Long Key State Recreation Area

Upper Keys

The 965-acre Long Key State Recreation Area takes up much of Long Key. It’s about 30 minutes south of Islamorada, and comprises a tropical clump of gumbo-limbo, crabwood and poisonwood trees; a picnic area fronting a long, lovely sweep of teal water; and lots of wading birds in the mangroves. Two short nature trails head through distinct plant communities. The park also has a 1.5-mile canoe trail through a saltwater tidal lagoon and rents out ocean-going kayaks (two hours single/double $18/22).

If you want to stay here, make reservations this minute: it’s tough to get one of the 60 sites at the campground. They’re all waterfront, making this the cheapest (and probably most unspoiled) ocean view – short of squatting on a resort – you’re likely to find in Florida.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Upper Keys attractions

1. Anne's Beach

5.65 MILES

Named after local environmentalist Anne Eaton, this tiny beach is one of the finest seascapes in these parts. The small ribbon of sand opens upon a sky…

2. Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park

9.79 MILES

This key, only accessible by boat, encompasses a 280-acre island of virgin tropical forest and is home to roughly a zillion jillion mosquitoes. The…

3. Indian Key Historic State Park

10.21 MILES

This quiet island was once a thriving city, complete with a warehouse, docks, streets, a hotel and about 40 to 50 permanent residents. There’s not much…

4. Curry Hammock State Park

11.13 MILES

This park is small but sweet and the rangers are just lovely. Like most parks in the Keys, it’s a good spot for preserved tropical hardwood and mangrove…

5. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters

14.23 MILES

A visit to this small, interactive aquarium starts with a free 20-minute guided tour of some fascinating marine ecosystems. There are also more immersive…

6. Florida Keys History of Diving Museum

15.01 MILES

You can’t miss the diving museum – it’s the building with the enormous mural of whale sharks on the side. The journey into the undersea covers 4000 years,…

8. Crane Point Museum

17.19 MILES

This is one of the nicest spots on the island to stop and smell the roses. And the pinelands. And the palm hammock – a sort of palm jungle (imagine…