What can you do in the upper Keys when you can't be out on the water?

At first glance it does seem that all there is to do around here is fish, snorkel or dive; although those activities are spectacular here, there are plenty of other things to do if the weather isn't cooperating (or if diving, snorkeling or fishing isn't your cup of tea).

With a little imagination and information you and your family or friends can find plenty of fun activities to keep you entertained..

1) Have a progressive luncheon : This is a twist on an activity that ladies' clubs used to do back in the 1940s through the early 1960s. Take an umbrella and start at one place for drinks, then move on to another place for appetizers, another for a main course, another for dessert. Take your time. Many places are on the waterfront (bayside or oceanside)--take a walk around the property after you eat. Since you're only having one thing at each place, you're also getting a little preview of the food, ambience and service of several different places without laying out a fortune for one big meal--you may just find a great place to come back to for dinner! Lunchtime isn't as busy as dinnertime for a lot of places, and lunch prices aren't as expensive. There is a fine assortment of eateries in the Keys, so grab a phone book and plot your course!

2) Local information, activities for adults and kids, computers to use, cd/dvd/video and book rentals all in one place? Yes, at the library! Make use of all of the resources at the local libraries--there is one in the Tradewinds Plaza (mile marker 101 on the ocean side) in Key Largo. You'll have lots of free or inexpensive activities and info at your fingertips plus you'll be supporting a very worthy establishment. 

3) Shop locally: Fairly new to the upper Keys, there is now a well-established indoor/outdoor Farmer's Market on the bayside , just south of the Tradewinds Plaza. Fresh fruits and veggies, arts and crafts, live plants, souveniers and lots more are sold here. There are also many small shops along U.S. 1 from Key Largo all the way down to Key West that feature everything from local artisans you can think of: clothing, jewelry, art and sculpture, fountains and fireplaces, even baked goods. Instead of buying that plastic alligator keychain at the big Mart, take home a unique, locally made souvenier!  

4) Visit some feathered or finned locals at the Wild Bird Center (between mile markers 93 and 94 on the bay side in Key Largo) or the Dolphin Research Center (just south of Marathon on Grassy Key). For a small entrance fee you can tour the grounds and meet the dolphins and their babies at the Research Center (if you want to swim with the dolphins, reserve at least 6 months in advance) A walking tour of the Wild Bird Center is free (donations for medical supplies and food for the birds are highly appreciated though) Depending on who's in residence you're likely to see owls, hawks, cormorants, pelicans, egrets and herons. This is not a zoo. The Wild Bird Center rescues and rehabilitates wild birds that have been injured or are otherwise in need of help until they can be released again.

Well folks, there are a few ideas for you about what to do when it rains in the upper Keys. The list isn't long, but then again it doesn't need to be; because this island chain is narrow and surrounded by the Florida Bay/Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, most of the rain clouds move through pretty fast. Come on down and visit the Keys ..there's a chair on the beach with your name on it!