The community of Marathon, located in the Middle Florida Keys, features wonderful wildlife rehabilitation facilities, a lively performance theater and a variety of cozy inns, luxury resorts, waterside vacation homes, RV parks, marinas and casual dining emporiums.
Crane Point Hammock, a unique historic and horticultural site, contains trees and plants found nowhere else in the United States. (Photo courtesy of Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trail)
When you visit the Middle Keys, you’ll also find creative spaces, natural attractions, scenic parks, trails, sightseeing spots and historic sites that make for an appealing blend of heritage, culture and nature. For example …
Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trail. Recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 63.5-acre tract at 5550 Overseas Highway (mile marker 50.5) is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Florida Keys — it even contains evidence of prehistoric Indian artifacts, and once was the site of a Bahamian village. The attraction’s on-site Adderly House, built in 1904 as a classic Bahamian-style home, is the oldest Keys house outside of Key West (and it’s listed on the National Register too).
Also on-site stands a bright-red Florida East Coast Railway train car, located at the site of Marathon’s original train station, and the Crane House that dates back to 1954. The Crane House, renovated in late 2021, is the Keys’ first venue outside of Key West to earn the Historic Florida Keys Foundation star designation. Surrounding the Museum of Natural History of the Florida Keys and the Florida Keys Children’s Museum are a kayak launch, shaded nature trails and natural habitat for birds and butterflies. Ask about the completely unique “fish pedicure” — you’ll be glad you did!
At Marathon Wild Bird Center, volunteers and local veterinarians have rescued or protected more than 22,000 wild birds such as hawks, ospreys, spoonbills and egrets. Injured birds are nursed back to health and released.
Marathon Wild Bird Center. Within Crane Point’s captivating flora is the small facility whose volunteers and local veterinarians have rescued or protected an amazing 22,000-plus wild birds such as hawks, ospreys, spoonbills and egrets. Injured birds are nursed back to health and released. Visitors not only help this very worthy center by exploring, but also support efforts through donating medical supplies including bandages and tapes, bird carriers, fresh fish and bird food (as well as money).
Marathon Community Theatre. Started as a small community group in 1944, the theater has grown to perform many shows each year — all spotlighting a talented group of local residents. Comedies, musicals, dramatic presentations and readings are offered at the popular spot, with most productions staged between October and April (“The Rocky Horror Show” debuts Oct. 27). The theater is located at 5101 Overseas Highway, mile marker 49.5 oceanside.
Old Seven Mile Bridge. Enjoy one of the Middle Keys’ most iconic experiences: cycle, walk, run, rollerblade, view marine life and watch sunrises and sunsets along a 2.2-mile section of the famed Old Seven Mile Bridge. The venerable old bridge, originally the centerpiece of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad that was completed in 1912, parallels a contemporary bridge that’s part of the Keys’ Overseas Highway. Nicknamed “Old Seven,” the oft-photographed 2.2-mile span reopened to pedestrian recreation in January 2022 after a multiyear restoration. Essentially a linear park, it’s the gateway to historic Pigeon Key.
Pigeon Key visitors can explore an intriguing museum that chronicles the island’s history. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)
Pigeon Key. Lying beneath the Old Seven Mile Bridge at mile marker 44.8, Pigeon Key formerly served as a camp for laborers constructing the iconic bridge. The tiny island now features a museum, offers opportunities to picnic and snorkel, and hosts a marine science research program for school-age children. Daily tours are available. Reach Pigeon Key by walking or bicycling the Old Seven Mile Bridge, or by riding the recently launched visitor tram designed to resemble a train.
Shady Palm Art Gallery & Photography. Savor a leisurely exploration of this one-stop-shop emporium located at 2888 Overseas Highway. Owners Barry and Lori Gaukel feature only Keys artists, artisans and creative minds in the spacious gallery and gift shop. Each of over 50 local artists creates bold, unique pieces that include paintings, prints, jewelry, pottery, woodcarving, coconut art and much more. Shady Palm is the perfect place to purchase a memento to remember your Middle Keys visit.
Want to discover more enticing attractions in Marathon and the Middle Keys? Just click here and then start planning your visit!