Discover one of the coolest enclaves in the Florida Keys before all the tourists do

The Perry Hotel in Stock Island boasts easy access to offshore pleasures.

The hub of the Florida Keys commercial shrimping industry, Stock Island is the island just north of Key West defined by a rustic authenticity that flavors its colorful marinas, arts enclaves and waterfront bars and restaurants. Celebrate the unique character of Stock Island Dec. 8-10 for the annual I Love Stock Island Festival.

The family-friendly festival will blend culinary events, live music, history and art studio tours, a lively community party, water sports and other experiences showcasing the island and its eclectic working waterfront.

Read More: This Keys island is changing before our eyes

Friday, Dec. 8

Taste of Stock Island is a guided exploration of local cuisine beginning at 4 p.m. Traveling via trolley, guests will stop at selected Stock Island restaurants to savor small plates and beverage pairings at each location.

Come out at 7 p.m. for the First Annual Stock Island Lighted Boat Parade. Enjoy waterfront festivities as vessels from dinghies and schooners to local shrimp boats adorned with holiday lights and decorations parade through community marinas.

Saturday, Dec. 9

Art lovers, history fans, foodies and families can enjoy free Discover Stock Island excursions by trolley. Local galleries, restaurants and attractions stage open houses for attendees, who can search for “treasure” prizes as they explore.

The free StockFest will celebrating all aspects of the island with attractions at Oceans Edge Resort & Marina including a traditional shrimp boil, live music by favorite regional entertainers and special guests, a tree-lighting ceremony, activities and contests for kids. A selection of vendors selling handcrafted goods will also be on offer.

The second annual Stock Rock & Roll Bike Ride is a free self-paced cycling exploration of the island’s eateries, bars and attractions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guided history tours will be offered at 10 and 11 a.m., departing from We Cycle.

The festival’s other enticements include food truck feasts, Sunday art studio showcases and festive holiday brunches at popular Stock Island restaurants. For more information visit ilovestockisland.org.

A balcony overlooking Oceanside Marina from Stock Island’s first hotel Ocean’s Edge.

Where to Stay: Two new resorts recently opened on Stock Island giving travelers unprecedented access to the unique charms of Stock Island . Check into The Perry or Ocean’s Edge Resort for stylish marina-front quarters in the heart of the action.

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