7 Tips for Picnicking on the Beach (Slideshow)
Many beaches in the Florida Keys are home to turtles. Sombrero Beach a 12.6-acre beach in Marathon, is a nesting spot for Loggerhead turtles from April to October, when the turtles lay their eggs overnight at the beach. You can still enjoy the fun at Sombrero Beach, which features picnic pavilions and volleyball courts. Whether you want Cuban cuisine, sandwiches, fish, or just coffee, you’re sure to find some good eats for picnic at one of these nearby restaurants. After your picnic, take a stroll on the beach’s pier, located at the west end of the beach.
Another turtle nesting beach, Coco Plum Beach, also in the city of Marathon, is considered a more "natural" beach with a nearby wetland area.
Food Truck Fun!
Enjoy the sunshine while picnicking at the 3,000-foot Smathers Beach, a man-made beach in Key West. This beach is a great place to people-watch, toss a Frisbee, play volleyball, and grab a bite to eat. A variety of food trucks park near the beach, along South Roosevelt Boulevard.
Soak up the sun and some history at this next beach. Located at the tip of the Keys, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a 54-acre National Historic Landmark, known for its beauty and military history. It’s the southernmost State Park, and offers great views, fishing (on the west side of the park), swimming, snorkeling, bike paths, and nature trails. Learn about the park’s military history, too. As the headquarters for the Navy’s East Gulf Coast blockade squadron, Fort Taylor was used in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Daily tours are available. Stop by the Cayo Hueso Café to pick up your lunch. Selections include burgers, steak and cheese sandwiches, Cuban sandwiches, chili, nachos, and salad. Savor your lunch and rest on the beach!
Visit a Tiki Bar!
Check out Curry Hammock State Park, located in the Middle Keys, for a 1,200-foot sandy beach experience. While the water is shallow, the good times run deep. Do some swimming, build a sand castle, or ride your bike on the Overseas Heritage Trail. Reserve a picnic pavilion for $53.75 for a whole day or $32.25 for a half-day; or take your chances and you can get a pavilion for free, if they’re not already rented! You can even stay the night. The 28-site campground is open year-round. While you’re in Curry Hammock, be sure to check out some of the tiki bars (which the area is known for). On the list? Island Fish Company, at mile marker 54, which has the longest tiki bar in the Keys. While they serve tasty drinks, this eatery also offers coconut shrimp, lobster, oysters, veggie burgers, wraps, salads, and yes, dessert, including Key lime pie and flash-fried cheesecake!
Don’t forget your camera when visiting Bahia Honda at mile marker 37, which is widely recognized as one of the best beaches in the Keys. At Bahia, located at the Big Pine Key area of the Keys, you can enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, bird-watching, kayaking, boating, and more activities. Plus, at the nearby Sand and Sea Nature Center, you can get information about local habitats and history, as well as sign up for beach and nature walks. There are three white sand beaches at Bahia Honda: Calusa, on the northwest side of the island, which is the smallest at Bahia Honda; Loggerhead, the shallowest beach, which is on the island’s south side; and the largest beach, Sandspur, located on the southeast end of the island. The water at these beaches is typically clear and great for swimming. (The water temperature is in the 80s in the summer and in the low to mid 70s in the winter.) Pack a picnic lunch or pick up some snacks at Bahia Honda's concession stands, which serve beach-perfect foods like hot dogs, sandwiches, and ice cream.
Anne's Beach, located in Islamorada, Fla., at mile marker 73, is another pretty picnic spot. Dedicated to Anne Eaton, a local environmentalist, this beach has great views and clear, shallow water. Stroll along the boardwalk, which connects two parking lots. Anne’s Beach is great for swimming, flying kites, and of course picnicking. Order to-go from one of the area's restaurants, which offer everything from sushi to pizza, fish tacos, and ice cream.
Hit the Snack Bar
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo at mile marker 102.5 has two man-made beaches: Canon Beach, a snorkeling beach, and Far Beach, a beach that’s ideal for swimming and sunning. There are designated picnicking areas, including 12 picnic pavilions, which can be rented for $30 a day. Pennekamp is on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out the park’s visitor center, which has an impressive 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. There’s a snack bar on Pennekamp, serving breakfast and lunch. Or grab some food at a local restaurant like Hobo's Cafe at mile marker 101.7. On Hobo’s menu? Mahimahi, nachos, Largo Lobster Po’boy, and desserts including Key lime pie and Peach Melba.