Join the Key West Literary Seminar as they examine important works of literature that have emerged from the island nations of the Caribbean. Speakers include Naomi Jackson, Jamaica Kincaid and Robert Antoni.
Come experience some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat at the 13th Annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival. Along with a Key West inspired menu, there will be celebrity chef demonstrations, hands-on eco activities, a boat show and live entertainment.
After you’ve had your fill of seafood, wake up bright and early and join thousands of people as they run a Half Marathon & 5k. The course will take you through the island’s Victorian architecture, historic landmarks and harborfront business. We think this is one of the best ways to get a tour of Key West.
If wine is more of your style, stick around for the Key West Food & Wine Festival. This five-day festival is full of wine and food-themed events showcasing a diverse range of wines and inventive cuisine.
On a regular day, Key West is a fun place to be to visit — we have easy access to the ocean, fun bars for everyone and an interesting history. But on special occasions like Halloween and New Year’s Eve, Key West goes all out.
You already know about Fantasy Fest, continue reading to see how us Conchs ring in the New Year!
Key West Dachshund Walk: Enter the “Wiener Wonderland” this New Year’s Eve when 200+ dachshunds take to the streets and march through Key West’s Downtown. The 3 block parade is kept short to for the puppy’s short legs.
Final Sunset Celebration of The Year: Two hours before the sun sets, the party begins at Mallory Square. Performers and artist will wow you with their fun-filled acts, all set to one of the best sunsets in the world.
Sunset Cruise: If you want to get a little more personal with the Key West Sunset, consider booking a sunset cruise. Fury Key West has a few packages available from a romantic cruise with live music and food to a glass bottom boat cruise where the views are amazing wherever you look.
3 Ball Drops
Instead of just one glittery ball dropping as the clock strikes midnight, Key West take it up a few notches with THREE large items dropping.
Schooner Wharf Lowering of the Pirate Wench: Evalena Worthington, co-owner of the bar and Key West’s favorite’s pirate wench will descend from a large mast of America 2.0 accompanied by cannon fire and noisemakers. The party starts at 11:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until 4 a.m. in 2018!
Conch Shell Drop at Sloppy Joe’s: Stand outside this historic bar and see the symbol ou Key West drop at the stroke of midnight. This is the original New Year’s Eve attraction in Key West so you won’t want to miss this! Everyone starts heading to Sloppy Joe’s around 10 p.m. and wait for the Conch to lower and confetti, streamers and lights to fill the sky.
Bourbon St. Pub New Year’s Eve Shoe Drop: Have you ever seen a drag queen named Sushi lowered from the rooftop in a bright red shoe? If not, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. Head down to the Bourbon St. Pub to witness one of the most unique ball droppings of the season.
Those are some of the fun things we think you shouldn’t miss this New Year’s Eve. What are your holiday plans?
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While most people use Aloe Vera to treat sunburns, many are unaware of the powerful moisturizing benefits this plant can have on dry skin or the amazing benefits it can have on healthy skin. The substance found within the spiny leaves of Aloe has long been referred to as “Nature’s Gift” for burns and wound care and is ready to make its debut into the world of fall and winter skincare.
Much more than a simple “burn plant,” Aloe Vera can play a significant role in the protection and maintenance of healthy skin. That’s why Aloe Vera is the foundation of all of Key West Aloe products.
Where Does Aloe Vera Come From
Originally from Africa, the Aloe species now grows in Australia, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Nigeria, Paraguay and the United States. As Aloe is a succulent plant that is very effective in retaining water, it is able to thrive in very dry areas.
The Aloe species contains over 400 different varieties, with Aloe Vera being the most commonly used for topical skin applications. Aloe Vera is about 95% water and contains more than 200 phytonutrients including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and most importantly polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are long chains of sugar molecules that contribute to many biological processes and are both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. This is why Aloe Vera is very effective in wound healing. It has also been shown to stimulate collagen production, reduce oxidative stress and stimulate the immune system. What more could you ask for in a skin care ingredient!
Aloe Vera Provides Optimal Fall & Winter Relief
During the harsh winter months, the cold weather can take a toll on the skin leaving it dry, chapped and irritated. Most people will slatter on oil and creams to help retain the moisture, completely forgetting about their favorite sunburn relief ingredient – Aloe! That’s a huge mistake.
Oils and butters do a great job at sealing in the moisture content of the skin and should be used during the colder months. What people mistakenly do is add the oil or butter onto their skin before adding any additional moisture first. These ingredients do not soak into the skin, instead, it sits on top resulting in a sticky, yet still dry skin. Aloe Vera does the exact opposite. Instead of sitting on top of the skin, Aloe works its magic by deeply penetrating the skin and helping it absorb four times the moisture of water alone. It helps pores open and receives hydration without clogging them.
To relieve dry skin we suggest first replenishing the skin’s moisture level with Aloe Vera and then sealing that moisture in with an oil or a butter. Our Aloethera Intensive Body Moisturizer is the perfect product for this. Not only will this lotion hydrate your skin, it will also seal in all of the moisturizing benefits you get from the Aloe. Aloethera Intensive Body Moisturizer is made with 30% Lab Certified Aloe Vera plus sunflower oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, mango butter, shea butter and cocoa butter. Together, these ingredients work together to protect and restore dry winter skin.
Check out the entire Aloethera line for your fall and winter skincare needs.
Do you use Aloe Vera for something else besides sunburns? If so, let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more skin care tips & tricks.
Our founders, Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, were real pillars of the Key West community. Not only did they come up with the idea of Key West Aloe, they also donated their time and money to multiple organizations, were both voted Humanitarian of The Year and are part founders of Key West’s own Fantasy Fest.
So what is Fantasy Fest?
It’s kind of hard to describe but Fantasy Fest is a 10-day street festival that invites grown-ups to come out and play while still celebrating the Florida Keys culture. It’s essentially one big party where everyone can come and have a good time. On top of that, many of the events raise money for local non-profits. Who doesn’t love a party that gives back?
So how did it get started?
Back in the day, October in Key West was a pretty slow time. The tourists that flocked to the island during their summer vacation were now back at work or school and were not due back until later in the year closer to Christmas. It was so slow that many businesses closed their doors for a few months deciding it was better to relocate than attempt to stay open during the “slow season.”
One October day in the late 70s Joe Liszka brought Frank Romano down to Duval Street and pitched him a grand idea – To host a huge celebration in October that will drive tourist to Key West and help boost the economy during the slow period. We imagine Joe painted a very exciting event because not only did he get his partner to agree to help plan this party, he also looped in two other local businessmen to help execute the first Fantasy Fest.
It took the foursome an entire year to plan the first parade. Over 5,000 people showed up to enjoy the festival and thanks to a few outspoken people, the event gained more and more attention having up to 75,000 people from all over the country flock to take part in the fun events.
Fun & Fundraising
The 10-day extravaganza is jam-packed full of adult-themed fun. There are costume parties, family fun bike rides and Halloween themed 5Ks, cultural and art events and of course parades!
While Fantasy Fest is all about enjoying yourself, the festival also has some altruistic moments. The 2017 Royal Coronation Ball is a fundraising event that raises money for AIDS Help. The King and Queen of Fantasy Fest are the candidates who raise the most money for AIDS Help. Last year, the candidates raised over $173,00 for the health organization.
On September 10th, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in The Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane. Irma left The Florida Keys with flooded streets, damaged buildings and roadways, neighborhoods without power and general debris.
The news always tells you how to prepare for an incoming hurricane but cannot always offer insights on how to recover from the storm. Right now, Key West is in recovery mode. There is a lot of clean up and repair that needs to be done to return our beloved islands to their original condition but our passion and love for the area will fuel us to work hard to restore our home.
As you hear more and more about the Florida Keys condition after Irma you may wonder how can you help. We’ve outlined a few ways that you can make a positive impact on the Keys Community.
When a natural disaster strikes, our first instinct is to donate food and goods to those in need. If you have any extra water or hurricane supplies at your home, considering donating to the relief effort. Also, think about little items that are easy to forget like toiletries, diapers, pet food, bug spray, fans and sunscreen.
Once you’ve collected your items, next you must locate your nearest relief organization. We recommend reaching out and confirming there is a need for those good. After confirming, pack and labels your goods and drop them off at your organization of choice. If you have some time, also consider staying and lending a hand.
While donating supplies is a great way to help the recovery efforts, Monroe County stated they preferred cash donations. Their Facebook post on September 18th, excerpt below, explains why.
“While residents of the Florida Keys are grateful for the outpouring of donations of clothing, food and other items from across the U.S., the hurricane relief response team is having to dedicate scarce resources to processing and storing these goods. At this time, they are requesting that those wanting to assist with the relief effort make cash donations to established relief organizations. These donations will help agencies purchase precisely what the community needs. Cash donations also reduce the logistical requirements that come with donated goods.”
With that in mind, Key West Aloe is collecting donations for Hurricane Irma Relief. All proceeds will be donated to United Way of The Florida Keys’ Irma Relief Fund. 100% of the donations raised will be distributed to smaller nonprofits throughout Monroe County who may not have the capacity to generate their own funds. Visit our website to learn more and to donate.
Sometimes, all that’s needed is a helping hand. We’ve listed multiple ways you can donate your time by volunteering. We will do our best to keep this list current.
Volunteer Florida is a statewide volunteer agency helping organize local volunteers in Monroe County. You can register online or call the county’s Citizen Information Hotline at 800-995-5505.
OneBloodis a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) community asset responsible for providing safe, available and affordable blood. Find a Big Red Bus® or a donation center and schedule your appointment today.
If none of the above options are possible, consider sharing this post or other recover efforts with your friends and family. The more people aware, the more opportunities for help become available.
Carol Shaughnessy from Keys Voices said it best in her recent post, “Irma might have battered the Keys’ landscape, but the storm couldn’t touch the island chain’s greatest asset and greatest strength: the tough, independent, creative, warmhearted spirit of its people.”
Together, we can rebuild The Florida Keys. Thank you in advance for your support!
One of the best things about Key West is its diversity and its support of small businesses. While there are big brands located on the island like Ron Jon Surf Shop and Banana Republic, those big names are outnumbered by locally owned businesses. And like the people of the island, the local shops are unique and cater to the true, Key West lifestyle.
You can find whatever your heart desires in Key West. With so many great stores, it can be hard to decide which ones you must stop at during your visit. We’ve narrowed down the list for you to the top 5 shops in Old Town Key West you can’t miss.
Mallory Square has always been an important part of Key West with its history stretching back to the early 1820’s. Back then, the area was home to the Tift family warehouse where the famous Asa Tift could store his goods found from shipwrecks off the coast of Florida. Now the area is home to over 30 shops and hosts the nightly art festival “Sunset Celebration.” One of our favorite shops located in Mallory Square is the Shell Warehouse. Inside, you can find great souvenirs that like empty conch shells and sand dollars. These shells make great gifts for both friends and family and are a great way to remember your Key West Vacation.
So many great writers have called Key West home – Ernest Hemingway, Tennesse Williams and Robert Frost. With all of these iconic writers living on the island, it stands to reason that we would have a great bookstore to share their stories. Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West is that bookstore. Books & Books is a “locally-owned, nonprofit, independently-minded neighborhood bookstore” that is dedicated to curating a selection of books turned to the interest and reading habits of the island. Pop into the former Masonic Temple to browse over 5 thousand titles and see what Conch’s are currently reading!
Floridians live in sandals all year long. Conchs live in Kino Sandals handmade in the Greene Street factory. If you or your loved ones are looking for a comfortable and durable shoe then look no further than Kino Sandal. These sandals are made only in Key West using leather straps and natural rubber seals. Selecting your perfect Kino is like selecting a shoe made just for your feet. Pop by and check it out yourself. We bet you’ll leave it a pair… or two.
A trip to Key West is not complete until you’ve had key lime pie. While there are many places on the island where you can get key lime pie, our favorite spot is the Key Lime Pie Factory. They sell key lime pie by the slice and other goodies that will last longer than the pie. Located on Greene Street, you can grab a slice of pie before heading to Mallory Square for Sunset Celebration.
We know we’re a little biased here but Key West Aloe is a must for anyone visiting the Keys. Not only do we sell Aloe Vera based skin care products that will soothe and nourish your sunkissed skin, we also sell anti-aging products that will never tell your age and let you make your own Tropical Salt Scrub! Our Greene Street Store is located in the historic Telegraph Office and just a few steps away from the other shops on this list. Stop in to experience the Key West Aloe Difference.
Did we miss your favorite spot to shop in Old Town Key West? Let us know in the comments below!
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Even though Key West is a small island, there is a wide selection of place to stay. Whether you’re looking for an exclusive resort or a historic bed and breakfast, Key West will have a hotel that meets all of your vacation needs.
Before you plan your next trip to Key West, check out our top 5 hotels to stay when you visit:
If you’re the type of traveler that likes to be in the middle of everything, we suggest The Marker Waterfront Resort. This hotel is one of the newest built on the island and is just a stone’s throw away from the best attractions in Key West. Nearby activities include waverunner tours, paddle boards, bike rentals, dolphin watching and snorkeling.
If you’re looking for a more historic stay, check out The Artist House on Eaton Street. You may recognize the building because it’s one of the most photographed houses in Key West. The hotel is actually a restored, Victorian mansion that has stayed true to it’s roots. Smack dab in the middle of Old Key West, guest can experience the local bars, restaurants and attractions. If you decide to stay somewhere else but still want to check out the mansion, you can get a glimpse of the colorful house on one of the many tours that features it.
Right off of the Overseas Highway is The Gates Hotel. Opened in 2015, this hotel combines contemporary design with a retro Floridian flair. Amenities include the Rum Row Poolside Bar, a cigar lounge, an on-site food truck and free bike rentals. The hotel even offers complimentary shuttle services to Old Key West!
If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to stay look no further than Ibis Bay Beach Resort. The hotel has everything you need to have a fun vacation including a colorful hammocks, a private beach and local wildlife to keep things interesting.
Lastly, if you don’t mind splurging and want a private island vibe we suggest Sunset Key Cottages. A ferry boat ride away, this exclusive 27-acre island is home to 40 cottages as well as private beaches, a fitness center, and a spa.
What’s the best part about these hotels? They all have Key West Aloe products stocked in every room so you won’t have to miss out on our amazing Aloe Vera based skin care products.
Where do you usually stay when you come to Key West? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook orInstagram!
Every successful business owner had an “ah-ha” moment that motivated them to start a new company. For Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, our founders, that “ah-ha” moment was a sunburn.
The native New Yorkers were vacationing in sunny Key West and made the timeless mistake of not using protection. Luckily, a local friend was growing Aloe Vera in their yard. The friend broke off a piece of this tropical plant and smeared the gel on Frank’s burn. The pain stopped immediately. The next day, Frank was so impressed that the sunburn practically disappeared he decided to dig a little deeper into this wonderful plant.
Frank, a chemist and a cosmetic researcher, saw the magical properties of Aloe and started to wonder, “If Aloe was that effective on damaged skin, what could it do for healthy skin?” Two years of research, $21,000, and a move to Key West, the nation’s first cosmetic company to make Aloe Vera based skin care products opened their doors on November 13, 1971. They sold $36 on their first day!
2017 and Beyond
45 years later, our mission remains the same. We want to create a wide range of luxurious skin care products with nature’s best ingredient as our primary ingredient. To celebrate 45 years of business, we released our Anniversary Travel Bags in January 2017! These colorful travel bags will take you back to the 70’s when Key West Aloe used to be named Key West Fragrance & Cosmetic Factory. Back then, you could watch Frank or Joe make the products in the window of our Front Street location and shipping was only $1.50.
The Anniversary Travel Bags features a Key West Hand Print Fabrics design made exclusively for Key West Aloe. While the history behind the print isn’t clear, we believe the print was created by Suzie DePoo, staff designer at Key West Hand Print Fabrics and the creator of many designs that would eventually become Lilly Pulitzer’s trademark. Back in the day, this print was on everything Key West Aloe produced including our bags, catalog and some packaging.
Each travel sets comes with a moisturizing body wash, a hydrating body lotion, a softening shampoo, and a strengthening conditioner. The sets are available in our most popular scents – Key Lime, Mango, Coconut, Aloethera – and come in two different sizes.
Discover the secret of our Aloe and find the out why we are Florida’s favorite Aloe Vera brand!
Have you been to our original factory in Key West? Share your story with us below!