What’s new in the Florida Keys

Saturday, 25 Mar, 2023 0

The Florida Keys & Key West are preparing to celebrate a landmark 200th anniversary, with activities throughout Monroe County.

Keys museum exhibits, art showcases and festivals are themed to celebrate the island chain’s historic bicentennial.

Still, it’s not all about the past; The Florida Keys & Key West showcase a range of exciting new experiences and amenities opening this year.


Keys Accommodations


At Everglades National Park, the all-new 24-unit Flamingo Lodge & Restaurant is slated to officially open this fall. The lodge will offer 24 units with kitchenettes including studios and one- and two-bedroom suites fronting Florida Bay. The park’s fully renovated pink Guy Bradley Visitor Center — with interactive exhibits and a gift shop— is also is scheduled to open this fall. The park is the continental United States’ third-largest national park at 2,400 square miles. It celebrated its 75th anniversary in December 2022 in Monroe County’s Flamingo area, a 50-minute drive from the park’s entrance in Homestead, Florida. Bird species found in the park include the roseate spoonbill, white pelican, reddish egret and painted bunting. Visit nps.gov/ever or flamingoeverglades.com/flamingo-lodge-restaurant


In Islamorada, the 12-acre Sun Outdoors Islamorada is scheduled to open in May. The resort features 82 full hookup RV sites with amenities including pergolas, outdoor kitchens, patio furniture, three marinas, pool, kayak and watersport offerings. Sun Outdoors also operates the Sun Outdoors Key Largo and Sun Outdoors Marathon properties. All three resorts are pet friendly. On-site are 48 pastel-hued vacation homes for sale. Visit soislamorada.com/or sunoutdoors.com


In Islamorada, Chesapeake Beach Resort has unveiled additional new villas (with two more to open), a new boat ramp and a new dock. The property currently offers 52 units with balconies, 11 villas with outdoor paved patios, two pools, a beach bar cart and a beach venue for weddings and events. Villas, each with a kitchenette, include an 830-square-feet ocean king villa and more. Kayaks and fishing rods can be rented on-site. Visit chesapeake-resort.com


On Duck Key, Hawks Cay Resort offers a new scuba partnership through Marathon-based Better Than Most Scuba, offering snorkeling, SDI and PADI dive certification, lobstering and spearfishing courses and excursions for resort guests. With its Coast Guard–certified vessel Diane Marie, the scuba operator takes a maximum 15 divers on each trip. The 60-acre Middle Keys resort has 177 guest rooms, 250 two- and three-bedroom villas and 20,000 square feet of oceanfront meeting and event space. Visit hawkscay.com or btmscuba.com


Two new Florida Keys “Aqua Lodges” with waterfront two-bedroom, one-bath tiny house–style accommodations have been added in Marathon, and a central Keys reservation line and booking website are now live. An additional 38 Aqua Lodges are available for overnight stays at marinas in Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West. Each 350-square-feet lodge has a full kitchen, flat screen TV and air conditioning. Visit keyslodging.com


In Key West, Mellow Ventures Backcountry Outfitters plans to unveil a catamaran cottage for overnight accommodations this spring. The new “Outpost,” a fully restored former cigar-maker’s cottage accommodates overnight parties of up to six. It is built on 50-feet catamaran hulls. All-inclusive, customized Backcountry Eco Vacations include on-the-water stays. Its Mellow Café & Gastropub on North Roosevelt Boulevard has expanded outdoor seating for up to 60. It serves vegan fare, artisan tacos, exotic meats and craft beer. Visit mellowkw.com/eco-vacations


In Key West, 519-room The Keys Collection’s four properties — The Gates Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Key West, 24 North Hotel and Fairfield Inn & Suites — offer lively monthly programming featuring “puppy yoga” classes and Paint & Sip Nights with local artist Lance Berry. The Collection’s “Na Ma Sit & Stay Yoga” is held the second Sunday of each month. Admission is complimentary; a $10 donation per person is suggested with all proceeds donated to Florida Keys SPCA. The hotels collectively feature six bars, four pools and five dining options. Visit thekeyscollection.com


Keys Attractions


In Marathon, the Pigeon Key Visitor Center and Pigeon Key train depot have moved to a new location at the Historic Seven Mile Marina property. Pigeon Key Express train tours depart daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.. Lying beneath the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge, the tiny island of Pigeon Key was a work camp for laborers constructing the bridge in the early 1900s and now features restored buildings and a museum. Visit pigeonkey.net or call 305-743-5999.


In Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park, the family-friendly Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center has contemporary new exhibits that highlight Florida Keys mangrove habitats and allow interaction with life-size mangrove branches. A freestanding main exhibit focuses on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, while other exhibits include a colorful light-filled aquarium showcasing coral restoration, the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail and an interactive paddleboard experience through mangroves. Visit floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html


In Key West, Pride of Key West, operated by Fury Water Adventures, carries on a glass-bottom boat tradition that marks its 70th anniversary this year. In 1953 the Fireball, the island’s first commercial glass-bottom boat, began operating from a dock at the foot of Duval Street. Today the dock is home to Pride of Key West, a contemporary window on the undersea world that continues the city’s seven-decade glass-bottom boat tradition. The 60-foot air-conditioned glass-bottom catamaran carries passengers on narrated eco-excursions to view the continental United States’ only coral barrier reef. Visit furycat.com/key-west/glass-bottom-boats


Keys Pride


The Key West Business Guild is planning a 20th anniversary celebration to commemorate the island city’s famed 1.25-mile-long sea-to-sea rainbow flag, billed as the world’s longest rainbow flag.  Events will take place during the Pride festivities set for June 7-11, 2023. The flag was sewn in Key West in 2003 by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker to mark the 25th anniversary of his original banner’s debut. To highlight Pride 2003, it was unfurled by several thousand volunteers along the entire length of the island’s Duval Street, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, with its ends dipped simultaneously into the two bodies of water. Visit gaykeywestfl.com/pride/


Keys Makers

The Lower Keys’ Grimal Grove, billed as the first and only breadfruit grove in the continental United States, has launched Mutiny Island Vodka – Grimal Grove Reserve. It’s crafted in partnership with St. Croix–based Mutiny Island Reserve Vodka and is available at stores in Key Largo, Islamorada, Summerland Key and Key West. Future plans include distilling the spirit in the Keys. Grimal Grove also offers 90-minute guided “fruit excursions” showcasing species of subtropical fruits, trees and plants. Visitors can sample breadfruit and other fruits, attend plant clinics and learn about 1950s-era hermit Adolf Grimal, a recluse who designed Old Grimal Estate. It’s open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon for guided and self-guided tours. Visit grimalgrove.com

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Learn more about :   Florida Keys & Key West ( United Kingdom )  


TravelMole Editorial Team

Editor for TravelMole North America and Asia pacific regions. Ray is a highly experienced (15+ years) skilled journalist and editor predominantly in travel, hospitality and lifestyle working with a huge number of major market-leading brands. He has also cover in-depth news, interviews and features in general business, finance, tech and geopolitical issues for a select few major news outlets and publishers.

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