With a tropical climate, pretty scenery, natural surroundings, and an abundance of things to do, Marathon, Florida is the perfect place to vacation away from the crowds.
This fairly young city, which is located right in the center of the Florida Keys, has a population of just over 8000 people, so you can bet that you will enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and world-class attractions without the lines, hustle and bustle of more populated tourist areas.
One of the best things about Marathon is the fact that it is spread out over 13 Keys, including Knight’s Key, Fat Deer Key, Long Point Key, and Boot Key, so this makes island hopping a breeze.
Visitors to the area enjoy access to many municipal and state parks, shops, restaurants, cafes, and boating areas.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Marathon, Florida.
1. Crane Point Nature Area
The main draw to Crane Point Nature Area is the hiking section that includes a variety of nature trails, with opportunities to witness a number of local species and scenic views. But that’s not all there is to see and do at Crane Point.
Visitors can learn about the nature and history of the area at the natural history museum, and there are marine tanks and a bird rescue center situated on the grounds.
2. The Seven Miles Bridge
The Seven Miles Bridge may well be one of the most well-known bridges in the world. After all, it has featured in many movies – including 2 Fast 2 Furious and Mission Impossible III – and was once considered an eighth wonder of the world.
Currently, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a must-see on any visit to the Florida Keys.
Admire it from afar, take some pictures of it or, better yet, drive across it from Knight’s Key to Little Duck Key and enjoy experiencing a spectacular feat of architecture with stunning ocean views.
3. The Turtle Veterinary Hospital
Take a tour of one of the world’s only veterinary hospital dedicated solely to sea turtles. Visit sea turtles recovering in the hospital bed tank, and possibly even get a chance to feed some of the turtles.
See the recovery and surgical areas where the well-trained, caring staff nurse sick and injured turtles back to health. The hospital aims to educate the public about sea turtles, their status as an at-risk species, and their delicate habitats through a variety of educational programs for all ages.
4. Sombrero Beach
While beautiful beaches aren’t scarce in the Florida Keys, Sombrero Beach in Marathon is one of the most beautiful beaches in the region.
This urban beach is the perfect place to spend an afternoon relaxing and sunbathing amid white sand, crystal blue waters, and a refreshing ocean breeze, because it’s quiet and away from the crowds.
A picnic area, free parking, some volleyball courts, a playground, and maintained bathrooms are some of the amenities that are on-site. There are also opportunities to go fishing, sailing, and snorkeling.
5. A Deep Blue Dive Center
Visitors who are interested in water sports and activities can take part in a wide range of things, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and whale-watching at A Deep Blue Dive Center in Key Colony Beach.
Both scuba-diving and snorkeling lessons are offered for those who wish to learn these exciting water activities, and equipment is available for rent for visitors who already know how to do these things and would like to explore the area’s underwater sites.
Whale watching excursions leave twice a day, and children’s day camps are offered.
6. The Crane Point Museum, Nature Center and Historic Site
This 63-acre site is where visitors get the chance to learn pretty much everything there is to know about the history, nature, and culture of Marathon and surrounding areas.
The site itself is quite spectacular, with tropical plants, nature trails, and educational exhibits scattered about. The expertly-restored home of pioneer George Afferley still stands on the site and is open to visitors who wish to learn more about him and his contributions to the area.
Guests can also take a trolley tour around the botanic gardens and various historical sites around the grounds.
7. Marathon Bicycle Rental
It’s reasonably easy to get around Marathon and the surrounding communities and islands, but the single best way to get around may just be by bicycle. Imagine soaring through the warm breeze with that spectacular tropical scenery all around you.
Marathon Bicycle Rental can make this happen, so you can take a relaxing adventure around the Florida Keys on two wheels. The company also rents out kayaks and paddleboards so that you can explore the coastal areas around the islands as well.
8. Sail Around the Florida Keys in Catamaran Sirius
Go sailing around the Florida Keys on a 36-foot catamaran. The Sirius holds 24 passengers and leaves the Marathon Marina. It embarks on a two-hour private sunset cruise on a safe vessel with a highly experienced captain and crew.
9. Curry Hammock State Park
The Curry Hammock State Park encompasses a vast uninhabited area in the middle of Big Pine Key and Key Largo. It’s a protected area and has a unique ecosystem consisting of mangrove swamp, seagrass beds, and rockland hammocks.
Visitors can explore the coastal areas of the park via kayak and paddleboard. On windy days, kiteboarding and windsurfing opportunities are available, and there is a camping area on-site. Other activities include hiking, bird-watching, and fishing.
10. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
See an array of local marine species up close at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. Learn about the local sea life through a variety of exhibits, and take a tour through the facility with an expert guide.
Sharks and stingrays are among the sea creatures you can meet along the way, and you can also visit a tide pool touch tank, predator reef tank, and coral reef tank. Educational programs and day camps for children are also available.
11. Keys Cable at Otherside Adventure Park
This adventure park consists of 50 acres of water fun. The tidal lagoon is up to 65 feet deep in some places and features a cable system with two points to allow it to pull several riders around the lake in various formations.
Some of the other adventurous water activities available include cable-wakeboarding, waterskiing, and knee-boarding.
12. Marathon Air Museum
Situated at the Marathon Airport, the Marathon Air Museum highlights aviation history through a variety of exhibits and artifacts.
Visitors can see an impressive assortment of historical aircraft, such as a DC-3, Cessna, and Beechcraft Model 18, which visitors can climb inside to get a feel of what it was like to fly one. Guided tours are also available.
13. Catch ‘Em All Sportfishing Charters
Take a once-in-lifetime adventure on a deep-sea fishing charter with Catch ‘Em All. Head out to the deep waters around the Keys where the big fish are.
Barracuda, Tarpon, Tuna, and Sailfish are just some of the species you may have a chance to reel in. The company also offers scuba diving and eco excursions.
14. Captain Pip’s Snorkeling Tours
Board a 34-foot catamaran and sail to the popular marine areas of Pirate’s Cove and the Sombrero Reef to take part in a guided snorkeling tour.
The Sombrero Reef Marine Sanctuary features the world’s largest barrier reef. See 30 acres of coral reef along with dozens of species of brightly-colored fish and other marine creatures.
Sombrero Lighthouse, which was built before the civil war and is still in operation today, is another stop along this marine journey.
The catamaran itself offers tons of space to move about, a bathroom, and two spacious platforms, so snorkelers can easily and safely get in and out of the water.
15. JD Premier Aviation Helicopter Tours
There is no better way to see any large area all at once than from a helicopter high up in the sky. Soar high above Marathon and the Florida Keys and see tropical vistas and vast ocean all at the same time during a helicopter excursion with JD Premier Aviation Helicopter Tours.
These tours depart Marathon Airport, and there are various tour packages available. Some of the places you can fly over include Pigeon Cay, Duck Cay, Hawk’s Cay, Bahia Honda State Park, and the Seven Miles Bridge.
Sunset tours are also available, and safety equipment and instructions are provided to all guests before each flight.