The Florida Keys are the scuba diving capital of the world, apparently. We had no idea. But the more we played there, the more we realized why people say it's not so family-friendly of a place. The best activities to do there are scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and other more adventurous things like parasailing, etc. None of which are very conducive to toddlers. We threw the idea back and forth of canoeing with our kids and wearing Molly, but decided against it. We also debated taking the kids to Theater of the Sea which is supposed to be amazing and you can swim with dolphins and sea otters. But then we decided it is SOO expensive and the kids won't even remember it they are so little still. There is SO MUCH that I want to go back and do some day, but we decided to keep it simple this trip. I made Sterling promise me that he'll take us back when our kids are teenagers and we can do ALL those things--especially scuba diving and swimming with the dolphins. I wanted to swim with a dolphin SO BAD. We even decided against the glass bottom boat tour, which had been recommended to us by several people we know, because the kids just enjoyed the beach SO much. We did, too.
The Keys are roughly one hundred miles long, from start to finish. To keep things simple and easy, and also because there is only one highway that goes the length of them, everyone just goes by the mile marker. The farthest tip of south is mile marker 0. We stayed in Key Largo, the closest key to normal contiguous Florida, so we were about 100 miles away. It took two hours to get to Key West from Key Largo. It would have been fun to be closer, especially because I loved Key West so much, but it wasn't a bad drive at all. It's actually really fun because you watch the ocean the whole way and you get to drive over the 7 mile bridge! The kids were in heaven because we dug out the dvd player we got for the move to Florida, and they just watched movies! That's more screen time than I usually allow so they thought it was great!
|Sterling looked back and Ruthie was watching her movie in my hat. I love it.|
|That is the old highway. I thought it was funny how it abruptly ends at spots.|
|Sterling was a big fan of the little tiny islands we drove past. We have a million of these photos, haha.|
|Sponge man! Note her Florida Keys shirt. We stopped at a crazy 60's, Bob Marley, alligator-keeping shop the day before and got everyone $4 shirts. It was awesome. Ruth loves her shirt SOOOO much, it's the cutest.|
|See that girl up in the ropes?!|
|A diagram of Dry Tortugas National Park, where I REALLY want to scuba dive someday!!!!|
When we got to Key West we just wandered along the edge of the docks, it was so much fun too! We saw all the crazy little shops and all the incredibly cool sail boats and just had a great time. We debated back and forth on paying for an hour and a half train ride, which would get us into the aquarium there, but voted to go to the beach longer instead. I am glad we did!
While walking along the docks we saw a MANATEE!!!! So close we could have reached down and touched it!!!!
Ruth would have stayed there all day watching the manatee. She was the best fish finder! She would walk scarily close to the edge and watch the water and was always the first to notice the big fish.
|Molly's own boat!|
We stopped to eat here out of desperation to keep the kids happy. (They really only wanted to be at the beach, and it was really hot.) Sterling picked it out because the food looked so good on other people's plates as we walked by. It was DIVINE. Every restaurant boasted fresh fish, obviously, but this one had a dish on the menu that had won all these prizes and MasterChef awards and things. Maybe post-med school we could buy that dish, instead we got some fish and chips that were AMAZING. Sterling and I both agree that what really stole the show though, was their tartar sauce. I have never tasted anything so good.
|Someone in our ward handed down this shirt. Very appropriate.|
|Where we ate.|
|We saw a couple of these guys.|
|I REALLY wanted this picture. I had no idea we would have to stand in line to take it! Luckily, we were in the shade for the majority of the line and it went really quick. Still happy I got the photo.|
There was a lot more to see in Key West, but really, what's better than the beach? Especially when you have a 3 yr old and 2 yr old who are happiest when digging in sand. It is the perfect family activity. We went to Fort Myers State Park and my only regret is that we can't go every. single. day. You have to pay to get into the park, but it's cheaper than paying for parking in Key West, so definitely worth it. The park was beautiful, it had a little concessions stand and bathrooms and things and the beach was AMAZING. I want to live there.
|Look at that water. It is AMAZING.|
|All in a row.|
|Hard at work.|
|Isn't it just the MOST beautiful?!|
|That boat had red sails and I thought it was so awesome.|
|I wanted to stay until sunset, because I know it would have been incredible, but the kids were so exhausted and it was almost their bedtime and we still had the drive home.|
|For some reason I thought it was so adorable to see them munching apples side by side. They really are just the greatest friends, I love them!|