Schneck Medical Center

SUM 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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2 7 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 015 S P I R I T O F W O M E N SHUTTERSTOCK I f your idea of a vacation is experiencing something different than your family would at home, look no further than the Florida Keys. This scenic chain of islands connected by 42 bridges (including one that's nearly seven miles long) looks like nowhere else in the United States and offers a wealth of unique activities for the entire family. In fact, everyone should be able to find an outdoor pursuit they enjoy that will make it easy to abandon their screens. Here's a look at some of the most popular things to do and see in the Florida Keys, along with a few favorite suggestions for outfitters and locations to get you started. It's balmy and tropical in the Keys (as locals call it), so don't forget the sunscreen. Dive. Folks often refer to the Florida Keys as the "Dive Capital of the World," thanks to the water that surrounds this collection of islands. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was America's first underwater preserve, and along with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary it covers 178 nautical miles. You can take glass-bottom boat tours, snorkel or scuba dive. While underwater, check out the only living coral reef in the continental United States. If you want to be active on top of the water rather than in it, you can also rent kayaks and paddleboards here. Paddleboard. One of the fastest-growing sports in the country, standup paddleboarding (SUP) is an activity that kids, parents and grandparents can do together. And the Keys are perfect for it, with lots of areas not accessible to wave-creating boat traffic. You'll find shallow water, mangrove islands and more. Lazy Dog offers two-hour eco tours of Key West's crystal clear water. Explore. You may come across interesting lost objects when you walk and hike at home, but it's unlikely that you see anything like The Florida Keys Shipwreck Heritage Trail on a regular basis. This is a stretch of notable underwater wreck sites between Key Largo and Key West. The treasures rest at depths between 20 and 130 feet, so they are visible to both snorkelers and divers. Grab masks for everyone and let the hunt begin! Discover. Ever seen a Key deer? At the National Key Deer Refuge you can learn about these endangered small animals (about the size of a dog) that live only in the Lower Keys. You're most likely to see them at dusk or dawn, so plan accordingly. Stop by the refuge's visitor center for more information. Bike. There are 75 miles of paved biking paths along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. Some of them have narrow shoulders, which make them tough for inexperienced cyclists, but many have family-friendly picnic areas, boat launches and places to linger and enjoy the scenery. Bikeman Bikes in Key West rents children's cycles as well as tandem bikes and bike seats for those kids who don't want to be on their own two wheels. Cheer. The wildlife are the stars down in the Keys (think Key deer, dolphins, bald eagles and great white herons), and there are several places where you and the kids can see animals perform. At the Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, check out parrots, sea turtles and crocodiles and then stick around for performances with dolphins and sea lions. Or, swim with dolphins, sea lions, sharks or stingrays, and take a glass-bottom boat tour of the natural saltwater lagoon. • For more on where to go and what to see in the Florida Keys and Key West travel information, check out or call 800-FLA-KEYS (800-352-5397). Want an in-your-pocket guide? Grab Laura Martone's "Moon Florida Keys" (Avalon Travel Publishing, $17.99). 3 FUN FACTS about the Florida Keys • Water is everywhere: You can see the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico here. • The only contiguous living coral barrier reef in the continental United States runs parallel to the Florida Keys. • Key West, home to the southernmost point in the continental United States, is 150 miles from Miami but just 90 miles from Havana, Cuba. If you go

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