Monday, June 3, 2013

6 Ways to Enjoy Wildlife in the Florida Keys

We spent nine glorious days in the gorgeous Florida Keys for our family vacation this year. We thought it was the perfect place since we were looking for a picturesque place that our toddler would enjoy. We were right. There was so much to see and do that entertained our little guy Dante. The numerous attractions in Key West (that's another fun post!) were great but we really didn't have to look to much further than the nature that resides all over the Keys to keep him occupied. Even better, many of the places we went to use the entrance fees to help the very wildlife we were enjoying.

The Wild Bird Sanctuary is great place to enjoying wildlife in the Florida Keys. Located in Tavenier, FL, Miler Marker 93.6, the sanctuary relies solely on donations. As a family visiting this is perfect because you do not have to pay a hefty fee to get in and the money you do donate helps to house and rehabilitate injured birds. They estimate helping almost 1,000 patients of 80 species a year. Even if you aren't planning a trip anytime soon you can still donate items on their wish list or make a monetary donation.

There's a boardwalk that takes you past numerous cages of all types of birds who are on the mend that leads to a huge area of Pelicans. Dante enjoyed this but be careful! Pelicans can get be a bit ornery. Maybe someday soon he'll be on the list of birds that were able to be re-released back into the wild. There were a lot on the list last year. Check it out Wild Bird Center Releases.

Follow the boardwalk as far as it will go which will eventually lead you to a beautiful beach scene with trees and more pelicans in the natural setting.

Next stop? The Turtle Hopsital in Marathon, FL, Mile Marker 48.5. It is located in a former motel which now houses those that take care of the wounded turtles. Many of them have gotten sick or harmed in the ocean from eating trash, getting caught up in a boat or fishing line. Many of them hang out at the hospital until they can be released back into the wild and others are sent to attractions like fish tanks in places like Las Vegas!

If you visit, you'll get a full tour of the hospital where they treat and operate on the turtles along with a stroll around the tanks that house the patients. You'll even to get to feed them towards the end. Admission is: $15.00 for adults and $7.50 for children (4-12). While that might seem a bit pricey it's very helpful for the upkeep of the hospital, all the patients, the tanks, and the purchase of all the medicine. You know what would make a cool birthday present for someone? Adopting a turtle!

Talk about bonding with wildlife? It doesn't get any better than a beautiful butterfly landing on you. How peaceful! This was at The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory in Key West, FL.  Hundreds of colorful butterflies flitter among you as stroll down brick paths lined with hearty foliage.

Over 50 to 60 species are housed there none of which are taken from the wild. They come from butterfly farming and many of them can be seen hatching right at the Conservatory. It's well worth seeing! You'll be well relaxed after your visit. Costs vary: General Admission $12.00, Children 4-12 years $8.50, Under 4 years Free, Seniors and Military $9.00.

Another fun stop was feeding the tarpon at Robbie's of Islamorada, Mile Marker 77.5. For a small fee (I think we paid $3.00) you'll get a bucket of raw fish to throw in the water at close to 100 HUGE tarpon. If you plan it just right and dangle the fish around a bit the tarpon will see them and jump out of the water to get it making a huge splash! Just beware of the pelican's. At this pier they are a bit fierce. Someone had just gotten bit when we were there.
Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, Mile Marker 84.5 was our final wildlife stop and it was a treat. This animal marine park houses many injured animals that are not well enough to go back into the wild. While is was pretty small it offered many ways to get up close and personal with the cute critters making their home there. You could watch a Sea lion perform:

Take a boat ride and watch a dolphin do tricks right in the center of the boat and along side it or take a cool dip at their beach and snorkel with these beauties. 

Although my family and I didn't do it, they did offer opportunities to swim with dolphins, sea lions, and sting rays.

Disclosure: I did NOT receive any compensation or free entry to any of these attractions. This was just a family vacation where I found some gems I wanted to share with you. My opinions are truthful and mine. 

What wildlife treasurers have you found in the Florida Keys?


  1. Looks fun, I'd love to visit the Keys. My brother's family just went there in April.

  2. We have yet to make it to the Florida Keys! These are awesome suggestions for when we do go...THANKS!

  3. Thanks for visiting LL and Lauryn. Look for more posts on the Keys coming soon. There's lots to talk about!

  4. The Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key is our favorite. We are members both there and the Turtle Hospital.

  5. I am so sorry we missed it! We heard about it but thought "eh, we'll see the dolphins at Theater of the Sea" but I think it was a bad choice. Sounds like we really missed something. Bummer! Next time.

  6. WOW! I've never been to Florida, but your post certainly makes me want to go! Beautiful pics! Looks like a lot of fun!

  7. whoa! what a glorious vacation it seems! and I really like that photo of you with butter on your head. they relly seem to be used to people!! My son would love the whole place too =)

  8. Awww I wish I lived here! it's so pretty! My son would LOVE This!!

  9. Thanks for visiting Kero and The Casual Mom. It was a glorious vacation. Gorgeous sunsets everyday, relaxing in the water and plenty for my toddler to see and do. I'd recommend going but be warned it's a bit pricey.

  10. So many fun things to do. Great roundup.