Key West is the southernmost part Of the entire United States, it’s known for its lively nightlife, water sports and history, but not beaches. Key West is not known for its beaches. I can’t tell you how many people we met that thought there were going to be amazing beaches on their vacation and were very disappointed.
So I just wanted to say that right away to get to Key West, you have to drive on the overseas highway, which is one of the most beautiful drives in the country. This highway is compiled of 42 bridges, which connect Key West to the mainland, as you’re driving through the keys feel free to stop as you go, we stopped at a few spots, including Big Pine Key, where you can see deer roam the island, it’s really cute. We also ate at a famous restaurant called No-Name Pub, which was really good, and then we stopped at
state parks along the way. We highly recommend visiting those spots.
This eight square mile island has endless things to do for everyone. The best way to get on the water is to rent a boat or do some type of tour, whether you choose a snorkeling tour, a drinking boat or parasailing.
It doesn’t matter as long as you get to ride on that beautiful water. I mentioned earlier that there aren’t many beaches in Key West. We were able to track down, maybe the best beach located at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. This was one of my favorite spots on the entire island. The fort itself is such a sight to see. Fort zak is where history is made fun.
After immersing yourself in a bit of history, you can head to the beach. We tried to go swimming here, but it was too windy, so the water clarity was bad. However, we’ve heard it’s usually a really great spot to snorkel. You can see turtles and other animals, which is always really fun. A few other interesting historical spots are the little white house and Ernest Hemingway’s house.
President Truman visited and ran the country from Key West for a total of 175 days. He just loved it there. We did a tour through the house and really enjoyed it. So if you’re into history we recommend visiting and as for Hemingway’s house, it was just stunning – I didn’t do a tour. I just walked through and listened to other tours, but I really loved it.
Hemingway was the first person in Key West to have a pool on the island and there’s a great story that goes with that, but I guess you’ll just have to wait and hear it for yourself. Another famous thing to do here is the Duval Street pub crawl. Duval street is a mile stretch of bars. We got a tandem bike which was hilarious and rode around stopping a few times for a drink. If you’re looking to party this is definitely the spot to be. Lastly, I just wanted to mention that we stayed at Ocean Key Resort while we were in town and it was the perfect spot overlooking the water.
If you don’t plan on staying there, you at least have to try their restaurant Hot Tin Roof seriously. It was some of the best food I’ve ever had and the entire establishment just had great hospitality, which is so important. Also, I forgot to mention that the island is full of chickens and roosters that roam freely, so don’t be surprised if you’re woken up by roosters in the morning.
Next, we have number nine, devil’s den. 30 minutes away from Gainesville Florida lies one of North America’s most prehistoric places, devil’s den. It was formed when a phenomenon called a karst happen. This is when the earth caves in over an underground water reservoir, creating what is now a cavern early settlers used to call this place. The chimney from hell, because during winter months what used to be a tinier hole in the earth, smoke would rise up, and that is exactly why this place was named.
The devil’s done walking down through this 33 million year old cavern will leave you speechless, especially when you lay your eyes on some of the clearest blue water in the USA. Devil’s den is a great place to go. Snorkeling, free, diving and even scuba diving year round. The entrance fee here is $15 per person on weekdays and $22 dollars on weekends and we made sure to bring our own snorkel set. So we could save some cash. They are open seven days a week and we highly suggest going as early in the morning as possible.
Next up is number eight Ichetucknee Springs. Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a gorgeous area located in a little town called Fort White. There are many popular things to do here, including paddling or tubing down the river birding hiking snorkeling and even scuba diving. The experiences are endless and it only costs six dollars per vehicle to get in. We went straight to the north entrance to swim in the two main springs head spring and blue hole. The water here is clear, blue and turquoise, and it makes for the perfect swim but be careful because an alligator can be found in any body of water in Florida. So definitely keep an eye out, but overall you should be just fine.
Next we took the nature walk to blue hole spring because it’s a half mile check from the parking lot blue hole spring is much less crowded than head spring. The trail was full of Florida’s. Most charming foliage. So even if you don’t plan on swimming in blue hole, we still recommend hiking to it.
Once you arrive to this spring and take the plunge, the clear waters and the many fish will blow you away. There’s a deep blue hole that starts 40 feet below the surface. We tried to swim down there, but it was really challenging with the current from the springs either way, it was still fun trying to go down. Traveling the pristine waters of Ichetucknee makes to the perfect excursion whether you’re looking for an active adventure or a chill day.
Next up is number seven. Ginny Springs. The late diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau once said: Ginny Springs is visibility forever, and this statement couldn’t be more on point traveling between the group of Seven Springs on the Santa Fe river is an amazing way to spend a full day in the sun. This place is privately owned and the entrance fee is twenty dollars per person. The price is a bit steep and that’s why we suggest bringing your own tubes, paddle boards or kayaks to save a bit of money, of course, be on the lookout for gators.
When you are paddling through the Santa Fe river, but once you get to each spring ease your mind because all you’ll find in there are a bunch of turtles, large fish and other wildlife. One of my favorite spots is called devil’s eye, which is a 20-foot deep round hole. We had so much fun swimming to the bottom and seeing all the fish surround the hole just like every natural spring. In Florida, the water here stays a consistent 72 degrees fahrenheit. All I have to say about this place is that you need to see it to believe it, because, wow, is that water clear!
Up next is number six Crystal River and three sisters springs. Crystal River is in Citrus County, which is the manatee capital of the world. First off I just got to say it: manatees are seriously one of the cutest animals on the planet. These gentle giants are so cool to observe. So if you get the opportunity to see one in person embrace it, the best way to swim with manatees is by visiting three sister springs in the winter. Why The winter? You ask because the gulf and bay water become too cold for the manatees. So, during the cooler months they migrate to the Florida springs since they have a consistent temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Three sister springs is actually a wildlife refuge, and if you enter that area, there’s no access to the water, there are two ways to swim with manatees. The first is to go with a tour going with a tour is pretty cool because you learn a lot about these animals. Like did you know that manatees aren’t fat, they just appear that way and are actually one of the most fit animals. We recommend going the free route and paddling to three sister springs from hunter springs park.
It’s about a 30 minute, rigorous paddle, to three sisters, but it was so worth it. I mean I think it was worth it looking back. It was actually pretty hard. So it’s totally a judgment, call for you. If you think you can handle the rough waters, then definitely do it. Once you arrive to three sisters, you can tie up your board and head in because the manatees are threatened. Please give them their space, don’t approach or startle them. Try not to make any splashes and don’t dive deep to their level. Tread above the surface. There are so many people at the springs, and the last thing you want to do is overwhelm the manatees even more other than that have yourself a blast. Seeing these chubby mermaids in person is one of my favorite memories, like I said they’re just so cute.
Coming up number five, Jupiter to escape the crowds and traffic in South Florida make your way an hour and a half north of Miami to one of the most lavish coastal towns in the USA just driving through here on a boat or car. To look at the properties is a sight to see. You may even bump into celebrities like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Celine Dion, who call this slice of paradise home. Let’s not forget about the water here. Jupiter is surrounded by a deep blue magical water that transports you right to the Caribbean. The best part about Jupiter, though, is the amount of adventures you can go on. You can head to the lighthouse natural area and walk around 120 acre nature preserve that is full of lush tropical forests. This is one of our favorite places. We stumbled upon during our travels in Florida. The coolest part about this walk is the Jupiter lighthouse standing tall above the pathways.
You can climb to the top of the lighthouse and get a 360 degree view of Jupiter for a $12 entrance fee. Instead, we decided to bring our inflatable paddleboards through this path to the bank of the Indian River lagoon on this sandy bank. You will see boats flying by, pelicans gliding inches from the water and an unbelievable view of those crazy properties I was talking about. Let’s not forget about the long stretches of beach here in Jupiter. One of my favorites was blowing rocks because of its unique limestone rock formations lining up the shore. This beach is as wild and natural as one can get as you walk through tunnels of trees to get there.
We arrived here, 20 minutes before it was closing, and there was not a soul in sight if you’re lucky and it’s a bit windy. The tide could hit the limestone rocks and cause a massive spray of water upwards of 50 feet after blowing rocks preserve head to Juno beach for the perfect sunset. Here you have a spectacular pier and along the beach, are tons of shells to check out another rite of passage in Jupiter is to head to the many tiki bars lining up the Loxahatchee river. Some amazing spots to grab drinks are yutiki square, grouper and guanabanas. All that sounds amazing. But when you add this next thrilling, adventure to the list, Jupiter may be an unbeatable spot in Florida.
There is so much more information we can tell you but why not watch our video. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Once you see the video I’m sure you will agree.