While it’s within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, Sonny McCoy Indigenous Park is a rare patch of green space in the city of Key West. It offers something you won’t find elsewhere on the island: a natural freshwater pond. It attracts a parade of wildlife, especially flocks of birds, freshwater turtles, and herds of non-native iguanas. Appropriately, the Key West Wildlife Center occupies a corner of the park.
Location: Key West
Lat-Lon: 24.548757, -81.785160
Fees: free, but donations appreciated if you tour the wildlife center
Open: 9-5 daily
Restrooms: inside the park
Free parking is available for the park in a lot at the corner of White Street and Atlantic Blvd. Look for the park sign and enter through the Key West Wildlife Center.
Enter the park by climbing up the stairs into the Key West Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehab facility that takes in injured native animals and birds. You’ll see some of the wildlife recuperating in enclosures near the main building. Some cannot be released back into the wild due to the extent of their injuries.
Descending into the “backyard” of the center, follow the pathway to the right. This leads into the heart of the eight acre preserve, a fenced park with a dense canopy of native trees providing deep shade along the paved pathways. Benches and picnic tables provide places to take a break, read a book, or enjoy your lunch outdoors. Expect to see iguanas in the trees and in the grass. Watch carefully, and you might see one of the resident white-crowned pigeons, an endangered species.
The pathway ends at the pond, which always has a flurry of activity. A designated Audubon sanctuary, this freshwater pond has a resident population of turtles and ibis. An observation deck provides a comfy spot for birding.