Let’s face it: a single Florida Keys visit just isn’t enough. Even if you explore only one of the Keys’ five unique districts, chances are awfully good that you’ll realize your vacation is too short.

Blue heron Florida Keys

A blue heron prowls the flats just off Anne’s Beach in Islamorada, looking for food. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

The best solution, then, is a return trip. From secluded natural areas to little-known historic sites, foodie favorites to environmental attractions, you can make new discoveries every time you visit the enticing island chain.

For example, did you know Key Largo is home to a mecca for chocolate lovers? If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you MUST stop at Keys Chocolates & Ice Cream, located at mile marker 100.5 bayside on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway (and if you pass it, there’s a second store at mile marker 81.9 in Islamorada). Founded in 2010, Keys Chocolates infuses local flavors into handmade chocolate and ice cream treats — such as Key lime or mango chocolate truffles and luscious Key lime pie ice cream.

Just down the Overseas Highway in Islamorada, pull off the road and go wading in the shallows at a lovely little oceanside beach at mile marker 73.5. It bears the charming name of Anne’s Beach in recognition of the late Upper Keys environmentalist Anne Eaton. Attractions include great views, picnic tables and a scenic boardwalk — and the shallow water typically means no breaking waves. Netflix fans might recognize the beach, since it was featured in the original series “Bloodline” that was filmed primarily in the Keys.

Travel a bit farther and you’ll find yourself at Long Key State Park, located on the Atlantic Ocean at mile marker 67.5. The Spanish named this island “Cayo Vivora” or Rattlesnake Key (really!), because it’s shaped like a snake with its jaws open.

Keys Fisheries lobster

Keys Fisheries’ signature Lobster Reuben is a can’t-miss treat at the Marathon eatery.

In the early 20th century, Long Key was home to a fishing resort frequented by legendary western writer and passionate angler Zane Grey. Today, you can explore the island by paddling through its connected lagoons or hiking two land-based trails. Check out the Golden Orb Trail’s 1.5 miles of diverse plant and animal life and shoreline.

Head down the highway through Marathon and, shortly before the Seven Mile Bridge begins, make a sharp right onto Gulfview Avenue. Perched on the waterfront at the end of the short street is one of the best-known casual seafood restaurants in the Keys: Keys Fisheries.

Try the fresh stone crab claws, peel-and-eat Key West shrimp, savory conch chowder or indescribably amazing Lobster Reuben. You can’t go wrong at this funky spot that’s a favorite of savvy locals.

If you’ve ever visited Big Pine Key, you probably looked for the tiny, shy Key deer — a protected species found only in the Lower Keys.

These skittish creatures are most likely to be roaming around at dawn or dusk, and it’s a real treat to spot one. Make a stop at the National Key Deer Refuge Nature Center, located at mile marker 30.5 bayside, and learn about the unique deer and their recovery from near-extinction — a true environmental success story.

Key Deer Florida Keys

Tiny Key deer are protected within the Lower Florida Keys’ National Key Deer Refuge. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Unexpected discoveries await in Key West, too. Among them is the historic, never-used Civil War–era fort called West Martello Tower, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at 1100 Atlantic Blvd.

Since the 1950s, it’s been headquarters for the Key West Garden Club. The fort’s weathered brick walls frame exotic orchids and bromeliads, rare and indigenous palms and plants, a peace garden and labyrinth, a butterfly garden, a perfume garden and other lush plantings. The oceanfront gazebo offers breeze-cooled serenity — as does the entire free-admission haven.

And if you enjoy prowling around unusual shops, Key West features one of the best: an honest-to-goodness “curiosity shop” called 90 Miles to Cuba.

You’ll find everything from local art to nautical antiques, vintage jewelry and an eclectic collection of books (even old Hardy Boys tales, if you’re lucky!). It’s located at 616 Greene St. and its hours are as eccentric as the emporium itself; just keep checking back till the weathered wooden door is open.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, these are only a handful of the spots worth exploring in the Keys. So start planning your next trip to the colorful island chain … and compile your own list of must-see gems.