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As the Southernmost island chain in the U.S., the Florida Keys are the epitome of a tropical paradise with white-sand beaches and breathtaking sunsets. With more than 800 keys in total, the region is divided into five areas: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine and the Lower Keys, and Key West. Explore what each region has to offer by taking a virtual tour of the Keys below — check out the video and then five more divine stops.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Florida Keys

 

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037 • (305) 451-6300

Key Largo’s star attraction is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater preserve in the United States, now incorporated within the National Marine Sanctuary. These protected areas feature more than 50 varieties of delicate corals and more than 600 species of fish. Pennekamp, located at mile marker 102.5, offers a variety of water-related activities including scuba, snorkeling and glass-bottom boat excursions to the coral reef.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Florida Keys

The boat trip from a shoreside base at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a popular activity for tourists to observe underwater marine life without getting their feet wet. Image: Bob Care / Florida Keys News Bureau

Morada Way Arts & Cultural District

151 Morada Way, Islamorada, FL 33036 • 140 Morada Way, Islamorada, FL 33036 • (305) 664-2471

Fine arts, music and culinary nuances of Islamorada are reflected in a burgeoning arts and cultural district that showcases eclectic galleries rich with affordable original artwork. A group of Islamorada galleries, restaurants and shops have formed the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District, whose mission is to feature regularly scheduled casual gatherings where visitors and residents can discover, enjoy and obtain stimulating, one-of-a-kind fine art. Offerings include monthly evening “walkabouts” for residents and visitors to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Islamorada and an Art Walk on the third Thursday of each month featuring receptions with national and Keys-based artists showcased in galleries.

Third Thursday Artwalk in the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District

The Morada Way Arts & Cultural District‘s Art Walk features receptions with national and local artists. Image: Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

The Turtle Hospital

2396 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050 • (305) 743-2552

The Turtle Hospital, situated at mile marker 48.5 bayside in Marathon, is dedicated to the treatment of sea turtles. It opened in 1986 to heal injured sea turtles and return them to the wild. The hospital’s mission is to educate the public through outreach programs with local schools, conduct and assist with research that aids sea turtles in conjunction with state universities, and work toward environmental legislation that makes beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles. Visitors can take guided educational tours of the Turtle Hospital facilities and sea turtle rehabilitation area.

The Turtle Hospital in Florida Keys

The Turtle Hospital gives visitors an up-close look at its efforts to heal injured sea turtles. Image: Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Nature Center

30587 Overseas Hwy., Big Pine Key, FL 33043 • (305) 872-0774

The new 1,840-square-foot Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Nature Center, near mile marker 30.5, showcases the Keys’ four federally protected refuges: National Key Deer, the Key West, Great White Heron and Crocodile Lake national wildlife refuges. Visitors can get information on Keys wildlife, habitats, and places to explore and volunteer.

National Key Deer Refuge

Explore the Keys’ extensive wildlife by visiting Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Nature Center. Image: Rob O’Neal / Florida Keys News Bureau

Sunset Celebration

400 Wall St., Key West, FL 33040 • (786) 565-7448

Sunset Celebration is a nightly “street carnival” at Mallory Square, overlooking Key West Harbor. It features arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, food carts, psychics, musicians and other entertainers. Crowds of visitors from around the world flock to the celebration each evening to observe and applaud the setting of the sun over the water.

Sunset Celebration in Key West, FL

No trip to the Florida Keys is complete without heading to Mallory Square for its Sunset Celebration. Image: Bob Krist / Florida Keys News Bureau

Check out more amazing Southern destinations in our “Virtual Vacation” series. Click HERE!

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