By: Karrie Carnes
While the rest of the country is wondering whether a certain groundhog in Pennsylvania will see his shadow or not, the island of Key West is enjoying plenty of sunshine, tropical breezes and low humidity. Trade in your snow boots for a pair of flip flops, and experience all that Key West has to offer in February.
Travel back in time during the Civil War Heritage Days
Each February, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park hosts a three-day festival commemorating the island’s important role as the southernmost Union port during the Civil War. Colorful re-enactors clad in period costumes depict military personnel, merchants and craftspeople in the 1860s, while schooners engage in mock battles with soldiers on land. Be sure to get a good seat for the parade down Duval Street and stop by both the Union and Confederate camps.
Rock Out at Mile 0 Fest
Mile 0 Fest is a new music festival that takes place during winter at the Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater. If you’re traveling to Key West in February or are considering a winter escape south, this is a “must-see” event, especially for fans of the Red Dirt & Americana scene. The main stages of the festival are located right off of Duval, but throughout the weekend you can catch sporadic acoustic sets at multiple theaters and bars.
Enjoy fine art at the Old Island Days Art Festival
For the past five decades, the nationally acclaimed Old Island Days Art Festival has been showcasing fine art in Key West. Artists flock from across the country for the honor of selling their oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures and more at this annual, two-day juried fine art show. The streets of lower Whitehead and Caroline are closed to cars and the historic presidential gates of Truman Annex are opened for vendors and foot traffic.
Catch a play or musical at one of Key West’s theaters
For such a small island, Key West has an abundance of playhouses that are all in full swing in February! From musicals to dramas, dance performances to comedies, Key West celebrates the arts with vibrant theatrical performances every winter. Here you’re likely to see national touring acts, original productions written by local playwrights and everything in between! It’s recommended you peruse theater schedules early and consider reserving tickets online before you arrive.
Celebrate romance with a sunset sail
There’s just something incredibly romantic about watching a sunset over the ocean with that special someone. Fury Water Adventures operates sunset sail excursions daily, and offers special trips on Valentine’s Day that include strawberries and champagne. Whether you want to dance on the deck of Fury’s Live Music Sunset Sail Live Music Sunset Sail or get a bit closer to nature on the Glass Bottom Boat Sunset Cruise, Fury will ensure that you and your Valentine have an amazing experience on the water.
Become one with nature in the Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden
The subtropical climate of Key West means that lush plants and gorgeous flowers bloom year round. The 11-acre Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden – regarded as the only “frost-free” botanical garden in the continental US – is bursting with butterflies, birds, plants and flowers and open to the public daily. Try to spot all 23 species in the one-acre butterfly habitat, take a self-guided tour and keep your eyes peeled for the rare white crowned pigeon or even a bald eagle.
National parks are free on Presidents’ Day weekend
If you’re in Key West over Presidents’ Day weekend, take advantage of the fee waiver in honor of our presidents. Travel to the Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles off Key West, and enjoy the pristine snorkeling waters, backcountry camping and the Great Florida Birding Trail. Also, be sure to tour the impressive Fort Jefferson to learn about its rich military history.