Fans and friends of the Florida Keys’ Conch Republic can celebrate the irreverent “nation’s” 39th birthday with activities including a pirate adventure, traditional shrimp boil, sunset boat parade, “wearable art” fashion show, sailing excursions and a gourmet dinner and absinthe tasting. The Conch Republic Independence Celebration is scheduled Friday through Sunday, April 16-25.
In the mid-1990s, Key West was home to a world-class mystery bookstore. Located just off Duval Street, Miss Marbles Parlour was the only bookstore in South Florida devoted entirely to mysteries. And its colorful owner Dilys Winn, a legendary figure in the mystery world, staged interactive crime-solving events three times per week.
Florida Keys holiday traditions center around the one and only Santa Keys — a jolly bearded fellow who brings cheer to those who aren’t lucky enough to live in the Keys, and to the underwater creatures in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. What happens on the night before Christmas? Santa Keys makes his rounds!
Until a few years ago, the Lower Keys were home to a peculiar landmark: a shingled tower rising behind the Sugarloaf Lodge, located at mile marker 17 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Tall and weather-beaten, looming over its surroundings, it was a strange monument to an innovative idea hatched in bygone days.
In Key West’s historic Old Town, free-roaming chickens and roosters are a colorful part of daily life. Traffic stops to let hens and their babies cross the road, visitors coo and cluck as they snap photos of the meandering fowl, and the crowing of roosters provides a raucous soundtrack to everyday activities.
In the 1800s, the wrecking industry made Key West the richest city per capita in the United States. The Florida Keys wreckers were famed for their courage in salvaging crews and cargoes from sinking ships. Yet few people know they once salvaged a sea monster off Key Largo’s Carysford (today called Carysfort) Reef.
Fans of the fluted, pink-lined conch shell displayed their pucker power Saturday, March 7, during Key West's quirky annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest. Participants ranging from kids to seniors to groups attempted to coax the most impressive sounds from their “instruments” — with one woman even tootling parts of melodies including Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
New Year’s Eve in the Florida Keys traditionally features balmy temperatures and a warm welcome for revelers fleeing colder spots. From beachside fireworks where overcoats and gloves aren’t allowed to wacky takeoffs on the traditional ball drop in New York’s Times Square, the island chain offers a wealth of ways to welcome 2020.
Savoring the taste of fresh-baked Cuban bread, watching pooches play at Dog Beach, strolling along palm-lined streets past Victorian gems in historic Old Town, sipping late-afternoon cocktails on the waterfront deck at Louie’s Backyard ... all these are pleasures Key Westers can enjoy every day, but that aren’t easily experienced in other places.
The eerie yet lighthearted Zombie Bike Ride will bring thousands of “the bicycling dead” to prowl Key West's Atlantic Ocean shoreline and streets Sunday, Oct. 20. Since it began in 2010, the pre-Halloween ride has become a tradition for visiting and local adults, kids and even some bewildered pets — all in spooky zombie garb.