Destination Focus

Destination Focus

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Florida Keys & Key West - February


The Florida Keys and Key West is a 150 mile long string of Islands connected to South Florida by the scenic Overseas Highway; a road that suspends the traveler in a place that bridges the gap between sea and sky. In the Florida Keys you are a world away from the theme parks of central Florida, in a place that envelopes you with its warmth and beauty and grants you permission to shed the worries of the real world you just left behind!
 
 

 
The turquoise blue waters that surrounds Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West is a treasure trove both above and below. Divers and snorkeler’s splash down into the only living coral reef in North America to discover nature’s idea of an aquarium, while fishermen anticipate the challenge of catching their dinner and kite surfers await the caress of the light trade winds.

10 must do’s in the Florida Keys and Key West
 
1. Key Largo: Dive/Snorkel at John Pennekamp State Park – the crown jewel of the state park system and the first undersea park in the U.S., John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles and the coral reefs and their associated marine life are a divers and/or snorkelers dream!
 
2. Key Largo: Kayak and explore Everglades National Park- it is the only eco-system of its type in the world with the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, it boasts rare and endangered species. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and a wetland of international importance.  Key Largo is considered to be the Gateway to the Everglades.
 
3. Islamorada: Fishing – Sport Fishing Capital of the World – Take a charter boat out to one of the only place on Earth where it is possible to catch a sailfish in the morning, and then venture into the backcountry in pursuit of bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook and redfish in just inches of water. 
 
4. Islamorada: Robbie’s Marina - A nostalgic destination reminiscent of why some of the most talented artists, writers, fishermen and presidents have called the Florida Keys home. Robbie’s rests peacefully among coconut palms with shimmering views of the nearby islands where the unspoiled Florida Bay and the exquisite Atlantic Ocean converge. With free entry, a private sandy beach, fabulous restaurant serving fresh local food and quaint art and craft pavilions one cannot help but understand why so many artists have chosen this place to immortalize in paintings. The kids will also love feeding the enormous tarpon!
 
5. Marathon: Dolphin Research Centre - Bring your family to meet with the family of dolphins and sea lions. Spend an hour or stay all day learning about these incredible marine mammals. Dolphin Research Centre, a not-for-profit research and educational facility offers several exciting daily presentations demonstrating the dolphins’ high flying athletics, dolphin education fun facts, dolphin research, new behaviour training, medical behaviours, and much more. Enjoy dolphin swims and other encounters, as well as other fun chances to touch a dolphin. 
 
6. Marathon: Turtle Hospital – visit the Turtle Hospital and see how they rehab injured sea turtles and return them to their natural habitat, learn how they conduct and assist with research aiding to sea turtles and work toward environmental legislation making the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles.
 
7. Big Pine Key: Visit Bahia Honda State Park and Recreation Area at mile marker 37. With its white sandy beaches and abundant wildlife, Bahia Honda Key frequently makes the list of most beautiful beaches in America.
 
8. Big Pine and the Lower Keys:  spending a half day or full day exploring the backcountry waters off the lower Florida Keys.  Encounter key deer, sea turtles and dolphins in their natural habitat as well as explore the Great White Heron National Sanctuary.  
 
9. Key West: Sunset at Mallory Square – celebrate the end of the day at Mallory Square where every evening you can enjoy free live music and street entertainers, art and craft stores and enjoy a cocktail as the sun goes down.
 
10. Key West: Day trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park - Explore a 19th Century Fort and snorkel crystal clear water with incredible marine life. Almost 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West lies the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area.
 
 
Current Events:

Key West Fishing Tournament | 1st January - 31st August 2018
More than 40 species of fish are targeted during these months, with divisions for men, women, junior anglers (ages 10 to 14) and Pee Wees (under 10 years old). The Key West Fishing Tournament strongly encourages the release of game fish. All participating anglers receive certificates noting their catches and qualify for a variety of prizes.

Red Barn Theater presents: 20th Century Blues | 23rd January - 17th February 2018
This sharply funny and evocative exploration of time was the flat our hit of the 2016 Contemporary American Theatre Festival in the 25th season. The play centers on four women who bonded as protesters one night in jail in their youth. Through the vagaries of love, careers, children, and lost causes, the women reunite once a year for a photo shoot, chronicling their changing selves. But when these private photos have the potential to become part of a public exhibit, mutiny erupts and relationships are tested. Featuring Marjorie Paul-Shook, Annie Miners, Peggy Montgomery, Deborah Jacobson, Kathy Russ, and Justin Ahearn.
 
Waterfront Playhouse presents: 1776, In Concert | 23rd January - 4th February 2018
“1776” is the Tony Award winning musical which brings history to life as it dramatizes America’s contentious Founding Fathers and their determination to do the right thing for a fledgling nation. Engaging, witty and passionate, this Broadway musical takes audiences back to the long, hot Philadelphia summer of 1776 when John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia bid members of the Second Continental Congress to proclaim independence from the tyranny of British monarchy and adopt the United States Declaration of Independence.
 

Upcoming Events:

Christopher Peterson's EYECONS | 1st February - 27th February 2018

A master of impersonations, both visually and vocally, with impeccable comic timing. The show is all LIVE, no lip-sync. Thrill to his parodies of Marilyn Monroe, Carol Channing, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, Tina Turner, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Cher, Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, even Lady GaGa. Show dates are online. Show times 9 p.m., at La te da 1125 Duval St.

Cuda Bowl | 1st February - 3rd February 2018
Shallow water flats anglers and guides are invited to hook-up and fight their barracuda rivals. Event is to be headquartered at Hurricane Hole Marina, Stock Island. Prizes and trophies are to be awarded for top angler and guide in light tackle spin and fly divisions.
 
Champagne & Aphrodisiacs Valentine's Day Sail | 14th February 2018
Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with your special someone on our Champagne and Aphrodisiacs Pairing Sunset Sail in Key West. As you sail along the beautiful turquoise green waters on the Schooner America 2.0, you and your loved one(s) will be able to take in all the romance that this Key West Valentine’s Day Sunset Sail has to offer while being treated to a delicious pairing menu that is sure to entice, consisting of hors d’ oeuvres expertly paired with champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world! Join Schooner America 2.0 on a Key West Valentine’s Day Sunset Sail that is sure to tickle your taste buds and create memories to last a lifetime.
 
Florida Keys Concert Association presents: Attacca Quartet | 19th February 2018
This internationally acclaimed prize-winning New York-based string quartet has become one of America’s premier young performing ensembles. Show starts at 7:30 PM, at the Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Road, (MM50). Tickets to be available online.

Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration | 28th February - 9th April 2018
A kickoff party is to be staged at the home of the Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit founders Dennis Beaver and Bert Whitt Feb. 28, and the festival, a 6-week commemoration of the literary icon who lived on the island for thirty-four years, is to continue into April and boasts a full roster of writing and painting contests, film and poetry forums, curator tours of the Tennessee Williams Museum at 513 Truman Avenue, a March 26th birthday party for the playwright, and 2 one-act theatre productions of the Pulitzer-Prize-winner’s work. Presented by the newly-merged Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit and the Key West Art & Historical Society.
 
Key West Theater presents: Mike Love | 14th March 2018
Meet Mike Love. No, not one of the Beach Boys! One of reggae music’s rising stars. Born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii to a musical family that spans generations, Mike Love brings a multitude of influences to the table, all tied together by the common goal of making the world a better place. Doors open 7 p.m., show starts 8 p.m.

Third Annual Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade | 4th May - 6th May 2018
If one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, then the late Key Largo folk artist Stanley Papio was a treasure hunter extraordinaire. Fans of “outsider art” can celebrate the renegade metal sculptor’s legacy with a people-powered parade of mobile sculptures crafted in the spirit of his extraordinary creations. The Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade features colorful sculptural floats, tricycles with exotically costumed riders, fantastically decorated bicycles and other moving works of art — all powered by human effort alone — and are to follow a route along the length of Key West’s Duval Street.
 
26th Annual Hemingway 5K Sunset Run/Walk & Paddleboard Race | 21st July 2018
This is the original and oldest ongoing 5K Run in Key West and takes place as part of the the annual Hemingway Days Festival. The race course is a scenic flat course that runs past Key West’s most famous landmarks including the Ernest Hemingway Home, the iconic Southernmost Point and the famous Green Parrot Bar. Visit website for more details.
 
Ninth Annual Key West Brewfest | 30th August - 3rd September 2018
More than 150 beers and micro-brews are on tap at this “tasty” annual event that benefits the charitable efforts of the Key West Sunrise Rotary Club of the Conch Republic. Events from beer dinners, beer brunches, happy hour parties, pool parties, late-night parties, seminars and the Signature Tasting Festival Event are some of the offered activities.
 
Ladies Let’s Go Fishing!” Keys Saltwater Weekend Seminar | 19th October - 21st October 2018
Female fishing fans can learn or polish angling skills during the award-winning weekend seminar. More than 8,000 female graduates have immersed themselves in the annual lighthearted yet skill-heavy curriculum to learn and hone abilities in offshore, bottom, inshore and fly fishing.
 
37th Annual Key West World Championship Races | 4th November - 11th November 2018
Super Boat International returns with teams from all around the world who compete April through October in the National Series Points races and conclude in November for the famous Key West World Championships. High-speed offshore powerboats race in Key West Harbor and surrounding waters to continue Key West’s longstanding tradition in this annual challenge, known internationally as the Indianapolis 500 of powerboat racing. A portion of the 6.5-mile course runs through Key West Harbor, meaning smooth water where racers can achieve speeds above 140 mph and provide fans breathtaking displays of skill and power.
 

Bradenton, Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key - January


Anna Maria Island earned a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award as one of the Top Ten Islands in the United States. Downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk received a 1st place award as the top cultural, sports and recreation project by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Commission. Plus six of our beaches now have the prestigious “Blue Wave Certification” from the Clean Beach Coalition. With easy access to three international airports, we’re close to all the major attractions, yet far from the crowds.
 


Horse Surfing
The Bradenton Area continues to receive nationwide media attention for horse surfing experiences along Palma Sola Bay. Tagged by many as the World Capital of Horse Surfing, we are home to the only horseback riding stable in the State of Florida that offers horseback riding on the sand and swimming with horses. 
 
“The Greenest Little Mainstreet in America”
Florida’s first LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy Retail Park 
On the quaint island of Anna Maria, history is being made with the first platinum LEED and Zero Net Energy Commercial Park. A collection of Historic 1920’s bungalows have been retrofitted into boutique shops and cafes with a green twist. The historical relics are completely powered by solar energy and geothermics.
 
Village of the Arts
If you’re an art lover, Bradenton is the place to visit! A national arts magazine has listed Bradenton as one of the nation's top 10 small cities for art. The June 2012 issue of "American Style," a lifestyle magazine that focuses on art, artists and galleries, ranked Bradenton as tenth in its nationwide poll of the public arts and cultural amenities in small cities. 
 
Bradenton Riverwalk
As Downtown Bradenton’s showpiece, the riverwalk serves as an outdoor gathering place and host for many diverse events and activities. The stretch is a mile and a half and is one of the longest public Riverwalks in Florida. Running alongside the Manatee River, the Riverwalk includes a Family Fun Zone with a splash fountain and playgrounds, a great lawn for picnics, kayak launch, a day dock for boaters, a botanical walk and the 400-seat Mosaic Amphitheater. 
 
Eco Tourism and Agritourism
When our visitor’s need a break from the sun and sand, there are several agri-tourism treasures for them to explore, offering entertainment and education for curious minds of all ages. All they need to do is head inland. Here are just a few of the many great places to start:
  • The Bradenton Area boasts not one, but two world-class wineries:
    • Bunker Hill Winery- is a "GREEN" Environmentally Responsible Winery and offers complimentary tours and tastings of their handcrafted wines. 
    • Rosa Fiorelli Winery- has a 10-acre Muscadine vineyard and their wines have won more than 100 awards. Tours include your choice of an authentic Italian lunch and wine in a complimentary souvenir glass to take home. 
  • Dakin Dairy Farms – A visit to Dakin Dairy Farm is not only fun; it’s good for you! The farm is one of only three dairy farms left in the Bradenton Area. 
  • Mixon Fruit Farms- has always been famous for its plump, juicy citrus, its gift shop and Groveside Café. But now, visitors can take a ride on the Orange Blossom Express through the groves past the Children’s Magical Maze and Wildlife Rescue, where the family will delight in an interactive show with rescued Florida animals, reptiles and birds. Our favorite thing about Mixons … their homemade orange swirl ice cream!
  • Robinson Nature Preserve - Robinson Nature Preserve in Bradenton is an exquisite nature preserve that is a popular destination for wildlife photography and bird watching, Tucked into the corner of northwest Bradenton, it includes 487 acres of coastal saltern, marsh, and mangrove habitat.
  • Turtle Watch Tours - In the Bradenton Area, the beaches are shared with Florida’s abundant wildlife and families visiting from May through November can experience “turtle nesting season”.

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