This trip was fun, informative and interesting. Not to mention a great break to winter weather! Key West is not just a place for young people to party, there are lots of interesting things to explore.
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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table at the Orientation session [please ask the front desk for the specific location] to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Unless specified otherwise, all transportation will be provided via passengers vans. Our Group Leader will lead all field trips unless otherwise noted. Evenings will often include a review of the day’s sightings and an introduction to the activities for the following day with the remainder of the night at leisure. Meals at local restaurants will have plated table service of regional dishes from a select menu with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: We’ll then travel in vans to a local restaurant for a plated regional dish with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. You may wish to take a stroll along the boardwalk, continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.
Activity note: Walking about 2 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: At a warm and friendly local restaurant, we’ll have a plated home-cooked breakfast with coffee, tea, juice and water.
Morning: We’ll begin with a field trip to Everglades National Park's "River of Grass” where we will go on a walk led by a local Park Ranger along the Anhinga Trail while learning about local animals and the impact of human development on the Everglades’ ecosystem. The expansiveness of this environment will provide and abundance of excellent birding and photo opportunities.
Lunch: At the park, we’ll find a comfortable spot to sit and rest while we enjoy delicious and healthy picnic boxed lunches.
Afternoon: We’ll then go on a short hike led by our Group leader around a lake and bird rookery or in the pine flat woods and grass prairie. Which location will depend on time available and weather conditions. Before returning to the hotel we'll stop at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center with some time for independent exploration to peruse exhibits, a short video and the Everglades/Natural Florida book store.
Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Walking about 2 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: Local restaurant plated meal.
Morning: Our first field trip of the day will be to the John Pennekamp Visitor Center and Aquarium featuring a 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium and other natural history exhibits that provide examples of the park's unique marine environment. After some time for independent exploration in the visitor center, we'll embark on a short walking field trip through the park led by our Group Leader on a path through mangrove habitats, over pathways and on boardwalks. 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. Afterwards, we’ll then transfer to Pigeon Key where we'll take a trip through time as we explore buildings that were built in 1909 to house more than 400 workers who were working 14-hours a day, six days a week, to build Henry Flagler's Florida Overseas Railroad. We’ll ride the Pigeon Key boat from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and cross beneath the new 7-Mile Bridge as well as a 2.2-mile segment of the old 7-Mile Bridge! Once on the Island, we will explore the historic buildings and the Pigeon Key Museum led by an expert from the park staff.
Lunch: On Pigeon Key overlooking Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay, we’ll prepare our own sandwiches and salads for lunch.
Afternoon: We’ll then board the boat and take it back to US-1 to continue our journey to Key West where we will check into the hotel and have some time to freshen up before dinner.
Dinner: After walking to a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated meal of regional specialties with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: We’ll then walk to Mallory Square for the iconic Sunset Celebration—a unique Key West experience—where we will enjoy some independent exploration. A nightly arts festival featuring street performers, artists’ stalls, crafts, music, and more, the Sunset Celebration always draws a crowd to the coast to enjoy the sinking sun over the Gulf. Ask the Group Leader for suggestions regarding entertainers worth seeing. After sunset, you may choose to stay on Duval Street on your own to soak in the nightlife or head back to the hotel with the Group Leader. Be sure to remember we have an early morning tomorrow.
Activity note: Early departure from the hotel for a short 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: Aboard the ferry, we’ll have a breakfast buffet featuring choices including bagels, cereal, yogurt, fruit, juices, coffee and water.
Morning: En route to Dry Tortugas National Park, our onboard naturalist will provide an orientation about the area and the national park's surroundings. During our voyage, we 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 our arrival to the Park, we’ll enjoy a walking field trip through Ft. Jefferson led by a Park Ranger while learning about its role in U.S. history.
Lunch: Aboard the ferry, we’ll have a buffet lunch.
Afternoon: We’ll then enjoy some free time on the island. You may wish to go on a walk around Ft. Jefferson’s moat with a naturalist, snorkeling, bird watching, or just relax on the sandy beach. Birders, be aware that beginning in late February the adjoining Bush Key is closed to visitors to enable the sooty terns and other unique birds to nest undisturbed. However, activity can often be viewed through volunteer rangers’ spotting scopes. We’ll then board the boat and, after returning to hotel, take some time to freshen up before dinner.
Dinner: In the hotel's back garden, we’ll have a lovely buffet featuring local dishes with soft drinks, coffee and water.
Evening: We’ll have a group session at the hotel during which our Group Leader will provide ideas, recommendations and brochures for things to do on the free day in Key West tomorrow. The remainder of the evening is at leisure for you to do what you wish.
Breakfast: By the pool at the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet including an assortment of cereals, fruit, bagels, pastries, eggs, juice, coffee, tea and water.
Morning: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Afternoon: Free time.
Dinner: On your own to sample the local fare.
Evening: At leisure. You may wish to explore Key West's lively night scene by visiting a favorite watering hole, taking in a cabaret revue or jazz performance, strolling some quieter neighborhoods on a Ghost Walk, sauntering down to the Westin Marina or Old Seaport to see a visiting celebrity's luxury yacht, or simply relaxing at the hotel. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles, approximately 1.5 hours, on uneven and paved terrain. The drive is approximately 92 miles, about 2.5 hours.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: After checking out of the hotel and beginning our transfer back to Key Largo, we'll stop for an expert-led field trip at Florida's southernmost state park to learn about some U.S. Military history and the role that Fort Zachary Taylor played in it. Constructed to defend America’s southeastern coastline along with a series of other strongholds in the mid-1800s, Fort Zachary Taylor was completed in 1866 and was thereby significantly involved in both the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.
Lunch: En route at beautiful Sombrero Beach, we’ll have our picnic boxed lunches.
Afternoon: Carrying onward, we’ll make another field trip stop to visit the Windley Key Fossil Reef State Park and walk along eight-foot-high quarry walls to see cross-sections of ancient coral. We’ll learn about the history of the quarry and its operation—an important part of Florida's 20th century history—as we walk among samples of the quarry machinery that have been preserved at the park. This land was sold to the Florida East Coast Railroad in the early 1900s because it is made up of Key Largo limestone and fossilized coral and these materials were integral to the construction of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad shortly thereafter. Once the railroad was completed, the main product extracted from this quarry was Keystone, used primarily for decorative purposes. We’ll then complete our journey back to the hotel in Key Largo with some time to freshen up before dinner.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy our plated farewell dinner in the company of new Road Scholar friends with standard beverages; other drinks available for purchase.
Evening: While remaining at the restaurant, we’ll have a recap session to review our program and share our favorite experiences of the week as well as outline our activities for the following morning. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures tomorrow.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: At a local restaurant.
Morning: En route to our final drop off point at Miami International Airport, we'll make a short visit to Biscayne National Park for a field trip where we will view a short film about the park and enjoy some insightful history presented by a Park Ranger. Despite Miami being within sight, Biscayne houses an unparalleled conglomeration of distinct ecosystems, life forms, and evidence of human history. The lush islands float on top of the brilliant blue waters that shelter and preserve the vibrantly colorful coral reefs and multiple shipwrecks beneath the surface. Tales ranging from the emergence of ancient peoples to escapades of piracy and presidential visits all have an anchor at Biscayne. Immediately following our field trip, we'll depart for the Miami International Airport for our final drop-off and departures. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!
This trip was fun, informative and interesting. Not to mention a great break to winter weather! Key West is not just a place for young people to party, there are lots of interesting things to explore.
This program was excellent. We would highly recommend it anyone who has not been to the Everglades and Florida keys.
This program offered a perfect mix of activity and learning. The group leader was experienced and made all participants feel welcome and valued. Even though we were in an urban area, we spent much of our tour time in National and State Parks where I felt far away from the city. I appreciated the fact that our meal venues were locally owned bistros and restaurants.
Even though some accommodations were closed due to Hurricane damage, the staff made a great effort to please us with great alternatives.
Our materials were never received, even though Road Scholar claimed to have sent them twice,
This is an excellent program if you want to learn more about the Florida Keys. Heather, our tour guide, was very knowledgeable and wanted to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves.
"Keys and Everglades: Human and Natural History Outdoor Studies" was a very entertaining and informative tour. From the important roles the many ecological systems we visited play in our world to the impact this area had on human history I came away with a new sense of the importance of this small region of our country.
If you want to become one with nature surrounded by sunny sky and turquoise water, view birds in a variety of habitats, see glorious sunsets, learn history and have Key West style fun, this is the trip for you.
The positives to this trip were the sites visited; I particularly enjoyed touring Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas National Park, Fort Zachery Taylor State Park in Key West, Pigeon Key (the Flagler camp area) and free time in Key West. Our group leader, study - naturalist leader and van driver was Alexsei, who was very nice and enthusiastic. However, we were a smallish group and horribly crammed into a very small, very uncomfortable van. And, we spent a lot of time in this uncomfortable van. Furthermore, the van did not have a speaker system (it was just an ordinary 5 row passenger van, not a commercial van); thus, there was no opportunity for narrative by the group leader as we drove down the Keyes. Although not the fault of the group leader, this lack of discussion of the various Keyes was a major disappointment. Also, be forewarned that the time at the Everglades and Biscayne National Park was very limited. I have completed almost 30 programs with Road Scholar over the years, and unfortunately, this is the first one that I would NOT recommend unless the transportation was improved.
I learned lots of very interesting American history about the Florida Keys on this trip. Until a couple of years ago, I had ventured ‘nada’ in this section of the US. Last year, my wife and I with two long term friends ventured to the Everglades on a RS kayaking trip. Great fun and learning experience. This year, we all came back together to explore the Keys. A repeat performance of fun and learning. I feel a third RS trip to these parts is in store.
This was a great program. We got an overview of the wonderful plants, animals, and history of the Keys. It is a beautiful area with fascinating history. The guides, Andrea and Heather, are fantastic - they are always upbeat, energetic and friendly. The local rangers and guides gave interesting backgrounds to the places we visited. Accommodations and restaurants were very good and the activity level was appropriate. The visit to the Dry Tortugas was the icing on the cake - such an amazing place.
A wonderful adventure to the Everglades and Key West. Our small group had such a great time and as always the group leader was very well informed
This program leader, Howie, was the best. He was very knowledgeable and welcoming. He went out of his way to make us comfortable. We had great weather and got to experience many new things. Overall, great trip.
Our leader, Howie, was great. He kept us entertained with his knowledge and sense of humor. The small group was a new experience for us and worked out very well.
A very informative and interesting exploration into the diverse and unique, and fragile yet resilient ecosystems of the Everglades and the Keys of south Florida.
This program is pricey, but everything is first class. The meals are the best that I have had on any Road Scholar program. The program leaders, Howie and Stephanie, are first class.
This is a great program that explores the many different aspects of the Florida Keys. Fort Jefferson is great! Key West is a special place. And the little state parks offer wonderful glimpses into this area's history, scenery, recreational opportunities & ecology.
Wonderfully informative, entertaining, and enjoyable!
Great trip to take in the winter with others who definitely shared our learning mindset...the exchange of information and stories with the other participants and our leaders was invaluable.
We had a great week exploring the Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks, and the Florida Keys! Our program leaders were very knowledgeable, friendly and helped create a cohesive and smooth group travel experience. This is a very interesting and beautiful part of the country, with tropical climate that was PERFECT during our week in February.
On our free day in Key West we visited the Hemingway House, the Truman Little White House and the Audubon House. All very interesting, and especially recommend the first two.
Saw lots of interesting places, vegetation and wildlife. Beautiful vistas including sunset on Key West. Our Program Leader was a delight and even created and cooked the most luscious lunches for us!
I highly recommend "Keys and Everglades: Human and Natural History Outdoor Studies". The scenery, flora and fauna are lovely and very unique to this part of the US. You'll be in a tropical paradise without leaving the US. As with all Road Scholar trips, go with an open mind, be open to new experiences/routines, and you'll have the time of your life.
If you ever want to visit the Florida Keys, take this trip. The best day for me was on the Dry Tortugas. It opened a lot of information and is just enjoyable. I would go again if there were not so many other places I would like to go.
The program is an interesting mix of ecology and history --- something for everyone. Howie Geib, our group leader was exceptional. It was a privilege and a pleasure to take a trip with him.
Nothing could have prepared me for such an informed and delightful educational experience. It would have taken months to research all the information presented in this program.
EXCELLENT TRIP WITH VERY GOOD ACCOMODATIONS. GREAT FRIENDLY AND INTERESTING GUIDES. FASCINATING LEARNING EXPERIENCE ABOUT EVERGLADES AND KEYS. History of EXTREME PROBLEMS of CONSTRUCTION details of CONNECTING BRIDGES, WONDERFULL AND INSPIRING NATURE AND HISTORY INFORMATION. , SOME FREE TIME NO DIFFICULTY IN WALKING EVEN FOR OLDER PARTICIPANTS.
Very enjoyable program, great food, Went to 3 National Parks. Even if you do not snorkel you still see marine life during the moat walk. Our tour leaders Aleksey and Alberto were exceptional! We also had a wonderful group of fellow travelers.
An excellent program to learn about the Everglades and the Florida Keys. My perceptions of the Everglades and the Florida Keys were extremely different than what I learned of the history and ecology of the Everglades and Keys during this program. Our Road Scholar leaders were well organized and knowledgeable, and the docents and park rangers were knowledgeable and informative in their presentations.
Great leaders, great participants, great food and a great chance to get a real feel for the Florida Keys.