Getting in/out of passenger van(s). Getting on/off a boat. Walking about 2 miles throughout the day in short installments; boardwalks, paved sidewalks, some uneven terrain. The drive is 92 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Boat ride is about a 1/2 hour.
At a warm, friendly restaurant featuring traditional home-cooked meals, we’ll have a plated meal with juice, coffee, tea, water, included.
We’ll ride with our Group Leader to the Environmental Education and Visitor Centre at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The Visitor Center features a 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium and other natural history exhibits providing examples of the park’s unique marine environment. After our short visit to the visitor center, we’ll embark on an expert-led field trip through the park, including a mile long walk through mangrove habitats over pathways and boardwalk. We’ll learn about the importance of mangroves to the reefs and why the mangrove system is the second most productive bio-zone on the planet as we walk inside this virtual jungle above the water. We’ll drive to the Pigeon Key Visitor Center and take a boat to the island, a U.S. Historic District, and see the 7 Mile Bridge. This tiny spit of land covering only 5 acres was a key site during construction of the Florida Over-Sea Railroad from 1908-1912. Up to 400 laborers at a time were based here, working long days building bridges that would link the Florida Keys, then returning to bunkhouses we can still see. Today, the non-profit Pigeon Key Foundation manages the island, hosting marine science field trips and other educational activities. One of the structures holds a small museum. We will have a presentation by a local expert and explore the historic buildings and the museum.
On Pigeon Key overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay, we’ll prepare our own sandwiches and salads from a spread with all the fixings; iced tea, juice, water included.
Returning to the mainland as we came, we’ll continue our journey to Key West. We expect to arrive and check in to our hotel by approximately 4:30 p.m.
We will walk to a local restaurant for a plated meal with soda, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
We’ll have a leisurely walk with our Group Leader to Mallory Square for the daily Sunset Celebration, a uniquely Key West event when people raise a glass in tribute to the sun and the celebration itself. In addition to locals and visitors, the participants might include artists, clowns, jugglers, magicians, musicians, psychics, and more as well as a variety of food vendors. Stay as long as you like! The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions about where to go and what to do such as entertainers worth seeing.