This year brought many achievements of note to benefit Key West’s LGBTQ community and visitors — from the return of rainbow crosswalks on the island city’s famed Duval Street to the formal dedication of a “One Human Family” pavilion, plus incredible fundraising efforts for AIDS service organizations by participants in the “reimagined” SMART Ride.
Among the Florida Keys’ most iconic landmarks is the "Christ of the Abyss" statue, placed in the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1965. Also called “Christ of the Deep,” the 9-foot bronze is a symbol for Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which is part of the sanctuary.
GayCities.com has unveiled an innovative lineup of categories for its "Best of 2020" awards — and the Florida Keys & Key West are nominated in three of the nine categories. Support the easygoing island chain by voting for Higgs Beach, Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park, and the iconic Overseas Highway road trip.
Fans of Key West’s Fantasy Fest can enjoy two streaming events that showcase the masking and costuming festival’s creativity and spirit — despite the cancellation of the Oct. 16-25 in-person celebration to guard against coronavirus spread. A virtual variety show and mini-parade, scheduled Oct. 16 and Oct. 24, raise money for local nonprofit organizations.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is renowned for a picnic area shaded by Norfolk pines and cooled by ever-present breezes, and a long Atlantic-front beach that Key Westers call one of the island’s best-kept secrets. But it’s the Civil War-era fort itself, once nicknamed “Fort Forgotten,” that really makes the park unique.
When Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West during the 1930s, he spent much of his leisure time with friends at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. On Sept. 17, the beloved Key West watering hole reopened after being closed for six months because of the global COVID-19 crisis — and several Hemingway look-alikes were there.
For decades, Bishop Al Kee welcomed visitors to Key West’s Southernmost Point marker, acting as a smiling ambassador for the island. He sold fluted, pink-lined conch shells beside the iconic waterfront landmark, sliced open coconuts for those who wanted to drink the sweet coconut water inside, and cheerfully posed for innumerable visitor photos.
As well as human visitors who come to the Florida Keys for rest and renewal, marine creatures in need also come calling. Some have health problems, while others are injured, orphaned or lost. Throughout the island chain, ailing sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and whales encounter dedicated professionals and volunteers ready to provide care.
Islamorada artist Jessica Ann Cecil has a unique flair for painting marine life — and she’s passionate about using her art to connect patrons, clients and students with Florida Keys marine ecosystem conservation efforts. She often earmarks a percentage of art sales for Keys nonprofits including the Coral Restoration Foundation, Dolphins Plus and Save-A-Turtle.
The road unrolls like a long gray ribbon, with vast vistas of turquoise water and paler blue sky stretching endlessly on either side. Driving down the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, it’s clear why this roadway is sometimes called the Highway That Goes to Sea — and a “bucket list” drive that everyone should experience.