If you want to have an exquisite vacation filled with both adventurous and relaxing moments, Key Largo, Florida 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.
It’s no secret that Key Largo and the greater Florida Keys are one of our favorite destinations in the world and we’re excited to share this lovely place with you.
This guide is extensive and dives deep into all the best Key Largo attractions, activities, and restaurants, offering the ultimate itinerary for anyone that wants to see the best of this awesome island destination.
We’ve spent hours putting this together so that you can go, have fun, and relish in all the best that Key Largo has to offer.
If you’re planning to visit more of the Florida Keys, be sure to check these out too:
- Ultimate Florida Keys Road Trip Planner: Complete Miami to Key West Itinerary
- What to Do in Islamorada, Florida
- Ultimate Key West Itinerary
- 11 Key West Beaches You Cannot Miss on Your Next Visit
- How to Get to Dry Tortugas National Park
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Miami & the Keys (Travel Guide)
22 Unique & Fun Things to do in Key Largo, FL
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 part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and is the first underwater 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, snorkel, or glass-bottom boat 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.
On land, there are plenty of picnic areas with picnic tables to relax and enjoy this unique tropical paradise.
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 USS Spiegel Grove Wreck
If you enjoy scuba diving you will have an amazing time exploring the USS Spiegel Grove wreck. It has the length of two football fields giving passionate divers the chance to have a unique experience in the warm waters off of Key Largo.
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 USS 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. See the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
While most of Florida offers easy viewing of the American alligator, the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers the opportunity to see the much rarer American crocodile.
The refuge was established in 1980 and is one of four national wildlife refuges in the Florida Keys. It preserves the native habitat environments of tropical hardwood hammocks, mangrove forests, and salt marshes.
The refuge is not open to the public, but they do offer a variety of educational programs that will get you behind the scenes. The Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located at 10750 County Road 905, Key Largo, Florida, 33037.
4. Stay at the Jules Undersea Lodge
If you’re a scuba diver, this is one of the most unique things you can do in the world! The Jules Undersea Lodge allows you to spend the night under the water in comfortable accommodations. The only catch, you have to actually dive down to your room.
Guests can choose from a variety of packages, including some that offer PADI specialty certifications. They even serve you pizza during your stay and offer services such as WIFI and computers to live stream your stay.
You can book a room here: Jules’ Undersea Lodge.
5. Try Birdwatching at the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary
The Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary is a well-established natural refuge for non-releasable birds. They have over 90 birds that call this refuge home and represent roughly 40 species.
If you are a bird nerd, like me, this is a fantastic place to both learn more about specific species and photograph them.
Entrance to the refuge is free, but if you’re able to make a $10 donation when you visit, this goes a long way to sustaining the refuge and its inhabitants.
6. Take an African Queen Canal Cruise
One of the most unique things to do in Key Largo is to take a canal cruise on the African Queen, a fully restored 1912 steamboat. Not to mention, this very steamboat was seen in the 1951 Humphrey Bogart film The African Queen.
The cruises operate daily leaving from the Marina Del Mar at mile marker 100. They last 1.5 hours and travel down the Port Largo Canals to the Atlantic Ocean before turning around. You can view the daily schedule and book your experience here.
7. Enjoy a Sunset Drink at Sundowners
One of the most fun nights we had in 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.
8. Bike or Walk the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a 90-mile paved trail that stretches from Key Largo to Key West. The longest continuous section of this trail happens to reside in Key Largo. Starting at mile marker 106, it stretches without interruption until mile marker 72 in Islamorada.
It is open and accessible for non-motorized activities including, hiking, bicycling, skating, fishing, paddling, and sightseeing. So it’s a great way to enjoy some quiet while soaking in the sunshine and island life.
9. Take a Key Largo Deep Sea 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.
10. Get in the Water Anywhere to Snorkel
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 your 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.
11. 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, 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.
12. 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 the 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.
13. Go Dolphin Watching in Key Largo
Located on the northernmost point of Key Largo, there is a fascinating lagoon that offers visitors the chance to watch and interact with charming dolphins and manatees.
By taking a Florida Keys Eco Tour you’ll enjoy a boat ride through the crystal-clear waters while searching for the resident dolphin pod. Along the way, you’ll learn about dolphins and their natural habitat.
Once they are located, your time will be spent observing them with opportunities for photos and up-close encounters, if they allow!
14. 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 not 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.
15. Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s
Robbie’s 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.
16. Grab a Brew at Florida Keys Brewing
If you love craft beer, and who doesn’t!?, you’ll want to head to Florida Keys Brewing to sample some unique island-infused flavors.
The owners live everything Florida Keys and take pride in the 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.
17. Eat Seafood at Marker 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.
18. 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.
19. 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, its operation and give you some insight into a part of Florida’s history.
20. 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.
Conch, pronounced “konk”, 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
21. Slow Down and Enjoy Island Time the Key Largo Way
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.
22. Take a Day Trip to 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! You can 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.
You can also 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.
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