Before You Go
Coordinates | 24°46’35.0” N, 80°54’33.4” W
Baton Rouge to Duck Key | 1,020 miles
Driving Time | 14 hours, 41 minutes
Why Duck Key? | The 60-acre award-winning family-friendly resort reopened last year, following a $50 million renovation, and it’s evident that a welcoming spirit is ingrained in the fabric of the community. VP Managing Director Sheldon Suga says it best: “Our culture here is to care for everyone.”
A seal of approval from the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities assures guests that the resort leads in caring for those with special needs. Parents will find that this is a place where they can relax and breathe easy. Parents are also encouraged to contact the resort in advance about their family’s needs to ensure the best trip for every family member.
Where to Stay
With 177 rooms and 205 two or three bedroom villas, the resort offers variety. Family Guest Rooms feature bunk beds, a layout which sleeps five, with one king bed and a nontraditional bunk bed (the bottom bunk is full-size). For those wanting their own kitchen, the plentiful villa options will appeal as will the grocery home-delivery service.
Where to Eat
Families can hunker down for a full day around Coral Cay and the Pirate Ship Pool. Servicing the area, Coral Grill offers tasty grilled cheese for the kids frolicking about the pool and cool cocktails for moms and dads.
The Tiki Grill
Perfectly placed overlooking the popular saltwater lagoon and ocean, this eatery buzzes with good vibes and soft happy breezes while you dine. Comfortably camped out by the pool? Poolside service will bring salads, burgers and cold beers to your chair.
Angler & Ale
Let kids dine off the kids’ menu from the upstairs deck while watching fishing and recreational vessels pass by. If you’ve been out fishing and caught a ‘big one,’ the restaurant will prepare your catch per their popular “Hook & Cook” dining option. Captain’s Hours (2:30-5:30 p.m.) offer specials to tie hungry tummies over until dinnertime.
Things to Do
Parents will love the many complimentary resort perks, especially the array of kids’ activities. Consult the website or conveniently placed sandwich-board by the main pool for a daily schedule of resort events. Water-balloon toss, cornhole competition, face painting with Priscilla the Pirate Queen and s’mores at dusk along the lagoon, anyone?
Coral Cay Activities and Adventure Center is a kid-centric paradise. Kids of all ages will have a place to land, with the interactive Pirate Ship Pool, featuring slides, tunnels and water-spewing cannons, crafts and mini-golf, and for the littlest ones, babysitting. Kids can enroll in Camp Hawk, and teens will love the game room that is equipped with Wii, Guitar Hero and foosball. Outside, basketball courts and a sports field will keep the kids on the move. For kids with special needs, parents can choose one-on-one sessions with camp counsellors for no extra charge.
Around the Pirate Ship Pool, the sassy Priscilla the Pirate Queen, Clarence the First Mate, Captain Hawk, and the alluring Koral the Mermaid provide free shows for the kids through the Pirate Show. When not performing, look out for these “explosive personalities gallivanting about the resort, bringing laughter to kids and adults alike.”
Visit the dolphins at the resort by choosing the Discovery, Encounter or Dockside Experience option. Kids can connect with these smart gentle creatures and appreciate their magical draw like never before. Ramp access ensures that those who are living with physical needs can enjoy dolphin playtime, too. Families who’d rather not sign up for the program can still experience thrills of the dolphins’ tricks and antics from surrounding walkways accessible to all guests.
Consider booking a private snorkeling adventure for the family to allow the captain to cater to your whims and needs. Visit a popular sandbar, beloved by locals, where you can splash and enjoy the crystal clear water. For even more fun, add a Sunset Tour to your vacation to forever remember the brilliant Florida Key sunset.
Free of charge, guests can take paddleboards or kayaks out on the Saltwater Lagoon, enabling kids to try a new sport in a low-risk environment. The small lagoon, with no waves or current to contend with, is encircled by relaxed guests in chaise lounges.
Sombrero Beach is your closest beach getaway, an easy 10-minute drive. If you care to venture a little bit further, head to Bahia Honda State Park for an unforgettable beach experience. ■