Featured Places

An underwater statue of a man reaching his arms towards the sky
The Christ of the Abyss statue is a popular dive site inside John Pennekamp State Park. Photo: David Ruck/NOAA

Long before Europeans arrived, the Calusa and Tequesta Native Americans enjoyed the beauty and bounty of what we today know as the Florida Keys. Once accessible only by boat, the isolation of the Keys ended when Henry Flagler extended his railroad south, an industrious 128 miles of rail construction that crossed rock islands and open water. Agricultural trade flourished, and soon the commercial and sports fishing industry attracted many to the remote islands. Now one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the world, many parts of the Florida Keys have been set aside for protection and public use, preserving irreplaceable habitats for future generations to enjoy responsibly.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Dry Tortugas National Park is known as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, beautiful coral reefs and marine life, and a vast assortment of bird life.

An aerial view of a red brick fort on a small island surrounded by ocean
Photo: National Park Service

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Shipwreck Trail

The nine vessels along this Shipwreck Trail have many tales to tell, from the stories of individuals who came before us to why they were here and their difficulties in navigating these waters.

A diver hovers above the outline of a shipwreck on the seafloor
Photo: Brenda Altmeier/NOAA

Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1938 as a haven for great white herons, migratory birds, and other wildlife, this refuge consists of thousands of acres of open shallow saltwater and mangrove islands known locally as "the backcountry."

A white bird with a yellow beak
Photo: Kristie Killam/USFWS

Key West National Wildlife Refuge

Created in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Key West National Wildlife Refuge was one of the first refuges established in the United States. It was established as a preserve and breeding ground for colonial nesting birds and other wildlife during the time when plume hunters were devastating bird populations throughout Florida. The refuge is located west of Key West and is accessible only by boat.

White pelicans in a line swimming in shallow water with a boat in the distance
Photo: Kristie Killam/USFWS

National Key Deer Refuge

The Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is a subspecies of the while-tailed deer that lives only in the Florida Keys. Key deer are an endangered species, and the National Key Deer Refuge was established in 1957 to protect deer habitat and other wildlife resources in the Florida Keys. Habitats in the refuge include rare pine rockland forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands, and mangrove forests.

a deer next to trees
Photo: Dan Chapman/USFWS

Florida State Parks

From the first underwater state park to historic relics from the U.S. Civil War, the sunshine state has shown brightly on the preservation of ten special locations in the Florida Keys, listed here from north to south. All but one of the parks are based on dry land. You can also use this interactive map to search for state parks in South Florida and the Florida Keys.

a view from the beach showing a bridge over ocean waters
Photo: Florida Department of Environmental Protection