Nearly 60 years ago, Captain Gainey Maxwell conceived a way to encourage people to visit and fish Florida Keys waters — and then come back to do it again. He called it the Key West Fishing Tournament. Today, an impressive 46 backcountry and offshore species are targeted during the free-entry tournament’s eight-month span.
The community of Marathon boasts a warm family-friendly flair and a variety of cozy inns, waterfront resorts, marinas and casual dining emporiums. The Middle Keys area also features plentiful creative spaces, natural attractions, scenic parks, trails, sightseeing spots and historic sites that make for an appealing blend of heritage, culture and nature.
On May 18, 1991, Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to the Florida Keys on the Royal Yacht Britannia. Thirty-one years later, as the world mourns the gracious British monarch’s death, it seems only fitting to recall that day — and Her Majesty’s encounter with the unofficial queen of the island chain, Wilhelmina Harvey.
Shipwreck fans, treasure seekers, history buffs and those who enjoy real-life adventure tales should be in Key West Sept. 2-6. Why? To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sinking of the Spanish treasure galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha — with members of Mel Fisher’s family and “golden crew” who discovered the wreck in 1985.
Fans of adventurous living and fine writing can celebrate the legacy of Ernest Hemingway July 19-24 in Key West, his home during the 1930s. Hemingway Days highlights include a world-renowned look-alike contest, the culmination of the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and a marlin tournament that salutes Ernest’s passion for Florida Keys fishing.
Many people know Key West was once the home of Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, that Jimmy Buffett created his Margaritaville empire on the island, and that former President Harry Truman ruled the country from his Key West “vacation home.” But beyond those well-known facts lies a wealth of lesser-known tidbits and tales.
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.
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.
It’s revered as legendary author Ernest Hemingway’s 1930s hangout. Known as the 1981 birthplace of the internationally renowned Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest. Famed as must-see stop for visitors to Key West. And on May 5, 2022, Sloppy Joe’s Bar marks 85 years at its iconic home at the corner of Duval and Greene streets.
In April 1982, the Florida Keys symbolically “seceded” from the United States and were reborn as the independent Conch Republic. Today the republic is internationally acclaimed as the Keys’ irreverent alter ego — and this month, the 40th annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration commemorates the historic action with a roster of rollicking events.