Best Things to Do in Marathon, Florida

Planning a road trip to South Florida? Try to squeeze in time to experience some of the best things to do in Marathon, Florida. Situated on 13 islands, Marathon is one of the most popular areas to visit in the Florida Keys.

If you’re looking for a destination with soft sandy beaches and turquoise waters, pencil Marathon into your Florida bucket list. Visiting the chain of islands gives you access to some of the best snorkeling and water sports hotspots in the Keys. You’ll also want to carve out time to explore the area’s natural beauty at its lovely state parks and stunning beaches. In the evening, you can experience the laid-back Florida life by strolling along the piers and delighting in freshly caught seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants. 

Need help finding what to do in Marathon? Assemble the ultimate itinerary with this guide to the best places to visit in Marathon, FL.

Best places to visit in Marathon, FL

Sombrero Beach

By far the most-visited beach in Marathon, Sombrero Beach is a magnet for tourists, who flock here to wade through the blue waters and lay in the soft sand. With its gin-clear shallow water, it’s the perfect spot for snorkeling planning a beach day with the kids. 

Sombrero Beach

Live the true island life on Sombrero Beach. The tall palm trees offer a shady spot to relax or start the next book on your summer reading list. With picnic tables and a playground, Sombrero Beach is also one of the top places to go in Marathon to spend time with the family.

You can easily spend the whole day swimming and playing on Sombrero Beach. Nearby concession stands and ice cream shops give you access to everything you need for soaking in the Florida sun. 

Crane Point Hammock

If you only have one day in Marathon, Crane Point Hammock should be your first stop. Perched on the Overseas Highway, the 63 acres of wooded hammock offer non-stop activities and is a superb family destination.

Carve out time to visit one of the two museums—or both! The natural history museum covers the entire history of the Florida Keys, including a replica reef and a 600-year old dug-out canoe. You’ll also find a children’s museum with several entertaining exhibits.

Brought your hiking shoes? Crane Point Museum & Nature Center is home to numerous nature trails. All the hiking trails are easy to moderate difficulty, so you can easily bring the kids along, too. Get up close and personal with Florida’s tropical fish and other ocean animals with the marine touch tanks.

The large Marathon Wild Bird Center is one of the focal points of the park, featuring different species of rescued birds. At the rescue center, birds are specially cared for until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild. Here, you’ll learn all about bird rehabilitation and how Crane Point Hammock is committed to preserving Florida’s ecosystem.

Deep Blue Dive Center

You can’t explore Marathon completely onshore. To experience the best of Marathon, you’ll need to get into the water. If you aren’t a confident swimmer, don’t worry: Deep Blue Dive Center has activities suitable for new swimmers or anyone who doesn’t want to go too deep into the ocean. 

Located in the center of Marathon at Key Colony Beach, Deep Blue Dive Center offers exciting interactive activities for exploring some of the most spectacular coral reefs in North America. Go snorkeling with or without a guide. If you’re scuba certified, you can rent diving equipment and head out with a master guide to show you the top spots.

You can also arrange boat trips to other locations for swimming in deeper waters. End the day by trying your hand at catching lobster or spearfishing.

Curry Hammock State Park

Located between Big Pine Key and Key Largo, Curry Hammock State Park is both a nature center and historic site. With the beautiful Atlantic Ocean as your backdrop, you can paddleboard or kayak through the tropical forests of the public park.

Curry Hammock State Park

Not interested in being in the water? Meander through the hiking trails that’ll take you through the mangrove swamps and seagrass beds of this popular Florida Keys state park.

The hiking trails at Curry Hammock State Park are relatively easy but don’t forget your waterproof shoes. The swamps and soft ground make it easy to get soaked.

Dolphin Research Center

If you want to see dolphins or learn about the marine wildlife of Florida while in Marathon, don’t skip out on the Dolphin Research Center. Opened in 1984, the research facility is a worldwide leader in dolphin education and research. The center offers visitors a chance to enjoy educational experiences and fun activities, including swimming with bottlenose dolphins.

Dolphin Research Center

The Dolphin Research Center is located on Grassy Key. The middle island in Marathon, Grassy Key has some of the finest beaches in Marathon for swimming and sunbathing. After spending the day exploring the research center, go to the beach for a swim in the calm waters eat at one of the beachfront restaurants for fresh seafood and striking orange and pink sunsets.

Sombrero Key Light

Located right offshore of Vaca Key, Sombrero Key Light is Marathon’s top destination for snorkeling trips. The Sombrero Lighthouse is located on Sombrero Reef, the world’s third-largest barrier reef. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or trying it for the first time, you’ll be amazed by the large colonies of colorful fish and coral reef formations.

Boat rentals are available in Vaca Key offshore from the lighthouse. If you have a boating license, you can bring your own boat or book a charter to bring you to the best snorkeling spots. Either way, you’ll love exploring the perfectly preserved reef and swimming in the open water without being crowded by other people.

Seven Mile Bridge

The longest bridge in the Florida Keys, the Seven Mile Bridge has been modernized and rebuilt making it safe to drive on and explore. While the bridge used to be narrow and considered difficult to drive on, most visitors now love driving their car along the Seven Mile Bridge. From the bridge, you’ll enjoy a perfect view of the clear turquoise water.

Seven Mile Bridge

The Seven Mile Bridge connects Marathon to Key West. If you want to explore more of the Florida Keys while in Marathon, taking a quick day trip to Key West is a must. As you drive along, you can also check out the old bridge, alligators, and other marine life.

Pigeon Key

One of Marathon’s smaller islands, Pigeon Key offers travelers numerous outdoor activities and historical tours. Spend the morning relaxing on the beach with a picnic breakfast or bring a beach chair and enjoy the sun.

Several superb snorkeling spots await on Pigeon Key. Bring your own gear or rent from one of the many beachfront rental shops along the pier to experience the island at its finest.

For a closer view of Seven Mile Bridge, book a ferry tour. On the tour, you’ll drift into the water alongside both the new and old bridges as the tour guides enlighten you about the history of the Florida Keys. You can also book a full island tour to learn more about the early history of America’s settlement of the Keys.

Marathon Air Museum

In Marathon, it might seem like the major activities are all on land or in the water. But the United States Air Force also played a huge role in the history of the Florida Keys. To see it in action, check out the Marathon Air Museum. Located in Marathon Airport, the popular museum displays a small, but interesting, historical collection of planes, engines, and parts.

Located off the Overseas Highway, the Marathon Air Museum will only take an hour or two to explore. It’s a great activity if you encounter a rainy or stormy day during your trip to the Florida Keys.

Coco Plum Beach

Situated on the clearest part of the Atlantic Ocean, Coco Plum Beach is a stunning sandy beach featuring soft white sand and picnic pavilions. Lined with large all-inclusive resorts, it’s the perfect destination for a relaxing family vacation or a few solo days spent in the sun.

Coco Plum Beach

Besides its clear waters, Coco Plum Beach is also a turtle nesting spot. Keep in mind that parts of the beach may be closed during nesting season if there have been egg sightings.

Searching for a luxury stay in the Florida Keys? Check into Coco Plum Beach Resort for rooms with views of the blue water and the finest dining experiences on the island. 

Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters

Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters isn’t your run-of-the-mill aquarium. At this top Marathon attraction, visitors will get to up close with the animals in the water. Some of the encounters and exhibits will even let you touch the marine life and swim alongside the fish and marine mammals!

Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters

Grab your wetsuit and schedule a tour for swimming in the artificial coral reefs. At Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, you can also touch adult nurse sharks or hand-feed stingrays in one of the many immersion tanks. The gift shop and cafe on-site are also worth checking out before heading out.

Turtle Hospital

A fully functioning veterinary hospital, the Turtle Hospital in Marathon is one of the top facilities in the United States for caring for sick and injured sea turtles. On a visit, you can learn more about the healing and rehabilitation process. The hospital’s veterinarians will explain how they care for the turtles before they’re fully healed and released back into the ocean.

Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital also specializes in treating specific turtle injuries, such as tumors. If you happen to connect with a specific turtle on your visit, you can even use the tracking feature on their website to see the progress of the turtle and see when they’re released.

Sweet Savannah’s Bake Shop

Have a major sweet tooth or want to curve a craving while on vacation? Sweet Savannah’s Bake Shop has every sweet you could think of, including some unique options as well as traditional flavors. Sample the 28 ice cream flavors or grab a cupcake or two.

No trip to the Florida Keys is complete without a taste of Key Lime Pie—and Sweet Savannah’s is one of the best places to try it in Marathon. Be sure to indulge in a slice before leaving.

The gift shop at Sweet Savannah’s Bake Shop is also fun and quirky. Grab a t-shirt or other souvenir to remember your visit to this sweet Florida Keys treat shop.

Keys Cable Park

Looking for extreme water sport activities while in Marathon? Head over to Keys Cable Park. Located off the Overseas Highway, the outfitters offers travelers a ton of adventurous activities, including kiteboarding, foilboarding, and much more. 

For kiteboarding, you don’t have to have any prior experience. Professionals will teach you everything you need to know before your excursion and offer help when needed. Keys Cable Park also has training and kiteboards for kids.

If you plan to foilboard, it’s best to have some surfing or skateboarding skills under your belt. Foilboarding can be a challenging and risky sport, but thrilling once you get some practice in.

If you and your family want to play it safe, you can also spend the day kayaking, paddle boarding, or just watching all the action!

Sunset Grille & Raw Bar

As the name suggests, Sunset Grille & Raw Bar is a fantastic place to watch the sun go down in Marathon. Set right on the oceanfront, the restaurant & bar has daily specials for appetizers and drinks. You love sipping a cocktail or two under the tiki huts. You can also use the outdoor swimming pool or just kick back and relax in the sand.

Sunset Grille & Raw Bar

At the restaurant, make sure to try some of the Florida Keys’ unique native fish species. The Sunset Grille has daily fish specials depending on what was caught that day. You can sample grouper, yellowtail, and even dolphin. At night, the bar bursts into a fun party with live music and dancing.

Bahia Honda State Park

It’s easy to connect to nature in much of Marathon. But for observing wildlife and hiking, Bahia Honda State Park is one of the top tourist attractions near Marathon. Located 20 minutes east of Marathon, the park teems with hiking trails and picture-perfect beaches on a scenic stretch of coastline.

Calusa Beach at Bahia Honda State Park

Rent kayaks or snorkeling gear from the visitor center to explore the crystal-clear waterways around Caloosa Beach, Loggerhead Beach, or Sandspur Beach. Or throw on some hiking clothes and trudge through one of the many trails winding through the tropical hammock. If you’re traveling with your family pet, the trails at Bahia Honda State Park are dog-friendly, too.

For magnificent sunset views and a clear view of the Florida stars, you can camp for a night or two in the park. You can even bring your own RV; the park offers full-service hookups for power and water.

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

For the ultimate cycling and running spot, hit the pavement at the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. The paved trail is only for pedestrians and connects the Florida Keys together. Along the 106-mile trail, you’ll also find several places for kayak and canoe launches.

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

Running from Key Largo to Key West, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail also connects to other major tourist South Florida attractions. Cross over to the mainland to get quick access to Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, as well as several beautiful Florida state parks.

Treksplorer

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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