If you want to have an exquisite vacation filled with both adventurous and relaxing moments, Key Largo might be the perfect destination. It is the first and most easily accessible of the Florida Keys and it promises unforgettable moments for all kinds of travelers.
Whether you are interested in exploring the blue waters and adventuring in thrilling water sport activities or you just dream about relaxing with a tropical beverage in one hand while admiring a beautiful sunset, Key Largo is definitely going to satisfy these wishes and much more.
Prepare yourself for an unforgettable trip and if you don’t have too much information about Florida’s small paradise, this list of things to do in Key Largo that will help you plan your vacation.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Miami & the Keys (Travel Guide)
How to Get to Key Largo
Planning a vacation is a joyful activity since it makes you think about the great time you will have. But it is also a serious thing to do, especially if you want to have a successful trip.
This is why, besides finding the best things to do in Key Largo, you must also think about how to get there, where to stay, and, of course, which are the restaurants that serve the most delicious local food.
Since it is located only about 60 miles from downtown Miami, getting to Key Largo will not be an issue. You can drive your own vehicle or rent one. In addition, taken from the airport, the Greyhound will get you to Key Largo in an hour and a half.
We visited Key Largo at the start of our epic Miami to Key West road trip. Truth be told, we think this is the only way to experience the Florida Keys and recommend you plan enough time to road trip, stopping along the way to enjoy all the magic this island chain has to offer.
Need to book a car for your road trip adventure? We use Discover Car Hire for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.
18 Amazing Things to do in Key Largo
1. Explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Established in 1963 to preserve the only living coral reef in the country, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the First Undersea Park in the United States. It offers visitors and locals a multitude of experiences that cannot be missed.
Depending on your personal needs and desires, you can snorkel, dive or kayak in order to admire the coral reefs, the seagrass beds, and the mangrove swamps.
You can explore this beauty independently or join one of the scuba, glass-bottom boat or snorkel tours. The best way to see the underwater treasure is by diving but if you find this intimidating snorkeling is always a great idea. The clear waters will let enjoy the beauty of the coral reefs in both ways.
Our day at John Pennekamp started with a trip out to the reef by boat for a morning of snorkeling on the reef. The visibility was fantastic and we saw a large amount of sea life. Once back onshore, we spent a couple of hours walking the trails, hanging out on the beaches and kayaking.
2. Enjoy a Fascinating Dive: The Spiegel Grove Wreck
If you enjoy scuba diving you will have an amazing time exploring the Spiegel Grove wreck. It has the length of two football fields giving passionate divers the chance to have an incredible adventure. Get lost in this breathtakingly enormous wreck and let the multitude of fishes that “call it home” amaze your eyes.
Admire the furry coat of corals and observe the barracuda and horse-eye jacks in their natural habitat while exploring the famous Spiegel Grove.
There are many dive operators that can offer you unforgettable tours of the wreck. Just make sure you book your trip early because everybody who visits Key Largo wants to catch a glimpse of this underwear landmark.
3. Visit the Everglades National Park
Nature lovers will be very happy in Key Largo. Not only do they get to explore the clear waters and admire the coral reefs, but there are many other amazing spots above water to be seen.
One of them is the Everglades National Park, a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. Expect to see vast grasslands, wetlands, and interesting swamps.
And if you are lucky you might even see crocodiles and panthers! Not only is this a great attraction for curious adults, but it is also a perfect place to visit with the little ones. All kids dream about adventuring themselves on quests to spot interesting animals, don’t they?
Explore the Everglades with an expert guide on this full-day kayak excursion. After a brief orientation, select a single or double kayak and hit the water. Follow your guide through mangrove forests, keeping your eyes open for alligators, sawfish, manatees, dolphins, and sharks that are sometimes seen in the area.
Explore the Shark Valley region of Everglades National Park on this guided, 2-hour tram tour. See the famous ‘River of Grass’ and the wildlife within it, like alligators, crocodiles, birds and more.
Learn about the ecosystem of this world-renowned wetlands from the accompanying naturalist guide, and enjoy the panoramic view of the Everglades from the top of a 45-foot-high observation deck.
4. Enjoy a Sunset Drink at Sundowners
One of the most fun nights we had on Key Largo was at Sundowners. Located right on the beach, this restaurant is known as ‘the place to be’ on Key Largo for drinks, food, entertainment and unforgettable sunsets.
We will never forget the colors that painted the sky while we listened to island tuned music, drink in hand and the palm tree silhouettes swayed. You can visit for drinks, dinner or both.
With the atmosphere, it is a place to easily spend an entire evening enjoying the warm tropical air of the Florida Keys.
5. Try Your Hand at Stand Up Paddleboarding
The presence of healthy mangrove areas means there is no shortage of calm water areas to use a stand up paddleboard while in Key Largo. You can do this activity on both the ocean and gulf sides with a wide variety of conditions depending on your skill level.
Most resorts that you can stay at on Key Largo will have paddleboards available for your use, some even free of charge. If you want to explore other areas, head to any of the state parks, especially John Pennekamp State Park, where you will find rental places.
If you want to beach hop with a board, hit up one of the rental places along the main road, just be sure you have the proper equipment to secure your board to your car for transit.
6. Take a Fishing Trip
You’ll be on an island and that has a direct correlation with good fishing! If you can think of nothing better than being out on the ocean and reveling in the thrill of the catch, then we highly recommend you charter a fishing boat and do just that.
Fishing is one of the best things to do in Key Largo and you’ll have a chance to learn and enjoy ocean fishing at its finest. It’s possible to book both private and shared charters, depending on your preference.
Length also depends on your preference, ranging from a couple of hours to all day. Most fishing trips include beverages and a crew of expert boatmen that will take you to all the hot spots they can find. You can also book sportfishing trips if you’re after a more adrenaline-fueled experience and the chance to land a marlin.
7. Do Some Snorkeling
The Florida Keys are home to the only living reef accessible from the United States. This means that one of the best things to do in Key Largo is to hop in the water and do some snorkeling.
It is possible to snorkel from the beach in just about any location on the island. You can rent snorkel equipment from you resort or the local shops. However, if you want to snorkel directly over some of the good reefs, we recommend a snorkel tour in John Pennekamp State Park.
These trips take you out into the ocean and anchor near accessible coral reef locations. This is the best snorkeling you can do in Key Largo. We saw a large variety of fish on our trip including barracuda and lobster.
8. Get in Touch with the Local Art
There are many amazing things to do in Key Largo for nature lovers, but the lovely island also welcomes art enthusiasts who want to get in touch with the local art.
Located in the Kona Kai Resort, the Gallery of Kona Kai is a special place that offers visitors the chance to admire interesting creations signed by local artists, as well as sleep among them. So, if sleeping surrounded by art is your dream, now it can come true!
The resort and the gallery are owned by Veronica and Joe Harris who are extremely passionate about art so, not only does their collection include local creations, but also beautiful works of art signed by renowned artists around the world.
Other great local art galleries to peruse around Key Largo are Our Place in Paradise and Key Largo Art Gallery.
9. Visit Harry Harris Park and Beach
Whether you are traveling with your friends or exploring the Florida Keys with your family, spending a day at Harry Harris park and beach is always a great idea.
The great little park is perfect for a leisurely picnic and it has a fantastic view. In addition, adventurous travelers can not only swim in the calm waters of the ocean but also snorkel and explore the underwater beauty.
10. Go Dolphin Watching at the Dolphin Cove
Located on the northernmost point of the Key Largo, the fascinating lagoon known as Dolphins Plus Bayside offers visitors the chance to watch and interact with the charming dolphins.
Keep in mind that these are wild dolphins that are not trained in interacting with people so, if you feel intimidated just skip the swimming and enjoy the boat ride through the crystal-clear waters, the lesson about the dolphins, and watching them in their natural habitat.
11. Visit the History of Diving Museum
With Islamorada so close to Key Largo, you can easily base yourself on Key Largo and enjoy both islands. This includes the fantastic History of Diving Museum. Even if you’re no a scuba diver, this museum is fun and interactive.
It takes you on a journey from the very beginning, as man makes gains in exploring the oceans. Learn about the evolution of breathing underwater and all that comes with that. I promise you’ll find it fascinating.
12. Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s
This place is the stuff of legends when it comes to visiting the Florida Keys. No trip to Key Largo would be complete without a stop here to feed the massive tarpons that gather under the docks.
Fish is sold at the entrance to the dock. Make your way to the end and get ready for a thrill like no other. Just be sure to keep a loose grip, you don’t want to lose a finger! That said, I think the pelicans are far more dangerous than the tarpon.
13. Grab a Brew at Florida Keys Brewing
If you love craft beer, and who doesn’t!?, you’ll want to head to this local brewery to sample some unique island infused flavors. The owners live everything Florida Keys and take pride in their brews, that they distribute throughout the Keys.
You’ll find interesting blends like the Hibiscus Kolsh, that completely embrace the island vibe. The entire tasting room is decorated with fun tie-dyed themes and you’ll even bump into a few locals during your visit.
14. Eat Seafood at Market 88
There is no shortage of great places to get seafood in the Florida Keys. However, one of the top things to do in Key Largo is to enjoy a meal at the Marker 88 restaurant. For this place, it is all about the location.
They have a beachfront, gulf side property that serves up fine island seafood favorites. A visit here is recommended for either lunch or dinner, they do have a private beach with loungers that you can enjoy during the day.
An evening visit comes with live music and a front row seat to a spectacular sunset.
15. Beach Hop Between Key Largo and Islamorada
Key Largo and Islamorada are so close to each other that you can enjoy all that they both offer while being based in Key Largo. Both islands offer plenty to do, but there are also a few uninhabited islands to check out between them too.
On these islands, you’ll find beautiful white sand beaches with very few people. These areas make great spots for sunbathing, picnics, snorkeling and just plain enjoying being in the Caribbean.
In terms of being able to pull off and just enjoy a beach while in the Florida Keys, this stretch was by far the most impressive.
16. Visit the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
The special park is located on a piece of land that was formed with limestone and fossilized coral. In the early 1900s, it became the property of the Florida East Coast Railroad. They used the stone from the land to build the Overseas Railroad.
Following that project, the land was then used to produce a unique product called KeyStone until the 1960s. While it’s no longer used for its resources, you can now visit the land and explore the quarry that holds some impressive sections of ancient coral.
A visit to the state park will teach you about the quarry, it’s operation and gives you some insight into a part of Florida’s history.
17. Taste Your Way Around Key Largo
Once you know the best things to do in Key Largo, you can start thinking about where they serve the best food in this small paradise. Fortunately for foodies who can’t wait to taste their way around a new place, there are plenty of restaurants where they can indulge in the delicious local cuisine.
Almost all travelers are eager to taste the fresh local seafood and if you are one of them you should start exploring the local delicacies at the Pilot House.
Not only is this an amazing place to eat fresh fish and other tasty foods from the sea, but it is also a great spot for people who are looking for a cozy place with a unique family-friendly atmosphere.
In case some of the people you are traveling with don’t like fish, they are very lucky because they serve delicious domestic steaks at the Pilot House.
Pronounced “konk”, conch is a big thing in the Florida Keys so, you can’t leave Key Largo without trying at least one of the conch dishes. Whether you want to try the fritters, the cracked conch or the ceviche, The Conch House is the place for you.
Besides delicious food, this restaurant is also known for its flawless services and friendly staff. And to satisfy your sweet tooth, stop at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen and order the famous key lime pie. You will not regret it. Nobody does!
Top-rated Key Largo restaurants by TripAdvisor:
- Pilot House
- The Fish House
- The Key Largo Conch House Restaurant
- Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
- Harriette’s Restaurant
Top-rated dessert restaurants in Key Largo by TripAdvisor:
- Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory
- Key Largo Chocolates
- Mr C’s Gourmet Italian Ice Cream
- Pinecrest Bakery
- Mrs. C’s Homemade Ice Cream
18. Slow Down and Enjoy Island Time
I know that we’re telling you to stay busy and not miss any of these cool things to do in Key Largo. That said, it is just as important that you take the opportunity to slow down on your vacation too.
Grab a hammock or a beach chair and just sit. Let yourself relax. Read a book, nap and just enjoy your chance to be in such a beautiful place while you soak up the sunshine. It’s okay to do this too.
Where to Stay in Key Largo
The Florida Keys are surrounded by great beauty being able to easily conquer every traveler’s heart. However, to make sure you will have a memorable vacation, before making a list of the things to do in Key Largo you have to find a beautiful and comfortable place to stay.
If you are dreaming about a refined setting, this is the perfect area for you, because it hosts a great number of top-rated resorts and private beaches and Kona Kai Resort is one of them.
As mentioned above, this is not only a resort but also a well-known art gallery, promising travelers the chance to relax in style and comfort. Expect a flawless service, beautiful and comfortable rooms, as well as a hot tub and a private beach area. What more do you need to have the vacation of your dreams?
But if luxury is not what you are looking for you can always choose a charming B&B. With beautifully designed rooms, a relaxing pool area, and welcoming staff, Rock Reef Resort offers tourists the perfect atmosphere to have an unforgettable vacation.
And in case you are an adventurous traveler and you want to stay on the land, there are a few areas where camping is permitted. Whether you choose to camp on the beach or you prefer the nature trails within John Pennekamp State Park, make reservations early since these places are extremely popular among nature lovers.
And if you want to do something very different, book a room at Jules’ Undersea Lodge. You will have to put on a scuba suit to get to your room because, as you probably imagined after reading the name, it is located underwater.
Keep in mind that there is nothing luxurious about sleeping here, but it is definitely something different. It is a perfect choice for adventurous spirits and for those who want to completely disconnect while trying something new.
More on Florida:
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- 17 Awesome Things to Do in Islamorada
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- 7 Exotic Places to Travel Without a Passport