Dolphin dive

Islamorada – Get Away to the Florida Keys – Part 2

Islamorada Part 2!  It’s such a glorious place that I just couldn’t bring myself to squeeze all of my tips into one post.  So, now that you’ve read my last post about Islamorada and where to stay, you can get into the business of planning things to do and where to eat.  And the kind of eating I’m talking about is the kind where you don’t have to prepare anything or even clean up – I know, it’s crazy!

Theater of the Sea

The Florida Keys have some of the best fishing and snorkeling in the world.  See my last Florida Keys post about snorkeling.  If you are more of a land-lubber then go explore some of the marine life that can be found in its waters.

Theater of the Sea
Theater of the Sea!

We reserved an afternoon to check out the Theater of the Sea, just a short drive north of our hotel. The Theater bills itself as a safe place for marine animals and an educational opportunity for us humans to learn more about conservation and environmentalism to protect the animals.  What it boils down to is a really fun way to interact with dolphins, sea lions and see some fish and reptiles closer than you would ever get, or want to get, in the wild.   We saw parrot fish, barracuda, green turtles, parrots, nurse sharks, tarpon, alligators and crocodiles.  My favorite feature of the Theater is they have 3 rotations of continuous animal shows throughout the day.  So, no matter what time you show up you won’t miss seeing anything.  They give you plenty of time to walk between the lush waterways and even stop and admire the orchids before the next showtime.  And, you don’t have to feel guilty about having to duck out with a child who just can’t sit still.  Our favorites were the dolphin and sea lion show because the animals were so entertaining and the trainers did a great job interacting with the guests.

All in all, it was super-educational and a fun way to take a break from the sun for an afternoon.  The admission price wasn’t too high either.  They have more personal interaction opportunities with mammals like the dolphin, but we thought it was a little steep – a 30 min swim was $195/pp.  Maybe a special birthday gift for your future marine biologist perhaps?  The biggest takeaways for us:

Parrots – Look pretty, are annoying
  • Alligators and crocodiles have huge jaws and have really big teeth.  Never get close to them.
  • Parrots do not make good pets, even though they are pretty.  It’s like owning a toddler who never grows up and will probably outlive you.
  • Dolphins are adorable and super smart!
  • Sea lions can be really funny if you feed them lots of fish.
  • Take care of the environment by not leaving trash at the beach and eat sustainable seafood.

    Nurse Sharks
    This is not an up close picture of tadpoles they are Nurse sharks and they are HUGE.
Dolphin pose
The dolphin show was our favorite by far! Lots of fun and minimal splashing.
Dolphin jump
The dolphin trainers took the show to new heights!

Tips for Theater of the Seas:

  1. Any of the local coupon books have a few dollars off the entrance fee to Theater of the Seas.  Grab one!
  2. Bring a bathing suit and towel if you want to check out the “beach” or swim with the dolphins, sea lions, rays or sharks.
  3. They have snack food, ice cream and hot dogs at Nicky’s Grille for a fair price.  You cannot bring in food or drinks so plan on bringing some money for beverages, especially if it is a hot day.
  4. The gift shop is large and has some cute beachy merchandise in addition to local crafts and artwork.
  5. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Dining Out in Islamorada

There are so many delicious places to eat in Islamorada and many are kid friendly because of the laid-back vibe in the Keys.  These are our favorites:

Green Turtle Inn
Get a side of grits with those eggs

Green Turtle Inn – They serve meals all day, but we really loved their breakfast.  And take it from a Southern girl, their grits are legit.  They have a sticky bun that is so sweet and sticky that you’ll have to (and want to) lick your fingers.

Hungry Tarpon – Located at Robbie’s marina, it’s a “must do” stop with the kids.  And, bonus if you eat at the Hungry Tarpon you don’t have to pay the $1 fee to go on the

Tarpon feeding
Grab some bait for the Tarpon and watch those fingers at Robbie’s Marina.

dock to look at the hundreds of hungry tarpon just waiting to be fed.  If you want to start your day by slowing it way down, go for the Trailer Trash Bloody Mary and enjoy a liquid breakfast with beef jerky and candied bacon.  The restaurant gets busy throughout the day so it may be best to go with kids earlier so you don’t have to explain why the clientele is so rowdy.

OO-Tray Restaurant – Sit outside and enjoy the music and sip a cocktail from the whisky bar.  Look over the farm to table menu, but promise me you will order the eggplant fries with honey rosemary.  And enjoy any of their local seafood dishes.  You will be smiling and tapping your toe in no time.

Lazy Days – If views of the water is what you’re after, head on over to Lazy Days for a dizzing aray of seafood options.  It ain’t fancy but it’s good and the beer is cold.


Helpful web sites

Cheeca Lodge

Theater of the Sea

Green Turtle Inn

Hungry Tarpon

OO-Tray Restaurant

Lazy Days

Islamorada “The Scoop”

Sustainable/responsible seafood

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