One of my favorite traditions in the Florida Keys has become how I celebrate the New Year. I might go out on New Year’s Eve for a bit, and join the revelers for some fun, but I have come to look forward to the New Year’s Day celebration even more. There is a party that everyone is invited to, and it’s at any island gathering in the Keys – around here in the Big Pine area the place is Picnic Island right off of Big Pine, and you get there by boat. The sun rises about 7 am and sets around 6:30 this time of year, so you can go out to the island and stay the day. You will not be alone, there will be many boats arriving, and most everyone brings some sort of food to share. You can expect to combine “bubbly” with “balmy” as the weather usually complements the day’s events. You can pack a cooler, a barbeque and the doggies. You can anchor your boat alongside friends and have a little flotilla. It’s fun to walk from boat to boat, raising toasts along the chain of boats as subtropical breezes rustle the water… This little island has long been a destination for those who enjoy wading, shelling, swimming, exploring and of course, picnicking. Sometimes there will be live music, sometimes a radio ~ but there’s always some sort of tunes playing in the air. There are many of such islands dotted up and down the Keys…For more information on water exploring in the lower Keys, please go to road trip to the lower keys.
There is excellent snorkeling nearby, right in front of Cook Island. Often in that area I’ve had porpoises come up close to the boat. I have friends who live on Cook Island, which nestles up to Little Palm Island, just south of Picnic Island. For years it has been splendid fun going to their lovely home for a huge corn and crab boil, hermit crab races and trading stories with about 40 other people. They even have their own herd of our diminutive Key Deer… You can only leave that area of Cook when the tide is high, so there’s always time to visit the Picnic party on the way home.
Now, of course there is a variety of events going on during New Year’s Eve in Key West – and more than a few takeoffs on the New Year’s Eve New York City Times Square ball drop all throughout the Keys. For one, the arrival of the New Year is heralded in right on Duval Street with the drop of a huge hand crafted conch shell which lands on the roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar. This gala event is shared by thousands of spectators cheering the beginning of the New Year, and sharing in the countdown to midnight. And of course, there is music, always music.
There is something for everyone in Key West, whether you enjoy a pirate theme or something more formal, it is there. Some of the fun places that offer their own celebrations are listed below and these are only a few of many! There will be conch shells blowing and cannon blasts. Or you can enjoy a quieter atmosphere in one of many restaurants, accompanied by the gentle sounds of a piano and soothed by the tropical climate. For Keys restaurant information, just go to Florida Keys Dining Guide.
- Schooner Wharf Bar, New Year’s Eve Party, Key West
- The Bourbon Street Pub Shoe Drop and New Year’s Eve Party, Key West
- The Pier House, New Year’s Eve Dinner and Music, Key West
- The Mallory Square performers at sunset – Key West
- Sugarloaf Key Tiki Bar New Year’s Eve Party, Sugarloaf Key
- Little Palm Island New Year’s Eve Dinner, Little Torch Key
- Boondocks Bar and Grill, Ramrod Key
- Looe Key Reef Resort, Ramrod Key
- Plaza Grill, New Year’s Eve Buffet, Marathon MM 51
- Pierre’s Restaurant and Morada Bay Beach Café, Islamorada MM 81.6 – Midnight fireworks with live music
- Islamorada’s Cheeca Lodge & Spa, MM 82 – New Year’s Eve Celebration and midnight fireworks and live entertainment with dancing on the beach.
- The bayside medley of restaurants Sundowners, Senor Frijoles, Cactus Jack’s, Guss’ Grille and the Caribbean Club – all located between MM 104 & MM 104- will have a fireworks extravaganza in the sky above Blackwater Sound
- There is the annual 5k Run, Walk and Crawl from Islamorada’s Founders Park, MM 87
- An entire day of varied festivities will be held at Whale Harbor, MM 84. This is highlighted by a Blessing of the Fleet.
For more specific information on which hat to put on, where to go and how to get there, just visit The Florida Keys and Key West Calendar of Events.
The sky where we live always gives us a special fireworks display at sunset…..Whichever venue you decide to visit, have a delightful, tropical, breezy and safe, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the Fabulous Florida Keys!