viernes, 19 de mayo de 2023



The Florida Keys & Key West are preparing to celebrate a bicentennial, or 200th anniversary, with heritage activities throughout Monroe County. Events commemorate the Florida Territorial Legislature's establishment of Monroe County July 3, 1823.

Keys museum exhibits, art showcases and festivals are themed to celebrate the island chain's historic anniversary and vibrant heritage.

Community activities are to include a June 10 Sea to Table Dinner at Bud N' Mary's Marina in Islamorada to showcase the region's longstanding fishing industry, seafood and talented chefs. Keys fishing captains are to host each table. Attendees can also view Keys artists' work and historic photos, and visit Mote Marine Laboratory's on-site coral nursery during the event.

On the afternoon of June 17, a celebratory picnic is scheduled at Rowell's Waterfront Park in Key Largo with activities to include swimming, sailing and live music by the Mangrove Swamp Band and others.

In the Lower Keys on July 3 — Bicentennial Day — plans call for themed festivities, traditional fireworks with a laser light show, and the creation of the world's largest Key lime pie, expected to measure 13.14  feet in diameter. The gargantuan version of the Florida Keys' signature dessert is to be certified in a resolution by Monroe County commissioners. The high-energy event is to also feature live music by Brian Roberts and the Prime Movers and former American Idol finalist and Keys resident Kristen McNamara. 

Among what's new in the Keys:

Keys Accommodations

At Everglades National Park, the all-new 24-unit Flamingo Lodge & Restaurant is slated to officially open this fall. The lodge is to offer 24 units with kitchenettes including studios and one- and two-bedroom suites fronting Florida Bay. The park's fully renovated pink Guy Bradley Visitor Center — with interactive exhibits, a gift shop and expansive views overlooking Florida Bay — also is scheduled to open in fall. The park is the continental United States' third-largest national park at 2,400 square miles. It celebrated its 75th anniversary in December 2022 in Monroe County's Flamingo area, a 50-minute drive from the park's entrance in Homestead, Florida. Bird species found in the park include the roseate spoonbill, white pelican, reddish egret and painted bunting. Visit or or call 855-708-2207.

In Islamorada, the new 12-acre Sun Outdoors Islamorada has opened at 87395 Old Highway oceanside. The resort features 82 full hookup RV sites with amenities including pergolas, outdoor kitchens, patio furniture, 47 boat slips at three marinas, pool and private poolside cabanas, kayak and watersport offerings, clubhouse, organized events, camp store, workout center, Tiki hut, second-story ocean view lounge and complimentary Wi-Fi. Sun Outdoors Islamorada is Florida's 59th Sun Outdoors resort and the third in the Keys, in addition to Sun Outdoors Key Largo and Sun Outdoors Marathon. All three are pet friendly. On-site are 48 pastel-hued vacation homes for sale. Visit or or call 888-886-2477 or 786-841-0030.

In Islamorada Chesapeake Beach Resort has unveiled new villas as well as a new boat ramp and a new dock. The property currently offers 52 units with balconies, 11 villas with outdoor paved patios, two pools, a beach bar cart and a beach venue for weddings, events, family reunions and corporate retreats of up to 100. Villas, each with a kitchenette, include an 830-square-foot ocean king villa, a 700-square-foot one-bedroom ocean view, a 650-square-foot two-bedroom, 520-square-foot king and ADA-compliant king efficiencies, and 320-square-foot standard king units. Kayaks and fishing rods can be rented on-site. Visit or call 305-664-4662.

On Duck Key, Hawks Cay Resort offers a new scuba partnership through Marathon-based Better Than Most Scuba, offering snorkeling, SDI and PADI dive certification, lobstering and spearfishing courses and excursions for resort guests. With its Coast Guard–certified vessel Diane Marie — stocked with water, fresh fruit and reef-safe sunscreen — the scuba operator takes a maximum 15 divers on each trip. The 60-acre Middle Keys resort has 177 guest rooms, 250 two- and three-bedroom villas and 20,000 square feet of oceanfront meeting and event space. Visit or call 888-395-5539 or or call 305-432-1214.

Two new Florida Keys “Aqua Lodges” with waterfront two-bedroom, one-bath tiny house–style accommodations have been added in Marathon, and a central Keys reservation line and booking website are now operational. An additional 38 Aqua Lodges are available for overnight stays at marinas in Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West. Each 350-square-foot lodge has a full kitchen, flat screen TV and air conditioning and accommodates four adults and two children. Visit or call 888-976-0794.

In Key West,  Mellow Ventures Backcountry Outfitters is launching a catamaran cottage for overnight accommodations, with bookings expected to be available beginning in late May.  The new “Outpost,” a fully restored former cigar-maker's cottage that accommodates overnight parties of up to six, is built on 50-foot catamaran hulls. All-inclusive, customized Backcountry Eco Vacations include on-the-water stays, experiences and healthy meals, and feature three tiers: the Eco Outpost with a Tiki boat dockside, Eco Sailing with a dockside catamaran and Eco Adventure with overnight trips from the Dry Tortugas to Everglades National Park. The backcountry charter company has locations at 1605 N. Roosevelt Blvd. and at 201 William St. Its Mellow Café & Gastropub on North Roosevelt Boulevard has expanded outdoor seating for up to 60. It serves vegan fare, artisan tacos, exotic meats and craft beer. Visit or call 305-745-3874.

In Key West, The Keys Collection's four properties — The Gates Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Key West, 24 North Hotel and Fairfield Inn & Suites — offer lively monthly programming featuring “puppy yoga” classes and Paint & Sip Nights with local artist Lance Berry. The Collection's “Na Ma Sit & Stay Yoga” is held the second Sunday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at the Sunset Green Event Lawn. Admission is complimentary; a $10 donation per person is suggested with all proceeds donated to Florida Keys SPCA. The Paint & Sip Night is offered the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Republica Bar & Lounge at 24 North. Reservations are required; a $40 admission per person includes a complimentary cocktail. The hotels collectively feature 519 rooms, six bars, four pools and five dining options. Meeting and event space includes Sunset Green Event Lawn, an outdoor green landscaped area of more than 12,000 square feet and space for 1,200 guests. Visit or call 786-644-1600.

Keys Attractions

In Key Largo at Mote Marine Laboratory's third land-based Keys facility —  the Key Largo Coral Nursery at Reefhouse Resort, located at 103800 Overseas Highway — a new “Slice of Paradise” activity enables participants to experience microfragmentation, using a small diamond-bladed saw to create small coral fragments. After slicing the coral, participants mount the fragments onto ceramic pedestals to allow growth at the land-based nursey until the fragments are large enough to outplant onto Florida's Coral Reef. Participants also tour the facility and learn about endangered coral species and Mote's genetic diversity and resiliency-focused strategies. Minimum age is 10 and those ages 10-17 must be accompanied by a paying adult. The experience is priced at $125 per person. To schedule, visit, email or call 219-363-3493.

Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder (DPMMR) rescue group is developing The Protect Center as South Florida's only working and teaching veterinary hospital to treat injured bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine mammals. The new hospital facility, located at 82748 Overseas Highway bayside in Islamorada, is to include a 40-foot-diameter pool for long-term marine mammal rehabilitation, an educational classroom and a 3,000-square-foot marine conservation-themed museum. It's slated to be fully open by late summer. Currently, the Protect Center's retail space is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The center's affiliated experiential learning facility, The Connect Center, is located at 31 Corrine Place in Key Largo. DPMMR has responded to more than 700 injured, sick and stranded marine mammals in the Keys. Visit or call 305-453-4321.

In Marathon the Pigeon Key Visitor Center and Pigeon Key train depot have a new location at 1090 Overseas Highway bayside at the old Seven Mile Marina property. Pigeon Key Express train tours depart daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. with check-in at least 10 minutes prior to departure. Lying beneath the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge, the tiny island of Pigeon Key was a work camp for laborers constructing the bridge in the early 1900s and now features restored buildings and a museum. Guided tours of Pigeon Key, which can be booked online, begin at the yellow picnic tables on the south side of the bridge tender's building by the umbrellas. The Historic Florida Keys Foundation recently designated two ceramic star awards to Monroe County Project Management for preservation and restoration of the Pigeon Key Honeymoon Cottage (its construction began in 1942), and commissary buildings (whose construction started in 1913). Visit or call 305-743-5999.

In Key West's Truman Waterfront Park, the state-of-the-art family-friendly Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, with contemporary new exhibits that highlight Florida Keys mangrove habitats and allow interaction with life-size mangrove branches, is open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A freestanding main exhibit focuses on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, while other exhibits include a colorful light-filled aquarium showcasing coral restoration, the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail and an interactive paddleboard experience through mangroves. The center is located at 35 Quay Road. Visit or call 305-809-4750.

In Key West, Pride of Key West, operated by Fury Water Adventures, carries on a  glass-bottom boat tradition that marks its 70th anniversary this year. In 1953 the Fireball, the island's first commercial glass-bottom boat, began operating from a dock at the foot of Duval Street on the Gulf of Mexico. Today the dock is home to Pride of Key West, a contemporary window on the undersea world that continues the city's seven-decade glass-bottom boat tradition. The 60-foot air-conditioned glass-bottom catamaran carries passengers on narrated eco-excursions to view the continental United States' only coral barrier reef and colorful marine life such as subtropical fish, rays and sea turtles. Visit or call 888-976-0899.

Keys Television and Podcast

The Florida Keys & Key West have launched FloridaKeysTV, a free on-demand globally streaming channel that showcases exclusive programming dedicated to the island chain. The channel is available on Amazon, Android Mobile and TV, Apple TV, Apple IOS for iPhone and iPad, Fire TV, Roku, Samsung and LG. "Our new on-demand streaming channel, free to download and watch, is an easy, convenient way for viewers to experience Keys-dedicated programming," said Stacey Mitchell, director of the Florida Keys tourism council. "Viewers can explore the entire island chain, learn about sustainability initiatives such as 'Connect & Protect', experience deep-sea fishing adventures and discover the Keys' unique culture and cuisine.” Florida-based Crawford Entertainment, creator of the “How to Do Florida” TV series, produced the channel and is managing its dedicated programming. FloridaKeysTV features more than 75 hours of family-friendly one-hour and half-hour episodes focusing on history, environmental stewardship, eco-tourism, fishing, diving and travel adventures. Additional programming is slated. Visit or

A new “Florida Keys Traveler” podcast, a 30-episode series showcasing the continental United States' southernmost island chain from the early 1800s to the present, launched globally March 23 on more than 25 platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Two episodes per week are scheduled, with the podcast's last episode to air Monday, July 3, commemorating the Florida Territorial Legislature's establishment of Monroe County July 3, 1823. Produced by Armchair Productions, episodes feature Keys personalities including historians, wildlife experts, colorful locals, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and adventurers. Host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley has hosted shows on KABC Radio and Southern California Public Radio station KPCC and is immediate past-president of the Society of American Travel Writers. Visit or

Keys Pride

The Key West Business Guild is planning a 20th anniversary celebration to commemorate the island city's famed 1.25-mile-long sea-to-sea rainbow flag, billed as the world's longest rainbow flag, with events to take place during the guild-produced Pride festivities set for June 7-11, 2023. The flag was sewn in Key West in 2003 by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker to mark the 25th anniversary of his original banner's debut. To highlight Pride 2003, it was unfurled by several thousand volunteers along the entire length of the island's Duval Street, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, with its ends dipped simultaneously into the two bodies of water in a sea-to-sea demonstration of diversity and pride. The 2023 celebration's highlight is to be a three-night laser light show that re-creates the flag above Duval Street, with its colors once again stretching the nearly 1.25-mile length of the renowned thoroughfare. Visit or call 305-294-4603.

Keys Makers

The Lower Keys' Grimal Grove, billed as the first and only breadfruit grove in the continental United States, has launched Mutiny Island Vodka – Grimal Grove Reserve, the only spirit distilled from Keys breadfruit grown at Grimal Grove. It's crafted in partnership with St. Croix–based Mutiny Island Reserve Vodka and is available at stores in Key Largo, Islamorada, Summerland Key and Key West. Future plans include distilling the spirit in the Keys. Grimal Grove also offers 90-minute guided “fruit excursions” showcasing species of subtropical fruits, trees and plants. Visitors can sample breadfruit and other fruits, attend plant clinics and learn about 1950s-era hermit Adolf Grimal, a recluse who designed Old Grimal Estate at 258 Cunningham Lane on Big Pine Key. It's open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon for guided and self-guided tours. Visit or call or text 305-923-6663 to book a tour.

Keys Accolades

Tripadvisor has named Key West among the 10 most popular domestic visitor destinations in its 2023 Travelers' Choice Best of the Best awards. Key West ranks seventh on the roster of the United States' domestic destinations. “Key West offers a laid-back and warm embrace to its visitors — an atmosphere and a welcome that continue to draw people from around the U.S. and the world to share that experience," said Stacey Mitchell, director of the Florida Keys tourism council. Key West was cited for its refreshingly slow pace, history as a haven for U.S. presidents and literary legends Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, exceptional diving and the kid-friendly Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. The Travelers' Choice Best of the Best awards are the highest honors bestowed by Tripadvisor, billed as the world's largest travel guidance platform. Award winners are selected annually based on millions of reviews and opinions collected from travelers around the world. Visit


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