The Overseas Highway, sometimes called “the Highway that Goes to Sea,” is a modern wonder. It is the “magic carpet” by which visitors from Florida’s mainland can cross countless coral and limestone islets through that special world of the Florida Keys. The highway — the southernmost leg of U.S. 1 — follows a trail originally blazed in 1912 when Henry Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railroad from Miami to Key West.
The highway was begun in the late 1930s & The Florida Keys — which now host more than three million visitors annually — became an easily accessible tourist destination by car and bus. And what do these visitors see? Key Largo Key Largo, called “the first of the Florida Keys,” because of its northernmost location along the Florida Keys chain, is an hour’s drive from South Florida’s two major airports. Yet it is a world away. Home to two state parks, a national park, a national marine sanctuary, Key Largo boasts some of the most fascinating botanical scenery in the state. Also visit the ‘African Queen, the boat made famous in the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name. Islamorada Our Village of Islands is situated between the saltwater wilderness of Everglades National Park in one direction and North America’s only coral barrier reef and the deep blue waters of the Florida Straits in the other. This might be the only place on Earth where it is possible to catch a sailfish in the morning, and then venture into the backcountry in pursuit of bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook and redfish in just inches of water. With a fleet of highly-skilled recreational fishing captains, Islamorada’s reputation as The Sport Fishing Capital of the World is well earned.
Marathon This quaint tropical city is conveniently situated in the middle of the Keys island chain. Located mainly on Vaca, Fat Deer, and Grassy Key, Marathon is a 10- mile-long family-oriented island community rooted in a heritage of fishing, and reflects the old-Keys lifestyle that residents, snowbirds and visitors enjoy so much. It is maintaining this simple, seafaring tradition that has made Marathon so special, celebrated through the community’s annual family-friendly seafood festivals.
Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys If you’ve had enough of an overcrowded and weary world, the islands of the Lower Keys are the place for you. Here, you can snorkel or dive over the Looe Key coral reef, ride a bicycle through Key Deer country, or take a fishing adventure in the back country or troll the deep blue waters beyond the reef. At the end of the day, you can trade stories with family and friends at one of this area’s tiki bars, RV parks, campgrounds, quaint resorts or licensed vacation homes.
The Earthy fragrance of mangrove forests and wetlands is never far away. Key West Discover a city where real estate titles date back to the Kings of Spain. Stroll the palm-lined streets and discover gingerbread mansions, tin-roofed conch houses, the John Audubon House and Ernest Hemingway’s home.
Walk in the footsteps of Thomas Edison, Lou Gehrig, Harry Truman, and Tennessee Williams. Gaze at the fabled treasure of the galleon Atocha. Discover tomorrow’s fine art treasures by Key West’s well-known and unknown artists