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The southern part of Florida is just as exciting as the rest of the state, maybe more so since it includes Miami and the Florida Keys, with all the adventure and activities they provide. But there’s plenty for us to see and do before we get there, so let’s get started!
Starting in the St. Lucie County city of Fort Pierce, we shouldn’t miss the St. Lucie County Historical Museum, which showcases exhibits of the Spanish treasure fleet that was wrecked in 1715, along with artifacts from the Seminole Indian War, and a memorial garden complete with Spanish naval equipment, such as cannons and anchors. It’s an excellent exhibition of a rich part of Florida’s past.
Leaving Fort Pierce, we head south down the I-95 to West Palm Beach, a city with beautiful waterfront views, historic neighborhoods, and elite boutique shops. It’s a terrific place to enjoy the sunshine, or shop ‘til we drop.
If we’re looking for wilder fare, Lion Country Safari is some place to investigate. Celebrating 40 years in operation, the park was designed by South African and British entrepreneurs and is home to nearly 1000 exotic animals such as lions (of course), zebra, chimps, and even a rare white rhino. The four-mile preserve even features a campground for particularly adventurous overnight guests who wish to go to sleep to the sounds of roaring lions…if such a thing is even possible!
Staying on the I-95 brings us to Fort Lauderdale, a city rich with beaches and geared towards fun in the sun. Feel free to go biking, walking or jogging along miles of seaside paths, or explore the shopping and dining that Lauderdale has to offer. Various Seminole casinos abound in the Lauderdale area as well, giving us a chance to unwind and try our hand at a few games of chance along the way.
Cruising a few miles down the I-95 brings us to Miami, a city brimming with culture and chock full of things to do. One sure-fire, don’t miss attraction is the Miami Seaquarium, which rests on nearly 40 acres and has spectacular skyline views, in addition to showcasing acrobatic bottlenose dolphins, comical sea lions, and powerful killer whales as they go through their paces several times a day. The Seaquarium is also home to several species of Atlantic and Caribbean sea animals, as well as 25 crocodiles in the popular Crocodile Flats habitat. The Seaquarium is a fine place for the whole family to spend a day and have a great amount of fun.
Also, be sure to head to the Everglades for a one-of-a-kind adventure in the form of an airboat ride. These sleek crafts glide across the water’s surface and give us an up-close-and-personal view of the various animal and plant life indigenous to the swampy Everglades; don’t worry, these experienced airboat pilots and guides haven’t lost any visitors to ‘gators!
Traveling south on the I-95, we merge with the I-95-S for nearly seven miles, after which we take the 878-W, followed by the 874-S. The 874-S becomes Florida’s Turnpike South, and sixteen miles later we arrive in the city of Homestead, which is the proud home of NASCAR’s Homestead Miami Speedway. The Speedway opened in 1995 and plays host to several crowd-pleasing races each year. The 65,000 seat grandstands are frequently filled to capacity, so be sure to get your tickets online if you plan to attend.
A little more than thirty miles south via the US-1 S, we reach Key Largo. Key Largo is known as the Diving Capital of the World, so take advantage of the many dive shops and rental facilities in the area and explore the beautiful underwater reefs. For those not scuba-certified, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins are also thrilling options. The Key Largo Undersea Park features a varied array of marine life like what’s found at the reefs, and tends to be very popular, as it contains an authentic shipwreck and various archaeological sites.
Another excellent attraction is sixteen miles further south on the US-1 S, in the city of Islamorada, which is world-famous as the Sportfishing Capital of the World. Theater of the Sea highlights swimming with dolphins and offers a program called “Trainer for a Day,” which provides us with some unique one-on-one interaction without our having to get into the water with these frisky mammals.
Just over 30 miles south on the US-1 S, we reach Marathon, which is proud to be the home of the Dolphin Research Center. The Center is a non-profit organization, which offers opportunities to swim with dolphins and visitors are taught various hand signals to facilitate communication with the dolphins. The Dolphin Lab affords us the chance to learn many things about these fascinating creatures in a natural environment, which consists of ninety thousand square feet of seawater lagoons.
Key West is a little less than fifty miles south on the US-1 S, which takes us across the incredibly scenic Seven-Mile Bridge. Among Key West’s many interesting historical facts is that it features certain real estate titles that date back to Kings of Spain. Key West has also played home to various luminaries like Thomas Edison, Harry S. Truman, Tennessee Williams, and – of course – Ernest Hemingway.
The Hemingway House Museum served as Ernest Hemingway’s residence from 1931 to 1939, then later for another ten years that comprised the 50s. In addition to being famous for this reason, its continued notoriety is due to the grounds’ population of six- and seven-toed cats that roam freely. These felines are allegedly the descendants of “Papa” Hemingway’s own cats. Some of Hemingway’s best-known works were written here, including “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “To Have and Have Not,” which is set in Key West and was made into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The museum offers tours and is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For fans of classic prose, this provides a rare opportunity to see a piece of literary history.
One thing that the traveler to south Florida and the Keys can be assured of is that there’s plenty to keep us occupied, no matter how long our trip is scheduled to be. Warm weather, clear water, and adventure-filled activities will no doubt make us want to come back here again and again.
Other Area Sponsors in Florida:
Big Pine Key & Florida's Lower Keys
Boyd's Key West Campground
Copley's RV Center
Flamingo Lake RV Resort
Highland Pines RV Resort
Lion Country Safari KOA
Pecan Park RV Resort
Port St. Lucie RV Resort
Road Runner Travel Resort
Tallahassee RV Park
West Jupiter Camping Resort
Yacht Haven Park & Marina