The Best of the Florida Keys with bayside vistas and access to Atlantic adventures at The Hammocks at Marathon

On Site at The Hammocks:
Jerry's Charter Services:Located at the Marina at the Hammocks.Enjoy your fishing adventures with Capt. Jerry Drangmeister on the “Whiz’rd of Oz”, a 31’ Pacemaker Sports Fisherman, fully equipped with outriggers, down riggers and the latest electronic equipment.- 30 Years Experience as a charter fishing captain- Fully licensed, Coast Guard approvedRentals to ensure everything you need to enjoy your Keys visit:- Boats           - Jet Skis- Kayaks         - Bicycles
Full  List of Charter Companies at The Hammocks Marina:Captain                      Company                                        Contact NbrNick Aldacosta          Nautical Wheeler Fishing Charter   305-743-4851 / 305-393-2182Jimmy Gagliardini     High Caliber Fishing Charter           305-395-0915Janet Vermette         Top Notch Fishing Charter              305-289-8999 / 800-775-2646Jerry Drangmeister    The Whiz Fishing Charter               305-289-7298 / 800-775-2646Danny Strub              Blue Water Fishing Charter            305-743-3687 / 305-731-0178
Sickles Motor cycle Rentals Specializing in Harley Davidson305-743-0445/305-218-45052040 Overseas Highway, Marathon Fl.www.SicklesMotorcycles.com
Activities nearby and throughout the Keys:
State Parks                          Dolphins & Nature    Upper Keys                        History & Culture    Middle & Lower Keys 
Golf:Sombrero Country ClubMarathon, Florida 33050-0969Phone: 305-743-2551 Fax: 305-743-6726www.sombrerocc.com
Dolphins & Nature
Dolphin CoveMile Marker 102 Key Largo     (305) 451-4060www.dolphinscove.comSwim with the dolphins in a natural lagoon at this marine education facility. Everglades tours and sunset cruises are also available for an additional charge. New this year is a “wade” program for children 3 years and up. Open 8 am- 5pm daily; swims last 1 ½ hours.
Dolphins PlusMile Marker 99.5  Key Largo  (305) 451-1993http://www.dolphinsplus.com/Get up close and personal with dolphins and sea lions and learn more about them in a safe, natural ocean water environment. Open daily except Christmas, from 8am- 5pm; sessions last 1 ½ to 2 hours. Natural dolphin swim; structured dolphin swim; Cuddle with Castaway the Dolphin.
Florida Keys Wild Bird CenterMile Marker 93.6 (bay)  Key Largo  (305) 852-4486http://www.fkwbc.org/This scenic, wooded rescue center is home to a variety of sick or injured birds, including hawks, owls, herons, pelicans, and more; plus healthy wild birds like to hang out here too. Hike the boardwalk trail to the bay and watch volunteers feed a flock of hungry pelicans everyday at 3:30 pm. Open daily during daylight hours. Free, but donations are accepted.
Theater of the SeaMile Marker 84.5 (ocean)  Islamorada   (305) 664-2431http://www.theaterofthesea.com/Watch dolphin, parrot, and sea lion shows; take a boat ride or guided marine life tour; swim and sunbathe at a private lagoon; stock up on souvenirs at the gift shop. Interactive programs include opportunities to meet and swim with dolphins and other sea creatures. The park is available for weddings and other evening events. Open daily from 10 am-5pm; first ticket sold at 9:30am; last sold at 3:30pm; takes at least 2 ½ hours to see all the shows. Interactive programs available for an additional fee. Discount coupons available.
Dolphin Research Center58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key   (305) 289-1121http://www.dolphins.org/The Dolphin Research Center offers unscripted narrated behavior sessions and educational presentations about every half hour throughout the day. In addition, there are a variety of programs in which visitors can interact with the center’s 19 dolphins, including the Dolphin Encounter, in which visitors age 5 and up are able to play with the dolphins in their lagoon for 20 minutes. The other interactive programs are Dolphin Dip, Researcher or Trainer for a Day, Paint with a Dolphin, Play with a Dolphin, and Meet a Dolphin.  Open from 9:00 am- 4:30 pm daily, except major holidays. Call for General admission kids; age 3 and under free; coupons available online.
Dolphin ConnectionMile Marker 61    Hawk’s Cay, Duck Key   1-888-814-9154http://www.dolphinconnection.com/Dolphin Connection is an accredited organization working for the advancement of marine mammal education and research. It offers programs ranging from Dockside Dolphins to Trainer for a Day.
Crane Point Museum, Nature Center and Historic SiteMile Marker 50.5, bayside  Marathon  (305) 743-9100http://www.cranepoint.net/An unmatched natural treasure awaits visitors to this 60-plus acre site as they walk among 160 species of native plants, relax with waterfront views and see the Keys’ oldest house outside Key West. There are trails galore, a museum and a gift shop in this pristine waterfront hammock. Kids particularly enjoy the saltwater tanks where they can observe and handle creatures found in the keys waters, and the Marathon Wild Bird Center, where Director Kelly Grinter and volunteers care for sick and injured birds. Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 pm; self-guided tours take from 2 to 4 hours; call for information about guided tours.
The Turtle Hospital2396 Overseas Highway, Marathon  (305) 743-2552http://www.turtlehospital.org/The Turtle Hospital is a working hospital where visitors can learn about turtles and the impact people’s actions can have on the environment. Visitors must be accompanied by a guide. Daily tours include an educational presentation, a tour of the treatment rooms and a visit to the waterfront enclosure, where they learn about each patient and get to help feed some of them. The Turtle Hospital is offering memberships; prices vary so call or visit for details. Open daily with tours starting at 10 am, 1 pm and 4 pm; tours last 90 minutes.
The Marathon Aqua RanchMile Marker 59, Grassy Key   (305) 743-6135 http://www.marathonaquaranch.com/At Marathon Aqua Ranch and Symbiologics, visitors can snorkel in a landlocked saltwater lake stocked with marine life that’s indigenous to the Keys, and maybe even receive an impromptu underwater belly rub from a 5-foot long, 100-pound cobia. Educational tours currently take a look at the working aquaculture area, which consists of 20 large tanks that are home to thousands of cobia in various stages of development at any given time, and a private 7.5 acre, 65-foot deep saltwater lake. Activities include kayaking, fish feeding, a fish encounter and a “Snorkeling Fish Frenzy” during which visitors can snorkel and perhaps even touch one or more of the giant cobia swimming freely in the area. Open 9 am-5 pm daily.
National Key Deer RefugeMile Marker 30   Big Pine Key(Visitor Center is in the Big Pine Key Shopping Center off Key Deer Boulevard) http://www.nationalkeydeer.fws.gov/More than 9,000 acres of pine rocklands, tropical hardwood hammocks, mangrove forests and freshwater and saltmarsh wetlands that are home to the diminutive, endangered key deer and 16 other protected species. Visit the popular Blue Hole or the Jack C. Watson Nature Trail off Key Deer Boulevard, or take a walk on the dozens of other trails that criss-cross the refuge’s lands on Big Pine, No Name and other islands of the Lower Keys. Visitor Center is open 9 am-4 pm Monday through Friday; refuge lands open from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.
Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center33 E. Quay Rd., Key West(Truman Waterfront next to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park)(305) 809-4750www.floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.htmlVisitors can traverse over 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, including a replica of the world’s only under-sea laboratory, Aquarius. Kids love the interactive touch screen computer displays. Gift shop. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am- 4 pm; tours take up to one hour. Free admission, parking.
Key West AquariumMallory Square, Key West   (305) 296-2051http://www.keywestaquarium.com/Guides escort visitors through this aquarium, which is home to a variety of sea critters indigenous to the Florida Keys. A touch tank and shark petting are kids’ favorites. Open daily from 10 am- 6 pm; with last tour starting at 4:30 pm; tours take about 45 minutes.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory1316 Duval Street, Key West   (305) 296-2988http://www.keywestbutterfly.com/Lush tropical foliage, soothing waterfalls, exotic birds, and of course, hundreds of butterflies. Kids enjoy the learning center with its cocoon video and poison dart frog exhibit. Gift shop and art gallery. Open daily; conservatory hours 9 am – 4:30 pm; gift shop and gallery hours 9 am- 5:30 pm; tours take one hour. Tickets are good for both day of purchase and the following day.
Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden5210 College Road, Key West   (305) 294-1504http://www.keywestbotanicalgarden.org/Unique tropical forest and gardens populated by birds, butterflies and flowers. Hosts periodic wine tastings- call for details. Kids enjoy seeing lizards, turtles, and butterflies. Pets welcome on a leash. Open daily except major holidays; 10 am- 4 pm; self-guided tours take approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours to cover the five trails available at this time.
Nancy Forrester’s Secret GardenOne Freeschool Lane, Key West  (305) 294-0015http://www.nancyforrester.com/Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in this beautiful botanical garden in the heart of Old Town. Rare and endangered plants thrive in this unique, rainforest-like environment. Choose from a guided or self-guided tour. Art gallery on premises.
 
History & Culture
History of Diving Museum Mile Marker 83 (bayside)  Islamorada  (305) 664-9737http://www.divingmuseum.com/Museum founder Dr. Joe Bauer himself described the 6,000 square feet museum as “the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical diving apparatus”, and no one has disputed the assertion. Open daily except some major holidays, from 10am-5pm (until 8 pm Fridays); tours take from 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Pigeon KeyMile Marker 47   Marathon  (305) 743-5999http://www.pigeonkey.net/Originally the home of the crews building and maintaining Henry Flagler’s railroad, the 4.5 acre island now features a museum and several historic buildings, as well as serving as a center of marine education. New public exhibits focus on marine life and the Keys ecosystem. The on-island narrated tour lasts about two hours. Visitors are welcome to linger to snorkel or picnic; there’s gear available on the island and plenty of picnic tables. Fishing is permitted, though it is catch and release only. The island is open 9:30 am- 4 pm daily. The ferry leaves at 10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm, from behind the gift shop on Knight’s Key (Oceanside). The last ferry leaves the island at 4 pm.
Audubon House and Tropical Gardens205 Whitehead St., Key West  (305) 294-2116http://www.audubonhouse.com/Enjoy the works of John James Audubon as well as mid-19th century antiques in this historic home surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Kids are free to roam the gardens, and will like seeing toys from the 1800’s. There is a gift shop as well. Open daily at 9:30 am with last tour beginning at 4:30 pm; tours last 40-45 minutes.
Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum907 Whitehead Street, Key West     (305) 294-1136http://www.hemmingwayhome.com/Tour the historic home where Hemmingway lived and wrote for over 10 years. Kids enjoy meeting descendents of Papa’s famous 6-toed cats. Bookstore and gift shop. Open daily 9 am- 5 pm; speaking tours last 30 minutes.
Harry S. Truman Little White House111 Front Street, Key West  (305) 294-9911http://www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com/Tour this historic home used by 6 presidents. Open daily at 9 am unless it is being used for a government function. Last tour begins at 4:30 pm; tours start every 15 minutes and last approximately 1 hour.
Harry S. Truman Little White House410 Caroline Street, Key West   (305) 296-3573http://www.heritagehousemuseum.org/Enjoy a guided tour of the home and museum collection, as well as the Robert Frost winter cottage and orchid gardens. Open 10 am- 4 pm Monday through Saturday. Last tour begins approximately 3:30 pm. Tours last 30 minutes.
Key West Shipwreck Historeum1 Whitehead Street, Key West   (305) 292-8990http://www.shipwreckhistoreum.com/Discover Key West’s maritime heritage and learn how it became the country’s richest city. Kids enjoy the live presentations and the 60’ lookout tower. Open daily from 9:30 am- 5 pm with last tour starting at 4:40 pm; tours last 35-40 minutes.
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum200 Greene Street, Key West   (305) 294-2633http://www.melfisher.org/View one of the world’s richest collections of maritime artifacts and shipwreck booty in this museum founded by renowned treasure hunter Mel Fisher. Open daily at 9:30 am, with tickets for the last tour of the day sold at 5 pm.
USS Mohawk CGC Memorial MuseumTruman Waterfront,  Key West    (305) 292-5072http://www.ussmohawk.org/The USS Mohawk CGC Memorial Museum is berthed near the Eco-Discovery Center. The ship served in World War II. Hours are 10am- 4 pm Monday through Saturday.
Pirate Soul Museum524 Front Street, Key West   (305) 292-1113http://www.piratesoul.com/View this collection of authentic artifacts from the Golden Age of Piracy in a self-guided or audio tour. Kids will like the interactive displays. On the 19th of each month, museum goers can tour the facility with a live pirate guide, and sample grog in the courtyard afterward (virgin grog provided for the kiddies). Open Monday through Friday 9 am- 7 pm; Saturday and Sunday 10 am- 7 pm; tours take about one hour.
San Carlos Institute516 Duval Street, Key West   (305) 294-3887http://www.institutesancarlos.org/The institute was founded in 1871 as a Cuban educational, civic and patriotic center. It now serves as a museum and cultural center. Open noon to 6 pm Friday through Sunday. Admission is free.
 
State Parks UPPER KEYS
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State ParkOn County Road 905; one-quarter mile north of US 1’s Mile Marker 106.  (305)  451-1202This park contains one of the largest areas of West Indian tropical hardwood hammocks in the world, and boasts 84 protected species of animals and plants. There is a self-guided nature walk, which includes a native plant butterfly garden and picnic tables. Guided tours are sometimes available. Six miles of backcountry trails require permits (currently closed for restoration work).  Open 8am until sundown daily. Honor fee:
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State ParkMile Marker 102.5  (305) 451-1202One of America’s most famous state parks; Pennekamp was the first underwater park in the country. Snorkel, scuba, and glass bottom boat trips run out to the reef daily. Fishing, kayaking camping, swimming, picnicking, hiking and sunning; plus a nature center with theater and aquarium, all make Pennekamp a “one-stop shop” for family fun in the Upper Keys.  Open daily 8am until sundown.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State ParkMile Marker 85.5  (305) 664-2540Stone from the quarries on Windley Key was used to construct Henry Flagler’s overseas railroad in the early 1900’s. Today the walls of the 8-foot deep quarries reveal cross sections of age-old coral, and visitors can also view some of the machinery that helped dig them out. Hike the trails, enjoy a picnic and explore the park’s visitor’s center.  The Education Center is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Friday through Sunday. Tours available; call for details.
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park Mile Marker 78.5 (bay)  (305)664-2540The best way to experience this treasure is by ranger-led tour. Home to one of the Keys’ last remaining virgin tropical hardwood hammocks, Lignumvitae Key was purchased by a wealthy Miami chemist in 1919. On it, he built a house with a windmill for electricity and a cistern to hold fresh water. Today the house serves as the park’s visitor’s center. Paddler’s and power-boaters welcome 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Thursday through Monday. Ranger-led tours are at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Indian Key Historic State Park Mile Marker 78.5 (ocean)  (305) 664-2540This island’s dock was replaced over the summer, easing access to this historic island, once the Dade County seat. Swimming, sunbathing and hiking the trails and ruins are the chief activities. Well-placed signage explains the island’s story. There are no regularly scheduled boat trips or tours, but paddlers and power-boaters are welcome. There are no services on the island. Boat rentals are available from nearby Robbie’s Marina, (305) 664-9814.
San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State ParkMile Marker 78.5 (ocean)  (305) 664-2540GPS coordinates 24 degrees 51.802’N, 80 degrees 40.795’W mark the spot for great snorkeling or diving over the shipwrecked San Pedro, a 287-ton Spanish ship that sank in a hurricane in the 1700’s. The remains of the wreck, which have been enhanced with replica cannons, an anchor and an information plaque, lie in only 18 feet of water.
Long Key State ParkMile Marker 67.5  (305) 664-4815Anglers in search of the elusive “gray ghost” may just find one for the record books in the shallows off this pretty park. Bonefish abound here, as do wildflowers, birds, and fresh ocean breezes. Visitors can canoe through a chain of lagoons or walk two trails. The park features oceanfront campsites. Canoe rentals are also available. Interpretive programs and guided walks are available during season; call for schedule. Open daily
8:00 am until sundown.
 
State ParksMIDDLE & LOWER KEYS
Curry Hammock State ParkMile Marker 56.2    (305) 289-2690  www.floridastateparks.org/curryhammockNo longer trapped behind a seawall, this park’s beach is ideal for snorkeling or swimming. There are also kayak rentals and guided kayak tours, guided nature walks and camping. An ample picnic area and a playground make this a fun park for families. Its natural collection of hardwood hammocks, mangroves and wetlands on both sides of US 1 make it one of the best birding destinations in the country. Open 8 am to sundown daily.
Bahia Honda State ParkMile Marker 37  (305) 872-2353 www.floridastateparks.org/bahiahonda/default.cfmThe park features several natural beaches, once voted among the country’s best. The park has two nature trails; an air conditioned nature center with aquarium and environmental activities; picnic spots; concessions; a swimming lagoon; and an array of seasonal programs, including nature walks and talks. The park’s concessionaire runs daily snorkel trips out to Looe Key Reef. Camping and cabins are available. The Old Bahia Honda Bridge is partially open to foot traffic and allows access to a stunning island vista. Open 8 am to sundown daily.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State ParkLocated at the end of Southard Street in Key West    (305) 292-6713This park’s centerpiece, Fort Taylor, is also a national historic landmark. Construction on the fort, which was built to defend Key West Harbor, began in 1845. Civil war and pirate reenactments are held annually, but it’s the everyday activities that make the park a great destination for families. There’s a lovely beach for sunning, swimming, and snorkeling. Fishing, kayaking and picnicking are also popular pastimes. Guided tours of the park are also available.
Fort Jefferson70 miles west of Key West in the Dry Tortugas This treasure trove of US history also offers some great snorkeling and bird-watching- not to mention an interesting cruise over and back. A national park, Fort Jefferson is served by two ferry services that depart from Key West, the Yankee Freedom (http://www.yankeefreedom.com/) and Sunny Days (http://www.sunnydayskeywest.com/). Open daily, weather permitting.

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