Marathon City Brief

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Marathon Key is often called "The Heart of the Florida Keys." Located approximately 80 miles south of mainland Florida and 50 miles north of Key West, Marathon Key is located just south of the halfway point in the string of islands known as the Florida Keys. There are 42 bridges connecting these Caribbean-like islands, the most famous (and longest) of which is the Seven Mile Bridge. The bridge stretches southwest from Marathon Key towards Key West over the serene and brilliant blue waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Each year in April, Marathon hosts the annual Seven Mile Bridge Run, with approximately 1,500 runners competing.
Marathon is one of two Florida Keys that has an airport served by major air carriers, the other being Key West. The resident population is more than 11,000, the average annual temperature is 80 degrees and the rainfall amount is 40-45 inches.
If you are wondering how Marathon got it's name, legend has it that during the building of Henry Flagler’s railroad a worker was building the tracks on this particular island in the middle of the Florida Keys, and he made the comment that the job was a marathon. The name stuck. The railroad, no longer operational, linked the Keys to mainland Florida from 1912 until 1935. A great historical site, recently opened to the public is Pigeon Key, pigeonkey@aol.com, a five-acre island below the old Seven Mile Bridge. Pigeon Key was home to the workers that built the Overseas Railroad.
Travelers journey to Marathon Key for a variety of reasons, sportfishing, eco-tours and water-related activities being the primary attractions. The island has twelve miles of former bridges that have been closed to automobile traffic since the 1982 Overseas Highway renovation. The old seven mile bridge is considered to be the world's longest fishing pier. There are numerous certified charter boats to take visitors diving, snorkeling (Spirit Snorkeling goes only to shallow water locations and does not accommodate divers) fishing, sailing and touring along the only living coral reef in North America, which is located several miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Try the Glass Bottom Boat and the Marathon Kayak Resource. Museums, parks, Sombrero Beach, and sightseeing tours are a few more of the ways to entertain and enlighten yourself.
One of the most popular activities is the Dolphin Encounter. Dolphins are one of the most intelligent mammals on the planet and the Dolphin Research Center, education@dolphins.org, is the perfect place to swim with and learn about these fantastic creatures. Any information that you need to plan your Dolphin Encounter is listed below.
Dolphin Research Center
Mile Maker 59 (Bayside)
Overseas Highway
Grassy Key, Florida Keys.
(305) 289-1121 FlThe Center offers dolphin swims and tours. To swim with the Dolphins, reservations are required at least 30 days in advance. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission Prices: Adults - $12.50, Seniors - $10.00, Children(4-12) - $7.50 and Children 3 & under are Free.
Visit Crane Point Hammock, located at mile marker 50.5, a 63.5-acre land tract that is one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the Keys. The hammock was once the site of an Indian village, and there is evidence of pre-Colombian and prehistoric Bahamian artifacts. In the Museum of Natural History you will find information on some of the other species that had once or still do inhabit the island: Spanish explorers, Keys pioneers, butterflies, tree snails, sea turtles and Key deer. Check out the tropical fish in the simulated coral reef cave. Other attractions at Crane Point Hammock are the Children's Museum, Adderley Town Historic Site, Marathon Wild Bird Center and an extensive nature trail.
If the watersports don't pique your interest, try a nature walk at Long Key State Recreation Area or shopping and art galleries. For all you duffers out there there is a local golf course.This is a par 3 course. Pull carts only.
Key Colony Beach Golf Course
M.M. 53.5
(305) 289-1533
Kick up your heels as the sun goes down, the Brass Monkey Lounge with live music or shoot some pool at Gary’s Pub & Billiards. There are many other fine restaurants and bars conveniently located in the area. Try the Hideaway Cafe at Rainbow Bend Resort in Grassy Key for a truly magical dining experience overlooking the water.
Accommodations range from botels (floating motel room with dockage for your boat) to full service resorts. Hotels with dockage for your boat include the Anchor Lite Motel, Blue Waters Motel, the Seashell Beach Resort or the Royal Hawaiian Motel. Other accommodations ranging from affordable to luxury are the Continental Inn, an affordable family resort, Banana Bay Resort ( info@bananabay.com) the Bonefish Resort, Cocoplum Beach and Tennis Club (cocoplum1@aol.com) as well as hotel chains such as Howard Johnson and Holiday Inn.

The focus in Marathon Key is definitely on sport fishing and eco-tourism, but there is most assuredly something here for everyone!

By
Jean M Mazza
02/02/04