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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.
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.
Getting organized early for summer can help you spend less on your family vacation so that you can get a piece of luxury at a slice of the price. It’s our way of treating you and your loved ones to a more affordable ticket to paradise following the long winter months, because you deserve to relax and have fun amid the beauty of the Florida Keys here at Tranquility Bay Resort in Marathon, Florida.
Our “Sale Into Summer“ promotion offers up to 25% savings on spacious two or three-bedroom beach houses with views of the Gulf of Mexico, so you can look out on your own private paradise. Our charming two-bedroom beach houses are perfect for a family of four, offering two-level living with French doors that lead out onto spacious porches on both levels.
We’ve created each beach house with comfort and luxury in mind, so you can indulge in style surrounded by quaintly painted furniture and enjoy the benefits of a private laundry service, flatscreen TVs, wireless internet and cable TV. The master bedroom features a king size bed and the second bedroom is perfect for siblings to share with twin size beds, all beautifully prepared with luxurious linens.
Also available in our ‘Sale Into Summer‘ offer are the super spacious three-bedroom beach houses, ideal for larger families or groups of friends. Offering all the comfort, luxury and detail of our two-bedroom houses, you will find even more space here for up to six people with an additional bedroom offering a queen size bed. Whichever size beach house suits you and your party, every morning you can guarantee to wake up to the sight and sound of serenity before you plan your fun-filled day of family adventure.
There couldn’t be a more ideal location for a summer family vacation than the Florida Keys. Tranquility Bay is surrounded by attractions and activities for all age groups to enjoy, including swimming with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center, meeting sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital and snorkeling to find colorful coral and tropical fish. The resort is home to its own private beach, sparkling pools and the award-winning Butterfly Cafe which offers relaxed dining and a children’s menu. There are also more water-based activities than you can even fit into your vacation, to help make the most of your long-awaited summer break.
It’s no surprise that our resort remains the number one hotel in Marathon on TripAdvisor, so make sure you don’t lose out on the pleasure of unwinding in style at a lower price, as our family-friendly beach houses are set to sell fast the sooner summer arrives.
The “Sale Into Summer” promotion launches on May 5th and is available until May 14th for bookings over the summer through September 22nd. Book now via Call 877-705-5758 or visit www.tranquilitybay.com/saleaway.
Let’s start the week off right with some exceptional offers from Tranquility Bay Resort. We’ve highlighted some of the best dates where you can save big bucks between now and the summer months. These offers are available as of the week of April 7th only so book now to avoid disappointment! Please note for all offers that rates do not include a daily resort fee of $27 or applicable taxes. Offers are also subject to limited availability and blackout dates. Your deposit and cancellation policy will additionally depend on the type of reservation that you have booked. Please call 855-606-4502 for details.
SUMMER WEEKDAY SALE FROM $219/NIGHT… A 15% SAVINGS!
Relax, unwind and find serenity this summer at our Florida Keys resort. Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or are in search of a romantic retreat, Tranquility Bay offers a little something for everyone and relaxation for all. Dive into rejuvenating watersports activities, swim with dolphins nearby, try beach yoga, or just enjoy some traditional family fun. You can also soak up the sun on our 2.5 acre beach or our lagoon style pool. Discover paradise from just $219/night when staying Sundays through Thursdays in a Tropical Garden Guestroom. Find this offer on select dates from June 8 – August 23, 2014.
Call 855-606-4502 to speak with an onsite vacation planner or book online, now.
STAY 5 NIGHTS BEACH HOUSE SPECIAL: SAVE UP TO 20% FROM $299/NIGHT
Enjoy special savings for staying at least five nights at Tranquility Bay Resort! Book a two-bedroom waterview beach house on the following dates and receive up to 20% off of our best available rates:
- Sunday April 27 – Thursday May 1 (15% savings)
- Sunday May 18 – Thursday May 22 (15% savings)
- Monday May 26 – Thursday May 29 (15% savings)
- Sunday June 1 – Thursday June 5 (10% savings)
- Sundays through Thursdays from June 8 – 26 (20% savings)
Call 855-606-4502 to speak with an onsite vacation planner or book online, now.
MAY ESCAPES FROM $199/NIGHT IN A TROPICAL GARDEN GUESTROOM
Discover paradise in May when staying in our new Tropical Garden Guestrooms at Tranquility Bay Resort. Call 855-606-4502 for two and three-bedroom beach house pricing. Find this offer on the following dates:
- Friday, May 2, 2014
- Monday, May 5 through Friday, May 9, 2014
- Sunday, May 18 through Thursday, May 22, 2014
Call 855-606-4502 to speak with an onsite vacation planner or book online, now.
VALUE DATES FROM $169/NIGHT DURING SELECT TRAVEL PERIODS
Book a Tropical Garden Guestroom during the following dates and enjoy rates from just $169/night. Call 855-606-4502 for two and three-bedroom beach house pricing.
- Sunday, April 27 through Thursday, May 1, 2014
- Monday, May 26 through Thursday, May 29, 2014
- Sunday, June 1 through Thursday, June 5, 2014
- Sunday, August 24 through Thursday, August 28, 2014
- Many dates in September, 2014
Call 855-606-4502 to speak with an onsite vacation planner or book online, now.
Rates do not include daily resort fee of $27 or applicable taxes. Offers are subject to limited availability and blackout dates. Deposit and cancellation policy depend on type of reservation booked.
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 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 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