For a pet friendly tropical island vacation, look no farther than the beautiful Florida Keys! The islands in this balmy paradise run southwest from trendy Miami, Florida, to laid-back Key West-the southernmost point in the continental United States. World-class sportfishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, camping, and eco-tours are but a few of the reasons many travelers call this tropical wonderland “The American Caribbean.”
The Florida Keys are connected to the Florida mainland by US Highway 1, also known as the Overseas Highway. With the majestic Atlantic Ocean on one side and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico on the other, this 113-mile-long byway was named one of the 10 most beautiful drives in the United States by the Society of American Travel Writers. The Seven Mile Bridge-one of 43 bridges on the Overseas Highway-provides the perfect backdrop for viewing the Florida Keys’ crystalline turquoise waters and endless azure skies. This spectacular drive has numerous places to pull off for a stroll or photo with your pet.
Driving south from Miami on the Overseas Highway, the first island travelers encounter is pet friendly Key Largo. Known as the Dive Capital of the World, Key Largo features fabulous John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park-the first underwater park in the United States. Colorful tropical fish, dozens of species of coral, and the Statue of Christ of the Abyss are but a few of the incredible sights that snorkelers, divers, and glass bottom boat adventurers will see in this underwater wonderland. Snorkelers and divers will also enjoy exploring several nearby shipwrecks and intentionally sunk ships. Back on terra firma, this pet friendly park offers a unique hiking and picnicking experience in mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks.
Islamorada is the next stop along the Overseas Highway. Often called the Sportfishing Capital of the World, the four islands of Islamorada host the largest fishing fleet in the world. Bonefishing and offshore game fishing are especially popular pastimes. In addition to fishing, visitors enjoy diving, snorkeling, parasailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and boat racing in the the aqua blue waters surrounding this tropical paradise. Islamorada’s pet friendly Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, featuring ancient fossilized coral formations, is the perfect place for a leisurely hike or picnic with your pet. Afterwards, your pet can cool off in the shallow, cool waters of Anne’s Beach.
Next are the pet friendly Islands of Marathon, which include Long Key, the Conch Key, Duck Key, Grassy Key, Boot Key, Crawl Key, and Pigeon Key. Considered the heart of the Florida Keys, Marathon is a family-oriented destination with educational, fun attractions like the Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital. Pet owners will enjoy relaxing in pet friendly Curry Hammock State Park, where warm ocean breezes and beautiful tropical habitat provide a welcome escape from reality. Outstanding deep sea fishing and every water sport imaginable are available in Marathon, as well.
After crossing the spectacular Seven Mile Bridge from Marathon, travelers find themselves in the Lower Keys. With no fast food restaurants or shopping malls, this thirty-mile stretch is arguably the most beautiful area in the Florida Keys. Pet friendly Bahia Honda State Park is located here, which several travel magazines have called one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Big Pine Key, another island in the Lower Keys, is widely known for the pet friendly National Key Deer Refuge. Here, visitors will enjoy glimpses of the diminutive key deer as they stroll with their pets through undeveloped pine wilderness. Big Pine Key is also the headquarters for snorkeling trips and dive charters to amazing Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.
The small island paradise of Key West is the last stop on the Overseas Highway. World-weary travelers are attracted to pet friendly Key West for its history and culture, quaint restaurants and bars, and incredible sunsets. Most importantly, people come to Key West because of its laid-back attitude. The people of the Conch Republic know that a comfortable hammock and a frozen margarita are much more fun than rush hour traffic or shoveling snow. One of the most pet friendly cities in the United States, Key West welcomes pets with open arms.
Pet owners will not be disappointed by the variety of lodging options in the Florida Keys. From charming inns to luxurious resorts, Key West pet friendly hotels are abound. Dining options also abundant, as the warm, balmy tropical breezes are perfect for outside dining with your pet. So make your reservations today to the pet friendly Florida Keys and get ready for a fabulous, relaxing getaway!