15 Best Things To Do In Florida’s Middle Keys

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Whether you’re traveling through all of the Florida Keys or trying to decide on one location within this southerly island chain, you won’t want to miss the Middle Keys. Known for its stunning views, a myriad of unique wildlife, and endless outdoor fun, this section of islands is a haven for all types of travelers. 

So, whether you want to dive into the history of the Florida Keys or dive into the crystal clear water that surrounds them, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so. From lush state parks and gorgeous beaches to protected wildlife habitats and fascinating museums, here are some of the best things to do in the Middle Keys. 

What are the Middle Keys?

As you may have deduced from the name, the Middle Keys constitute the middle section of the Florida Keys. There are no specific markers on the maps or highways to let you know exactly where this section of islands begins and ends, but as a rough estimate, the Middle Keys start around mile marker 72 and end around mile marker 35.

Marathon is the main hub of the Middle Keys, and other major locations include Fiesta Key, Long Key, Duck Key, Vaca Key, Crawl Key, Long Point Key, and Key Colony Beach, and Pigeon Key.

Curry Hammock State Park

Uninhabited. Untouched. Unrivaled. That’s the slogan for Curry Hammock State Park, and it suits this stunning state park to a T. The large sandy beach is perfect for sunbathers, swimmers, and snorkelers, and the calm waters and lush vegetation create the perfect conditions for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. 

Curry Hammock State Park is also renowned for its legendary birding opportunities. If you’re visiting between mid-September and early November, you’ll have the chance to spot one of the country’s most prolific annual migrations, with thousands of peregrine falcons, eagles, and raptors flying through the area. 

The park is open from 8:00 am to sunset every day of the year, and there is a campground available if you want to spend a night or two in this beautiful park. Entrance is $4.50 per person or $6 for two, making it one of the most affordable things to do in the Middle Keys.

Bum On The Beaches

The Florida Keys are known for their glorious beaches, and the Middle Keys are no exception! It’s a rite of passage to spend some time in the sand while here, and whether you want a lazy beach day or an adrenaline-filled day full of water sports, you’ll have plenty of options. 

Sombrero Beach – Sombrero Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Marathon and in all of the Middle Keys. There are tons of great facilities here, including a beach volleyball court, a shaded picnic pavilion, a children’s playground, and a fishing pier. You can also launch kayaks and paddleboards from shore and explore the various islands off the coast. 

Key Colony Beach – If you’re interested in the colorful marine life living off the coast, head to Key Colony Beach. This is the perfect combination of soft sandy beaches and thriving coral reefs, so you can spend the day lounging in the sun, snorkeling, or a little bit of both!

Anne’s Beach – Located at mile marker 73.4, Anne’s Beach is technically part of the Upper Keys, but it isn’t far from the Middle Keys, and it’s definitely worth checking out. The beach is really a collection of several small beaches, all of which are surrounded by towering mangrove trees. You can swim in the shallow waters, traverse the boardwalks through the forests, or simply take in the stunning views!

The Lagoon On Grassy Key

The Lagoon is a tropical adventure park where you can try a variety of board, wind, and paddle sports. This attraction is perfect for the whole family where both adults and kids have fun. The Lagoon was originally dug in the 70’s as a quarry to provide limerock fill for the surrounding areas. Later it was used as a lobster and fish farm and after being abandoned again, was found by Matt Sexton who put in a lot of work to make it what it is today. This adventure park is accompanied by a marketplace, day resort and a sister hotel less than a mile away.

Discover Pigeon Key

A trip to the tiny island of Pigeon Key is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in the Middle Keys. The island is just five acres, making it easy to explore in just a few hours. 

The island sits at mile marker 44.8 and was once a camp for workers of the Florida East Coast Railway. Today, Pigeon Key has plenty to offer visitors. There’s a museum, a fishing pier, and historical tours available, plus plenty of spots for a scenic picnic, a snorkeling excursion, and wildlife watching.

Visit The Turtle Hospital

While you’re in the Middle Keys, don’t miss your chance to visit the Turtle Hospital. This is one of the only licensed veterinary hospitals specializing in sea turtles in the world, with a focus on rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sea turtles back into the wild whenever possible. 

You can take a behind the scenes tour of the hospital to observe the turtles and learn more about them. At any given time, the hospital may have loggerhead, green, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley turtles.

The Turtle Hospital sits at mile marker 48.5 and is located inside the 1950s-era Hidden Harbour Motel. The rooms have been repurposed for staff, and the swimming pool is now a large aquarium stocked with different types of fish.

Go Snorkeling

Thanks to the calm, clear waters that surround the islands’ shores, snorkeling is one of the best things to do in the Middle Keys. There are also tons of reefs and even a shipwreck located in this area!

Sombrero Reef is one of the most popular spots for snorkeling and diving in the Middle Keys. The reef is located about 3.5 miles offshore and features vibrant coral and tropical fish. Other interesting spots for snorkeling include Long Key State Park and the Adelaide Baker shipwreck, which sunk in 1889.

Check Out The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

Stretching from Key Largo all the way down to Key West, the Overseas Heritage Trail is a scenic route that you can drive, bike, or hike across. The Middle Keys section of the trail runs from mile marker 71 at Channel S Bridge to Long Key Bridge at MM62.

One of the highlights along this route is the old Seven Mile Bridge, which runs parallel to the Overseas Highway. The bridge is only available for pedestrians and is often regarded as a linear park. You can walk, bike, or rollerblade along this scenic 2.2-mile bridge, which is also the gateway to the historic Pigeon Key.

Visit The Dolphin Research Center

The Florida Keys are renowned for their impressive marine life, and one of the best things to do in the Middle Keys is to learn more about some of the sea creatures that call the area home. 

The Dolphin Research Center opened in 1984 and has been promoting harmony between humans and marine life ever since. Visiting the center is a great activity for the whole family. There are different activities for kids and educational programs for visitors of all ages. The main draw here is the interactive programs, which feature the dolphins and sea lions that live on-site at the center.


Looking for active things to do in the Middle Keys? Get out onto the water and paddle around the gorgeous coastline! Kayaking is a great way to get a different perspective of the Middle Keys, and there are plenty of great spots to rent gear and get your boat in the water. 

One of the best places for paddling is Florida Bay. The water is calm, and there are tons of mangrove islands and marine life to discover. Curry Hammock State Park is another favorite for paddlers, thanks to the mangrove tunnels and abundance of wildlife. 

You can also kayak out to Lignumvitae Key State Park, where you’ll find tree-lined waterways full of unique flora and fauna. The park sits about 2-3 miles offshore, depending on where you launch from and where you land. Once you’re inside the park, you can kayak through 10,000 acres, or disembark onto the land and check out the historic landmark and visitor center.

Enjoy A Sunset Sail

You’ll likely seek out the epic sunsets each evening while visiting the Middle Keys, and there are plenty of great spots to do so around the islands. But if you want something a little more memorable, book a sunset sail and witness the sun going down from the water. 

There are several charter companies available to get you out on the water for one of those gorgeous sunsets. There are also charters available for fishing if you prefer to get out on the water during the day.

Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trails

One of the best things to do in the Middle Keys is to spend a day at Crane Point Hammock Museum. This 63.5-acre area is one of the most important archeological sites in the Keys, and it was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. The area the museum sits on was once a Bahamian village, and many prehistoric Indian artifacts have been found here. 

Inside the museum, you can learn more about the area’s history, but the fun doesn’t stop there. There are also several hiking trails and boardwalks that wind through the unspoiled nature, a kayak launch, and several immersive butterfly gardens. There’s even a lagoon with a 600 year old canoe and a children’s pirate ship! With so much to do, you should plan to spend a full day here.

Enjoy Fresh Seafood

Fresh seafood is abundant anywhere in the Florida Keys and if you are visiting the middle keys, there are some great places to try. Local restaurants offer fresh local fish, crab, shrimp and conch. One such restaurant that’s not to miss is the Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Marathon Key.

It’s a little off the beaten path and a local’s favorite which makes it one of the best places to stop by for lunch or dinner. On their menu, they have fresh local lobster and a variety of fresh fish which you can see marked local on the menu. One of these fish to try is the lionfish that can be served tossed in a garlic butter sauce or on sushi.

Indulge In Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie is one of the most well-known desserts to try in the Florida Keys. As you are traveling through the keys, make sure to stop by a few places to sample the different style of Key Lime Pie. In the middle keys, this place is Sweet Savannah’s that has the best Key Lime Pie around.

Another option for Key Lime Pie that is fried and just melts in your mouth, head over to Burdines Waterfront Chiki Tiki. This eatery is quite popular and you don’t want to miss this delicious dessert with incredible views.

Marathon Air Museum

The Marathon Air Museum in the heart of the Florida Keys is a captivating aviation enthusiast’s haven. Showcasing a remarkable collection of vintage aircraft, the museum offers a fascinating journey through aviation history. Visitors can explore meticulously preserved planes, ranging from World War II-era fighters to iconic civilian aircraft.

The museum provides insights into the evolution of aviation technology and the role these aircraft played in shaping the world. With knowledgeable guides and interactive exhibits, the Marathon Air Museum offers a memorable experience for both aviation aficionados and those seeking a deeper understanding of the airborne heritage nestled in this tropical paradise.

Aquarium Encounters

At the Aquarium Encounters you get to see fish, sharks, moray eels, gators, seahorses, grouper, rays, turtles and many more creatures. With the opportunities to touch the rays, starfish, urchins, horseshoe crabs, and hermit crabs a few others at the touch tanks this is an exciting thing to do in the middle keys.

Even more encounters are included such as petting and feeding the sharks as they swim around their tank or an even more exciting encounter that offers the ability to swim in the saltwater lagoon and see the marine life up close. General admission includes entrance, access to all exhibits and tanks, viewing of the feedings and hands-on access to the stingray, nursery, and tidepool touch tanks while other encounters have additional pricing.