Halloween Events in the Florida Keys

florida keysLooking for the perfect place for Halloween thrills and chills this October? The Florida Keys, made up of more than 1700 picturesque islands about 15 miles south of Miami, feature scores of breezy, tree-laden beaches, fine restaurants and vibrant nightclubs. What’s more, each year they host a wide array of family-friendly events sure to satisfy even the most demanding Halloween reveler. Whether your idea of a memorable Halloween celebration involves chilling boat rides, underwater pumpkin carving, or thrilling costume contests, the Keys offer something for people of all ages to enjoy. Below is a rundown of not-to-be-missed happenings in the Florida Keys this October, as well as Florida Keys hotels not far from the action.

Key Largo: If you’re an avid diver, you’ll no doubt feel right at home in the Florida Keys, a prime diving and snorkeling destination whose coral barrier reef is the world’s third largest. The annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest in Key Largo, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 24 at 8:30 a.m. at Mile Marker (MM) 104.5, is open to all certified scuba divers. Using nothing more than dive knives and boundless creativity, each team will attempt to turn a hollowed-out pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern while submerged roughly 30 feet underwater. Entry into the contest is free – contestants need only pay a $80 dive boat fee. Noteworthy Key Largo hotels include Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo; if time permits, fuel up with breakfast in its waterfront cafe or walk along the property’s private boardwalk and marina before hitting the road.  florida keys 2

Islamorada: Those who would rather stay dry but still remain close to the water should look no further than Haunted Robbie’s at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada (MM 77.5), which is slated to run Thursday, Oct. 28 through Friday, Oct. 29.  Guests can take free canal boat tours, play games, participate in costume contests, enjoy food and win loads of prizes. A kids’ corner is sure to keep the little ones pleased. Note that activities are scheduled from 6-9 p.m. Nearby properties include Holiday Isle Resort and Marina, known for its Tiki Bar.

Key West: If you’re headed to Key West this year for Halloween, don’t miss the annual Haunting of Fort Zachary Taylor, a Civil War-era fort on the island’s Atlantic Ocean shore. The event is scheduled for Oct. 22-25 and Oct. 29-31 from 8-11 p.m. (hours extend till midnight on Halloween).  Admission is $13 for adults, $8 for kids and $10 for members of the military. Guests can don their most ghoulish costumes for the fort’s Vampire’s Ball on Saturday, Oct. 23 from 8-11 p.m. In addition, plenty of magic tricks, balloons and clowns are in store for children on Kids Day on Sunday, Oct. 24 from 5-7 p.m. Visitors can conveniently access the fort from an entrance on Southard Street. For lodging, we recommend such properties as The Westin Key West Resort and Marina, which has earned the AAA Four-Diamond rating every year since 1999; The Inn at Key West, which boasts newly renovated rooms; and Sheraton Suites Key West, an all-suite hotel that offers complimentary shuttle service to Duval Street.

Marathon: Located at MM 50.5 Bayside in Marathon, the 63-acre Crane Point Museum and Nature Center will host its annual Haunted Hammock on Friday, Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m. Sending chills down guests’ spines will be pirates, ghouls, ghosts, haunted hayrides and much more. Terrifying spook houses and trails also will make for a night of blood-curdling fun. The entry fee is $5, with kids under 6 admitted free. Located just minutes away is newly built Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Marathon, a cozy, pet-friendly hotel that features an expansive outdoor pool and fitness center.

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