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If the clock is nearing lunchtime and your hunger pangs are setting in, this tempting reminder of why Keys cuisine is world-renowned is certain to tickle your appetite. Whether it’s the finest seafood you’re craving, from mahi mahi and lobster to conch and Florida stone crab, or a welcoming slice of Key Lime Pie relished alongside a refreshing ice-cool cocktail, a vacation in Marathon will send you on a spectacular, taste-bud teasing, gastronomic journey that’ll always leave you wanting to come back for more.
The Original Marathon Seafood Festival
Surrounded by a crystal-clear ocean teeming with gourmet delicacies, Marathon is one of the top global destinations in the world to sample the finest seafood fresh off the boat, which is why the tropical island will be the center of attention from March 8th through 9th when thousands of visitors will head to the annual Original Marathon Seafood Festival, the second largest Florida Keys event.
It’s taking place at the Marathon Community Park MM 49 oceanside and will showcase the best seafood from the waters of the Florida Keys, with a lively party atmosphere providing the perfect backdrop for sampling the luscious island flavors. There will be bucket loads of conch served in a whole manner of different ways, from fried golden fritters and ceviche to chowder and ‘conchwurst’ sausage, all expertly prepared by local chefs creatively crafting their seafood according to Keys-based recipes. The festival kicks off on Saturday March 8th from 10am to 9pm and continues into Sunday from 11am to 5pm.
Ten Not-to-Be-Missed Florida Keys Flavors
- Pink shrimp sautéed in scampi
- Stone crab claws
- Broiled lobster tail
- Mahi Mahi fish
- Smoked fish dip
- Florida Keys scallops
- Caribbean jerk chicken
- Golden deep-fried conch fritters
- Key lime pie
- Key lime rum blended in a tropical cocktail
After the Festival, Tempt Your Tastebuds at Butterfly Cafe
A talented team is also passionately working behind the scenes at Tranquility Bay Resort where the sourcing, preparation and serving of food and drink is taken as seriously as our welcoming Southern hospitality. This is why the resort is home to Butterfly Cafe, the number one rated restaurant in Marathon, boasting a mouth-watering menu which leaves diners feeling spoiled for choice. Here’s a sample of some of our Butterfly Cafe favorites:
The fresh, fruity samba salad is a perfect option after a sun-soaked day by the ocean. It tastes exotic with its blend of mango and avocado, and is certain to keep you longing for a main course. For seafood fans, how about tucking into the conch chowder, or perhaps you’d be tempted by some Key West pink shrimp in our shrimp cocktail.
Ocean-fresh seafood remains a favorite on the Butterfly Cafe menu, particularly the grouper complemented by a tropical coulis and selection of seasonal vegetables. Popular dishes also include the scallop risotto, coconut shrimp, mahi mahi with a mango salsa and the yellowtail snapper served with sherry brown butter. You can even help create your own unique dish featuring fish you’ve caught during the day which our team will gladly cook for you exactly how you like it. If it’s not fish you fancy, try the Cowboy which boasts a 22oz bone-in Angus ribeye or the Caribbean jerk chicken with a delicious fruity pineapple chutney.
The Butterfly Cafe award-winning Key Lime Pie will tempt any sweet-toothed diner, as will the ‘To Die For’ sticky toffee pudding and tropical cheesecake with a refreshing blend of mango and passionfruit. The friendly and welcoming restaurant staff will be on hand to recommend the perfect choice of wine to accompany your dish. If the whole family are dining together, children are catered for and the restaurant opens at 6pm to suit an early bedtime.
Shaken, Stirred and Blended to Perfection
Throughout your vacation at Tranquility Bay Resort, you’re guaranteed to take time out at TJ’s Tiki Bar for a midday tropical smoothie, a bit of lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, or a pre-sunset cocktail. Imagine you’ve just stepped out of the sunshine and into the shade for a cool down. You need a long, fruit-based cocktail to go hand-in-hand with this slice of paradise, so may we suggest the Blueberry Mojito? It’s bursting with flavor and packs a punch with its well-balanced blend of Stoli Blueberry, fresh mint and lime juice. Then there’s the Key Lime Pie cocktail which is an absolute must for savoring the original flavors of the Florida Keys. Key lime rum is blended with vanilla ice cream and rimmed with a Graham cracker crust; it is the ultimate taste sensation from TJ’s Tiki Bar!
If your New Year’s Resolution is to be spontaneous, then a last minute trip to the Florida Keys may be just what you need. We have last minute availability during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend at Tranquility Bay Resort so pack your bags and visit our tropical beach resort this weekend!
- Superior Tropical Garden Guestrooms From $199/Night
- 2-Bedroom Waterview Beach Houses From $279/Night
Call 855-318-0073 today to book your stay!
Attendees can discover the wares of fine artists and craftspeople from around the country Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 8-9, at the 20th annual Pigeon Key Art Festival at the Marathon Community Park, mile marker 49.
A nationally recognized outdoor art festival, the event is a tropically themed oasis of creative offerings that includes pottery, paintings, glass, sculpture, photography, jewelry and more. Each year artists demonstrate their skills during the show, giving attendees a glimpse of the techniques behind their original creations.
The event is named for Pigeon Key, a small island beneath the Old Seven Mile Bridge that housed workers constructing the iconic Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad in the early 1900s.
Keys-based musicians are to provide live entertainment, and food and beverage booths are to serve local delicacies and sweet treats. In addition, activities for children are planned to round out the family-friendly event.
A traditional Sunday art raffle concludes the weekend. Raffle tickets are to be available through 1 p.m. Sunday for a chance to win one of more than 50 pieces of artwork.
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 per adult and free for children under 12. Parking is free at the Marathon Community Park.
As an added value, patrons can retain their ticket stubs and redeem them for a buy-one-get-one-free ferry trip to Pigeon Key within one year of their show admission.
Festival proceeds help support the Pigeon Key Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and educating the public about the historical, environmental and cultural significance of the Florida Keys.
Event information: www.pigeonkeyartfestival.com
The spirit of the holiday season comes alive in the Florida Keys with holiday happenings and festive functions spreading cheer in a subtropical climate. Tranquility Bay Resort offers a lovely Christmas Day buffet as well, with all of the festive fixings and a double helping of tranquility!
View our Florida Keys Christmas menu
From Marathon to Key West the calendar is packed with events designed to celebrate the holiday spirit — including lighted boat parades featuring vessels whose decorations range from traditional greenery to offbeat salutes to the season. Listed here are some holiday highlights, all spiced with a characteristically Florida Keys flair.
- Now through Sunday, Dec. 22
Holiday Photos with a Dolphin at Dolphin Research Center (Marathon)
At Dolphin Research Center, mile marker (MM) 59 bayside on Grassy Key, visitors who participate in the Meet the Dolphin program also can pose with the dolphins for a holiday photo. Visitors can bring their holiday-themed props to pose with, and DRC’s experienced photographers will shoot the pictures using high-resolution digital cameras. The program is offered several times each day on a walk-in basis and costs $25 per person in addition to general admission prices. The photos are supplied on a flash drive for $20 for one person or $35 for multiple people in the same shot. Group size is limited to four people. Contact: 305-289-1121 or www.dolphins.org
- Wednesday, Nov. 27, 6 p.m., throughout the holiday season
The Lighting of the Harbor Walk (Key West)
The harbor walk along the Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight, stretching from Greene Street to Grinnell Street, is to be festively lit from rooftops to the sea for the holiday season. Celebrate with holiday events, browse at local shops and galleries and relax at waterfront restaurants and watering holes. This and other seaport festivities are part of the inaugural Key West Holiday Fest. Contact:www.KeyWestChristmas.org or www.KeyWestHolidayFest.com
- Saturday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.
Key West Holiday Parade (Key West)
The island city shows its holiday spirit with this annual hometown parade. Featuring marching groups and motorized and nonmotorized floats, the festive procession traditionally draws entries from churches, civic organizations, businesses and neighborhood and school groups. Starting at Truman Avenue and White Street, it proceeds down Truman to Duval, where it takes a right and continues on to Eaton Street. Contact: 305-809-3881 or visit www.keywestcity.com
- Sunday, Dec. 8, 4-7 p.m.
Annual Tree Lighting Celebration (Marathon)
An early evening event in the parking area outside Fishermen’s Community Hospital gathers the Marathon community to light the tree atop the hospital. Holiday entertainment includes a “special guest” appearance, raffles, activities for kids, tap dancers, music, hot dogs, cookies and punch. Contact: 305-743-5533
- Sunday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m. (sunset)
Key Colony Beach Lighted Boat Parade (Marathon Area)
Spectators can applaud vividly lit boats in the Middle Keys at the Key Colony Beach Boat Parade. Open to all boats, the parade is set to start at the 7th Street canal and wind its way through canals on the west side of the city, ending in the canal between 11th and 12th streets. The best viewing spots include the Sadowski Causeway at MM 53.5 and the dock area behind city hall and the post office. An after-party with awards for captains and crews is to be held at Key Colony Inn, 700 E. Ocean Drive, with a free buffet and cash bar. Contact: 305-743-7214 or http://kcbca.org/kcbca-events/holiday-lighted-boat-parade/
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Big Pine & Lower Keys Island Art Festival (Big Pine Key)
Experience the joys of art and music, and find some unique holiday gifts, at this festival held on the wooded grounds of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, MM 31 oceanside. Family fun highlights include live music by favorite local entertainers, exhibits and booths featuring the original work of artists and artisans, raffles and vendors offering food and beverages. Parking and admission are free. Contact:305-872-2411 or www.lowerkeyschamber.com
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.
Boot Key Harbor Boat Parade (Marathon)
At this Middle Keys holiday event, vessels from dinghies to mega-yachts are to cruise the harbor in a sparkling procession. The best viewing sites include Lazy Days South, Marathon Marina, Sombrero Dockside Lounge and Burdines Waterfront around MM 47-50. Contact: www.bootkeyharbor.com/christmas_parade.htm
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.
Lower Keys Lighted Boat Parade (Lower Keys)
All boats are welcome to participate in this favorite Lower Keys holiday event sponsored by the Lower Keys Rotary Club. Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to arrive and hand out candy to the kids. Best viewing spots include the Old Wooden Bridge Guest Cottages & Marina, No Name Key Bridge and Big Pine Community Park, all off U.S. Highway 1 at MM 31. Contact: Steve at 305-923-5370 email@example.com
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.
Schooner Wharf Bar & Galley Lighted Boat Parade (Key West)
Festively decorated kayaks, fishing craft and schooners are to glitter in Key West’s Historic Seaport during the 23rd annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade. The Gerald Adams Elementary School Steel Your Heart Band kicks off the festivities at 6 p.m. singing holiday favorites, followed by popular family band The Doerfels. Spectators can view the dozens of participating vessels from resorts, bars and restaurants in and around the Historic Seaport. Contact: 305-292-3302 orwww.schoonerwharf.com
- Sunday, Dec. 15, 1-3 p.m.
Christmas on the Farm 2013 (Stock Island, Key West)
Kids and adults can visit the furry, fluffy and feathered residents of the Animal Farm and get a photo taken with Santa. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm is situated at the county’s detention center just outside Key West at 5501 College Road. This event is free and open to the public. Contact: Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300 or www.keysso.net/miscellaneous/animal_park.htm
- Sunday, Dec. 15, 3 p.m.
Southernmost Christmas Tree Celebration (Key West)
Holiday revelers enjoy free conch chowder and then board Conch Tour Trains to proceed to the continental United States’ Southernmost Point to set up the southernmost Christmas tree at sunset overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The event is an annual community thank-you party presented by the Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens. The fun starts at 1401 Seminary St. Contact: 305-294-9526
- Saturday, Dec. 21, 5 and 8 p.m.
Marathon Community Theater presents a Christmas Concert (Marathon)
Two shows are slated to ring in holiday cheer for Marathon-area audiences. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children. Contact: 305-743-0994 orwww.marathontheater.org
- Tuesday, Dec. 31, just before midnight
Key West New Year’s Eve Celebrations (Key West)
The Southernmost City celebrates New Year’s Eve with a “conch shell drop” at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St.; the descent of a super-sized red high-heel shoe carrying drag queen Sushi at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.; the splash of a huge replica Key lime wedge into a massive margarita glass at Ocean Key Resort’s Sunset Pier and the descent of a pirate wench from atop a tall ship’s mast in the island city’s Historic Seaport. Contact: 305-296-2388, ext. 121, for the conch shell drop; 305-293-9800 for the high-heel drop; 305-295-7005 for the Key lime splash and 305-292-3302 for the descent of the pirate wench
Enjoy our delectable Marathon, FL Thanksgiving menu at Butterfly Cafe inside Tranquility Bay Resort, a short walk from the beach. With all the classic dishes you remember– and a few new ones we’re sure you’ll love– Thanksgiving dinner at Butterfly Cafe is the perfect way to relax and enjoy the holiday without any of the usual stress and mess. Rest easy knowing that Butterfly Cafe is the number one restaurant in Marathon on TripAdvisor!
Our Florida Keys Thanksgiving buffet at Butterfly Cafe is available from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving and please note that reservations are required. The adult buffet is $49 per adult and the children’s buffet is $20 per child (10 and under). View the Thanksgiving Buffet Menu
Dine outdoors on the Butterfly Café covered patio, or enjoy the impressive dining room inside with its soaring ceiling and casual yet sophisticated decor.
When it comes to accommodations, Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort offers lodging in 87 thoughtfully and elegantly designed two-bedroom and three-bedroom waterfront Florida Keys beach houses overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. View our Accommodations
Each beach house includes a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, separate dining area, two and one half baths, and living room. Unwind with a 42-inch wall mounted plasma TV, premium cable with HBO and wireless internet. Whimsical painted furniture, locally inspired art, premium bed and bath linens, French doors on both levels lead to spacious porches with spectacular, unobstructed water views of the Gulf of Mexico for idyllic waterfront Marathon FL accommodations. Laundry facilities and bedrooms are upstairs.
Dial 855-318-8048 to book Thanksgiving accommodations or book online.
Lighted and decorated boats of virtually all shapes and sizes are to illuminate the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys in December, drawing visitors to local hubs to watch five boat parades and catch the Keys’ holiday spirit.
From Marathon to Key West, visitors can view the parades from the shore or excursion boats, or even become part of the festivities by decking out their own boat in dazzling lights and eye-catching seasonal decorations.
Sunday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m. (sunset)
Key Colony Beach Lighted Boat Parade (Marathon Area)
Spectators can applaud vividly lit boats in the Middle Keys at the Key Colony Beach Boat Parade. Open to all boats, the parade is set to start at the 7th Street canal and wind its way through canals on the west side of the city, ending in the canal between 11th and 12th streets. The best viewing spots include the Sadowski Causeway at mile marker (MM) 53.5 and the dock area behind city hall and the post office. An after-party with awards for captains and crews is to be held at Key Colony Inn, 700 E. Ocean Drive, with a free buffet and cash bar. Contact: 305-743-7214 or http://kcbca.org/kcbca-events/holiday-lighted-boat-parade/
Saturday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.
Boot Key Harbor Boat Parade (Marathon)
At this Middle Keys holiday event, dinghies, mega-yachts and vessels in between are to cruise the harbor in a sparkling procession. The best viewing sites include Lazy Days South, Marathon Marina, Sombrero Dockside Lounge and Burdines Waterfront around MM 47-50. Contact: http://www.bootkeyharbor.com/christmas_parade.htm
Saturday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.
Lower Keys Lighted Boat Parade (Lower Keys)
All boats are welcome to participate in this favorite Lower Keys holiday event sponsored by the Lower Keys Rotary Club. Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to arrive and hand out candy to the kids. Best viewing spots include the Old Wooden Bridge Guest Cottages & Marina, No Name Key Bridge and Big Pine Community Park, all off U.S. Highway 1 at MM 31. Contact: Steve at 305-923-5370 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.
Schooner Wharf Bar & Galley Lighted Boat Parade (Key West)
Festively decorated kayaks, fishing craft and schooners are to glitter in Key West’s Historic Seaport during the 23rd annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade. The Gerald Adams Elementary School Steel Your Heart Band kicks off the festivities at 6 p.m. singing holiday favorites, followed by popular family band The Doerfels. Spectators can view the dozens of participating vessels from resorts, bars and restaurants in and around the Historic Seaport. Contact: 305-292-3302 or visit www.schoonerwharf.com
Calling all ghouls, goblins, vampires and witches! If you’re visiting Tranquility Bay Resort this week, we’ve outlined a few family-friendly Halloween activities, in and around Marathon. If you haven’t booked your stay, we still have some great last minute deals available. Take a peek and we hope you have a ghoulish time in the Florida Keys!
For Halloween happenings in the Middle Keys, venture into Crane Point’s Haunted Hammock, inhabited by ghosts, ghouls and pirates starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. The beautiful 63-acre Crane Point Hammock, located at MM 50.5 bayside in Marathon, turns into a spooky haunted habitat. Geared toward youngsters age 12 and under, the fright-filled fun is free to the public. Visit cranepoint.net or call 305-743-3900.
Gulfside Village Halloween Party
Also Oct. 31, costumed goblins and ghouls can trick or treat at Marathon’s outdoor Gulfside Village shopping plaza, 5800 Overseas Highway. The annual community Halloween party is open to the public from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with refreshments and treats for children, parents and grandparents to enjoy.
Days and nights of ghoulish delight are planned for the annual Haunting of Fort Zachary Taylor, a Civil War-era fort beside Key West’s Atlantic Ocean shore. Live remaining “shows” are set for Oct. 30-31, treating visitors to otherworldly celebrations not suitable for mere mortals. Ghost-seekers can access Fort Taylor and its surrounding state park from an entrance on Southard Street past Thomas Street. Kid’s Day entry is free with park admission. Admission to the haunting is $13 per adult, $10 for military personnel, $8 for kids and free for children under age 5. Hours are 8-11 p.m. (midnight on Halloween). Learn more at hauntedkeywestfort.com.
Staged at the Marathon Community Park, MM49, the festival features six outstanding Celtic bands, including Scottish headliner Albannach, international super group Rathkeltair, Marcille Wallis & Friends with the Tampa Bay Treblemaker Dancers, West of Galway and a special 20th reunion appearance of Celtic rock pioneers Clan na Gael.
Festival Hotel Discounts
Tranquility Bay guests can enjoy a special discount when visiting during the Florida Keys Celtic Festival. Special resort rates are available at www.tranquilitybay.com/festival.
St. Andrew’s Pipe Band of Miami is to fill the air with the sounds of bagpipes and drums; athletics and Border Collie sheep herding demonstrations along with a Children’s Glen round out the entertainment. Celtic merchandise vendors, Celtic & local food fare and beverages provide an authentic menu to please the palate.
Information and Tickets
The Florida Keys Celtic Festival is a family-friendly event; children aged 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. Friday hours are 4-9 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; tickets start at $25 per person.
Contact: Greg McGrath 941-625-8544
Tranquility Bay Resort in Marathon, Florida will soon welcome a new addition to the current 87-unit, tropical beach resort. Beginning mid-December 2013, guests can discover the addition of 16 new luxury single-level “Tropical Garden Guestrooms” which offer more intimate accommodations than the resort’s current two and three-bedroom beach houses. Bookings can be made now for stays from mid-December onwards.
Choose from comfortable double queen beds or sink into serenity with a king sized bed option. Each spacious single-level guestroom will be designed in luxurious conch style architecture, keeping with the decor and design of Tranquility Bay’s signature graceful touches and understated luxury.
Listen to the sound of tranquility from your guestroom, framed by picturesque tropical landscaping and pool views. This exclusive resort oasis will be calm and comforting, with immaculate surroundings that offer unrivaled peace and seclusion.
A new tropical swimming pool will be added centrally to the Tropical Garden Guestrooms, not only providing spectacular views and lush landscaping, but tropical serenity.
Enjoy all of the amenities of Tranquility Bay Resort with more affordable luxury in mind, and tropical garden views.
Birders, outdoor enthusiasts and nature photographers can flock to the 15th annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival Tuesday through Sunday, Sept. 24-29, to witness the region’s renowned migration transformation.
The family- and photography-friendly event is anchored at Marathon’s oceanfront Curry Hammock State Park, mile marker (MM) 56.2. Field trips, workshops and educational programs focused on birds, butterflies, native wildlife and even astronomy span the entire Keys chain from Florida Bay by Everglades National Park to the islands of the Dry Tortugas.
Curry Hammock is home to the annual Florida Keys Hawkwatch, a citizen scientist effort of volunteers who monitor the fall raptor migration. The park became known as the Peregrine Falcon Migration Capital of the World after volunteers in 2012 recorded the migratory actions of more than 3,200 of the majestic birds in a single day.
The festival’s opening program, “Wading Birds of Florida Bay — A Pictorial Depiction,” features keynote speaker Rafael Galvez, the Hawkwatch coordinator. The presentation is planned for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Key Largo’s Murray Nelson Government Center, MM 102.
Saturday, Sept. 28, brings the event’s Wildlife Fair featuring activities, environmental booths, food and music from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the fair is free.
That evening, Elizabeth Moore, a NASA solar system educator, is to present a free 6-9 p.m. astronomy program at the park.
Sunday’s schedule features an all-day birding and wildlife photography excursion to Dry Tortugas National Park, a cluster of seven tiny islands approximately 70 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. 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.
Entrance to Curry Hammock State Park is free for festival registrants. Registration fees apply for daytime programs and field trips.
Event information: www.keysbirdingfest.org or Kristie Killam at 305-872-0774