This quaint tropical city has spruced itself up with new parks, the impeccably maintained Sombrero Beach, and a newly renovated airport. The improvements have been made with careful thought toward maintaining the simple, sea-fairing tradition that has made Marathon so special.

Marathon, situated mainly on Vaca, Fat Deer, and Grassy Keys, is a 10-mile-long island city at the midpoint of the Florida Keys island chain. Locals call their home "The heart of the Keys" for geographic reasons, but also to reflect the old-Keys lifestyle they enjoy among the spectacular fishing, diving, snorkeling and sailing.

Sombrero Reef, a federally protected section of North America's only living coral barrier reef, lies just a few miles offshore. Beyond it are the deep blue waters of the Florida Straits, which teem with billfish and tuna in the winter and dolphin fish in the summer. On the north side of the island lie the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Bay and the Keys backcountry.

Many of the island's marine activities are situated on Boot Key Harbor, a peaceful tropical cove in the center of the island. The harbor is famous for its sunset views and is home to the City Marina.

At Marathon's Crane Point, visitors can hike through a wondrously preserved tropical hardwood grove and visit the home of an early 20th Century settler family.

Food aficionados can enjoy fresh local fish prepared simply or gourmet style, and many of these restaurants are located right on the water.

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