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If you are lucky enough to be getting out of the cold this winter on a cruise out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale or you just want to stay within the U.S. and not have to worry about high airline prices and passports, the Florida Keys might be a good pre or post cruise add on or a quick winter getaway.

Key Largo is only 58 miles away from Miami and the furthest of the Florida Keys, is Key West, is 159 miles from Miami so if you’re cruising out of Miami or just want to take advantage of non stop, cheaper flights, you can fly into Miami and rent a car.

Here are 5 great suggestions on what to see and do in the Keys from Nancy Schretter, the Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.

1. Sail Away on a Catamaran. Catamaran cruises are a relaxing way to spend the day and get a close-up view of the Keys’ nearby reef and crystal blue waters. These ultra-stable, roomy boats take guests out to North America’s only living coral reef. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to go snorkeling with tropical fish or laze on the deck soaking up the sun. Operators such as Sundance Watersports at Hawks Cay Resort offer sunset sails as well.

2. Take A Hike. Those who love nature should plan to spend a few hours hiking the many nature trails at Crane Point Hammock in Marathon. Spanning sixty-three acres and owned by the Florida Keys Land and Sea Trust, Crane Point features the Museum of Natural History and Nature Center, a gift shop, miles of hiking trails, a Butterfly Garden, Adderley House – the oldest abode outside of Key West, and the Marathon Wild Bird Center.

3. Swim With the Dolphins. Dolphin encounters are very popular with cruise passengers and land-based vacationers alike. The Florida Keys have a number of facilities where guests can swim and interact with dolphins. These include Dolphins Plus and Dolphin Cove in Key Largo, Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, Dolphin Research Center in Marathon, and Dolphin Connection at Hawks Cay Resort. Each place offers slightly different programs and approaches, ranging from dock or shallow water encounters all the way to Trainer or Researcher for a Day experiences. Programs book quickly, so make your reservations as far in advance as possible.

4. Visit the Sea Turtles. Located at Mile Marker 48.5, the Turtle Hospital in Marathon rescues, rehabilitates and releases sea turtles. In conjunction with the University of Florida, the Turtle Hospital also conducts turtle disease-related research as well. Ninety-minute guided tours of this fascinating facility are available several times each day. At the end of the educational tours, guests are invited to feed the Turtle Hospital’s residents. These tours are very popular and advance reservations are strongly advised.

5. Paddle Through the Mangroves. Kayaking around the Keys’ mangrove islands and shallow flats is a popular back country adventure. Participants can kayak at a relaxed, comfortable pace and learn more about the wildlife inhabiting this area. Tour operators provide information on this unique environment as you kayak through the Keys’ tranquil waters. Bill Keogh of Big Pine Kayak Adventures offers a variety of outings that work well for just about any age group. His custom motorboat excursions and back country tours are a great way to see lots of wildlife.

Ms. Schretter also recommended these dining tips for Florida Keys:

Vacationers can’t leave the Conch Republic without tasting a few of its mouthwatering delicacies. Key Lime Pie is Florida’s official dessert, so make sure to try some while you’re here. Ma’s Fish Camp in Islamorada serves some of the best key lime pie with meringue in the Florida Keys. Their fresh fish tacos and Mahi-Mahi sandwiches are superb, too. If you’d prefer your key lime pie without any meringue, make sure to stop at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen in Key Largo. Lobster lovers should plan to drop by Keys Fisheries in Marathon to sample their delicious lobster reuben – it’s delicious.

As My Vacation Lady is writing this post, it is currently 24 degrees in New Jersey and 66 degrees in Key West.  Where would you rather be?

Contact My Vacation Lady for help planning your vacation or honeymoon.