Miami and Orlando may be the top areas that come to mind when you think of a Florida vacation, but they’re not the only game in town. The Florida Keys are the best place to visit if you’re interested in marine life and snorkeling.
Some of the best things to do in Key Largo are around enjoying the seemingly endless coastline. Spend your days lounging on the beach or get your adrenaline pumping with parasailing and scuba diving. When you’re not in the water, you can visit one of the state parks for hiking and wildlife viewing.
Key Largo is also committed to the preservation of marine life. There are many opportunities to contribute to the health and well-being of dolphins, turtles, and the wild birds of Florida. Visit the Dolphin Center or the Theater of the Sea for educational opportunities and the chance to swim with a dolphin or two.
No matter what you choose to do while in Key Largo, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. The crystal blue waters and the soft white sand will be calling you back before you even make it all the way home.
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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Did you come to Key Largo for snorkeling? John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park should be your first stop. If you’re new to snorkeling or diving, you can take guided tours with seasoned instructors. There are private group tours available as well. All experience levels are welcome!
No matter what you choose to do at this reef state park though, you have to do a glass-bottom boat tour. You can see the teeming marine life underneath you as you head to different destinations in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It’s definitely one of the best ways to experience Florida’s ocean life.
If you’re not too tired after snorkeling and touring, you can also rent canoes and kayaks. Paddle your way through the mangrove wilderness, and you might even catch a glimpse of an alligator or two.
The coral reef state park is one of the most visited places in Florida since being established in 1963. Not only is it a fantastic way to see Florida’s marine life up close, but the park is also committed to preserving the reefs along its shores. In 1972, they were even added to the National Register of Historic Places.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located at 102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037, United States. They’re open every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. They charge an $8 entrance fee for each vehicle. All tours and activities are additional fees.
Island Dolphin Care Center
Many of the best places to visit in Key Largo are committed to helping local marine life and the communities, and the Island Dolphin Care Center does an incredible job. They’re a non-profit organization rescuing bottlenose dolphins. They provide them with proper medical care and diet.
Since the center is committed to the ethical treatment of the dolphins, they don’t offer dolphin shows or entertainment. They educate people about how dolphins should be properly cared for and how they can be placed back into the oceans. It’s a truly amazing educational facility.
Learn from healthcare providers about the proper diet and habitats of dolphins. You can also work with instructors to learn hand signals used to communicate with dolphins. With special reservations, you can swim with the dolphins and watch how they interact with one another through jumping and other vocalizations.
The Island Dolphin Care Center is located at 150 Lorelane Pl, Key Largo, FL 33037, United States. They’re open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $18.
Harry Harris Park
Harry Harris Park is a relaxing spot to take the family either for a whole day of excitement or for just a few hours. It’s a beach and park combined into one, so you can go for a swim during the day and then have a barbecue or picnic for dinner in the evening.
Do you have a boat? Or if you’re renting one while in Key Largo, Harry Harris Park has an easily accessible boat ramp to take you right out into the Florida Bay.
Feel like being more active while on vacation? You can use the sports and recreational facilities in the park to play frisbee, basketball, or tennis.
And if you feel like some R&R, Harry Harris Park can offer that too. The beach offers tons of shades with tall palm trees, so you can relax with a book or sunbathe.
Harry Harris Park is located at 50 E Beach Rd, Tavernier, FL 33070, United States. They’re open every day from 7:30 a.m to 8 p.m.
Theater of the Sea
If you’re only spending a few days in the Florida Keys and want to make the most of your trip, make sure to carve out time to spend at the well-being Theater of the Sea. It’s located in Islamorada, about 30 minutes from Key Largo. This is not to be missed and is definitely worth the little extra driving time.
Swim with dolphins in their natural habitat and learn their communication and wading behaviors from the instructors. If you don’t feel like getting wet, you can also watch the interactive animal shows exhibiting sea lions, parrots, and dolphins.
After seeing a show or meeting the sea lions and dolphins, head to the lagoon side beach. Relax in the sun or go for a swim to get away from the hot Florida sun. There are also alligator, stingray, and tropical fish exhibits you can meander through if you’re tired of being outside.
Theater of the Sea is located at 84721 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036, United States. They’re open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets start at $44.95.
African Queen Canal Cruise
The African Queen Canal Cruise is 1.5 hours. It takes you through all the Port Largo Canals and various parts of the Atlantic Ocean. The cruise doesn’t stop at any ports, so it’s for sightseeing purposes only.
Relax on the restored 1912 boat as you see the marine life below. If you’ve seen the Humphrey Bogart film, “The African Queen,” you’ll recognize the boat and the canals you’re sailing through!
You also get a beautiful view of the Key Largo shoreline from out in the water. If you go on the evening cruise, you can also catch a magnificent sunset.
African Queen Canal Cruise is located at 99701 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037, United States. Cruises depart daily at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m, 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. Prices start at $59.
Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
Located in nearby Tavernier, the Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is a sanctuary for birds that have been badly injured and cannot be released into the wild. They have over 90 birds from 40 different species.
Before becoming part of the sanctuary, the birds are treated at Mission Wild Bird Hospital until they are healed. Check the rehabilitation center’s schedule ahead of time to see if there is an event while you’re in the area.
The center is open every day of the year for visitors to walk along the boardwalk for a self-guided tour. Make sure to pick up a map and pamphlet from the visitor’s center before getting started. There are signs and plaques along the trails to help you identify different birds.
The boardwalk ends at Florida Bay. If you time your visit right, you’ll be able to witness a colorful Florida’s Keys sunset.
The Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is located at 92080 Overseas Hwy, Tavernier, FL 33070, United States. They’re open 24 hours and ask for a $10 donation to be placed in the box at the entrance.
Take a Day Trip to Key West
If you’re in the Florida Keys, taking a day trip to Key West is a must. It’s the main island with limitless activities and opportunities to explore more of Florida’s marine and wildlife. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Key Largo if there’s not much traffic.
Key West is known for its laid-back lifestyle, nightlife, and soft sandy beaches. During your day in Key West, take a tour of the Ernest Hemingway House or the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.
With the third-largest barrier reef in the world, Key West is a great destination for snorkeling as well. You can bring your own equipment or rent it from the many shops along the boardwalk. If you aren’t sure where to snorkel, you can always book a guided tour, and the company will show you all the best shops.
How to Get to Key Largo
The easiest way to get to Key Largo is to fly into Miami International Airport (MIA). Key Largo is located about 60 miles from the airport, so you will need to rent a car to get from the airport to the Keys.
The only way into Key Largo is by driving along the Overseas Highway. It’s a beautiful and scenic highway that takes you right across the clear blue water of the island chain.
If you don’t feel like renting a car or are traveling on a budget, you can board one of the shuttle buses from the airport that goes to Key Largo.
How to Get Around Key Largo
If you plan to only hang around Key Largo, you can reach many of the best things to do in Key Largo by foot or by renting a bicycle. Uber and Lyft are also available on the island to get from one place to another.
If you want to take a day trip to Key West, Marathon, or some of the other islands, you’ll need to hire a taxi or keep a rental car for the duration of your stay.
When to Visit Key Largo
To visit during the off-season, head to Key Largo from February through April or September through November. Summer months are a popular time in Key Largo because of festivals. Everyone tends to flock to the beaches during these months as well.
For lower hotel prices and fewer crowds, make sure to visit Key Largo in the off months. Don’t worry, though—Key Largo stays warm all year round. Even if you are visiting in the late winter or the fall, you’ll still be able to sunbathe and do water activities.
Where to Stay in Key Largo
Budget: The Pelican Key Largo Cottages is the best choice for a basic stay in Key Largo. It’s only 3 miles from John Pennekamp State Park. They have some amazing free perks, including continental breakfast, the use of canoes and kayaks, and a private beach with a boat ramp.
Mid-range: Seafarer Resort and Beach is perfect for a beach stay with private access to Florida Bay. Take one of the free loaner kayaks and go exploring. Or tan by the garden and small private beach. You can choose to rent a one-bedroom apartment or a 2-bedroom cottage.
Luxury: Postcard Inn Beach Resort and Marina at Holiday Isle is not only one of the most luxurious stays on Key Largo, but it’s within walking distance to the main tourist attractions on the island. Reach Theater of the Sea in just 4 minutes. When chilling around the resort, you can get poolside bar service, enjoy fresh food at the on-site restaurant, or relax in your beach-themed room.
Where to Eat in Key Largo
Lazy Lobster Seafood Restaurant is an absolute must if you enjoy freshly caught seafood. You can’t miss this restaurant when driving along the beach strip with its bright colors inside and outside. Make sure to go in the evening at least once for lobster and drinks specials. If you’re not a lobster fan, make sure to check out the pasta or steak dishes.
Key Largo Conch House is one of the most visited restaurants in Key Largo. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Along with an extensive wine and beer menu, there are also daily happy hours. Make sure to try their specialty dishes, including bacon-wrapped jalapenos and the lobster & conch ceviche.
Avenue Subs Key Largo is one of the best places to grab some to-go subs and then take them to the beach for lunch. Choose from traditional choices like turkey and ham. You can also go with one of the specialty subs, including a pizza sub and meatball subs. All the choices include endless toppings.
All the Top Things to Do in Key Largo are Waiting For You!
Ready to head to Key Largo for an unforgettable vacation? Hitting some of the top places on this island is a must for getting the most out of your holiday time to this beautiful place in south Florida.
Whether you want a relaxing beach vacation or the chance to be active in the water from sunrise to sundown, Key Largo is one of the best places to visit in the Florida Keys. You’ll feel right at home in the laid-back beach community.
Have you recently been to Key Largo? What was your favorite attraction or thing you did?
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