You may have the impression that Key West is a party town. If you are looking for a good time amid lights, music and libations, you will definitely find that here. What you may not realize about our island paradise is its calm and tranquil side. Nature Walks in Key West are  best enjoyed surrounded by the unique sights, sounds and feeling of wellbeing that only nature can provide.

IMG_6176 (2)The Key West Wildlife Center, across from the White Street pier, is home to rescued native wildlife such as wild birds, sea turtles, land turtles, marine and land mammals. Admission to the eight acre Sonny McCoy Indigenous Park is free.  Walk along the paved trails through the verdant natural setting, providing easy access to the freshwater pond, pavilion and two aviaries.  Discover one such opportunity to commune with nature hidden in plain sight, near the end of White Street.IMG_6182 (2)

The dedicated professionals at the onsite clinic give the needed care to the rescued wildlife with the goal of returning them to their natural habitat to flourish.  with humans is sometimes dangerous as animals and birds are snagged by fish hooks and other watery perils. If an animal is not able to be released, care is taken in finding an appropriate educational setting where they are cared for as permanent residents and also serve as wildlife ambassadors helping visitors to appreciate the amazing diversity of our Keys wildlife. Animal sponsorships are available to aid in their care at the Center.

Berg Nature Preserve: Not far from the Wildlife Center is another gateway to tranquility. Turn left at the end of White Street and follow Atlantic Boulevard until you see a sign on the right, Nature Preserve. Here you’ll find a quarter mile, natural trail leading you through dense greenery, flowering bushes and a boardwalk through the mangroves. Your reward for the somewhat rustic trek is the unspoiled beach at the end of the trail with a panoramic view of the Straits of Florida.

This pocket of pristine nature was saved from the development of nearby condominiums and is now the city managed, Berg Nature Preserve. Stressing conservation and protection of the natural surroundings, this unusual spot is a joyous relief from the congestion of buildings and streets.

Tropical Forest and Botanical GardenIf you’re game to venture off this island to neighboring Stock Island, take a self-guided tour. Over fourteen lush acres of land conservation, replete with native plants and animals, is easily accessed through a series of boardwalks, both paved and unpaved nature trails and observation sites. The colorful butterfly garden, home to 23 species of butterflies, is a highlight not to be missed.

IMG_6344 (1)Ongoing educational events held at the Garden throughout the year advocate the importance of native plants and species in a natural conservation habitat. Whether you are a gardener, birder and nature enthusiast, spend the day, bring a picnic lunch and take your time to enjoy one of the last frost-free botanical gardens in the country. Must be why we’re here!