2801
Florida

Keys, Everglades & Dry Tortugas: Human History & Outdoor Study

Discover the Florida Keys with a master naturalist as you visit protected islands, explore coral reefs, taste local cuisine and enjoy lectures on shipwrecks, pirates and Native Peoples.
Program No. 2801RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
2,249
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7 days
6 nights
15 meals
6 B 4 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Key Largo
D
Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Hotel check-in will be available beginning at 4:00 PM. PROGRAM REGISTRATION & ORIENTATION: We will gather at 5:30 pm in our reserved room at the hotel (at the Welcome Center in the downstairs area) for introductions and an orientation to the program. We will provide an informative overview of the program including a review of the updated daily schedule, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to weather and other local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: The remainder of the evening is yours to continue getting to know your fellow participants. Stroll along the boardwalk or just relax and get ready for tomorrow. Because your days will be filled with adventures and activities, we are not scheduling evening programs. You will see and learn a lot and will need "down" time to rest and prepare for what each day offers.

DAY
2
Everglades National Park
Key Largo
B,L,D
Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo

Activity note: Walking about 1 miles throughout the day over paved sidewalks and boardwalks; our afternoon hike destination is weather and time dependent. The drive is approximately 45 miles, about 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast at a warm, friendly, restaurant, featuring a casual atmosphere and traditional, home cooked meals.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Join us on a visit to Everglades National Park's, "River of Grass.” Take a guided walk along the Anhinga Trail while learning about local animals and the impact of human development on the Everglades ecosystem. Excellent birding and photo opportunities.

Lunch: Enjoy a delicious and healthy picnic lunch including fresh salad and/or sandwiches at the park.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: After lunch we'll go on a short hike around a lake and bird rookery or in the pine flat woods and grass prairie. Location depends on time available and weather considerations. Before returning to the hotel we'll stop at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center to peruse exhibits, a short video and the Everglades/Natural Florida book store.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY
3
John Pennekamp State Park, 7 Mile Bridge, Mallory Square
Key West Florida
B,L,D
24 North Hotel - Key West

Activity note: Walking about 1 miles throughout the day in short installments; some uneven terrain and boardwalks; paved sidewalks. The drive is approximately 92 miles, about 2.5 hours. Getting on/off a boat; the ride is about a 1/2 hour.

Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast at a warm, friendly, restaurant, featuring a casual atmosphere and traditional, home cooked meals.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: This morning we'll drive to John Pennekamp Visitor Center and Aquarium. 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 a guided field trip through the park, including a short walk through mangrove habitats over pathways and boardwalk. 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. FIELD TRIP: After our guided walk we'll drive to Pigeon Key where we'll take a trip through time as we explore buildings built in 1909 to house more than 400 workers, working 14-hours a day, six days a week to build Henry Flagler's Florida Overseas Railroad. Ride the Pigeon Key boat (a 20 minutes ride) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and you'll cross beneath the new 7-Mile Bridge and a 2.2-mile segment of the old Seven-Mile bridge! Once on the Island, we will explore the historic buildings and the Museum.

Lunch: Enjoy a delicious and healthy picnic lunch in Pigeon Key overlooking Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay. The lunch include fresh salad and/or sandwiches.

Afternoon: Take the boat back to US-1 and continue our journey to Key West. HOTEL CHECK IN: 4:30 PM Approximate arrival to the Hotel in Key West.

Dinner: We will drive to a local restaurant for dinner this evening.

Evening: FIELD TRIP:Drive to Mallory Square for the Sunset Celebration, a unique Key West icon to enjoy at your leisure - ask coordinator for an update on entertainers worth seeing. After Sunset either stay on Duval Street or walk back to the hotel.

DAY
4
Yankee Freedom, Dry Tortugas National Park & Fort Jefferson
Key West Florida
B,L,D
24 North Hotel - Key West

Activity note: Early departure from the hotel for a drive walk to the dock to board the Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry, a large 150 passenger catamaran with an air conditioned lower deck and an open air top deck; restrooms on board. Getting on/off the boat; the ride is about 2.5 hours. Walking about 2 miles, about 1 hour, throughout the day on group activities with some periods of standing; some uneven terrain and boardwalks.

Breakfast: Early departure from hotel for walk to the boat to Dry Tortugas National Park ferry. Continental breakfast buffet on board the ship at 8:00 AM, including bagels, cereal, yogurt, fruits, and juices. Boat is a large 150 passenger catamaran with air conditioned lower deck and open air top deck.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: En route to Dry Tortugas National Park, our onboard naturalist will give you an orientation about the area and the national park's surroundings. During your voyage, you will enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Marquesa Islands, Boca Grande, have an opportunity to see turtles and dolphins, and listen to pirate legends. Upon arrival to the Park, enjoy a guided walking tour of Ft. Jefferson and its role in history as you learn about its role in US history.

Lunch: Buffet lunch inside of the Catamaran.

Afternoon: OPEN ACTIVITIES: After lunch enjoy snorkeling, bird watching, a naturalist guided moat walk or just relax on a rarity in the Keys - a sandy beach. (Birders - from late February the adjoining Bush Key is closed to visitors to enable the sooty terns and other unique birds to nest undisturbed. Activity however can often be viewed through volunteer rangers spotting scopes.)

Dinner: After returning to hotel take some time to freshen up. Dinner will be at local restaurant.

Evening: After dinner, your group leader will provide ideas, recommendations and brochures of things to do on your free day in Key West. Afterwards, enjoy a walk on Duval Street or relax at the hotel.

DAY
5
Free Time in Key West
Key West Florida
B
24 North Hotel - Key West

Breakfast: Continental breakfast the hotel including an assortment of cereal, fruit, bagels, pastries, eggs, juice and coffee.

Morning: On your own. Spend the day visiting Key West sites that appeal to you. Highly recommended for easy access and background history of Key West is the Old Town Trolley, which allows you get on and off at the places you wish to visit. Or enjoy a ride on the famous Conch Train for an in-depth, 2 hour narrated tour of Old Key West. Tickets are available at the front desk of the hotel.

Lunch: On your own to sample from the many restaurants Key West has to offer.

Afternoon: At your leisure. Key West is full of interesting places to visit and explore. For recommendations of things to do, ask your your Group Leader, Road Scholar Coordinator or hotel staff who will be more than happy to offer suggestions based on your interests: take a self-guided walking tour of the city; enjoy a Fury Water Adventure such as a sunset sail cruse, parasailing or a glass bottom boat ride; take the opportunity to visit the Audubon House or the Key West Aquarium; or simply return to the hotel to relax at the pool or in the jacuzzi spa.

Dinner: Dinner is on your own to sample from the many restaurants Key West has to offer.

Evening: After dinner enjoy Key West's lively night scene. Chose from visiting or revisiting your favorite watering hole; take in a cabaret revue or jazz venue; stroll some quieter neighborhoods on a Ghost Walk or simply saunter down to the Westin Marina or Old Seaport to see a visiting celebrity's luxury yacht.

DAY
6
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Windley Key State Park
Key Largo
B,L,D
Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo

Activity note: Walking about 1 miles, approximately .75 hours, on uneven and paved terrain. The drive is approximately 92 miles, about 2.5 hours

Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel including an assortment of cereal, fruit, bagels, pastries, eggs, juice and coffee. .

Morning: HOTEL CHECK OUT: return your room keys and bring luggage to the front. FIELD TRIP: On our way back to Key Largo, we'll stop to visit Florida's southernmost state park and learn about U.S. Military history and the role that Fort Zachary Taylor played in it. The fort was one of a series built in the mid-1800s to defend the nation's southeastern coastline. Completed in 1866, Fort Zachary Taylor played important roles in the Civil War and Spanish-American War.

Lunch: Enjoy a delicious and healthy picnic lunch including fresh salad and/or sandwiches at the beautiful Sombrero Beach.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Visit the Windley Key Fossil Reef State Park and walk along eight-foot-high quarry walls to see cross sections of ancient coral. Learn about the history of the quarry and its operation -- an important part of Florida's 20th century history -- as you walk among samples of the quarry machinery have been preserved at the park. Formed of Key Largo limestone, fossilized coral, this land was sold to the Florida East Coast Railroad, which used the stone to build Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad in the early 1900s. Following the completion of the railroad, the quarry was used until the 1960s to produce exquisite pieces of decorative stone called Keystone.

Dinner: Return to the Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo and enjoy some time to freshen up for our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: Recap of program and special event for following morning.

DAY
7
Biscayne National Park, Program Concludes
Key Largo
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast at a local ,warm, friendly, and casual atmosphere restaurant with traditional home cooked breakfasts.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: This morning we'll make a short visit to Biscayne National Park. Within sight of downtown Miami, yet worlds away, Biscayne protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands, and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. Here too is evidence of 10,000 years of human history, from pirates and shipwrecks to pineapple farmers and presidents. Immediately following our field trip we'll depart for the Miami International Airport. We hope you have had a great time on this learning adventure and will join us for other rewarding programs in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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