From Key Largo to Key West, the calendar is packed with events designed to spread seasonal cheer — including a traditional Islamorada favorite that features actual snow. Yes, despite the Keys’ typically balmy winter temperatures, grownups and kids of all ages can delight in snow Friday, Dec. 2, during Islamorada’s Florida Keys Holiday Fest.
The continental United States’ only contiguous living coral barrier reef, which parallels the Florida Keys, hosts huge populations of tropical fish and other sea creatures. The warm, clear water makes a long dive in the Keys comfortable and enjoyable. And around Halloween each year, divers can immerse themselves while actually carving pumpkins underwater!
Want to hunt the skittish gray ghost of the flats, the bonefish? Come to the Keys. Feel like battling a reel-emptying blue marlin? Come to the Keys. The subtropical weather, nearby Gulf Stream and long arc of islands that makes up the Florida Keys create one of the world’s best fishing environments.
Few people visit the Florida Keys without sampling a few pieces of Key lime pie, renowned as the island chain’s signature dessert. Millions of slices of the tart, creamy treat — voted the official pie of Florida by the state legislature in 2006 (yes, really!) — are savored every year by Keys visitors and locals.
Encouraging actions that support the environment is a vital element of the Florida Keys’ commitment to protecting the island chain’s natural resources. And from Big Pine Key to Key West, visitors can find a wide variety of positive environmental activities and attractions that illustrate how to share that commitment — while making lasting memories.
The southernmost point of the continental United States, and the last “key” in the string of Florida Keys, Key West is a tiny equator-kisser island at the very tip of Florida. Guest blogger Reagan Fountain offers insightful thoughts on why the island oasis is widely regarded as “nothing short of a subtropical paradise.”
Ken Nedimyer, an Upper Keys–based director of Reef Renewal Foundation International, is globally recognized as a father of reef restoration, creating strategies to rebuild coral reefs around the world. He oversees three coral nurseries in the Keys — off Tavernier, Big Pine Key and Marathon — that house 21 coral species with 1,000 genotypes.
Visitors can enjoy the indigenous flavors of the Florida Keys, and even take home mouthwatering “souvenirs” to help sustain them until their next vacation escape. For example, any traveler in the Upper Keys who craves sweets can stop at several spots along the Overseas Highway to discover unforgettable goodies with an island flair.
New Year’s Eve celebrations in Key West typically feature balmy weather and a warmhearted welcome for visitors eager to escape freezing northern temperatures. Festivities include several offbeat takeoffs on the traditional ball drop in New York’s Times Square — even one that stars drag queen Sushi being “dropped” in a supersized red high heel.
The Florida Keys have long been a popular choice for film producers seeking a subtropical adventure setting for their next cinematic project. Since the late 1940s, the island chain has played a role in many notable films — ranging from Bogart's "Key Largo" to James Bond classics and contemporary fare like "The Beach Bum."