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 watersport 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 your 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.
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Things to do in Key Largo
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 sea grass 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 on shore, we spent a couple hours walking the trails, hanging out on the beaches and kayaking.
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.
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 wander around 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?
- Full Day Kayak Adventure in the Everglades
- Florida Everglades Airboat Tour and Wild Florida Admission with Optional Lunch
- Everglades National Park Expedition
Swim with the Dolphins 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 the dolphins 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.
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.
- Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden
- Key Largo Art Gallery
- Our Place In Paradise Art Gallery
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.
Check out the links below for information on Harry Harris Park and other nearby attractions:
- Harry Harris Park
- Tropic Water Sports
- Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
- Captain Dave Perkins Fishing Charters
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 **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- The Fish House **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- The Key Largo Conch House Restaurant **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- Harriette’s Restaurant **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
Top rated dessert restaurants in Key Largo by TripAdvisor:
- Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory ***** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- Key Largo Chocolates **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- Mr C’s Gourmet Italian Ice Cream **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- Pinecrest Bakery **** Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- Mrs. C’s Homemade Ice Cream **** TripAdvisor Rating
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.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Key Largo:
Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden ***** Certificate of Excellence Rating by TripAdvisor We stayed here and loved it!
Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection **** Certificate of Excellence Rating by TripAdvisor
Ocean Reef Club **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Top mid-range hotels we recommend in Key Largo:
Holiday Inn Key Largo **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Island Bay Resort ***** Certificate of Excellence Rating by TripAdvisor
Coconut Palm Inn **** Certificate of Excellence Rating by TripAdvisor
Top budget hotels we recommend in Key Largo:
Seafarer Resort and Beach **** Certificate of Excellence Rating by TripAdvisor
Hampton Inn Key Largo **** Certificate of Excellence Rating by TripAdvisor
Rock Reef Resort ***** Certificate of Excellence Rating by TripAdvisor
Top hostels we recommend in Key Largo:
Key West Inn **** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Bayside Inn Key Largo *** Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
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Looking for more on Florida?
Recommended Guide Books For the Florida Keys:
- Lonely Planet Miami & the Keys (Travel Guide)
- The Florida Keys Bucket List: 100 Offbeat Adventures From Key Largo To Key West
- Lonely Planet Florida (Travel Guide)
- Lonely Planet USA’s Best Trips (Travel Guide)
- Lonely Planet USA (Travel Guide)
Must-Have Miami to Key West Maps:
- Miami and the Keys: destination touring map & guide (National Geographic Destination Map).
- Florida (National Geographic Guide Map)
Travel Insurance: We use Allianz travel insurance and have since our first trip to Mexico in 2003. They’ve been there for us on our adventures – and many friends and readers – multiple times over! If you want to book with Allianz Travel Insurance, simply use this link to get their travel insurance!
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