Category Archives: Florida Keys for Families

School’s Out: Enjoy Family Activities in the Florida Keys

School’s out for summer and now your children can enjoy a full schedule of eco-tours, dive-snorkel charters, fishing trips and visits to area attractions, such as the Museums and Nature Center of Crane Point Hammock or the Dolphin Research Center. You’ll also find plenty of free activities to keep your kids entertained between excursions, and at Tranquility Bay. Several waterfront restaurants, such as The Island (Mile Marker 54.5 gulf side) and Keys Fisheries (Mile Marker 50 gulf side) thoughtfully provide docks where children can feed tropical fish or see huge tarpon.

Here are a few of our favorite family activities:

Swim with Dolphins

At the Dolphin Research Center, visitors age 15-17 can enroll in a seven-day Teen Dolphin Lab or Dolphin Camps for ages 10-12 and 13-14, where students meet the resident dolphin population and observe their behavioral and physical characteristics as a way of learning respect for each individual. Here, you can also swim with dolphins this summer for an unforgettable experience.


Meet Sea Turtles

“Meet” rescued sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, where dedicated staff members focus on the care and rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles. The world’s only licensed veterinary hospital that specializes in sea turtles, the hospital even has its own turtle ambulance. Kids in the Keys can take guided tours of the facility to learn about sea turtles, get a behind-the-scenes look at the hospital and rehabilitation facility, and even feed some of the permanent residents. It’s also possible, if you’re lucky, to witness the release of a turtle that has been returned to health. Releases take place at beaches throughout the Keys, and since 1986 the hospital has released more than 1,000 sea turtles back into the ocean. The unique facility is located at MM 48.5 with daily tours at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.


Discover Shells, Fish Tanks and Pirate Costumes

Discover shells, fish tanks and pirate costumes at Crane Point Hammock in Marathon. Crane Point Hammock is a 63-acre environmental and archaeological preserve that features fun for families with all types of interests. The historically curious can visit Adderley House, a historic home built in 1906 by a Bahamian immigrant who was a sponge fisherman, boatman and charcoal maker. Adventure seekers can get up close and personal with the museum’s touch tank that features sea urchins and starfish or explore the large lagoon filled with nurse sharks and tropical fish. Nature lovers can hike along one of the nature trails or visit the Marathon Wild Bird Center, a bird rehabilitation center for injured or orphaned birds. Located at MM 50.5, Crane Point Hammock is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.


Try Paddle Boarding at Tranquility Bay

The sport of paddle boarding has exploded in popularity and is attracting enthusiasts and newbies alike to the Florida Keys to try it. Standing on the board, typically 12 to 14 feet in length, not only allows for a better view of the surroundings, but also enables practitioners to paddle longer and more easily while standing, versus sitting as in a kayak. Standup paddling appeals to many different people because it is a relatively simple, straightforward yet diverse activity. Enjoy touring through the mangrove trees, along the beaches or in the backcountry flats in a noninvasive way.


Make Friends at the Wild Bird Center

Just down the road in Tavernier, you can become friends with herons, owls, pelicans and egrets at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. This wild bird rescue, rehabilitation and educational facility, is also a sanctuary and visitor center located at mile marker (MM) 93.6. The FKWBC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) that relies entirely on the generosity of both public and private donations. Visitors can drop in seven days a week, sunrise to sunset, and walk through the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary to the open water of Florida Bay where you’ll see many of the permanent residents along with free-flying birds of many species. Donations and volunteerism are gratefully accepted.


Learn to Sail

Families can get underway and hoist the sails during sailing lessons targeted to novice sailors who want to experience on-the-water training. Basic through advanced cruising, live-aboard cruises and charters are offered in the waters off the Keys.

Florida Keys Sailing, located in Marathon, offers training for a sailing license to charter or rent a sailboat. Classes range from day sailing trips (with lessons but no tests!) to three-day soup-to-nuts learning courses, after which sailors should be skilled enough to skipper a 24- to 30-foot boat. Five- and seven-day bareboat cruising classes offer serious candidates the skills to captain and charter a 40- or 50-foot sailboat anywhere in the world, and be able to take the family out for a cruise.


Search for Deer

Search for Key deer on Big Pine Key. Key deer are an endangered species that live only in the Lower Keys. These shy, appealing creatures are about the size of a large dog and can be found grazing all around Big Pine Key, especially in the early morning hours and around dusk. Spotting these “Bambi-like” creatures isn’t always easy, but it’s an adventure. To learn more about Key deer and other native species, visit the National Key Deer Refuge Visitor Center, located one-quarter mile north of the traffic light on Key Deer Boulevard in the Big Pine Key Shopping Plaza. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Visit a Local Park or Beach

Rotary Field of Dreams

Mile Marker 52, oceanside (75th Street and U.S. 1) Your children will be talking about this large playground for a long time to come. It offers a wooden replica of Thomas the Train, plus plenty of tunnels, swings, and a sandbox with a toothy, make-believe shark. There is plenty for toddlers and older kids.

Sombrero Beach

Mile Marker 50, oceanside (Turn off U.S. 1 at Sombrero Beach Blvd., and drive to the end). This 12.6-acre beach is one of the most popular stops in Marathon for good reason. The beach was renovated in 2003 with creative landscaping and other amenities. It offers walkways, picnic areas and a roped off swimming area.

Coco Plum Beach

Mile Marker 54.5 oceanside (Turn off U.S. 1 at Coco Plum Drive). This small, natural beach is an enjoyable stop, but one with few amenities. It is a quiet, dog-friendly beach with clean-up baggies provided.

Marathon Community Park

This park is located directly on US1 at 200 36th Street Ocean (MM 49). There are four tennis courts, a tennis wall, a combination hockey/basketball court (3 courts), two little league fields, and two soccer fields. There is also an X-treme skating park, two shuffleboard courts, two bocce ball courts, a batting cage, concession stand, amphitheater, picnic areas, and restrooms. This facility is handicap accessible. The park hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Count Bridges Along the Overseas Highway

The Florida Keys Overseas Highway, from north of Key Largo to Key West, is an All-American Road, the highest recognition possible under the National Scenic Byways program established by the U.S. Congress in 1991. Only 30 other roadways in the nation have earned the prestigious title.

The Overseas Highway has been named one of America’s most scenic drives and among the top 10 greatest drives in the United States by several prestigious publications, including Reader’s Digest and more.

On the next family trip to these drive-to islands, play a game to see who can count each of the 42 bridges over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico!

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Spring Break Family Fun and Ideas in the Florida Keys

Spring Break 2014 Family Activities in Marathon, Florida

The Florida Keys offer an array of family activity during the spring break period so it’s no wonder why guests flock to Tranquility Bay Resort in March and April. Marathon, Florida is far from a party town so families can rest easy knowing that Tranquility Bay is an excellent spring break destination for families in March and April, 2014.

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As one of the best family resorts in the Florida Keys, we offer spacious two and three-bedroom beach houses that are ideal for families! If that’s not enough, kids love bouncing from our lagoon style tropical swimming pool and our white sand beach, located directly on the Gulf of Mexico.

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You won’t have to go far for meals with casual dining at TJ’s Tiki Bar or try our award winning restaurant, Butterfly Cafe which has a fantastic kid’s menu. If you’re up to it, you can even cook a family feast in your own gourmet kitchen at Tranquility Bay.

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Families and children especially love watching a gorgeous Florida Keys sunset, teeing up on our putting green, or enjoying an array of watersports, including: diving and snorkeling adventures, kayaking, paddle boarding, wave runners, Hobi Cat and small boat rentals and guided eco-tours.

Call 866-842-2512 to speak with an on-site vacation planner about spring break family vacations in 2014.

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Florida Keys Spring Break Offers at Tranquility Bay

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View our Spacious Two and Three-Bedroom Beach Houses

These charming Florida Keys accommodations feature two-level living, ideal for up to four people. The beautifully proportioned first floor features a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, separate dining area for four, half bath and living room with 42-inch wall mounted plasma TV, and wireless internet.

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French doors on both levels lead to spacious porches with spectacular, and unobstructed water views of the Gulf of Mexico. Laundry facilities and bedrooms are upstairs. View our Two-Bedroom Beach Houses or Three-Bedroom Beach Houses

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If you’re willing to forego the kitchen and living room for a single-level guestroom, try our new Tropical Garden Guestrooms. A double queen guestroom can accommodate four guests, similar to hotel room accommodations.


Spring Break Family Vacation Ideas: Onsite Activities at Tranquility Bay

Featuring glorious weather year round and endless activities such as Florida Keys fishing, Marathon is an exciting destination for family vacations. With its exceptional setting, comprehensive facilities and knowledgeable staff, Tranquility Bay is the ideal choice for those who wish to experience all the Florida Keys have to offer, especially for those looking to the explore the awaiting adventures in our surrounding Florida Gulf waters.

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Family Attractions in Marathon, Florida

  • Bahia Honda State Park: The park is celebrated for having one of the world’s top beaches and is home to many rare and unusual plants and animals.
  • Crane Point: Visitors to this 64-acre protected park may tour the Museum of Natural History, Children’s Museum, Adderley Town Historic Site and Marathon Wild Bird Center, or explore the extensive nature trail system, an ideal stop on your Marathon Key vacation.
  • Pigeon Key: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Pigeon Key served as a construction and maintenance camp for the Overseas Railroad during the early 1900s. The remarkable structures that remain provide a window back in time.
  • Dolphin Research Center: Fun for the entire family, the Dolphin Research Center offers nature lovers, in-water encounters with marine mammals, as well as fascinating insight into their behavior.
  • Turtle Hospital: Located next door to the resort, the Turtle Hospital is dedicated to the health and preservation of sea turtles. The Hospital offers guided, educational tours and a behind-the-scenes look at the rehabilitation of sick and injured turtles, something everyone in the family will appreciate on your Marathon FL vacation.
  • Seven Mile Bridge: The longest bridge in the Keys is located at the southern end of Marathon and measures 35,716 ft. Take a family walk across the bridge and enjoy a majestic Florida Keys sunset.
  • Sombrero Reef: Mile Marker 50, Oceanside. One of the most beautiful areas within the Keys’ living coral reef, Sombrero Reef is protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries and is popular with eco-tourists who enjoy snorkeling and diving.
  • Sombrero Beach: This 12.6-acre beach is one of the most popular vacation spots in Marathon. Renovated in 2003, the beach offers creative landscaping, walkways, picnic areas and a roped off swimming area.
  • Coco Plum Beach: This small, natural beach is an enjoyable stop. It is a quiet, dog-friendly beach with clean-up baggies provided.

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Marathon Seafood Festival and Florida Keys Resort Offer Food and Fun

Tranquility Bay Resort

Marathon’s sumptuous signature food fair, the Original Marathon Seafood Festival, is set for Saturday and Sunday, March 9-10, serving up an ocean-lover’s feast of indigenous seafood including fish, shrimp, lobster and stone crabs. After a day of fun, Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort offers a nearby rest stop for families and friends traveling to the event, with spacious Florida Keys beach houses right on the Gulf of Mexico.

About the Original Marathon Seafood Festival

Each year, tens of thousands of seafood fans descend on the popular Middle Keys venue at Marathon Community Park, mile marker 49 oceanside. The menu includes mahi-mahi, smoked fish and conch served three ways: ceviche style, “cracked” or in fritters fried to golden perfection.

Foods are prepared according to secret recipes and Keys chefs offer up their best interpretations of conch chowders, side salads and local fish for bragging rights at the annual munch-a-thon. Attendees should save room for dessert at the festival’s sweets booth, with fresh Key lime pies, baked goods, cakes, cool smoothies and icy treats.

Family Activities

The family-focused weekend attraction is a fundraiser for local scholarship programs, but at its core it celebrates the area’s commercial fishing heritage. Children’s games and more than 200 vendor booths dot the park. Attractions include a variety of wares created by artists and craftspeople, nautical items, tropically themed clothing and apparel, plants and flowers, boats and water sports paraphernalia.

Entertainment

Popular Keys entertainers are to perform, as is headliner and country music favorite Amber Leigh. Leigh is scheduled to take the stage Sunday immediately following a 1 p.m. national anthem and military salute that includes a flyover of two F-18 fighter jets from Boca Chica Naval Air Station Key West.

Hours and Information

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 per adult and free for children under 12 when accompanied by a paying adult. Event information: www.marathonseafoodfestival.com

Book your Marathon Seafoood Festival Hotel Stay

To book a room at Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort during the event, please call (855) 606-4502 or visit www.TranquilityBay.com. Space is limited in March so please book in advance to avoid disappointment.

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