The time has come to crown the best restaurant, best doctor, best park, best elected official and more in the Upper Keys. This year marks the inaugural Best of the Upper Keys, where the people select the winners with all money raised used to support a local children’s shelter.

The Best of the Upper Keys is similar to the Key West People’s Choice Awards, which began in 2014, and the Best of Marathon, which began in 2008. Voters will have the chance to vote for all of their favorite people, places and things that encapsulates what makes Upper Keys communities the most desired locations to visit and live on the planet. So whether it’s local celebrities, favorite neighborhoods, best local musician or best local business–locals will name the very best of the best that the Upper Keys has to offer. 

First Horizon Bank, Mariners Hospital, Hear 4 U, Whale Harbor Events, and Promotions Guy are among the event sponsors with support from HNO Productions Inc. Proceeds from the event will go to support the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter. 

“We’ve been conducting two established ‘best of’ events in Key West and Marathon since 2008, which have become ingrained in those communities,” said Keys Weekly partner Britt Myers. “As the only locally owned media source serving the entire Florida Keys, we felt this was something that was missing in the Upper Keys.” 

Myers also said he’s most proud of the fact that all of the Keys Weekly “Best Of” events were designed to support local nonprofits and civic organizations. The Marathon and Key West events have raised over $200,000 for organizations like Marathon Rotary, Samuel’s House, Bahama Village Music Program and Wesley House Family Services.” 

“Voting is always relative,” said Myers. “So we always remind everyone to simply have fun and keep in mind that being ‘the best’ is subjective. Our goal is to highlight everyone in our local communities and show the world what makes the Florida Keys so special. And moreover, every dollar raised will support a local nonprofit.” 

The experiences and bonds of a community are enduring. From our local staff here in the Upper Keys, to our local ownership, we take pride in living, working and playing alongside you. Thanks for allowing us to play our small part here in the Upper Keys and we look forward to supporting the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter in 2022. 

As the nomination process begins this week at, we want to inform our voters about the process and timelines. 

Nominate your favorites: Sept. 16-30

Go to starting on Friday, Sept. 16 to vote (nominate) your favorites in each category. You can find the list of categories in the Sept. 15 edition of the paper on page 23. Voters can vote once per day for all categories. So visit often, or daily, throughout the nomination process to propose your favorite finalists. 

The top three nominations in each category are placed on the finalists’ ballot. We do not create the top three (a commonly asked question). You, the voters, decide the top three finalists from among your nominees. Nomination voting begins at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 16 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30. Updates and reminders will be provided by the Keys Weekly in print, digital and social media throughout the process.

Vote the winning finalists: Oct. 7-24 

The top three nominees in each category make the finalists’ ballot. The highest vote-getter among the finalists in each category receives the Best of the Upper Keys Award. 

Voting for the finalists in each category begins at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 7 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 24 at During this stage, voters can submit one ballot per day. So visit often throughout the process and submit one ballot a day.  Updates and reminders will be provided at, in our daily e-blast, Upper Keys Weekly print editions and social media. The winners’ celebration is Nov. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Whale Harbor Events. 

The Event: Nov. 5

The inaugural Best of the Upper Keys this year is on Nov. 5 at Whale Harbor Events. Tickets are not generally made available to the public due to demand. Winners, nominees and dignitaries are invited to attend and additional attendees are selected from a first-come, first-served waiting list. To be placed on this list, please email [email protected]  

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Jim McCarthy is a Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, mixed martial arts and golf. He loves to hit the links and play some softball with his Make A Play team. He also enjoys time with family (he's expecting a little boy in October).