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.
It’s likely to get messy in Key West on July 4 — at least for everyone who steps into the “limelight” to participate in the annual Key Lime Pie Eating Championship. Up to 25 contestants with an appetite for the Florida Keys’ luscious signature dessert will vie for top honors in the quirky challenge.
Looking for open-air natural experiences to enjoy in the Florida Keys? Visitors can find a wealth of intriguing spots — including the world’s first undersea park, a refuge for tiny Key deer, and remote Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson — to explore while discovering the island chain’s fascinating history and land-and-water environment.
In the Florida Keys, the Fourth of July means lively hometown parades, laid-back beach parties, on-the-water fun and lots of fireworks displays. Of course, holiday happenings in the Keys often feature an offbeat twist. So there’s also a July 4 event that illustrates the region’s quirky seaside spirit (and yes, it involves mermaids).
Visitors can discover Stock Island’s seafaring heritage, culinary diversity, community and unpretentious charm June 15-19 at the annual I Love Stock Island Festival. The family-friendly Father’s Day weekend fest is to blend food and libation offerings including the enticing ShrimpStock, art strolls, “dad-focused” fun, live music, a “dive-in” poolside movie and other events.
Key West has several beaches where people can beat the summer heat, but an even better way to “chill” is on a sailing excursion — whether on the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. Blu Q has offered gay sailing adventures for nearly 25 years, including all-male Sandbar & Snorkel trips and sunset sails.
Florida Keys visitors can join residents in becoming stewards of the island chain’s world-renowned coral reef ecosystem. Environmental enthusiasts can aid in reef restoration in the Keys, giving back to the living, dynamic underwater ecosystem. They can also benefit the underwater world by following responsible reef protection tips during their Keys vacations.
A unique refuge on the grounds of the Sheriff’s Office detention center near Key West shelters some surprising creatures: about 150 domestic and exotic animals from 45 species, ranging from armadillos to Kramer the emu. Benefiting both the animals and inmates who help care for them, the facility welcomes visitors twice each month.
The subtropical island of Key West will welcome revelers to its annual Pride celebrations June 1-5, with a jam-packed schedule that features several dozen Pride events. The festivities showcase the diversity and equality that help make the continental United States’ southernmost city a top vacation destination for LGBTQ visitors from around the world.
Divers and ocean enthusiasts can celebrate the 20th “sink anniversary” of the third-largest vessel ever intentionally scuttled to become an artificial reef — the retired 510-foot Navy Landing Ship Dock Spiegel Grove, which lies off Key Largo — with events May 15-17 and a contest to win a Keys trip to dive the famous wreck.