The Florida Keys are one of the most unique places in the country – and Marathon is right in the center of it. Marathon’s location makes it the perfect place to base yourself while exploring the Florida Keys. There are tons of things to do in Marathon, and it is an easy day trip to Key West from here.
Spread out over 13 islands, Marathon is known for its excellent fishing, boating, calm waters, and diving opportunities. It’s also home to the famous Seven Mile Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world.
Of course, you don’t have to spend your entire vacation on the water. Marathon is also home to several excellent museums, including the Crane Point Museum and Nature Center, which offer insights into the area’s history and ecology.
For something a little more lively, check out the Turtle Hospital, where you can learn about the work being done to protect these amazing creatures.
No matter what interests, Marathon has something to offer. So grab your swimsuit and your sense of adventure, and get ready to have an adventure in the Florida Keys!
Alright, let’s dive into the best things to do in Marathon!
Is Marathon worth visiting?
Yes! Don’t just drive through. You could easily spend a few days exploring all the things to do in Marathon. But if you don’t have days, we suggest at least half a day. On our last trip, we spent three nights and that was a good amount of time to experience most things that Marathon has to offer.
If you are staying in Key West or Key Largo, Marathon is an easy day trip.
What is Marathon Florida known for?
Marathon is most famous for all things on the water – boating, fishing, snorkeling, and diving.
How far is it from Marathon to Key West?
If you drive from Marathon to Key West, it is about 45 miles. It is an easy straight drive, but don’t just drive right through – there are lots of great stops on a Florida Keys Road Trip. It could take as little as an hour or so, but take your time and see this beautiful part of the world.
Depending on the time of year you visit the Florida Keys, staying in Marathon or one of the other Lower Keys might be a good option with friendly hotel prices. Some of the best hotels in Key West book out far in advance and have a hefty high season price tag.
Do you need a car in Marathon FL?
Yes. The only place in the Florida Keys that is possible without a car is Key West. All the below things to do in Marathon would require a car. If you don’t have a car and are staying in Key West, we suggest booking this tour to all of the highlights in Marathon.
Where is the best place to stay in Marathon?
We stayed at Grassy Flats Resort & Beach Club in one of their two-bedroom units, which is great for families traveling with children. Having a separate bedroom for kids is key! Check prices here.
Another great place to stay in Marathon is at Isla Bella Resort, we ate dinner here one night, and the grounds were gorgeous. It is at the higher end for sure, but the pools, views, and restaurants were all great and right on the grounds.
1. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
You can’t go to Florida without encountering some amazing sea life! The Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters is the perfect place to do just that. With this hands-on aquarium, you may come face-to-face with some of the world’s most fascinating marine life creatures of the sea.
This aquarium is a snorkeling, diving, and swimming adventure all in one. They have a variety of programs that will allow you to swim alongside marine animals. You might even be able to feed them in the touch tanks! You can touch a stingray, feed a tarpon, and even pet a shark. If you are looking for fun things to do in Marathon with kids, this is a must-visit.
Our son loved it so much that we went back twice. If you were to ask him what his number one things to do in Marathon was, it would be feeding the stingrays.
If you’re not looking to get wet, they also offer behind-the-scenes tours. These tours will show you how they take care of all the animals and what goes into making this place run. Make sure to stop by the gift shop and bring home a stuffed stingray!
If you are staying in Key West and want to visit, you can join this tour that includes a stop at the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters and several other things to do in Marathon on this list.
2. Drive the Seven Mile Bridge
What has often been called the 8th wonder of the world, the Seven Mile Bridge is one of the longest bridges in existence. It’s also one of the most beautiful, with stunning views of the Florida Keys. The drive itself is an experience, and you’ll want to take your time to enjoy it.
There are two ways to get to the bridge; you can either drive or take a shuttle bus. The drive is about an hour from Key West, and the shuttle bus will take you right to the bridge.
There’s also a pedestrian path on the side of the bridge for 2.2 miles, so if you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk or bike the Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. It is important to take plenty of water and sunscreen, as there is little shade on the bridge.
If you have been looking at the mile markers on the road, Seven Mile Bridge is at Mile Marker 47. I personally like seeing the mile markers. It tells me how far to Key West we are.
3. Sombrero Beach
One of the best beaches in Marathon is Sombrero Beach, and it is everything you would expect out of the Florida Keys. This beach has it all; soft white sand, turquoise blue waters, palm trees galore, and even a playground! It’s a great place to spend a day with family or friends.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy at Sombrero Beach. You can go swimming, sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, or even play a game of beach volleyball. If you get hungry, there are also several food trucks on-site and a picnic area. With Marathon experiencing such beautiful weather year-round, this beach is the perfect spot to escape the cold winters up north.
There is plenty of free parking right on the street too, which makes it easy to visit. There are picnic tables, so we suggest bringing some snacks or lunch and enjoying the gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean. Of all the sandy beaches in the Florida Keys, Sombrero Beach is our favorite.
We found ourselves at Sombrero Beach most mornings burning off some energy and calories! Make sure to check out some best breakfasts in Marathon. Our favorite was The Stuffed Pig.
Related Article – Best Beaches in Florida
4. Turtle Hospital
Get up close and personal with some of the cutest patients at the Turtle Hospital. This unique facility is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles. The hospital houses over 200 turtles, and you can even adopt one of your own!
The hospital is doing a phenomenal job of educating the public about the importance of preserving these magnificent creatures. They offer tours of the facility, where you can see the turtles being cared for and learn about the hospital’s work. The goal of the turtle hospital is to release all of its patients back into the wild, and so far, they’ve had a success rate of over 80%.
Keep in mind the tours do fill up fast, so be sure to book in advance. You can book in advance or donate online here.
Best Tour of Marathon from Key West
Short on time? Check out this tour that hits many highlights in and around Marathon all in one day from Key West.
Best Tour of Marathon – Includes Seven Mile Bridge, Aquarium Encounters, Bahia Honda State Park, National Key Deer Refuge, lunch, and more.
5. Curry Hammock State Park
Curry Hammock State Park is a nature lover’s paradise and a great spot for a day trip from Marathon. This park has a nature trail, mangrove forests, and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. There are also several beaches where you can go swimming, sunbathing, or kayaking.
One of the best things about Curry Hammock State Park is that it’s so diverse. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, whether you want to hike through the woods or lounge on the beach. This park is also great for bird watching, as there are over 200 species of birds that call this park home.
Curry Hammock State Park is located just a few miles from Marathon, and there is a general admission fee of $4.50 per person.
6. Go Fishing in Marathon
Fishing is one of the most popular activities in Marathon and for a good reason. The waters around Marathon are teeming with fish, and many charter companies can take you out for a day of fishing in Marathon.
Many people travel to Marathon to catch a trophy fish. With charters that specialize in deep-sea fishing, you can head out into the Gulf of Mexico to catch a big one. Book a private fishing charter in Marathon here. Make sure to book this at least a week in advance.
But there’s also plenty of great fishing to be had right in the Florida Keys. The best time of year to go fishing in Marathon is from November to April when the waters are calm and the fish are biting.
7. Crane Point Museum & Nature Center
The Crane Point Museum & Nature Center is a 63-acre preserve that is home to several historical buildings, a museum, and plenty of nature trails. This is the perfect place to learn about the history and ecology of the Florida Keys.
This museum is located in an old coral rock house, and it has exhibits on the early days of the Keys, the shipwrecking industry, and the endangered Key deer. Make sure to visit the Oldest House, which was built in 1904.
The nature center part of the museum is home to several different species of birds, reptiles, and mammals. You will find several trails that wind through the mangrove forests, and you can even go kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding in the bay.
We visited early in the morning, right when they opened, and we got on the golf cart tour with one of the tour guides. This was a great option for us, as for those traveling with kids and strollers (we had our Joolz Aer), it would be hard walking on the trails. The trails were not stroller friendly. The tour was a little on the long side, but it was much better than walking.
8. Sunset Cruise
A sunset cruise is my favorite way to end a day in Marathon. Watching the sky change colors as the sun sets over the water is an unforgettable experience. There are many different charter companies that offer sunset cruises, and most of them include a buffet dinner and unlimited drinks.
Sunset cruises are the perfect way to relax and unwind after a busy day exploring Marathon. There’s nothing better than watching the sunset with a cocktail in hand, and you’re sure to see some amazing views of the city from the water.
After sunset, we suggest dinner at one of many waterfront restaurants in Marathon. Our personal favorites would be Mahina at the Isla Bella Beach Resort. They have great sunset views and really good food, and they are one of the best restaurants in Marathon.
9. Visit Pigeon Key
Pigeon Key is a small island located just off the coast of Marathon. This island was once home to a work camp for the workers who built the Florida East Coast Railroad. Today, Pigeon Key is a museum that tells the story of the workers who lived and worked on this island.
You can take a guided tour of the museum, which includes the old workers’ barracks, the commissary, and the post office. After the tour, you can explore the island on your own or go swimming at the beach. Click here for tour prices and times.
10. Sunset Grille and Raw Bar
The Sunset Grille and Raw Bar is one of the best places in Marathon to watch the sunset and enjoy some oysters. This restaurant is located right on the water, and it has an open-air deck where you can enjoy the views. The menu features fresh seafood, and they have a full bar where you can get cocktails and local beer.
This is a must-visit restaurant in Marathon, especially if you love fresh seafood. The oysters are some of the best I’ve ever had, and the sunset views are unbeatable.
If you are looking to visit the best bars in the Florida Keys, make sure to stop at the Sunset Grille and, ideally, for sunset.
11. Marathon Air Museum
Perfect for a rainy day or just a break from the Florida heat. The Marathon Air Museum is located in an old Navy hangar, and it has a collection of vintage aircraft and memorabilia. This is the perfect place to learn about the history of aviation in the Florida Keys.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the museum, and listen to knowledgeable pilots about the aircraft on display. You can even sit in the cockpit of a vintage airplane!
12. Helicopter Tour
See the beautiful Florida Keys from above on a helicopter tour! This is a great activity for the whole family, and it’s the perfect way to get some unique views of the city of Marathon and the nearby Keys.
Many of the helicopter tours include a stop at an uninhabited island where you can enjoy untouched nature and pop some champagne.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s the perfect way to see the beauty of the Florida Keys from above
13. Eat Fresh Fish at Keys Fisheries
If you love fresh seafood, then you need to eat at Keys Fisheries. This is one of the best places in Marathon (if not all of the Florida Keys) to get your seafood fix, and they have a market and a restaurant on-site.
The market sells fresh fish that you can take home and cook, or you can eat at the restaurant where they will cook it for you. My favorite is the conch fritters… YUM! Check out the Keys Fisheries menu here.
The restaurant is casual, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal of fresh seafood. You can even watch the boats come in and unload their catch.
14. Dolphin Research Center
We all know someone that is obsessed with dolphins.. ok maybe we are ALL obsessed with dolphins. Either way, a trip to the Dolphin Research Center is a popular Marathon activity. This research facility is dedicated to dolphin research, education, and conservation. You can take a tour of the facility and learn about the work they are doing to protect these amazing animals.
The 90,000-square-foot facility is home to several bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions, ensuring that the animals have a happy and healthy life. If this
For us, this activity is on most people’s lists, but for the price, we thought it was not worth it. We only stayed about 40 minutes. If you don’t have a ton of time, we don’t suggest putting this as one of the top things to do in Marathon on your Marathon itinerary.
Related: Things to do in Key West
15. Keys Cable Park
Keys Cable Park is the perfect place to spend a day if you love wakeboarding, waterskiing, or kneeboarding. This man-made lake is specifically designed for these activities, and it has a cable system that pulls you around the lake.
If you are a beginner, don’t worry! They offer lessons for all levels, and you can even rent all the gear you need.
If you aren’t up for getting up on a board yourself, it is still worth visiting. Visit Bongos Beer Garden, a cute little bar and restaurant where you can grab a drink and watch others out wakeboarding. This is what we did because we had both kids with us.
Keys Cable Park is located on Grassy Key just outside of the city of Marathon. We stayed at Grassy Flats Resort & Beach Club, which was right down the road.
When making the drive from Miami to Key West, you will find yourself driving right through Marathon. But why just drive through? Consider staying a few nights. It is the best way to explore Marathon further!