Location scouts surely had a field day in the Florida Keys sightseeing and frequenting bars and restaurants while finding suitable filming locations for Bloodline, the wildly successful Netflix series that filmed three seasons in the Upper Keys. From scenic beaches, boardwalks and mangroves in a state park at mile marker (MM) 68 to the waterfront Alabama Jack’s 57 miles away, Florida Keys scenery, marinas and local hangouts were major players in the 33 suspense-filled episodes.
Among the more prominently featured locales was The Moorings, an 18-acre exclusive hotel and spa with a long expanse of beach frontage on the Atlantic Ocean, and colorful foliage and windswept palms that suggest a tropical paradise.
The fictional Rayburn Inn is a real place at The Moorings that can be rented overnight or longer. The wraparound porch makes for lazy lounging with coffee in the mornings and cocktails in the evenings — or copious wine which Sissy Spacek’s character indulged in while portraying the worried but wise matriarch of the Rayburn family.
Several local marinas were featured prominently in Bloodline including Islamorada’s Coral Bay (at MM 82 bayside), a real working marina with dockage and rough edges befitting Kevin, one of the flawed main characters in the show. Coral Bay’s owner ignored constant opportunities for an interview, which fit the besmirched reputation of Kevin’s marine business.
Robbie’s Marina at MM 76 was a place for Rayburn bad boy, Danny, to hang out. Whether lounging on a boat or dockside, it is a funky, maybe junky, heart of Keys entertainment with drinking, food and shopping.
Anne’s Beach in Islamorada was where the Rayburn patriarch kayaked. Sam Shepherd paddled the aqua waters which frequently give families and windsurfers a place to play. A new boardwalk to replace the weathered one is in the works.
Long Key State Park also received its share of limelight. With wide open water views, roseate spoonbills and other fauna, and miles of walking trails, it is worth a visit any time of year. Campers are welcome although nearby amenities are minimal.
Places where Bloodline characters dined or had a drink included Alabama Jack’s just outside Monroe County on Card Sound Road, Caribbean Club in Key Largo, and Green Turtle Inn, Mangrove Mike’s, Ocean View Inn & Pub and The Whistlestop in Islamorada. These served as sites for conversations over a drink or food — or a fight.
The OV, as Ocean View is known, was rougher back in the day, with salty characters perhaps fresh off an adjacent liveaboard boat. It has been spruced up since Gary Dunn, a former football defensive tackle for 12 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, became its owner.
Perhaps what was most exciting about the filming of Bloodline in the Upper Keys was running into Kyle Chandler in the local Winn Dixie or seeing him and fellow actor, Jamie McShane, enjoying a local establishment. With the Keys stereotypical “Live and let live” attitude, the actors could shop, dine and drink without paparazzi attention, and in fact, little more acknowledgement from the locals than a friendly, “How’s it goin’?”
An entrepreneurial businesswoman is offering a tour of Bloodline film sites. She already operated local food tours and felt it was a natural extension for curious Keys visitors who had become addicted and perhaps “binge-watched” the Netflix series.
Sheryl Guerry Rose grew up in Islamorada in the heart of one of the most historical Keys neighborhoods. Her love of food and the rich history of the islands led her to establish tours with captivating stories and local art, accompanied by food.
“Our tours satisfy taste buds as well as a taste for the history, culture and beauty of our island [life], with glimpses of some locations used for filming the popular Netflix TV series, Bloodline,” she said. “Our goal is to lead you through a fun-filled experience as well as enlighten you to what ‘Keys people’ are all about.”
See www.flkeysfoodtours.com/bloodline-tour for details.