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Celebrate Earth Day

Every April, people all over the world celebrate Earth Day, raising awareness of our beautiful Mother Earth and all her splendor.  For the fabulous Florida Keys, surrounded by a national marine sanctuary and bordered by the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, the environment, and ecosystem is truly the lifeblood of this scenic island chain. While most of the world focuses its attention on April 22nd, Earth Day in the Florida Keys is a month-long celebration with fun and important events.

Earth Day in Florida

On April 9th, two Key Largo-area Florida state parks, John Pennekamp Coral Reef (Mile Marker 102) and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical (Mile Marker 106) are hosting a Native Plant Day Earth Day event at Mile Marker 102.5, Oceanside, 9 AM to 2 PM. In addition to numerous community and environmental groups manning information booths and free donations of native plants for visitors to take home, there will be a variety of activities for Earth Day in the Florida Keys.  These include talks on how to propagate and care for native plants and how to plant butterfly gardens, nature walks, kids’ activities, exhibits, and presentations by biologists. The State Park entrance fee will be waived for this event.  For more information call 305-451-1202 or visit www.fla-keys.com.

Celebrate Earth Day, April 22nd, at The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden.  Admission is free and it will be open to the public for three extra hours. Though the facility usually closes at 4 PM, it will stay open until 7 PM for visitors and families to picnic or enjoy the lush tropical surroundings. The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden is located at 5210 College Road on Stock Island, Mile Marker 5.

Earth Day Events

Florida Keys Earth Day events are being held by Marathon’s Dolphin Research Center from 4:30 to 5:45 PM. on Thursday, April 23.  Volunteers are needed to collect discarded trash, monofilament fishing line, and other debris at Tom’s Harbor Bridge, Mile Marker 62. Participants should wear hats, shoes, and clothes that can get wet or dirty and bring a reusable cup, bug repellent, sunscreen and a cutting tool.  The Dolphin Research Center will supply water, trash bags, and gloves. The cleanup will begin on the south side of the bridge. For more information, call Courtney Coburn at 305-289-1121, ext. 231.

Finally, Bahia Honda State Park, in the Lower Florida Keys, Mile Marker 36.8, is celebrating Earth Day, 9 AM to 2 PM, Saturday, April 25. There will be live music, food, and fun for the whole family. Local environmental groups will host exhibits and interactive activities. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission plans to bring two marine touch tanks. Children can get their faces painted, participate in a sand sculpture contest and play games. The event is free with regular Bahia Honda State Park admission. For more information on the event, call the park’s Sand and Sea Nature Center at 305-872-9807.

Come to the fabulous Florida Keys to celebrate Earth Day and Mother Earth’s beauty this April.


Florida Keys Attractions in October 2015

The Florida Keys offers many attractions. What to do in the Florida Keys in late October? It’s time to celebrate a celluloid hero, frolic in fantasy and experience the eerie.

It’s all about Bogie for five days, October 21st to October 25th at Key Largo’s third annual Humphrey Bogart Film Festival. John Huston’s 1948 film classic KEY LARGO, starring Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall, brought cinematic fame to this Florida Keys island paradise. Their son, Stephen Bogart, returns as festival host for the third straight year. Joining him is the “Czar of Noir,” Eddie Muller, an acclaimed novelist, biographer and film historian. The 2015 festival honors the very best of Bogie’s films and celebrates the life of his wife and frequent co-star, Lauren Bacall. Special guests include Monika Henreid, film documentarian and daughter of Bogie’s “Casablanca” co-star Paul Henreid, who played Victor Lazlo in the film classic. Events include indoor and outdoor screenings of Humphrey Bogart’s films, cocktail receptions, round table discussions, Saturday evening dancing and dining, and, finally, a closing brunch overlooking the breathtaking waters of the Florida Keys. In between catching a movie or attending an event, Bogie fans can take a cruise on the original African Queen, which makes its homeport in Key Largo, docked at the Holiday Inn at MM 100.

“All Hallows Intergalactic Freak Show” is the theme of Key West’s annual Fantasy Fest, Oct. 23 through Nov. 1. It’s an annual party in paradise for grown-ups as fun-loving revelers from around the globe attend or compete at masquerade balls, costume contests, parties and uninhibited escapades. There are over fifty events this year, some free, some paid, all making Fantasy Fest the wildest extravaganza around! Fantasy Fest kicks off Friday the 23rd with the Bahama Village Goombay Festival, a free, family-friendly two-day event showcasing island arts and crafts, music, and food.

Paid Fantasy Fest events include King Neptune’s Curse: Aliens vs. Coast Guard on the US Coast Guard Cutter Ingham at the Truman Waterfront where the fate of you and the ship hangs in the balance for seven nights. The King and Queen of Fantasy Fest are crowned at the Royal Coronation Ball at the Southernmost Beach Cafe on Friday during a two-hour stage show benefiting the non-profit, AIDS Help. Womankind’s Brazaar at the Studios of Key West on Wednesday, is a high-energy decorated bra auction featuring stunning women modeling outrageous artistic designs created by local artists to benefit Womankind’s free breast cancer screenings and exams. On Thursday, don’t miss the 33rd Annual Headdress Ball at the Truman Waterfront. The Key West Business Guild’s fundraising extravaganza features amazing designs and great entertainment.

Popular free Fantasy events include Tuesday’s Capt. Tony’s Saloon’s Party in Plaid that caters to all exotic lifestyles and fantasies. You’ll see a magic carousel of frisky pets and playful owners all delightfully disguised at the Pet Masquerade, Wednesday. They’ll stroll, dance and even skateboard across Casa Marina’s outdoor stage in a fun frolic for fame, fortune and to benefit the Lower Keys Friends of Animals. The Original Homemade Bikini Contest Thursday at Sunset Pier shows off the creativity and attention to detail of these works of art. A bevy of beauties display imagination and ingenuity as they vie for cash and prizes. Join the crowd of thousands parading Friday afternoon at the Masquerade March. It’s Fantasy Fest’s most all-inclusive street party as the march takes over the Southernmost City. At night, professional body painting artists take to the Ocean Key Sunset Pier stage at the 15th annual Living Art Airbrush Expo. Contestants will use the human form as a living canvas for artistic expression in competition for cash and prizes.

The grand finale of this wild ten-day spectacle is Saturday, Halloween night, at the 3Wishes.com Fantasy Fest Parade. 70,000 exuberant partygoers flock to Key West as glittering floats, outrageous costumes, and dazzling dance groups roll down Duval Street. Go to www.FantasyFest.com for festival information.

Last but not least in this late October things to do in the Florida Keys we visit the Middle Keys for Crane Point Hammock’s Creepy Carnival on Friday October 30th. Crane Point’s Haunted House will be inhabited by ghosts, ghouls and freaky characters to set a spooky tone for the year’s eeriest holiday. The fright-fest begins at 6 p.m., at the 63-acre Crane Point Hammock, located at MM 50.5 bayside in Marathon. Geared toward youngsters age 12 and under, the fright-filled fun is free to the public. For information, call 305-743-3900.


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Key West Songwriters Festival

The 20th Key West Songwriters Festival takes place between May 6 and May 10. It will feature over 150 performers at more than 40 shows over the five day period starting with a kick-off party Wednesday, May 6 at the Ocean Key at 6 p.m. For more information, visit the event list at the Key West Songwriters Festival website.

Florida Keys Vacation Rentals, Inc. offers information about vacation rentals, various attractions, entertainment options, etc. in Key West.


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“Brew On The Bay” Craft Beer Festival in Key Largo

Brew on the Bay Beer Festival in Key LargoBrew on the Bay is a 3 day event: January 9-11, 2015 at Rowell’s Marina, Key Largo. Over 100 beer vendors, live music

Rotary Club of Key Largo is hosting its 4th annual Brew on the Bay ending at sunset on the beautiful Florida Bay. Sample over 100 different beers while enjoying local seafood and live entertainment.

Friday, January 9th – Everglades Alligator Farm’s Homebrew Competition 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Location: Lion’s Club Key Largo, $25 includes unlimited sampling, appetizers and local band. Wine and margaritas available for purchase.

Friday, January 9th – Shipwrecks Bar and Grill (Shipyard Brewing Black IPA release party)
45 Garden Cove Drive, Key Largo, FL 33037
5p-8p, beer specials, giveaways, and more!

Friday, January 9th – Florida Keys Brewing Company’s Meet & Greet – VIP only, meet your favorite craft beer vendors, 8:30 pm-11:00 pm, Location: Bayside Inn, 99490 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo. food, beer & music on the beach!
Saturday, January 10th “MAIN EVENT” – Brew on the Bay Location: Rowell’s Marina Property, 104550 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo, live music by The Regs and Cowboy Up.
General Admission 2:00-5:30 pm, $39.95 in advance $49 at the gate

Islamorada Beer Company’s VIP Admission 1-5:30, 1 hour early admission, priority parking, souvenir glass, specialty beer available in VIP tent, admission to Meet & Greet on 1/9, appetizers (Shrimp Cocktail, Guacamole & Chips, Caprese Salad, Chicken Skewers with Pineapple Rum Glaze) special seating close to band, bay & sunset. $69.95 before 1/10/15 $79 at the gate

Sunday, January 11th – SweetWater Brewing Company’s Hangover Brunch, 10 am – noon on Island Time Cruises.
Beer and Brunch Buffet included, Steel Drum Band, full bar available for purchase, boarding and bar opens at 9 am sharp.

More info at http://keylargobrewonthebay.com or in this week’s Florida Keys Free Press.

Florida Keys Vacation Rentals offers wide selection of vacation homes and condo rentals in Key Largo, Florida Keys. Contact us to book a vacation rental in Key Largo .

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New Year’s Eve – Schedule for Key West & The Florida Keys

Key West New Year EveThe Florida Keys is a fantastic destination in which to spend New Year’s Eve. We’re glad you’re here with us! There will be numerous points of celebration in Key West as well as Islamorada and Key Largo.

You’ll find a round-up of these activities at Fla-Keys.com, the official tourism site. The post is found at http://www.fla-keys.com/news/news.cfm?sid=9026
Key West @ Midnight on New Year’s Eve

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“Florida Keys Raptors” Presentation @ Pennekamp Friday 11/14

John Pennekamp State Park is presenting a slideshow Friday, 11/14 at 6 pm highlighting migrating and resident raptors.

Raptors, per Wikipedia, are birds of prey. These birds are characterized by a keen vision that allows them to detect prey during flight and powerful talons and beaks. Many species of birds may be considered partly or exclusively predatory. However, in ornithology, the term “bird of prey” applies only to birds of the families listed below.

  • Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests.
  • Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish and builds large stick nests.
  • Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey, but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.
  • The true hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.
  • Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as “hawks” in North America).
  • Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.
  • Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families: the Accipitridae, which only occurs in the Eastern Hemisphere; and the Cathartidae, which only occurs in the Western Hemisphere. Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.
  • Falcons are medium-size birds of prey with long pointy wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae, rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.
  • Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly almost silently due to their special feather structure that reduces turbulence. They have particularly acute hearing.

The program is included in the admission price but you must enter the park before 5:30 pm and ask for the raptor program pass.  It will be held outdoors and park management suggests you may want to have insect protection handy.  Call 305-451-1202 for more info.

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Key West Chalk Festival

The 3rd Annual Key West Chalk Festival will take place between November 19 and 23.  It’s a pavement art festival where artists use chalk as their medium and the pavement surface as their canvas. Sponsored in part by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts and The Key West Art & Historical Society, the Key West Chalk Festival follows street painting traditions that originated in 16th century Renaissance Italy when artists began transforming streets into canvas using chalk. The Key West Chalk Festival is a family-friendly, pet-friendly event, free and open to the public. Ongoing information and updates are available on the Key West Chalk Festival Facebook page.


News for Florida Keys Vacationers

Welcome to the Florida Keys!  Renting a vacation home is the perfect way to enjoy the tropical lifestyle that draws so many here year after year, and sample all there is to do and see as residents experience it.  We’ll report on upcoming events, share news that vacationers will find of interest, and highlight the best of new and established businesses and services in this space.  We welcome your comments.

If you’re looking for upcoming events, remember to check the Florida Keys Event Calendar.  It’s maintained by the Tourism Development Council and is sortable to date, type of event, and area of The Keys in which it takes place.

We’d also like to draw your attention to our Keys Guide which provides suggestions for things to do and attractions to visit, including both the popular and the under-the-radar.  Each Keys area page also provides a channel to Yelp’s visitor reviews in the categories of restaurants, shopping, diving, fishing, arts & entertainment, beaches, bike rentals, boating, parks, rafting/kayaking, coffee/tea, tours and nightlife.

In addition, our rental managers are an incredible resource. As long-time Keys residents, they are ready to provide guidance on any local questions you have.