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Tour Of Florida Day 11 Florida Keys With Kids

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key largo with kids travel guide

We woke up to this beautiful view at the Ocean Pointe Suites in Key Largo.


We hopped into our Toyota Highlander and drove past the pool on our way out of the resort.


We knew that there was no way we would be able to see even a quarter of the Florida Keys on this trip, so we did our best to pack in a couple top attractions for the kids that would also be educational and entertaining. 

Our schedule looked like this:

    • Glass bottom boat ride over the coral reef.
    • Snorkeling over the coral reef.
    • Tour of the turtle hospital.
    • Tour of the Dolphin Research Center.
    • Eat. 

Out of all those things we were only able to tour the Dolphin Research Center and eat. 

Totally not how we had planned, but if being across the country and on the road for almost three weeks has taught us anything, it is that you have to be flexible… and that Florida storms are real.


We were rained out of snorkeling and the boat ride. By rained out, I mean torrential downpours of water, severe lightning, and very strong winds. After a couple moments of disappointment, we regrouped, and at the suggestion of some locals, we flipped our itinerary around and tried to free up some afternoon time in case the skies cleared and we could do more later.20160519_132255

We stopped in the Dolphin Research Center first. Unfortunately, they were closed due to the lightening, but offered to keep in touch with us in case it was lifted. About an hour and a half later it was… so we made our way back. There was a small window when we could go out onto the docks and see the dolphins! We are so fortunate for that time! 

The whole center is geared around research. Actually, the whole center is geared around the resident dolphins and their welfare. Having worked at both a zoo (as a junior zoo keeper) and animal hospitals before I had kids, I am always interested in the latest developments for animal care, and I was thrilled to see the commitment that this center has for their dolphins and educating the public. The education they provide is creating more dolphin lovers in the world and the impact is far reaching!

The Dolphin Research Center Mission – Through education, research and rescue, Dolphin Research Center promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between marine mammals, humans and the environment we share with the well being of DRC’s animals taking precedence.

Here is more about the Dolphin Research Center… “founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1984 by Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez and Armando “Mandy” Rodriguez. Their goal was to ensure the dolphins had a home here for life, and in doing so to establish a unique education and research facility.

The bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions presently living here provide a range of personalities and backgrounds. Over half of our family was born at the Center, while the other members have either come from other facilities or were rescued, rehabilitated and deemed unreleasable back into the wild by the Government and now have a forever home at Dolphin Research Center.”

We started by exploring the center and watching the fun loving sea lions. We also saw some resident visitors…


After that the dolphins were calling. Seriously, we could hear their chatter and we followed all the talking. 


The dolphin above was actually talking through a drain to the dolphins on the other side. They are such intelligent creatures. 


The skies were still really dark with clouds, but I still love this picture facing the gulf side. 


Throughout the day they offer discussions and educational experiences where they show and teach behaviors to both the audience and the dolphins. We were able to learn about their care and how they learn from them, and teach them new things.


They offer some VIP options to become more immersed in the center through college programs and camps, and also day programs where you can interact with the dolphins. 


The dolphins were so intrigued by us too. I’m not sure who was more interested in who. They all came up and circled us to see who we were and we loved talking to them.


We all learned so much and left with even more respect for dolphins and those that are working hard to educate us all about them.


After seeing the dolphins, we headed back to the Turtle Hospital.  Unfortunately we were not able to experience this on our visit this time, but we will definitely visit on our next trip. Emmy was so disappointed over this as she had done extensive research before our visit, and I of course wanted to be able to share this with you all, but the rain just didn’t cooperate. We did step into the office and found that interesting with educational resources there…






After that, we stopped for sandwiches and then headed back to the resort.  We packed up for our next stop back in Orlando and a day of fun hosted by Universal Orlando! There are so many choices of places to eat along the keys so you definitely won’t go hungry! We saw everything from Italian to seafood and everything in between. 



Even with heavy rain, the keys were still beautiful… we can’t wait to come back later this year and go deeper down to Key West!

Have you been to the Keys? What is your favorite Key to visit?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog It's a Lovely Life®! In addition to traveling 150+ days a year, she also helps new bloggers build successful blogging businesses.


  • We will be on Key West in November. I can’t wait because I have never been.

    • I absolutely agree with Tara,

      Its such an amazing experience seeing dolphins upclose and yes they are so clever!
      What a good cause to keep the place more for the dolphins and sea lions well being than tourists!
      The weather didnt stop you and that is the sign of determination to enjoy whatever the weather 🙂
      Havent been to the Florida Keys, although I have been to Tampa Bay and Orlando!

  • We were in Key West last December. We love Duval Street. Lovedthe view from the southern most point in the continental US.

    • Chrishelle, We are going back this fall, maybe even sooner and we totally plan to go to the southern most point! I heard it is beautiful!

  • You had so many plans! I really hate the weather sometimes, especially when you’re on vacation and you have so many things to do but you’d have to cancel all of them. At least you still got to see the dolphins and go to the turtle hospital. I’m sure the kids still had a lot of fun!

  • You have a very lovely family. I wish I could bring my family here one of these days if I am not busy with work. I love the dolphins!

  • Florida is a nice place, I’m so glad to hear that your kids enjoyed the tour. I bet they became so excited when they hit the beach!

  • Wow! The spots that I am adding to my bucket list is growing hands over fist! This place is awesome! I love the pictures. I will have to make time and take the family there this summer!

  • I would have LOVED to see those dolphins! They are one of my favorite creatures in the world! I have got to get myself down to the Keys!

  • We’ve been wanting to take a trip down to the keys. Living in Canada, The Keys is a total adventure for us.

  • We’ve never had the opportunity to visit the Keys, but do have it on our bucket list. My in-laws went over the winter and absolutely loved it!

  • When I lived in FL, I loved going to Key West (except during hurricane season ?). Aren’t the dolphins amazing?? I love them!

  • The Florida Keys make for a gorgeous vacation destination. My kids would love the opportunity to interact with dolphins.

  • I’d love to visit the Keys AND the Glades. But only in a boat of some sort. There are too many venomous, deadly things once you leave the safety of an enclosed space.

  • I have never had the chance to visit the Keys, but it looks like an amazing place to go to. I love that you could be so close to the dolphins, and weather looks great!

  • That looks so beautiful. I have never been to Florida Keys before. I would absolutely love to go there sometime. I’m hoping to go to Florida this winter, so I may have to check out Florida Keys while I’m there.

  • So many places to visit. And one good thing about reading other blogs is you get to learn latest restaurant or nice places to visit. I hope to travel again soon, perhaps after my son turned one this year.

  • Okay, I need to go on one of these vacations with you as they sound like a blast. I have never been on a glass bottom boat. And those dolphins? So cool

  • I have always wanted to go to Florida. This looks like it has been a great trip for your family. The Dolphin Research Center would be amazing.

  • The Dolphin Research Center would be an amazing way to spend the day with your kids. You would learn so much about them.

  • What a fantastic trip! I have not been to the Keys since i was a kid, but I remember my favorite part was picking coconut from a tree right outside out rented house and having the milk and meat for breakfast everyday!

  • The Florida Keys is indeed an area I would love to visit some day. Glass bottom boat ride over the coral reef sounds amazing along with visiting the Dolphin Research Center. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • I have always wanted to visit The Keys. I am jealous of all of the dolphins you got to see! I hear that they are such gentle and loving creatures.

  • When we went to Florida a few years ago, I noticed a road sign to the Keys. I had no clue that you could get to the keys by driving. Every since then, I have been dying to go. I’m hoping in a few years we can take a long vacation in FL or even move there.

  • I’ve never been to the “keys” but I’ve been to Siesta Key off the west coast in the gulf. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. I would love to visit the real Keys too!

  • I love Florida. The next time we are down we have to check out the Dolphin Research Center. We swam with dolphins years ago but this looks awesome too!

  • Wow amazing view indeed! I would love to see a dolphin up close and in person. Sounds like you guys had a fun trip.

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