Welcome to my backyard--the Florida Keys! I'm a travel writer, blogger and photographer with a passion for all things Florida, especially the Florida Keys. These islands are so much more than Duval Street and Jimmy Buffet. They are rich in history, culture, cuisine, nature and events--all surrounded by pristine waters teeming with wildlife. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the Conch Republic has many surprises in store. Let me be your guide.
Ring in the New Year in the Florida Keys where you can enjoy balmy temps and a variety of celebrations where they’ll be “dropping” things way more interesting than a crystal ball. How about a pirate wench, giant conch shell, 7.5-foot replica sailfish and even a drag queen inside a red super-sized, high-heel shoe?
In Key Largo, the surface of Blackwater Sound will mirror the sparkling fireworks display hosted by bayside restaurants. For the best parties, head to Sundowners, Señor Frijoles, Cactus Jack's, the Caribbean Club and Gus' Grille at the Marriott Key Largo Beach Resort, all located around mile markers 103 and 104.
In Islamorada, Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at Holiday Isle (mile marker 84) hosts a new event, Flip Flop New Years, featuring a midnight drop of a glittering 7.5-foot replica sailfish. Live music and a big-screen television, showing New York's Times Square festivities, will be on the beach. Choose between a full dinner in the Horizon Room or light hors d'oeuvres at the Tiki Bar.
For the ultimate beach party, head to Pierre's Restaurantand Morada Bay Beach Café (mile marker 81). Known for the wildly popular Full Moon party, the two restaurants pull out all the stops with midnight fireworks on the sand, live music and a gala five-course dinner at Pierre's.
Enjoy barefoot elegance atCheeca Lodge & Spa(mile marker 82), where you can dance under the swaying palms, lounge at the thatched tiki bar, watch fireworks over the Atlantic Ocean and partake in a four-course gourmet dinner.
In Key West, you can join the revelry spilling out onto Duval Street from Sloppy Joe’sBar(201 Duval St.). Enjoy live music inside and when the clock nears midnight follow the emcee outside for the final countdown as a giant manmade conch shell descends from the roof.
In front of the Bourbon Street Pub (724 Duval St.), a disco party goes non-stop with female impersonators entertaining on an outdoor stage. At midnight, Sushi, a drag queen diva dressed in a glittering ball gown, descends from the top balcony inside a red 8-foot-long high heel.
Not to be outdone, Schooner Wharf Bar at the Historic Seaport lowers a pirate wench, complete with her sword, from the top of a tall ship’s mast in front of the popular watering hole. At the end of the countdown, cannons boom and the crowd on land joins the ship’s pirate crew in a raucous celebration.