Anthony John Coletti

Things to do in the Florida Keys

By Kay A. Fuston

Wherever you stay in the Keys (see our lodgingrecommendations), you'll be tempted to remain close to theresort. But we hope you'll make time for one―or all―ofthese activities.

Explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the nation's firstunderwater park. Most visitors enjoy the reefs from a glass-bottomboat, but those who prefer a closer look can snorkel or scuba dive.The park also offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and threeswimming beaches. Adjacent to Pennekamp (and extending itsboundaries out to international waters) is Key Largo NationalMarine Sanctuary. Both of these coral reef areas are protected fromenvironmental abuse, so they'll stay healthy for many generations.(Mile marker 102.5 on Key Largo; 305/451-1202 or pennekamppark.com.)

Browse at Rain Barrel Artisan Village. A maze of little shops andworking studios, Rain Barrel represents more than 100 artistsoffering a range of unique products: pottery, jewelry, sculpture,paintings, and stained glass. Surrounded by tropical gardens, theenclave is also home to a primarily vegetarian cafe. (Mile marker86.7 in Islamorada; 305/852-3084 or keysdirectory.com/rainbarrel.)

Kayak the backcountry with Big Pine Kayak Adventures. Captain Bill Keogh, a naturalist,educator, and professional photographer, leads half- and full-daytours through the shallow waters of the Great White Heron and KeyDeer national wildlife refuges. Traveling by kayak allows up-closeand personal views of the mangrove forests, sponge flats, and grassflats. And thanks to Bill's extensive knowledge of local marine andavian life and his desire to share it with others, participantsleave with a better understanding of―and a deeperappreciation for―the fragile backcountry ecosystem. (Milemarker 30 on Big Pine Key; 305/872-7474 or keyskayaktours.com.)

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