Florida Keys Facts

Interesting Facts about Florida Keys

Top 10 Florida Keys Facts

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          The Overseas Highway represents a remarkable engineering feat: 113 miles of roadway and 42 bridges leapfrogging across the water from key to key in a series of giant arches of concrete and steel. The Atlantic Ocean lies on one side of the highway, with Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on the other — providing drivers breathtaking vistas of open sea and sky. In 2009, the Overseas Highway was named an All-American Road by the National Scenic Byways program administered by the Federal Highway Administration.


           Visitors are just a finger tap away from comprehensive travel information and guidance from Key Largo to Key West with the new Florida Keys Essential Guide App, free to download at the iTunes store.


          Marathon is home to the Turtle Hospital, situated at mile marker 48.5 bayside; it is the world's only licensed veterinary hospital dedicated to the treatment of sea turtles. It was opened in 1986 with the goal of healing injured sea turtles and returning them to the wild.


           Dry Tortugas National Park, located 68 miles west of Key West, is home to Fort  Jefferson, the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. The classic red-brick structure is part of Key West's military history more than 130 years ago, in addition to Fort Zachary Taylor on the south shore. Fort Taylor, named for the country's 12th president, was built between 1845 and 1866. East Martello, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the best-preserved Civil War-era batteries in the United States.



           Key Largo is best known for John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, located at mile marker (MM) 102.5. It is the first underwater preserve in the United States, and celebrated its 50th anniversary on Dec.10, 2010.



          Travelers along the Overseas Highway will see mile markers, often called mileposts, on the right shoulder or median strip.  These are small green signs bearing white numbers, which begin with number - mile – 126, just south of Florida City. Mile markers decrease steadily from there to Key West, ending with the zero marker at the corner of Fleming and Whitehead streets. Awareness of these markers is useful, since Keys residents refer to them regularly when giving addresses. Visitors asking  for directions shouldn't be surprised to hear that the spot they're seeking is located at - or just before or just beyond - a given mile marker number.



           In January, 1912, railroad tycoon Henry Flagler completed his impossible "railroad that went to sea," connecting the Keys and Key West with the mainland for the first time and providing a way for wealthy visitors to travel to the Keys for warm-weather vacations. In 2012, the 100th anniversary of his arrival into Key West via rail is to be marked with a Keys-wide celebration.



           Stone crab season is open Oct. 15 – May 15 every year. Considered a renewable resource, the crabs are harvested only for their claws - the crabs can re-grow claws. While both claws can be taken lawfully if each is of legal size, defined as a 2.75-inch propodus (the larger, immovable part of the claw's pincer), harvesting only one claw is preferable for the crab's protection and feeding ability. Stone crab claws are delectable served either hot or cold, with mustard sauce.



           Key West is home to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, founded by the legendary shipwreck salvor who died in 1998. The museum holds the richest single collection of 17th-century maritime and shipwreck antiquities in the Western Hemisphere — most of them excavated from the waters around the island city.



           According to the International Game Fish Association, the Keys are home to more sportfishing records than any other destination in the world. Pelagic, (migratory ocean fish), flats and reef species are plentiful throughout the Keys, and the numerous world records attest to healthy and productive fisheries.


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Quick Facts:

Time Zone: GMT-5

            Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

            Country Dialing Code: 1

            Area Code: 305


Things to See in Florida Keys

  • Old Town Key West
  • Key West airport
  • Mallory Square
  • Key West boardwalk
  • Higgs Beach
  • Big Pine Key
  • Marathon Key
  • Islamorada
  • Pennekamp State Park

  • Florida Keys History

    More than a Century of Conservation

    Visitors are drawn to the Florida Keys to experience the islands' priceless natural resources. Protection of these resources began more than a century ago, demonstrating the region's commitment to environmental stewardship and a resolve to preserve them for future generations.

    In 1908 the Key West National Wildlife Refuge was designated. The refuge incorporates more than 2,000 land acres, all designated wilderness, as well as more than 200,000 acres of marine waters co-managed with the state of Florida.

    Accessible only by boat, the refuge is largely composed of unpopulated islands and marine waters located immediately west of Key West. A few islands have sandy beaches that provide critical nesting habitat for sea turtles. Many of the refuge's beaches, including those at the Marquesas Keys, are open during daylight hours for wildlife-oriented recreational uses such as wildlife observation, nature photography and environmental education. The waters around the refuge's islands and flats are prime territory for fishing, wildlife viewing, diving and snorkeling.

    The Key West National Wildlife Refuge, along with the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1938, are the last of the offshore raccoon-free islands in the lower Keys that provide safe nesting and breeding areas for great white herons and other migratory birds and wildlife. White herons are North America's largest wading bird and, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are found only in the Florida Keys and on the South Florida mainland.

    Stretching from Key West to just north of the Seven Mile Bridge in the Middle Keys, the refuge features more than 375 square miles of open water and islands in the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors' primary access is by kayak, canoe or shallow-draft boat, although the refuge manages lands on Upper Sugarloaf and Lower Sugarloaf Keys that are accessible by car.

    For several decades, leaders and citizens of Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys — located from the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge to just outside Key West — have advocated the responsible utilization and preservation of the abundant terrestrial and marine wildlife there. This commitment to conservation has earned the region the title of the Natural Keys.

    The Lower Keys are home to the National Key Deer Refuge, established in 1957 to protect and preserve habitats for wildlife, most notably the diminutive Key deer. A subspecies of the Virginia white-tailed deer, Key deer range in size from 45 to 80 pounds fully grown.

    Today the refuge encompasses more than 8,000 acres of prime Key deer territory ranging from Bahia Honda Key to the eastern shores of Sugarloaf Key, out to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. It is also a stopping point for thousands of migratory birds each year, and a winter home for many North American bird species including the roseate tern and peregrine falcon.

    Within the refuge are two interpretive nature trails. The Jack C. Watson Trail, named after the first refuge manager and a passionate protector of the Key deer, winds through pinelands into a tropical hardwood hammock. A second wheelchair-accessible route meanders through pine rocklands to a small wetland area.

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