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The holiday spirit it soon set to sweep over the Florida Keys and while there will be more palm trees than Christmas trees and certainly no sign of snow, there will be a welcoming festive atmosphere for visitors and locals to embrace.
In the subtropical Lower Keys with balmy breezes and warm sunshine, the holiday season will start at the free-admission Big Pine & Lower Keys Island Art Festival from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, November 29, on the grounds of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, mile marker 31 oceanside.
A schedule of highlights will include exhibits and booths featuring handcrafted art, jewelry, pottery and more by local artists and artisans. This family-friendly event offers visitors the chance to purchase one-of-a-kind holiday gifts and artwork while enjoying the natural beauty surrounding the area.
There will also be live music by popular local bands and entertainers alongside delicious food and drink, making it the perfect seasonal tradition in the Lower Keys.
Jumpstarting the annual seven-month stone crab season is a much-anticipated munch-a-thon, the fourth annual Stone Crab Claw Eating Contest for amateur eaters, set for Saturday, Oct. 18.
Staged at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, located at 35th Street gulfside in Marathon, the lively consumption competition is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Entrants must register and be present by 12 p.m. the day of the event.
Individual entry fee is $50, and two-person teams can register for $100. Contestants must be at least 18 years of age. Interested eaters are encouraged to register early for their bib-wearing spot at the table.
Contestants must crack, clean and eat 25 stone crab claws in the fastest time. Although they are provided with shell crackers, alternatively, entrants can gently smack the shell with the back of a large spoon — an effective method employed by many Keys locals.
In the event of a tie, those competitors must face off in a 10-claw competition to determine the top winner. Prizes are to be awarded to the top three finishers.
Stone crab season runs from Oct. 15 to May 15 and hundreds of thousands of pounds of stone crab claws are steamed, cracked and served at local markets, restaurants and transported around the nation. The Keys are Florida’s top supplier of the succulent crustacean, considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to re-grow harvested claws.
Event information and registration: www.keysfisheries.com
Call 855-606-4502 to speak with an onsite vacation planner at Tranquility Bay Resort or book online.
It’s autumn in the Florida Keys and Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner on November 27th, which is why our culinary team at Tranquility Bay Hotel and Resort is starting to turn up the heat in the Butterfly Café kitchen. With a taste bud-tempting menu created especially for the Thanksgiving holidays in Florida, our team will be busy behind the scenes with turkeys to roast, pumpkin pies to prepare and cranberry sauce to season with a tropical twist. Get ready to indulge Keys-style and celebrate Thanksgiving 2014 in Florida. View the Butterfly Cafe Thanksgiving Menu
A feast fit for Thanksgiving: Dine in or take away
Rated Marathon’s number one restaurant by TripAdvisor, Butterfly Café will set the scene for a Thanksgiving dinner to remember, or you can order Thanksgiving “to go” and dine in the comfort of your beach house. Please note that guestrooms do not have dining tables.
Dine-in: Thanksgiving Buffet at Butterfly Cafe
Thanks to our covered outdoor patio you can devour your meal outside in the warm, breezy air. There is also the sophisticated Butterfly Cafe dining room complete with a sky-high ceiling that creates an impressive atmosphere among stylish décor, perfect for savoring the flavors of classic Thanksgiving dishes that will include oven-roasted turkey with white hunter gravy.
The carving station will also feature pineapple chutney honey glazed ham and the traditional, much-loved pumpkin soup will be given tropical treatment with a blend of coconut. Meats will be served with a delicious selection of accompaniments, including ginger-spiced cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole topped with pecans and marshmallows. Hungry for more Florida Keys-inspired dishes? There will be oysters on the half shell, peel ‘n eat Key West pink shrimp, surimi crab salad and gourmet cheeses. Just make sure you leave enough room for dessert! Butterfly Café’s Thanksgiving dinner is served from 2pm to 8pm by reservation only.
To make dine-in reservations, email email@example.com or call 305-289-7177
Take-away: Order Thanksgiving dinner “take out”
If you’d like some personal time with family, you can also request Thanksgiving “take-out” and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of your Beach House. Order in advance and enjoy the following:
- 1 Turkey (10-12 pounds)
- Sides for 4-6 people, including: Mashed Potatoes (with or without Gravy), Green beans, Mushroom & Brioche Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce
- 6 Dinner Rolls or Corn Muffins
- 1 Key Lime OR Pumpkin Pie (serves 6)
- Price $95.00
- Must prepay and order before November 21st 2014
Send orders to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-289-5920
A tropical haven for relaxation
A Thanksgiving celebration on vacation not only means treating yourself to Butterfly Café’s finest food, but also finding every opportunity to relax and unwind beneath the golden rays of sunshine as the northern hemisphere wraps up against an autumn chill. With its own private 2.5 acre beach, Tranquility Bay provides the perfect Thanksgiving getaway, offering a spacious stretch of soft white sand for sun lounging as well as an exciting range of watersports for adventure-seekers, such as Paddle Boarding, Kayaking, Wave Runners, Hobie Cats and boat rentals. The resort features three sparkling pools including our large lagoon-style pool, all nestled among a tropical garden oasis offering peace, privacy and paradise.
A luxury room for ultimate comfort
Guestrooms and beach houses at Tranquility Bay have been designed with the ultimate comfort and luxury in mind, all you need to consider is whether to choose a beachfront view or a luscious green landscape overlooking our tropical gardens. Just a short stroll from the central swimming pool and beach are the intimate Tropical Garden Guestrooms, which are perfect for couples looking for seclusion and serenity.
If it’s more space you’re after for enjoying Thanksgiving travel with family, try one of our two or three-bedroom beach houses overlooking the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Offering a relaxing “home away from home” atmosphere, everything your family needs is under one roof, including laundry facilities, a fully equipped kitchen and a super comfortable living room complete with a 42-inch plasma TV.
Call 855-606-4502 to speak with an onsite vacation planner at Tranquility Bay Resort or book online.
As the autumn months make their arrival, the warm tropical air still surrounding the Florida Keys is blended with a sense of calm following the busy summer family season, making it a desirable destination for couples of all ages looking for a relaxing retreat, or friends traveling together.
With kids back at school, the months from mid-September to early December are filled with peace and quiet yet there is still every opportunity to find fun during autumn with a variety of water-based and nature-focused activities. As the majority of the world braces itself for the start of an inevitable cold snap, the sun is still shining its golden rays over the Florida Keys so you can escape the chilly winds and warm up in paradise.
Here are the top reasons to visit Marathon, FL this autumn:
1.) A Tranquil Breeze: With the average temperature topping a breezy 84 degrees and the ocean remaining beautifully warm, you can take time out to soak up the autumn sun and indulge in watersports activities without being surrounded by the excitable sounds of families on vacation.
2.) Love Long Weekends: With summer tucked away and Christmas looming in the distance, there is still plenty to celebrate in autumn. You can enjoy a long peaceful weekend break or week-long vacation during Columbus Day on October 13th or Veteran’s Day on November 11th. Thanksgiving Day on November 27th also provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate in style and make the most of the extended weekend break.
3.) Nearby Autumn Events: The surrounding Florida Keys offer an array of autumn events to take advantage of during your vacation. With Key West just over an hour away, you can enjoy a day trip to see some of these exciting activities.
- Oct 9-13: SoMo Marathon & Half Marathon
- Oct 17-26: Fantasy Fest (Key West)
- Oct 17-18: Goombay Festival (Key West)
- Oct 18: Annual Stone Crab Eating Contest
- Nov 7-10: Key West International Latin Arts Festival
- Nov 12-16: Key West Film Festival
- Nov 2-9: Key West World Championship Races
- Nov 29: Big Pine & The Lower Keys Island Art Festival
- Dec 4-7: TRIKW Swim-Bike-Run in Paradise
4.) “Sea” Life… Without the Crowds: A quieter season means less crowds across Marathon, so you can enjoy a more relaxed experience at the island’s attractions including the Dolphin Research Center, Aquarium Encounters Florida Keys, the Turtle Hospital, and Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.
5.) Cook Your Catch: Autumn is also a calm time of year to enjoy fishing, and you can return to the resort with your catch for our chefs to cook exactly how you like it at Butterfly Cafe! Two popular autumn seasons include Lobster season which runs from August 6th through March 31st, while Stone Crab Claw season starts October 15th and runs through May 15th. There are a range of other fish in season during the autumn and we can arrange fishing charters at the resort.
6.) Savor the Flavors: Local cuisine in the Florida Keys is one of many reasons why visitors just can’t get enough of the destination, and in autumn you can savor the flavors of the season including delicious deep-fried fish caught from the surrounding waters. At Tranquility Bay Resort, you will be spoiled for choice in our award-winning Butterfly Cafe where top chefs capture the tropical flavors of the islands using local ingredients and the finest seafood. You can also enjoy casual oceanside dining at TJ’s Tiki Bar where the cocktail menu will no doubt beckon you to sample a cool autumn creation before sunset.
7.) Love is in the Air: Autumn is one of the best seasons in which to indulge in a romantic break in the Florida Keys when the island is at its most calm and relaxed following the busy summer months. You can hide away in one of our new luxury Tropical Garden Guestrooms for peace and privacy, with a central swimming pool nearby and our private 2.5 acre beach. Or try the larger adults-only relaxation pool just a short walk from our Tropical Garden Guestrooms.
8.) Space Out: If you’re traveling as a group this autumn, you can all enjoy space, luxury and comfort in our two or three-bedroom beach houses, each one boasting its own private porch which overlooks the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Offering a relaxing “home away from home” atmosphere, everything your party needs is under one roof, including laundry facilities, a fully-equipped kitchen and a super comfortable living room complete with a 42-inch plasma TV.
9.) Autumn Color: Who says you have to travel north to see autumn color when we’ll bring the color to you. Each autumn, vibrant autumn sunsets fill the Florida Keys skies with amazing color right from our private beach.
10.) Spectacular Savings: Autumn is the best time to secure an unbeatable deal at Tranquility Bay Resort, so if you’re after a budget-friendly getaway then you’ll find a variety of discount options from our specials page, along with packages including our tempting Culinary Escape Package. If you book directly through Tranquility Bay, you are guaranteed the best deal so call 855-606-4502 to speak with one of our on-site vacation planners and secure an unbeatable package this autumn.
The 16th annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival, set for Tuesday through Sunday, Sept. 23-28, offers birders, outdoor enthusiasts and nature photographers a backstage pass to view native wildlife and explore one of Florida’s most precious ecosystems.
Anchored at Marathon’s oceanfront preserve of Curry Hammock State Park, mile marker 56.2, the family-friendly event characteristically includes field trips to national, state and private natural and backcountry areas of the Florida Keys.
Participants can enjoy behind-the-scenes guided walks and boat and kayak adventures to some of the Keys’ wildest places. They include Florida Bay by Everglades National Park, the National Key Deer Refuge, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock State Park and Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles off Key West.
More than a dozen birding and wildlife experts, guides and writers are to lead excursions, workshops and informative presentations. Topics include how to be a better birder, radar ornithology, raptor behavior, migratory birds and more.
The popular Wildlife Fair and Family Day is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at Curry Hammock. Admission to the fair is free.
Sunday, Sept. 28, is the signature all-day birding excursion to Dry Tortugas National Park. A ferry to the remote birders’ paradise boards at 7:30 a.m. in Key West and returns around 5 p.m. Reservations are required and space is limited to two groups of 20 people each.
Festival attendees also are welcome to join “hawkwatchers” daily as they monitor the flights of record numbers of peregrine falcons and other raptors from a perch at Curry Hammock State Park. The Florida Keys Hawkwatch team spearheads the southernmost migration count in the continental United States, documenting as many as 18 species and 25,000 diurnal birds of prey and more than 120 species of waders, shorebirds and songbirds.
Event registration fees apply for daily programs and field trips. Early registration is encouraged.
Event information: www.keysbirdingfest.org or Kristie Killam at 305-304-9625
Visitors to the middle Florida Keys now can enjoy an immersive experience with reef fish, invertebrates, stingrays and even sharks — without entering the ocean — at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. At the marine life attraction, recently opened in Marathon, they can learn about the importance of marine conservation while discovering the Keys’ complex underwater habitats.
The signature feature of the multimillion-dollar facility, located near the foot of the Vaca Cut Bridge at 11710 Overseas Highway, is a coral reef exhibit and shark habitat housed in a massive 200,000-gallon interconnected saltwater aquarium.
Following an instructional presentation, participants in the flagship 90-minute encounter can immerse themselves in the tank to hover over an artificial coral reef structure and interact with tropical reef fish, rays and other reef-dwelling marine species that are part of the in-tank ecosystem.
The encounter employs tethered diving technology, enabling individuals without prior scuba experience to enjoy the in-water opportunity with supervision from trained professional dive instructors. A large fortified Plexiglas window divides the coral reef tank from a shark and predatory fish tank, and participants can hand-feed those creatures through underwater feeding ports in the window.
Other interactive aquarium encounters include shallow touch tanks that feature starfish, conchs and horseshoe crabs, and allow feeding debarbed stingrays and docile baby nurse sharks. At each encounter, a staff marine biologist provides educational introduction and guidance.
Visit www.floridakeysaquariumencounters.com or call 305-407-3262.
Silver Airways has initiated daily nonstop flights between Orlando International Airport and Key West International Airport. Two flights are offered daily and take approximately 80 minutes. The airline is using 34-passenger Saab 340B Plus aircraft for the route.
As well as its nonstop Orlando/Key West flights, Silver Airways offers nonstop service between the island city and Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Tampa, Fla.
In addition, passengers can choose connecting flights to dozens of destinations beyond Florida through the airline’s codeshare and interline ticketing partnerships.
For more information and to book a flight, visit www.silverairways.com.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Florida Keys cuisine is amazing. There’s nothing ordinary about it, even when ingredients have been cooked simply and with minimal fuss. At Tranquility Bay Hotel and Resort, every guest can experience unforgettable dining when they choose to indulge at our elegant Butterfly Café - the number one rated restaurant in Marathon, according to TripAdvisor – or sit back for a casual bite to eat at our oceanside TJ’s Tiki Bar.
To make your vacation dining even more memorable, we have launched the Tranquility Bay Culinary Escape package for a limited time only which offers every guest $50 per night to spend in Butterfly Café or TJ’s Tiki Bar when you book one of our spacious and stylish two or three-bedroom beach houses. That’s up to $250 (maximum 5 nights’ credit) at your disposal to sample the tropical tastes, delicious Caribbean-inspired cooking, and the most refreshing flavors that all make our delectable cuisine in the Keys so special.
This is the ultimate package that combines the luxury, spaciousness and comfort of our spectacular two or three-bedroom beach houses, with the indulgence and elegance of dining at Tranquility Bay. Your $50 credit per night for five nights can be spent in the evening savoring the finest flavors of the Florida Keys at our award-winning Butterfly Café where the tempting menu is particularly popular for its local seafood as well as the must-try Key Lime Pie. You can expect warm, welcoming service in light, beautiful surroundings.
You can also spend your credit at the laid-back waterfront TJ’s Tiki Bar which is an ideal spot for unwinding over a casual lunch, afternoon snacks and a cool tropical island drink while the gentle water laps on the beach nearby. Just step outside your luxury haven overlooking the water, take a stroll through our lush landscaped gardens and be indulged by the best Southern hospitality and culinary creations you could wish to find in the Florida Keys.
The Tranquility Bay Culinary Escape package includes:
- Overnight accommodation in a two or three bedroom beach house on select dates (this offer does not apply to guestrooms)
- $50 per night food and beverage credit for food and drinks at Butterfly Cafe (dinner) and TJ’s Tiki Bar (lunch and snacks) up to $250 total
We’ll take care of your dining credit leaving you to make those all-important decisions about whether to dine on coconut shrimp, Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Yellowtail Snapper or a whole host more. Bon appetit!
Do you have a friend or family member that you love with all of your heart, yet you have to take them in small doses? Well, many Marathon, Florida locals will agree that we have a love/hate relationship with seagrass on our beautiful island and we would also prefer to take it in small doses. While seagrass is a vital part of our ecosystem in the Florida Keys, it can be a bit smelly as it accumulates on our tropical beaches. To alleviate this issue, we have decided to keep our pungent pal at arm’s length with the installation of a new eco-friendly seagrass fence at Tranquility Bay.
First, let’s not forget all of the reasons why we love seagrass. Florida has roughly 2.2 million acres of seagrasses that perform many amazing functions. For starters, they help make our waters crystal-clear by trapping fine sediments and particles with their leaves.
When the grass matures, it also releases from the ocean bed and floats above where seagrasses then form a canopy which protects smaller marine animals from larger predators. This includes shelter for fishes, crustaceans and shellfish, while the seagrasses also grow organisms that provide food for many marine animals and water birds. Some animals such as manatees, urchins and sea turtles, eat seagrass blades. Other animals get their nutrition from eating algae and small animals that live upon the seagrass leaves. Bottlenose dolphins and water birds additionally use seagrass beds as feeding grounds.
So we obviously cannot and do not want to “do away with” seagrass, so our fence just keeps the seagrasses away from our beach in a creative way. And while this process has taken longer than we would like, it was important to implement the appropriate actions to ensure that our fence was eco-friendly and helped to sustain the nearby seagrass population. The Tranquility Bay seagrass fence works to keep seagrasses off of our beach while the grass stays in the ocean, continuing to do its many good deeds.
You can now bask on our small, yet beautiful beach without seagrass cramping your style. So two thumbs up for seagrass, but we’ll wave from afar as we unwind on our pristine white beach at Tranquility Bay Resort.
Every year in Marathon, families and friends join together on July 4th to celebrate Independence Day with picnics, parades, beachside fun, and spectacular firework displays.
This year will feature an entire day of fun followed by one of the largest and longest firework displays in the Florida Keys on Sombrero Beach. Celebrations begin with a patriotic parade in the morning, starting around 10:30, from Marathon High School to Sombrero Beach where a daylong party brings together food, drink, kids’ crafts and entertainment. The fireworks will then fill the skies with color after dark and there will be hundreds of boaters lined up in front of the beach for the best view of the celebrations.
The Americana Music Festival also takes place during the July 4th festivities. Between June 30th and July 5th, you can discover around 30 musical bands and solo performers on stage at Marathon’s popular waterfront venue, Dockside Tropical Cafe (35 Sombrero Boulevard). The free event will feature afternoon performances and headliners later in the evening, all creating a lively atmosphere to add to the Independence Day celebrations.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head down to Key West for the day and get a taste of the Key Lime Pie Festival (July 3 – 5). There’s every excuse to indulge in Key West’s favorite flavor during this festival while enjoying a number of highlights, including a Key lime pie-eating contest, a Miss Key Lime Pageant, and the unveiling of an impressive 9 foot-wide pie which will be served up on Greene Street, just off Duval Street.
Call (855) 266-2703 to book your stay at Tranquility Bay Resort this 4th of July.