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What's New in The Florida Keys & Key West

The Florida Keys & Key West continue to spotlight the destination's eco-oriented "Connect & Protect" initiative to encourage awareness of sustainable, memorable activities for visitors. Other notable new offerings include an eco-friendly resort in the family-oriented Middle Keys and Key West's intriguing Sails to Rails museum.

Posted on Tue, Jul 30th, 2019 10:34 am by joyoftravel.ca news services

Here's what's new in the Keys this summer:

Keys Tours
Two new Key West walking tours, the Bahama Village and the Southernmost Historical tours, were recently launched by a local fifth-generation "Conch," or native-born resident, Monroe "Hemingway" Holloway. The Bahama Village Tour showcases the historic neighborhood, architecture, community ties to the Bahamas and includes a sampling of Bahamian conch salad. The hour long Southernmost Historical Tour strolls through "Gatoville," a former Key West Cuban cigar makers' community. It also includes history about Cuban links to Key West and a sampling of Cuban food at Ana's Cuban and Conch Cafe. Priced at $25 per person plus tax, tours begin at the corner of Truman and Whitehead streets. Visit www.travelthekeys.com or call 305-741-1805.

Keys Sustainability
On Big Pine Key, the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Nature Center is soon to open with more than 1,800 square feet of exhibition space. The center showcases the Keys' four national wildlife refuges: National Key Deer, Great White Heron, Key West and Crocodile Lake. The National Key Deer Refuge, established in 1957 to protect and preserve the diminutive Key deer and other Keys wildlife resources, celebrated its 60th anniversary in December 2017. Visit fws.gov/refuge/National_Key_Deer_Refuge/ or call 305-872-0774.

Keys Accommodations
In Key Largo, the adults-only, all-inclusive Bungalows Key Largo, a 12-acre 135-unit resort, is scheduled to accept reservations beginning Dec. 20. The resort originally opened in December 2018 but sustained damage May 5 from an early morning fire. Its Beach Club building, with its Zen Garden Spa, fitness Tiki area and restaurants, was impacted. There were no injuries but the resort remains closed during rebuilding. Bungalows Key Largo features 1,000 feet of shoreline, 800-square-foot bungalows and 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. Visit www.BungalowsKeyLargo.com or call 866-801-0195.

In the Middle Keys, the oceanfront all-suite Grassy Flats Resort & Beach Club has opened with 15 units on Grassy Key. The property, with private verandas and full kitchens, plans to be fully open by summer 2020 with a total of 33 units that include two- and three-bedroom suites and a four-bedroom guest house. The eco-friendly resort promotes sustainability through multiple initiatives including housekeeping and landscaping practices and a ban on single-use plastics. Visit www.grassyflats.com or call 305-998-4590.

The Perry Hotel Key West on Stock Island is adding a new waterfront wedding venue and event space geared toward events for 50 to 500 guests, with a raised stage and on-site catering. Also in development, a new on-site 1,340-square-foot distillery is scheduled to open Nov. 1, featuring a local distilling partner with authentic Key West Rum and bottling tours. Total venue capacity for events is to include the distillery, a 2,980-square-foot pool deck and 1,630-square-foot pool bar, a 3,200-square-foot event lawn with standing capacity for up to 500 and a 545-square-foot VIP Terrace Lounge. Visit www.perrykeywest.com/meetings-and-events or call 305-269-1717.

Keys Attractions
In Islamorada, the Atlantic oceanfront Anne's Beach, located on Lower Matecumbe Key, is to reopen this summer with a new 1,280-foot-long elevated wooden boardwalk. The pet-friendly beach, operated by the city of Islamorada just off the Overseas Highway, has six new pavilions, new restrooms and rebuilt north and south parking lots. The small beach park stretches from Calusa Cove Marina on its northern end to Channel 2 at its southern tip. Visit www.islamorada.fl.us.

Also in Islamorada, a new permanent exhibit to highlight the ecological and economic significance of the Florida Keys flats fishery is to be added to Keys History & Discovery Center, located on-site at the oceanside Islander Resort. The exhibition is funded through the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust in Coral Gables, Florida, and the Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation, and is scheduled for completion in December. The educational exhibit will feature the importance of sport fishery and habitats. The center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Visit www.keysdiscovery.com or call 305-922-2237.

Key West's newest attraction is the Sails to Rails Museum at Flagler Station in the Key West Historic Seaport. Guests can follow an interactive timeline of Key West history to learn about the industries of sponging, turtle harvesting, shipwreck salvage (also called wrecking) and cigar making. The state-of-the-art museum features hands-on exhibits, intriguing video presentations, unique artifacts and the only scale model of Fort Jefferson, centerpiece of Dry Tortugas National Park. Visitors can learn about Henry Flagler, the visionary who conceived the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad. Visit www.historictours.com/keywest/?t=6.

Keys Transportation
Passengers flying into Key West International Airport aboard Silver Airways may be flying on a new hot pink Silver Airways ATR-600 aircraft named "Mile Marker Zero," recently unveiled on an inaugural flight from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport to Key West. Currently, Silver flies nonstop to Key West from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa and through connections from destinations throughout Florida. Silver Airways' fleet, with several new ATR-600 series aircraft, is promoted as having the widest cabin in the regional aircraft market. The 46-seat plane has a 2-2 seat configuration with up to a 32-inch pitch for expanded legroom, spacious full-size overhead bins for carry-on bags, full-size lavatories and environmentally friendly LED-lit cabins. Visit www.silverairways.com or call 800-401-9100.