LOCAL ATTRACTIONS CRANE POINT HAMMOCK, NATURE CENTER. The museum features several exhibits, nature path to the gulfside shore, gift shop and a restored Conch home available for tour. MM 50.5, gulfside / cranepoint.net / 305.743.9100 DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTER. This Facility offers visitors a variety of ways to enjoy dolphins. There are several exhibitions daily, plus packages to interact with the dolphins more closely. The center has about 20 dolphins, three sea lions and a splash park for kids. MM 59, gulfside / dolphins.org / 305.289.0002 FLORIDA KEYS AQUARIUM ENCOUNTERS. Guests submerge in huge, saltwater tanks with a variety of reef fish and creatures, plus feed larger fish (like sharks!) through a small opening. Sting ray and nurse shark encounters are offered, plus a lagoon swim. MM 53, gulfside / 305.407.3262 floridakeysaquariumencounters.com HISTORIC PIGEON KEY. Once used as a camp for workers constructing the 7 Mile Bridge, the tiny island in the center of the span is now a marine science camp, research facility and historical monument. Visitors can take a ferry from Faro Blanco Resort. MM 47, oceanside / pigeonkey.net / 305.743.5559 TURTLE HOSPITAL. This Middle Keys facility does many things — it rescues injured sea turtles, rehabilitates them and returns them to the wild when possible; and educates visitors about the animal and its plight. Visitors can tour the turtle pens and the hospital to learn about sea turtles indigenous to the Florida Keys. MM 48.5, oceanside / turtlehospital.org / 305.743.5999
PARKS MARATHON COMMUNITY PARK. This city-owned park features a playground, ball fields, a skate park, basketball and tennis courts. It also has an amphitheater and is the site of town festivals, such as the The Original Marathon Seafood Festival. It’s located at U.S.1 and 36th Street in Marathon.
OCEANFRONT PARK. Marathon’s newest passive park features a kayak launch and oceanfront boardwalk with information panels about our native habitat and marine life. A perfect spot for fishing or simply enjoying an ocean breeze. It’s located behind City Hall between 98th and 99th Street Ocean. ROTARY CHILDREN’S PARK. Kids love the Thomas the Train climbing apparatus plus all of the other multi-level climbing, swinging and sliding equipment for children of various ages and abilities. It features a shade pavilion and a restroom. Adjacent to the kids’ area, is a fenced dog park where visitors and locals let their fourlegged babies play. It’s located on U.S. 1 between 75th and 76th streets.
BEACHES SOMBRERO BEACH. This city-owned beach is the jewel of the Middle Keys. It features a long, white beach, clear blue waters, restrooms, a playground, picnic pavilions, fishing pier and volleyball courts. Repairs post-Hurricane Irma are still ongoing, but half the beach is open. Sombrero Beach Road, Marathon, (near MM 50). CURRY HAMMOCK STATE PARK. This state park is more popular among kayakers and paddleboarders than sunbathers. It’s within paddling distance of several beautiful mangrove islands and a pristine white sandbar. The park features a playground, restrooms and picnic pavilions. Recently, it’s been discovered by kiteboarders. Crawl Key, just north of Marathon, (near MM 56). COCO PLUM. This oceanside beach is left almost entirely in its natural state and facilities are minimal. It’s popular among dog owners and shell collectors. It has fewer visitors than other area beaches and is often deserted. Coco Plum Drive, Marathon, (near MM 54).
DATES • March 10-11: Original Marathon
Seafood Festival at Marathon Community Park • March 11: Story Slam “Adventures in Travel” at 7 p.m. at Marathon Community Theatre. March 16: A Mosaic of the Keys • Connection Project opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Artists in Paradise Gallery, Big Pine Key. • March 17: Outdoor Fest and Wildlife Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the new Key Deer Refuge Center, Big Pine Key. • March 17: Key Colony Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade starting at 5 p.m. from Sunset Park to First Street and East Ocean Drive. • March 31: Kids sailing regatta from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Marathon Yacht Club.
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