Summer vacations don’t get much better than heading down to the Florida Keys. And if you’ve got designs on taking a Florida vacation in the next few months, you’re in luck. There’s more to do there than you could possibly imagine – no offense intended to those with overly active imaginations – and a wealth of great places to stay while you’re in town, whether you’re with the family, your sweetheart, or flying solo. To help point you in the direction, we rounded up 5 unique events guaranteed to make your Florida Keys excursion one of the best beach vacations ever.
1. Swankey Palooza Music Festival
This is a one-of-a-kind music festival that’s happening in Key West on June 26 and will be an all-day event featuring live music from a bevy of esteemed local musicians. Dance the day away and spend the night in style next door at the Southernmost Hotel, directly across the street from the beach in historic old town. You’ll also be within walking distance of Key West’s upscale dining and shopping district.
2. Key Largo Food & Wine Festival
Some people would travel thousands of miles for a great meal and an even better glass of wine (or two). If this sounds like you, then there’s no better reason to cancel your plans in late July and plan a Florida vacation to Key Largo for the annual Food & Wine Festival taking place July 29 through August 7. Once you’ve gotten your fill of world-class food and legendary vino, hit up the Dove Creek Lodge, an intimate boutique hotel that’ll have you singing songs about sailing away to Key Largo in no time flat.
3. Hemingway Days
It helps if you’re a fan of Papa’s literary work, but even if you’re not, you’re bound to get something out of the 31st annual Hemingway Days, a celebration of the life of one of America’s most famous authors, a guy named Ernest. Celebrations begin July 19 and end July 24, and they feature readings of Hemingway’s work, a theatrical performance, a fishing tournament, a look-alike contest, and a birthday bash in celebration of what would be his 112th birthday. But no stay in Key West honoring the memory of its most famous and beloved former resident would be complete without a stay at the Lighthouse Court Hotel, which sits directly across the street from the Hemingway Home and Museum.
4. Key West Shipwreck Museum
Family vacations rarely get any cooler than they do at this fascinating museum, where you and the kids will get an exciting, vivid education about Key West’s fascinating maritime history. Part museum and part stage show with live actors, you’d be hard pressed to find a more well-rounded, family-oriented Florida vacation activity. Once you’re done time traveling into the distant Key West past, you can reacquaint yourself with the luxuries of modern living with a stay at the Hawks Cay Resort, which has activity clubs for both kids and teenagers.
5. John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park
Open all summer to accommodate your Florida vacation plans, you can go scuba diving in America’s very first underwater park or enjoy a more leisurely glassbottom tour from aboard the Spirit of Pennekamp boat. Guided snorkeling tours of the Key Largo coral reefs are also available. For a cool, laid back stay after the sloshing around is done, check in at the Inn at Key West, one of the best bang for your buck hotels in the keys.
If you’re up for a litte intrigue while you’re in the Keys, here’s a tip: Check out Pigeon Key, a bona fide ghost town on Pigeon Key Island just off mile marker 47. This is the former site of one of the construction depots that built the Overseas Railroad which shuttled vacationers to Key Largo from 1912 to 1935. You’ll have to pay to get into this historically preserved part of Key West, but it’s worth the money.
Vince Font is a travel writer with a deep love of weird, wacky, and off-the-beaten-track vacation destinations – as long as staying in a luxury hotel is part of the deal.