The Florida Keys  are a region of Florida. The Keys are an archipelago of about 1700 islands extending south and southwest of the Florida mainland.
The climate is tropical according to the Koppen classification system.
Biscayne National Park
U.S. Highway 1 leads from Miami to the Keys via the famous Overseas Highway. Traffic can be extraordinarily heavy during peak tourist times, so give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Speed limits are enforced on this stretch of highway.
The two main airports in the Keys are the seaplane base on Marathon Key (ICAO: 42FL) and Key West International Airport  (ICAO: KEYW IATA: EYW). The seaplane base is only used by private or commuter aircraft, mainly coming in from Miami (ICAO: KMIA IATA: MIA), which is the closest international airport. Key West International Airport has scheduled flights to about ten destinations, including Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa.
- Miami Beach to Key West Tours, ☎ 305-894-6409, . Enjoy a relaxing round-trip bus tour from Miami Beach to Key West and back. Tour also includes Hotel pick-up and free time in Key West. edit
Greyhound has service to and from the Florida Keys. There are terminals on Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West.
Multiple ferry services are available from Fort Myers to Key West. Most of them are large catamarans that will accommodate 20-30 passengers. Sailing time is about 3 hours.
The Keys (at least the accessible, commercial islands) are connected by US Highway 1. A useful and interesting "quirk" about the linearity of the Keys (and US-1) is that directions to establishments and attractions are locally described by the "Mile Markers" along US-1. If you ask someone how to get to a certain beach or hotel, they will tell you that it is at "Mile Marker 68.5"; many signs and brochures will say "MM 68.5" (of course, there is no mile marker 68.5, this just means that the hotel is halfway between mile markers 68 and 69). These numbers start at zero at the start of US-1 on Key West, so the numbers get larger as you go north.
The speed limits in the Keys are generally 45 MPH on the built-up Islands, and 55 MPH on the bridges and less built-up islands. There are areas (very built-up strips, or animal sanctuaries) where the speed drops to 35 MPH.
The Keys are not so much a sightseeing destination—people are coming for the beaches. But that's not to say there are no attractions. The several museums are all on Key West: the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Audubon House & Tropical Gardens, and the Key West Art & History Museum at the Custom House. Islamorada also has a neat artist colony at Rain Barrel, filled with large, unusual statues.
One of the Keys' most popular activities is scuba diving. From Biscayne National Park up to Key West; they all have nice reefs, tropical waters and a very diverse marine life. Some of the popular dive sites are Spiegel Crove, North Dry Rocks and the USNS Vandenberg.
- The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort (Kona Kai Botanic Gardens), 97802 Overseas Highway (mile marker 97.8 bayside), ☎ 305-852-9766, . 10:30a - 5:30p, Tue - Sat. The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort endeavors to improve people’s appreciation of plants and understanding of the role plants have played in the development of human life, from the beginning of recorded time through tomorrow. One of only a few ethnobotanic gardens in the continental USA. Located on the island of Key Largo in the Florida Keys, visitors are offered unique 90 minute guided ethnobotanic tours explaining the interdependence of plants and people. Advance reservations required. The Garden also supports school educational programs as a satellite partner of The Fairchild Challenge, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida. The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort is a member BGCI and APGA. $25+. edit
- Marine Mammal Adventure at Theater of the Sea (Theater of the Sea), 84721 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL (mile marker 84.7 Oceanside), ☎ 305-664-2431. 9:30a - 5:00p, 7/7. Established in 1946 by the P.F. McKenney family, Theater of the Sea is one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world. The McKenney family still owns and operates the park today. At Theater of the Sea watch up close and personal dolphin shows, sea lion shows, parrot shows, and much more! General admission to the park includes dolphin, sea lion, parrot and guided marine life shows, access to the lagoon side beach, and a 5-minute bottomless boat ride around the dolphin lagoon. Shows are up close and personal and guest participation is encouraged. One of the shows is always taking place; guests join the one that is in progress when they arrive and should plan to spend two to three hours in the park. A pioneer in animal interactive programs, Theater of the Sea offers several animal interaction programs including: * Swim with the Dolphin (since 1987) * Meet the Sea Lion and Meet the Dolphin (since 1994) * Swim with the Rays (since 1997) * Swim with the Sea Lion (since 1998) * Wade with the Dolphin (since 2000) * Paint with the Dolphin and Paint with the Sea Lion (since 2007) * Meet the Sea Turtle (since 2009) * Swim with the Sharks (since 2013) * Adventure and Snorkel Cruise. edit
As you would expect, there is a lot of seafood served in the Keys, but all types of restaurants exist. These include most of the staples of American fast-food, mom-and-pop diners, and many kinds of ethnic fare.
The Florida Keys are the birthplace of Key Lime Pie once made using limes exclusively grown here. Nearly every restaurant will have their own variation of this dessert, and each will be quite different, ranging from super-tart to sickly-sweet.
Another Key specialty is conch (pronounced "konk"), a large mollusk often served in chowder. Conch fritters, small spheres of fried breading and conch, are an appetizer you should try at least once during your stay.
- Key West - famous bar-hopping town, and former haunt of author Ernest Hemingway
- Police/Crime Prevention In an emergency, dial 911 from any phone in the Florida Keys.
- Visitor Assistance Line, 1-800-771-KEYS (5397). Multi-lingual staff are ready to help you with directions and phone numbers to medical facilities and law enforcement offices and much more. The staff work 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
- Boating Safety In an emergency, dial 911 from any Florida Keys land or cellular phone or contact the United States Coast Guard, via Channel 16, on a marine VHF radio.
- United States Coast Guard, .
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 305-289-2320, . The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is responsible for enforcing safe and environmentally-friendly boating and fishing
practices in the Keys. FWC officers patrol docks, bridges and waters.
- Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Phone 305-292-0311, . The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary sets regulations for boating and fishing in the Keys and offers safe boating tips.
- Monroe County Bike/Pedestrian Planner, Phone: 305-289-2514.
- Overseas Heritage Trail, Phone: 305-853-3571. Bicyclists are encouraged to use the Overseas Heritage Trail adjacent to the highway wherever the trail is available.
- Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Phone: 305-292-0311, . The Sanctuary provides "Sea Smart" advice for divers and snorkelers.
- Reef Relief, Phone: 305-294-3100, . This independent group offers the latest science on the dangers of feeding fish and other marine mammals.
- Divers suspecting decompression illness should seek medical attention immediately at one of the Keys hospitals. The staff at these facilities know how to diagnose and treat the condition and, if necessary, will transfer patients to one of two decompression facilities in the Keys. The U.S. Military operates a decompression chamber in Key West. The other, more often used, facility is in the Upper Keys at Mariner's Hospital.
- Mariner's Hospital, Phone: 305-434-3000, Mile Marker 91.5, Tavernier.
- Fishermen's Hospital, Phone: 305-743-5533, Mile Marker 48.7, Marathon.
Lower Keys and Key West
- Lower Keys Medical Center, Phone: 305-294-5531, 5900 College Road, Stock Island.
|This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!