and all the urban commotion there, you might want to try out something a little more relaxing.
Fort Lauderdale is often referred to as the Venice of America and to make your life easier, there is a wonderful water taxi system that enables you to float easily from destination to destination along the canal system. The taxi is a hop on hop off service so you can use it to see the city, the beaches and the shops with ease.
On the main boulevard, there are hire shops where you can hire bikes, including four-seaters, which allow the family to cycle along the beachfront in comfort. There is a boardwalk that makes cycling both easy and practical. You have beach views on one side and restaurants and coffee shops the other. There is even a farmers market if you are in search of fresh produce. You might also like to spend some time visiting Park and Ocean Adventure Centre where there are activities for the kids and evening kayak safaris.
You might want to make Yacht Haven Park and Marina your first call so that you can leave your rig and hit town with ease.
This road trip from Orlando to Key West will have provided you with so many different vistas and things to explore that the whole family should have found plenty to make the holiday a memorable win. It may have taken just a weekend but with so much to see and do it should feel like a longer holiday and leave you with the desire to get on the road again sometime soon.
Key West still holds plenty to look forward to and, of course, you might be ready for one or two more of the famous seafood dishes.