Known for creative, colorful, sometimes quirky artwork and a rich diversity of handcrafted artisan wares, the Florida Keys are internationally recognized for artistry inspired by stunning seascapes, landscapes and a light-drenched subtropical color palette. This season, the Keys feature fresh-air strolls that explore the matchless talent and fascinating work of skilled local artists.
In the 1970s and early 80s, Key West was a freewheeling seaport town whose residents included fishing guides, hobbyist pot smugglers, treasure hunters seeking 17th-century shipwrecks and some of America’s leading renegade writers. That fascinating era is memorialized in “Home at the End of the World,” a book lovingly curated by Rita Troxel.
Visitors to the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden might spot scarecrows peering out from among the 15-acre habitat’s plants and trees during a lighthearted exhibit of recycled art creations. The “Scarecrows in the Forest” exhibition features figures crafted from natural and recycled materials by local artists, students and other community members.
Many of Jimmy Buffett’s classic songs, inspired by his years in Key West, invite fans to share his love for the island’s offbeat characters, laid-back lifestyle and cheerfully outlaw vibe. Now, 50 years after Jimmy first discovered Key West, Scott Atwell has unveiled a fascinating book titled “Buffett Backstories: Fifty Years, Fifty Songs.”
The bearded brotherhood of Hemingway Look-Alike Contest winners gained a new member July 25 in Key West, home of legendary author Ernest Hemingway for most of the 1930s. Zach Taylor, a 63-year-old white-bearded Georgia man, triumphed over 136 other entrants to win the contest that highlights the island city’s annual Hemingway Days celebration.
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West for most of the 1930s, and the annual Hemingway Days celebrates his talent and exuberant lifestyle. Events include poetry readings, a walking tour of Hemingway sites, a museum exhibit, a scholar’s presentation and the first reading of the Lorian Hemingway Short Story competition’s winning entry.
Islamorada, heralded for its angling diversity, features the Florida Keys' largest fleet of offshore charter and shallow-water “backcountry” boats. The area also offers eco-tours, reef diving and snorkeling, watersports such as stand-up paddling and kiteboarding, tennis facilities, bicycle trails, historic hikes, enticing galleries and beautiful vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay.
Don’t miss Key West’s eagerly anticipated “Pride Follies,” scheduled May 22 at the Key West Theater. The production's format is similar to an old-fashioned vaudeville-type show, with a wide array of local talent to entertain audiences. Acts are likely to range from vocals to dancing programs — and maybe even a saucy burlesque performance.
Internationally renowned playwright Tennessee Williams lived in Key West for more than 30 years, writing classic dramas including “Night of the Iguana.” Today, fans of his groundbreaking plays can honor his legacy and love for his island lifestyle during the annual Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration conceived by longtime Key West resident Dennis Beaver.
The Florida Keys & Key West, long recognized for supporting artistic, literary and creative endeavors, are known throughout the world as a vibrant cultural destination. Visitors can experience life like a local through Keys cultural arts, influenced by warm subtropical breezes, storied architectural history and colorful scenery on islands surrounded by azure waters.