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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in the Florida Keys
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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in the Florida Keys

My husband and I decided to go on another adventure, so we loaded up the RV and headed down to the Florida Keys. We planned our trip and stayed at John Pennekamp State Park. We had an awesome visit while we were there. John Pennekamp is known for it's 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. They have six additional 100 to 200 gallon aquariums, allowing views of some of the other park's marine inhabitants. There is also a theater, located in the visitor information building, allowing visitors views of nature videos, relating to the park and the surrounding area. The Visitor Center also features natural history exhibits. John Pennekamp is an undersea park with vibrant marine life to enjoy. For further information about activities, camping and amenities, please visit John Pennekamp State Park

During the warmer months, and it sure is warm a lot here in Florida, we always try to find an accessible place for swimming of some sort. It was the beginning of October and we were celebrating my birthday. One of the reasons we chose John Pennekamp was because it has two beaches, Cannon Beach and Far Beach. The Cannon Beach swimming area is wonderful for younger swimmers, as the setting is a tropical lagoon, but if snorkeling is your thing, about 100 feet off Cannon Beach, you can see remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck. Now for me, Far Beach was a great surprise and ADA accessible via an awesome Mobi-Mat that goes right down from the parking lot to the water's edge! I was impressed, to say the least, being able to ride my power chair right down to the water's edge, set up a blanket and hang out on the beach. I have some pics of the Mobi-Mat in the picture slideshow below and is the featured photo of this blog post. I was able to get in the water, which is so invigorating and healthful for post polio syndrome. Also, if you need a beach wheelchair, they are available upon request. I just used my own power chair and utilized the Mobi-Mat without any difficulty. For more information about Mobi-Mat visit Mobi-Mat.

There are also boat tours at John Pennekamp. They have "The Encounter," a wheelchair-friendly snorkeling vessel that features wheelchair tie-downs, as well as an oversized marine restroom for guests. There are actually, four different types of boat tours so that park visitors have the best opportunity to experience the park's coral reef system. The glass-bottom trips depart from the park's docks three times a day, 365 days a year, weather permitting. The snorkel boat trips depart four times a day. Both of these tours last 2½ hours and allow for 1 ½ hours of reef time to view the park's living coral and its associated marine life up close and personal. We went on the glass bottom boat tour, and we were able to see turtles and fish in their natural habitat. It was awesome! The ride out in the glass bottom boat and back, was also very relaxing, enjoyable and I could stay right in the comfort of my wheelchair. 

There were many beautiful shore birds to see, as well as, canoeing, kayak and boat rentals available, picnicking in designated areas and a great gift shop operated by the Coral Reef Park Company, Inc.

As far as giving this park a rating, in my opinion, I rate it a 4.5 stars, with 5 being the highest. The trails weren't really very accessible, which is why I gave it a 4.5, but overall it was accessible and did have accessible areas and activities.

And then, to celebrate my birthday we headed off to visit Key West and toured the great shops, wonderful restaurants, bars and stayed for sunset at Mallory Square! Take an awesome vacation and enjoy life! Head on down to the Florida Keys!

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