Last weekend I stopped halfway there and stayed. If you, too, start feeling too lazy to go farther, don’t drive another mile—I’m here to report that Marathon Key offers full relaxation. (Plus the requisite sunsets, seafood, deals on sandals, and a perfect bluesy roadhouse).
My friend Emily and I went the two or three hours down from Fort Lauderdale for the 7-Mile Bridge Run, which my uncle Dale Freehill has been doing for aroundabout 28 years. (Don’t tell anyone else about it, though—the unique overwater race is capped at 1,500 runners every year, so he doesn’t need more people trying to get in!)
We stayed at the freshly renovated Banana Bay Hotel & Marina, part of a wave of resort updates and openings in the Keys. The blue and white decor offset with dark-wood accents felt clean and hip. And I could get behind its sign commanding us to “Eat Sleep Beach Repeat.”
After a proudly unambitious post-race afternoon by the hotel pool, to catch the sunset we walked to Keys Fisheries Market & Marina, which looked like a bar on stilts. We’d been advised (online, to be sure) that the place was romantic, which we fortunately didn’t need to take seriously. It was not. How tender or passion-sparking could a place be when it distributes its food from a carryout window and passes out sunset shots?
We loved it. The high spirits of partiers on stools downing beer and rumrunners were perfect for Emily and me to snap flaming-sunset photos. And the stone crab, scallops, and shrimp we chowed on tasted like they’d come off the boat an hour before. I understood why Marathon’s considered an old-school fishermen’s key.
Post-Key lime pie we hit a roadhouse next door to Banana Bay called the Hurricane, where a soul-heavy act down from around Miami, Dottie Kelly & Rock the House, got a diverse, all-ages crowd jamming. With its brassy female lead and always-strong beat, the band reminded me of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. A grizzled fishing-boat captain bought us each one last rumrunner. A final wave of Marathon Key relaxation ebbed in, then flowed out.