Welcome to the Florida Keys Traveler podcast, celebrating 200 years of Florida Keys history. The island chain marks its bicentennial this year, commemorating the official establishment of Monroe County on July 3, 1823.
In this 30-episode documentary series, recorded throughout the Florida Keys with host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley, we dive into the history, natural wonders and attractions that make the Keys one of the most iconic destinations worldwide.
Join us as we explore the island chain. We'll take you diving, sportfishing, and dining. We'll explore the Keys' literary heritage and its colorful history, which is full of treasures - literally! We'll learn about coral restoration innovations and artistic works that reflect the islands' beauty. We'll learn how the Keys evolved to become one of the world's most welcoming places. And we'll introduce you to some of the most intriguing people — and animals — you'll ever meet.
The Florida Keys culinary adventure continues in this episode, as host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley joins Key West Chef Paul Menta, our guide to Florida Keys seafood. We also visit Keys Fisheries in Marathon. Vice President Scott Dekle explains how stone crabs are sustainable. What, exactly, is a stone crab? And how is it possible that we can eat them guilt-free?
What's the origin of the Keys' iconic, tangy yet sweet signature dessert? What is ‘pucker perfect’? Find out on this episode and learn secrets about the tiny Key lime and its namesake pie. Meet Key West chef Paul Menta, our guide to Florida Keys cuisine, and Kermit Carpenter, founder of Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe.
How did the Florida Keys become a critical gathering point in Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain? What role does Key West's Cuban community play in preserving Cuban heritage? Find out in this episode, as host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley visits the San Carlos Institute in Key West. You'll meet the institute's president, Rafael Peñalver, who shares the fascinating history of the Keys' Cuban connection and insights into what he describes as "the perseverance of the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom."
What truly makes a neighborhood a community? Perhaps there's no better example than the 16-block Bahama Village in Key West. In this episode, learn about the historically Black Bahama Village from its 19th-century origins to the present day. Our guide is Clayton Lopez, a fourth-generation island resident, local personality and a Key West City Commissioner. He takes us on a walking tour of Bahama Village, sharing some of his neighborhood's triumphs and struggles. We meet residents Glen Hayes and Peggy Ward Grant, both instrumental in preserving the neighborhood’s rich heritage.
History is frequently made memorable through human tragedy, but it’s always worth telling, always worth preserving. What surprising role did Key West, the country’s southernmost city, play during the Civil War? How are nearly 300 lives lost during the era of the tragic Transatlantic Slave trade honored here? Host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley speaks with Florida Keys History Center lead historian Corey Malcom in Key West at Higgs Beach, home to the African Cemetery.
"It was just a phrase on a sticker - and suddenly, it was the motto of the Keys." Join host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley as we learn about the many meanings of One Human Family in the Florida Keys. Did you know that a 2003 Pride celebration in Key West has influenced Pride celebrations around the world? In this episode, we’ll hear from some of the people who helped shape the Keys as one of the world’s most welcoming destinations for all types of people.
What renowned authors have lived and written in the Keys? What is it about Key West that has inspired the likes of literary legends from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Frost to Thomas McGuane to Judy Blume? In this episode, learn about Key West's literary history with Arlo Haskell, executive director of the Key West Literary Seminar, who reveals quirky stories from Key West's fabled authors and details about the popular annual Key West Literary Seminar.
What was it about Key West that inspired one of the world's greatest playwrights to call this place home from the early 1940s for more than 35 years? Find out during a tour of the Tennessee Williams Museum. Founder Dennis Beaver reveals details about some of the playwright’s famous works including “The Rose Tattoo” and its film version shot in Key West. Learn about Tennessee Williams the painter, his quirks, his ‘Madhouse’ writing studio and his annual birthday celebration in the southernmost island city.
Author Ernest Hemingway’s historic home and writing studio in Key West offer a glimpse into American literary history. Here in the 1930s, Hemingway wrote some of his most notable works including “To Have and Have Not,” set in the southernmost island city. Take a tour of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum for little-known insights about the famous writer. Here you can also meet direct descendants of Hemingway’s famous polydactyl cats, happily roaming the grounds of Key West’s most popular visitor attraction.
What do movies about the Florida Keys have in common? Which ones have been set in the Keys but filmed in a Hollywood studio? Did you know you can cruise on the namesake boat from the iconic 1951 film "The African Queen" in Key Largo? Meet Florida Keys Film Commissioner Chad Newman, who has the inside scoop on film and television production in the subtropical island chain.
What is a piña colada tree? How is salt used in watercolors? Learn more and meet some of the artists who call the Keys home during a visit to opening night of the 2023 Florida Keys Council of the Arts’ Connection Project. Each year, Keys artists are given a small blank canvas to create their own unique work. Together, the canvases form a giant mosaic, representative of the colorful spirit of the Florida Keys. This year's theme is the 200th anniversary of Monroe County.
How do you know when a sea turtle needs to be rescued? Find out on this episode when host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley takes you to the world’s first licensed veterinary hospital just for sea turtles. At the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, meet some patients and learn how dedicated veterinarians and staff rehabilitate injured turtles and, whenever possible, return them to the sea. Turtles here even have their own ambulances.
Have you ever really gotten to know a dolphin? In this episode, take a trip to Marathon’s Dolphin Research Center to learn about the incredible dolphin-human relationships that have formed between rescued dolphins and their caretakers and visitors.
In the Florida Keys, you can eat some of the world’s freshest and most delicious seafood. In this episode, meet Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar owner John Mirabella, who’s committed to helping preserve the Keys’ marine ecosystem by spearing and serving invasive lionfish.
Why have the Florida Keys drawn some of the world’s greatest fishermen to their waters? What’s the legacy of celebrity anglers like writer Ernest Hemingway and baseball star Ted Williams? And what’s the magic of the “Sportfishing Capital of the World?” In this episode, meet Captain Richard Stanczyk, who has known – and fished with – some of the greats.
People thought Henry Flagler was crazy. “Flagler’s Folly,” they called it – his mad notion to build a railroad to Key West. Little did those naysayers know his venture would pave the way for the future of the Florida Keys. In this episode, journey to Pigeon Key to learn about the innovation that changed Florida history.
Trace mankind's exploration of the underwater world at the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada. Lisa Mongelia, the museum's executive director, takes us on a journey that begins in ancient times and continues through the evolution of diving helmets and suits, scuba diving and deep-water investigation.
We delve into the sex life of corals to learn about reef restoration in the Keys. Meet Dr. David Vaughan, founder of the Plant a Million Corals Foundation, at his research facility on Summerland Key. Learn how Dr. Vaughan is revolutionizing coral restoration. His goal is ambitious: plant a million corals in the next two years. It's no wonder that his successes make him feel like a proud grandfather.
Join host Elizabeth Harryman Lasley in Key Largo at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the nation's first undersea park. Encompassing 70 nautical square miles, it's the perfect setting to learn about Florida Keys' natural history. Corey Malcom, lead historian for the Florida Keys History Center, tells us how these islands took shape thousands of years ago. Marine biologist Dr. David Vaughan reveals the crucial role that Florida's coral reef plays in the life of the Keys. Elena Muratori, park services specialist at Pennekamp, guides us through the park.
We speak with Clinton Curry, whose family migrated here from the Bahamas in the 1800s. We also sit down with Craig Cates, the mayor of Monroe County - which encompasses the Keys - to hear what makes these islands so special. And you'll hear classical music played with an instrument you'd never have imagined.