Pigeon Key is the little island located in the center of the 7 Mile Bridge, the one about 99 percent of the population whizzes past at 65 mph.

A tour of the often-passed historic landmark is one of the best ways to spend a day in the Middle Keys. First, it’s really economical — admission to the island is just $12 for adults ($9 for locals) and $9 for kids ages 5 to 13. And the cost of admission includes a short boat ride!

The adventure starts at the red railcar on Knights Key at the east end of the 7 Mile Bridge. The ferry leaves at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. (reservations are suggested but not required). Although the public can walk to the island on the Old 7 Mile Bridge, the wooden bridge to access the island is closed to the public, so the ferry is the only way to go.

A tour guide will meet participants at the dock and take them on a tour of the island, a preserved snapshot of what the Overseas Railroad work camps used to look like. Explorers can look in some of the buildings, walk along the edge of an oceanwater basin and walk out on a long finger dock. The tour takes about 2.5 hours. Once back on Knights Key, visitors are just steps away from Sunset Grille and Raw Bar, easily spotted from a distance by its distinctive and enormous tiki-style roof.

The restaurant and bar has great food and drink specials, plus a pool. We recommend the Sunday BBQ on the pool deck, although the sushi on the regular menu is fantastic, too.

Pigeon Key Visitors Center

1 Knights Key Boulevard, $12/$9

Sunset Grille & Raw Bar

7 Knights Key Boulevard, $$

Editor Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes small and weird children (she has two); prefers target practice with a zombie rat poster; and looks best with saltwater dreads. Occasionally she tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister. 

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