The BEST Things To Do In Key Largo, Florida

The Other Florida

A popular tourist destination in Florida, Key Largo is notable for its living coral reefs attracting scuba divers and sports-fishing enthusiasts from all over the globe.

Calling itself the “Diving Capital of the World” the island also attracts the attention of kayakers and ecotourists because of its proximity to the Everglades.

Located between John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Everglades National Park, Key Largo is the first underwater park in the country. This park protects parts of the Florida Reef. 

For tourists that wish to go on vacation near the Florida Keys, Key Largo is the place to explore. Here are some of the notable places to visit and the list of things to do in Key Largo, Florida.

Historical Sites and Landmarks

The history of Key Largo dates back to the 16th century. Although it was sparsely inhabited, there are still indigenous people living in the area.

These natives are the Calusa and Tequesta. The earliest description of the area was from Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda, a shipwreck survivor.

He lived with the Calusa people from 1549 until 1566.

Most of Key Largo’s main features are its beach, coral reefs, and everglades. So, tourists won’t find many historical sites and landmarks in the area.

USCG Duane

The USCG Duane is a Coast Guard Cutter ship that was purposely sunk to create an artificial reef in 1987. The ship was 329-feet long and was used by advanced divers.

These divers make use of the open and clear hatchways when exploring this shipwreck. This shipwreck is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

Offering spectacular views of the island, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a popular tourist destination.

It is known for outdoor recreational activities such as skating, walking, biking, and jogging.

This 76-miles trail is an excellent place to start exploring as it passes many notable tourist destinations and national parks, including Everglades National Park.  

Parks and Aquariums

Most of Key Largo’s main features involve water recreational activities. Surrounded by lush blue waters and living coral reefs, it is a must place to visit among divers, ecotourists, and water enthusiasts.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Known as one of the best things to do in Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first underwater park in the country.

Approximately 25 miles in length extending into the Atlantic Ocean, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Notable attractions of the park are its coral reefs and marine life. 

Tourists that wish to explore the reefs without diving, can be viewed from glass-bottom boats. However, guests can also go scuba diving if they wish to see up close the coral formations. 

One of the popular activities in the park is snorkeling. Get a glimpse of the marine life and coral from the surface of the water.

Christ of the Abyss

Christ of the Abyss is one of the notable sites to visit in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Although the site is located near North Dry Rocks, the Abyss is still within the management area of Key Largo.

The statue weighs around 260 kgs and stands 25 feet. 

The Christ of the Abyss is the third bronze statue, from the original mold. This was donated by Egidio Cressi, an Italian scuba entrepreneur to the Underwater Society of America in 1961.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Named after environmentalist Dagny Johnson, the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park features 6 miles of trails showcasing natural landscapes.

Tourists that love to hike or bike in the area will witness the beautiful scenery that is home to 84 species of animals and plants that are protected by the state.

Another unique feature of the park is it is the home to the largest West Indian hardwood hammocks in the US. They also have areas where tourists can spot American crocodiles. 

The park is open all year round. So, it is a convenient destination for tourists to visit the area anytime.

Island Dolphin Care

Dolphin at Island Dolphin Care, Key Largo
Photo: Island Dolphin Care

For tourists that are traveling with children, the Island Dolphin Care is an exciting place to visit.

It is the goal of the program to provide unique, animal-assisted motivational and educational programs for children and adults with special needs and abilities.

They offer interactive programs that address individuals to value and respect marine mammals and their environment. One of the best things to do in Key Largo! Don’t miss this!

Everglades National Park

Made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine Flatwoods, the Everglades National Park is a 1.5 million acre wetlands preserve.

The park features conservation areas and the Big Cypress National Preserve. 

For tourists, the best time to visit is during the dry season, which is from December to March. You get to see wading birds and other wildlife animals in the area.

It is also the home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals. 

 The Everglades National Park is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest wetlands in the world. 

There are many activities that tourists can enjoy while in Everglades. They can avail themselves of the full-day kayak excursion, guided tour along with the mangrove forests, explore the shark valley region and river of grass, and many more.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center was incorporated in 1988. The objective of the center is to rescue harmed, abused, or injured birds and rehabilitate them.

So, tourists that are avid fans of birds, would love to explore this center as they get to see herons, pelicans, hawks, and many more.

Another interactive activity at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is live feeding. You get to watch the center’s friendly staff feed the birds and watch them interact.

Harry Harris Park and Beach

One of the key features that Key Largo boasts is its white sand beaches and clear blue waters. When in the island, set towards the idyllic Harry Harris Park and Beach.

The area is one of the best places to swim located at the southern end of the island. The picturesque beach is a popular attraction for both children and adults. 

Tourists can also go snorkeling in the area and explore the protected coral reefs. There is a picnic area where families and friends can relax, a grill barbecue, a playground, and basketball courts.

National Marine Sanctuary

Key Largo is also home to the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary. It was designated in 1992 as a protected area for coral reefs, sea turtles, marine mammals, and birds.

The sanctuary spans about 193 square miles and it includes offshore patch reefs, seagrass beds, hardbottom communities, and mangroves.

Diving and snorkeling are some of the best ways to explore the sanctuary. You can also go kayaking or fishing.

Biscayne National Park

The Biscayne National Park is a marine park located in southern Florida. The park features more than 100,000 acres of mangroves, bay, tidal flats, and coral reefs.

The best way to explore the park is by boat. You can either go kayaking or boating. There are also ranger-led tours that are available for tourists.

John Pennekamp State Park

If you are looking for an inland park to explore, then the John Pennekamp State Park would be a good choice.

The park is located in Key Largo and it is known for its crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and lush mangroves.

The park offers kayaking, snorkeling, fishing

Where to Dine in Key Largo

There are several dining options in Key Largo that guests can visit. For tourists that love seafood cuisine, be amazed by some of their notable restaurants in the area that serve scrumptious meals.

Lazy Lobster

Lazy Lobster is one of the popular places to dine in Key Largo. They serve a variety of fresh seafood dishes at reasonable prices.

They also offer steaks and chicken for guests that are allergic to seafood.

For tourists that wish to enjoy the beautiful landscapes while dining, they can dine out on their patio with a large tiki.

Plus, Lazy Lobster provides relaxing live music every night. So, guests can really unwind during the evening with a delicious meal and a choice of beer or wine.

Sundowners

Sundowners is a notable dining option for guests that wish to enjoy a relaxing night. The restaurant was established in 1985. Since then, they have been serving guests meals during sunset. Enjoy a happy hour with this restaurant with a great ambiance of the unbeatable view of the Gulf of Mexica.

Not only does sundowners offers amazing views, but they also provide delicious meals such as steaks, seafood dishes, and sandwiches. The place is also a popular destination for wedding events. They have an outside beach area that can accommodate up to 200 guests.

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen

Founded in 1976, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen was founded by Jeff MacFarland. He opened the restaurant using the recipes of her mother. The original recipes are what made the restaurant a popular choice among locals ang tourists. They were voted continuously as “the Best Hometown Cafe” and a People’s Choice Award.

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen has notable specialty menu options. These are fresh fish and grits, Mrs. Mac’s Famous Mornwich, Paula’s Texas Benedict, Lobsters & Grits, The Mac Attack, and many more. 

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen is a good option for guests that do not like seafood cuisine. 

Bayside Grille

Established in 1999, Bayside Grille is an elevated, open-air gourmet restaurant. Guests will surely enjoy the panoramic view of Florida Bay with its all-glass windows. It is the perfect hang-out during the night after a long day of exploring and swimming on the beaches of Key Largo.

Bayside Grille not only serves local seafood but also provides certified Angus steaks. They have specialty cocktails that you can pair up with your dish. The restaurant is open daily to serve lunch and dinner from 11:30 AM until 10:00 PM. 

Bayside Grille offers outdoor and indoor seating.

The Fish House

The Fish House is another restaurant in Key Largo that is popular among tourists. Most of their menu is seafood. However, for guests that are allergic to seafood, they can order Fried Chicken Fingers, Baby Back Ribs, or pasta. 

The Fish House is perfect for guests that are craving seafood. Their prices are reasonable. So, you get to eat delicious seafood dishes such as steamed mussels, smoked fish dip, scallops Santa Fe, stone crab claws, shrimp bundles, and many more. They also provide Gluten-Free menu options. 

Florida Keys Brewing Company

If you are looking for a place to drink, the Florida Keys Brewing Company is an outstanding option. They offer craft beers, wine, and cocktails.

The Florida Keys Brewing Company is serviced Monday – Saturday by the Tacos Jalisco food truck serving up a WIDE variety of authentic Mexican Cuisine.

On Sundays, A Movable Feast parks at the brewery and serves amazing cuisine with a ‘European flair”. On offer are flatbreads, various kinds of tacos, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and much more.

Where to Shop in Key Largo

There are several shopping centers in Key Largo that tourists can visit during their vacation or business travels. Depending on your preference, the options range from quaint specialty shops or souvenir shops to shopping centers.

Here are some of the popular shopping places to visit when in Key Largo.

Largo Cargo Co

Largo Cargo Co is a quaint specialty store. They have a diverse collection of souvenir items that you can give as gifts to your family and friends.

The store also provides souvenir shirts, pants, and hoodies of Key Largo.

Guests that are avid fans of pirates stuff will love Largo Cargo Co. They have pirate shirts, pirate hats, and many more exciting items. The store also offers sea animals plushie toys such as octopus, turtles, dolphins, and sharks. 

Shell World Florida Keys

Shell World Florida Keys is another specialty and gift shop. They have a fabulous selection of themed tees and hoodies of Key Largo. They also have cute stuffed toys to give to your children, nephews, or niece.

Tourists that enjoy creating DIY arts and crafts will love this store. They have a wide selection of seashells that are reasonably priced. They also have centerpieces items, chimes, and other decorative pieces for your home or office.

Florida Keys Gift Co

Florida Keys Gift Co is a specialty shop that offers various Key Largo-themed items such as shirts, hoodies, and baseball caps. They also have adorable stuff toys that you can give to your children. Other items for children include water guns, storybooks, and many more.

Florida Keys Gift Co also provides women’s accessories as souvenir items. So, for guests that have female friends, family members, colleagues, give them native bracelets or necklaces that are made of seashells that are handcrafted.  

Other items sold at the Florida Keys are key holders, welcome signs, skulls, and other decorative house items.

The Pink Plaza

The Pink Plaza is a popular destination among guests that wish to purchase cigars. They have a wide range of cigars to choose from. 

The Pink Plaza has also a snacks area where guests can take a break and relax after touring the area. They have sandwiches and fries, wine, burritos, tacos, and a kid’s menu.

Sandy Dreamz Boutique

For guests that wish to purchase clothing items or jewelry that are more stylish, the Sandy Dreamz Boutique is the ideal place. They have various choices of women’s apparel such as dresses that are embroidered. They also have adorable bags made out of native materials.

Other products sold at Sandy Dreamz Boutique are hats, accessories, and many more.

Where to Stay in Key Largo

There are plenty of hotel or guesthouse options in Key Largo for guests to stay. The price range varies depending on your budget or preference. 

Reefhouse Resort & Marina

For guests that prefer luxury accommodations, Reefhouse Resort & Marina is a good option. This four-star hotel is set along a sandy beach with amazing views.

They have a private beach area that allows its guests to relax and unwind without the hustle and bustle of other people disrupting your rest.

Reefhouse Resort & Marina is a laid-back hotel with a restaurant, 2 bars, a spa, and an outdoor pool.

The resort is also near to some of the notable destinations in Key Largo, such as John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Bungalows Key Largo

For tourists that prefer a bungalow type of accommodation but still have that luxury feel, the Bungalows Key Largo is the best option. This four-star hotel is an upscale beachfront resort comprising 135 elegant bungalows with its own verandas, soaking tubs, and sea views. Each bungalow also has a private patio.

The Bungalows Key Largo is a couples-only resort that is set on 12 acres of land that is overlooking the seas. It is within walking distance to African Queen. 

The amenities of the resort include watersports equipment that is free, an infinity pool, gym, spa with sauna, and a steam room. They also have 6 restaurants and bars.

Sandy Beach Key Largo, Fl. Luxury Vacation Rental

For tourists that are traveling in big groups, the Sandy Beach Key Largo, Fl. Luxury Vacation Rental is the perfect option. This beachfront home has its own place that allows guests to enjoy their vacation privately. The vacation rental is safe with its gated area. 

The luxury vacation rental can accommodate 8 to 10 people. Its amenities include a master bedroom, 2 bedrooms, a living room, fully equipped kitchen, roofed patio, barbeque area, swimming pool, and a private beach area.  

The Pelican Key Largo Cottages

The Pelican Key Largo Cottages is a nice choice for guests that prefer to stay in a low-key hotel. It features cozy cottages with functional rooms.

It is the ideal option for guests who are looking for a place to put their belongings in a safe place and a good rest at night.

Since, most guests are out during the day exploring the island, staying in this cottage is reasonable.

Sunset Cove Beach Resort

The Sunset Cove Beach Resort is another option for low-key hotels. It is a two-star hotel with relaxed rooms, cottages, and suites.

It is near to some of the popular tourists destinations such as the Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat and within walking distance to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. 

The Sunset Cove Beach Resort also provides the use of kayaks and snorkel equipment for free.

With all these amazing views and exciting things to explore in Key Largo, what are you waiting for?

Take a long relaxing break or spend your weekends unwinding in this beautiful place.

Watch amazing sunsets or swim in their crystal clear water. Enjoy the natural landscapes that the world has to offer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Key Largo best known for?

Key Largo is most well-known for its pristine coral reefs and crystal clear waters which make it a popular scuba diving and snorkeling destination.

The island also offers plenty of other outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, and kayaking. There are also a number of natural attractions to explore including John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

What is the best time of year to visit Key Largo?

The best time of year to visit Key Largo generally depends on what you’re interested in doing. Diving

If you’re looking to do other activities such as fishing, kayaking, or boating, then the summer is the best time as the weather is hotter and the water is calmer.