The Ultimate Guide to RVing the Florida Keys

the-ultimate-guide-to-rving-the-florida-keys

Dreaming of a warm weather winter destination with numerous opportunities to enjoy nature, be on the water, in the sun, and be a part of a thriving RV community? Whether you’re a family seeking a place to enjoy all winter long, or a couple looking for a winter getaway, then the Florida Keys might be the right winter destination for you!

Make the Keys the end, or beginning, of your RV road trip through Florida. Here’s what you need to know about visiting Florida in an RV. And a few of the The Best Campgrounds on the Beach in Florida. Are you in the tropical mood yet? 

RVing the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are divided into 3 regions: Upper Keys, Middle Keys, and Lower Keys. Together, the keys make up 800 keys in total and stretch over 180 miles into the ocean off the southern tip of Florida. You might’ve heard of Key West or Key Largo, but explore some of the Lesser Known Florida Keys for RV Camping too.

The Upper Keys offers delicious restaurants and tourist attractions and is your last closest stop to mainland Florida. Key Largo is at the tippy top of the Keys and is the beginning of the Florida Keys experience. It’s just across the bridge from the southern Florida mainland and is home to the first Florida State Park in the Florida Keys.

John Pennekamp State Park

John-Pennekamp-coral-reef-state-park-florida-keys
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida Keys (Image: Shutterstock)

John Pennekamp offers 39 full hook-up RV spots that are within walking distance of the state park beach and kayak/boat launch. The best thing about visiting this State Park is the maze of mangrove kayak trails! These trails will accommodate any small boat such as kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards and you’re sure to see a ton of Florida wildlife!

If you’re not arriving at this state park equipped with your own watercraft, the park offers kayak rentals right on site. Or if a guided tour is more your style, this park also offers glass bottom boat and snorkel tours. Another option for enjoying the water right there at John Pennekamp State Park is on the state park beach.

During the winter months, it is not uncommon to see manatees swimming in the swim area! You can get up close but don’t forget there is no touching. Each RV site is spacious but a word of caution is to be prepared for noseeums in the winter months. So come prepared with some sort of protection against those nasty biting flies.

If you haven’t yet, we always recommend doing any last-minute Target, Costco, or Camping World runs before you leave Key Largo. It’s a long drive from the middle and lower Keys if you don’t stock up before you head down!

Curry Hammock State Park

Paddle Boarding at Curry Hammock State Park
Image: Lindsay Lane

As you head further south you’ll find yourself in the middle Keys and hit another Florida State Park that is amazing for enjoying the day or parking your RV!

Curry Hammock State Park has 28 campsites with water and electric hookups. There is a small beach area and a really great kayaking trail. On this trail, you’ll see upside-down jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, possibly a manatee or two, tons of fish, mangrove crabs, possibly an iguana, and who knows what else! It’s both fun and educational — a win-win for families!

You can rent kayaks on-site and the State Park offers free guided kayak tours through the mangroves every Friday. It is first come, first serve though so keep that in mind when planning. Another great aspect of this park is that they limit the number of guests who can enter so the park is never full.

Things To Do in the Middle Keys

The Middle Keys also offers a lot to do for tourists. This is where you’ll find a lot of restaurants and fun, family touristy things to do.

  • Florida Keys Brewing — a relaxing brewery experience. They have a great outdoor space, which is family-friendly, and many nights they offer live music. Most nights they have a food truck parked on site for dinner, however, it’s not always open so be prepared to grab food to bring along with you if you visit either one of these breweries.

    Robbie’s Marina — At Robbie’s you can feed the giant tarpon, walk around the quaint beach area that has local vendor stalls, and book an excursion for a snorkel or fishing trip.
  • Theater of the Seayou can see a dolphin show and take a glass bottom boat tour.
  • Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters — here you can get a close-up, hands-on experience with ocean life! You can touch several different types of marine life in their touch tank, watch them feed Colossal Carl the huge Goliath grouper, see all kinds of fish up close, and they even offer opportunities to swim with some wildlife! 
  • The Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital — here you’ll be able to observe firsthand Sea Turtle rehabilitation as it’s in action.
  • Crane Point Hammock — observe nature in its natural habitat. Here you can see various birds and wildlife native to Florida along with dipping your feet in their tidal pool where the gambusia fish will nibble on them. You’ll leave feeling like you paid top dollar for a fish pedicure!
  • Sombrero Beach in Marathon — If you’re looking for the best beach experience in the Middle Keys, visit Sombrero Beach in Marathon. This is a public beach with limited parking but has excellent facilities such as a great playground, clean restrooms, picnic tables, and sand volleyball courts. This is the perfect area to take your paddle board out to paddle around the ocean.
  • Paradise Flavors — After visiting Sombrero Beach, head over to Paradise Flavors for the absolute best Mexican ice cream and popsicles you’ll ever taste. They have dozens of flavors, the best customer service, and prices that you cannot beat. It’s the perfect ending to a long day at the beach.

Before heading further south, make sure to stop at Publix as it’s the last grocery store before hitting Key West.

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park Beach
Bahia Honda State Park Beach

This Florida State Park offers over 40 RV sites, an on-site marina, two beach areas, a small store and concession area, and is definitely a favorite State Park in Florida. You can book snorkel tours, take your paddle boards and paddle around this Key, or just enjoy the beach and designated swim areas.

This park also limits the number of cars each day so the lot fills up quickly in the morning but typically begins to empty out in the early afternoon to allow more cars to come in. Hurricane Irma hit the Keys in 2017 and this park is still not fully restored. Once it is though, the additional RV spots are going to provide gorgeous ocean views.

As you head further south towards Key West you’ll find smaller keys sprinkled with restaurants and other various small tourist attractions but other than that there isn’t much between Marathon and Key West.

Good Eats and the Check, Please

If you’re headed south and hungry we’d suggest stopping at Kiki’s Sandbar and Grille or Boondocks Grille and Draft House. One thing we should note is that if you’re with a larger group with multiple checks anticipate every restaurant in the Keys giving you a hard time or refusing to break up your check. In other words, be prepared to have one person pay and everyone send them their share of the check. This was one thing we encountered over and over in the Keys and is definitely worth making a note of.

Key West and the Lower Keys

Fury Ultimate Adventure in Florida Keys
Image: Lindsay Lane

Once into the Lower Keys, you’ll find more of the Key West vibe everyone expects and loves. Key West has so much to offer in ways of nightlife, nature, beach, water activities, history, and tourist traps. Our favorite family-friendly things to enjoy in Key West are walking around downtown and enjoying the sunset at Mallory Square.

There are several rotating street performers, a few cart vendors, and places to grab drinks to enjoy the street shows and sunset. If you want a front row, unobstructed view of the sun setting at the furthest point south in the US make sure to get there early enough to snag a spot on the edge of the ocean wall in Mallory Square. It is well worth the wait!

Florida Keys Fury Ultimate Adventure
Image: Lindsay Lane

If you’re looking for a full-day water adventure, we suggest Fury Key West Ultimate Adventure. This provides several water activities including snorkeling, an inflatable water park on the water, jet skiing, parasailing, and a banana boat. Because alcohol is included on the ride back to shore keep in mind that this may or may not be family-friendly. If you’re wanting to stick to a family-friendly only type of atmosphere, we suggest discussing that when booking and requesting to be put on a boat with other families, if possible.

Don’t forget to grab a picture at the Southern Most Point and Mile Marker Zero before leaving!

Dry Tortugas National Park

camping-tips-dry-tortugas-national-park-04-2022
Photo by Firefly_NewEngland via Shutterstock

If it’s within budget, consider booking a trip down to Dry Tortugas National Park. This national park is only accessible by boat or private plane and was once home to a Civil War prisoner of war camp. It offers an uninhabited beach where you can snorkel, a tour of the fort, and if you plan far enough in advance and are down for rustic camping, you can camp right at the park. Keep in mind you have to pack everything you need and you’ll be camped right on the beach.

Good Sam Campgrounds Near the Florida Keys

Save 10% at over 2,000 Good Sam parks and campgrounds (including the list below) when you book using your Good Sam membership.

Some of our favorite memories have happened by spending long stretches, mainly during winter, in the Florida Keys with our family. Regardless of whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a mix of both, the Florida Keys has it all!

What are your favorite things to do in the Florida Keys? Tell us in the comments below!

We’re a family of 7 who decided to sell it all, and take our learning and life on the road to travel America in December 2018. Through RV renovations, life season changes with growing children, and all the in between we document the ordinary and extraordinary days of RV living and travel.

You May Also Like