A couple of blocks off of the main tourist area of Key West, Florida, visitors will find the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. The Center is over 6,000 square feet and is full of different exhibits, a living reef exhibit, and more.
We almost skipped the Eco-Discovery Center. It had been raining all morning and we were soaking wet. Once the rain let up, it was so steamy from the humidity that every breath felt like we were swimming underwater. The kids were tired, hot, thirsty and just over vacationing. As we looked at a map and realized that it was about an additional ten minute walk away from the route that we would take to our next destination, we were seriously thinking about scrapping the visit. My husband gently reminded me that we were probably not going to be back to the Florida Keys any time soon and if I wanted to visit the Center, we should go.
The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center was worth the walk and I am so glad that we made it. When you open the doors to the Center, you are greeted by the frigid air making the whole trip worth it! The restrooms are clean and the water fountains are cold. While you enjoy the air conditioning, you will walk through different exhibits interpreting the different Florida Keys habitats like the pinelands and the beach dunes. There is a living reef filled with beautiful tropical fish and coral reefs.
My daughter loved the Aquarius exhibit the most. The NOAA Aquarius Reef Base is the world’s only undersea research station and is located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Scientists live in the Aquarius during ten-day missions and conduct various studies. The Aquarius exhibit is a mock-up of the real thing. Wander in and out and explore how the scientists live when they are in the Aquarius. There is even a video porthole that makes you feel like you are underwater.
Once you have finished exploring the different exhibits, don’t miss the movie titled “Reflections of the Florida Keys.” I am fairly certain that my husband and my son fell asleep to the narrator’s soothing voice during the movie but both my daughter and I really enjoyed it. We liked the underwater footage and sitting in the air conditioning didn’t hurt either.