Ernest Hemingway eternalized it in literature and the Beach Boys immortalized it in song. There aren’t many places in the United States that have captivated the imaginations of Americans more than Key Largo. Its exotic allure draws thousands of visitors annually. From the underwater Jules Undersea Lodge and the African Queen Canal Cruise to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo is where magic happens. Plan a romantic wedding, stay at an affordable RV park, dine at the unique restaurants, and head to the beach on your day trip or weekend getaway to Key Largo. Here are the best things to do in Key Largo, Florida. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
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The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States. It was established in 1963 to protect and preserve the only living coral reef in the nation. Connected with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, together they span more than 178 nautical square miles, which include coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and sea grass beds. With so many underwater experiences to discover, guests are encouraged to kayak, snorkel, and dive independently or to join one of the snorkel, scuba, and glass bottom boat tours. The park Visitor Center also has a 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium and a theater showing nature films. Read more
102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-451-6300
2.Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
© Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1980 to preserve and protect the American crocodile habitat. The area in which the crocodiles live is closed to the public but open to those who wish to volunteer. Guests are encouraged to come visit the refuge to find out about the crocodiles’ ailing habitat and how it can be helped. In addition, visitors are welcome to explore the Butterfly Garden, a pollinator garden that houses more than fifty species of native plants. This well-maintained walkable garden attracts several species of pollinators, making it a tranquil and fascinating experience.
10750 County Road 905, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-451-4223
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3.Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
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Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park features over six miles of nature trails for visitors to walk or bike to view more than eighty protected species of plants and animals who call this area home. Among them are mahogany mistletoe, wild cotton, and the American crocodile. The park also houses one of the biggest areas of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the nation. Guests are encouraged to take self-guided tours following the trail signs that explain the ecosystem and describe the wildlife that live there. Visitors who want a richer experience can opt for Ranger-led tours.
County Road 905, Mile Marker 106, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-451-1202
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4.Things to Do in Key Largo: Dolphin Cove
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Dolphin Cove is on the northernmost point of the Key Largo. It is a five-acre lagoon where guests can swim and interact with dolphins. Visitors take a 30-minute boat ride through the backcountry waters where they learn about dolphins and what to expect when getting up close and personal with them. After the boat ride, guests participate in an optional Natural Swim dolphin encounter, which means the dolphins are untrained in interacting with humans. They swim freely in the enclosed ocean space and choose if and who they interact with in the water.
101900 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Phone: 305-451-4060
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5.Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
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The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is 76 miles of paved multi-use trails over a 106-mile corridor connecting Key Largo with Key West. The recreational trail includes twenty-three historic railroad bridges and makes for a scenic pathway for walking, skating, biking, and otherwise exploring. The trail passes by several national and state parks, including Biscayne National Park, Everglades National Park, and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which gives trail users easy access to a plethora of outdoor activities. There are nature trails to hike and horseback ride, beautiful lush gardens to explore, and a multitude of historic sites to learn about along the way.
Key Largo (Mile Marker 106.4) to Key West (Mile Marker 0), FL, Phone: 850-245-2157
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6.Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
© Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is a must-visit for bird lovers. Their mission is to rescue injured or otherwise harmed birds, rehabilitate them, and release them back into the wild. This is also a great educational experience for kids who can learn how humans can help protect wildlife and the environment. The first thing visitors encounter is a board with the current birds being rehabilitated at the center. Each bird’s rescue story is on its cage. Many wild birds are attracted to the sanctuary, so guests should expect that birds wandering freely are wild. There is no entrance fee, but donations of money and supplies are welcome.
92080 Overseas Highway, Tavernier, FL, Phone: 305-852-4486
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7.USCGC Bibb, Key Largo, Florida
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Divers scour the oceans for interesting dive spots that yield epic adventures. One such dive spot is the wreck site of the 1937 USS Bibb Coast Guard ship. While it was active, it was involved in operations in WWII and the Vietnam War. It was prepared for sinking in 1987 and now at a depth of 95 to 130 feet. Because of the site’s location near the Gulfstream, divers can get a good look at the artificial reef in superb visibility. Divers should expect to see sharks, goliath grouper, barracuda, and smaller fish. Strong currents make this dive site recommended for advanced wreck divers.
Offshore, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 954-800-0345
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8.Garl’s Coastal Kayaking Everglades
© Garl’s Coastal Kayaking Everglades
If you’re a fan of CNN’s The Wonder List with Bill Weir, you may already know of Garl’s Coastal Kayaking Everglades, which was featured in a segment. They offer two tours. Their signature immersive adventure tour explores Everglades National Park ecosystems and begins at the park’s main entrance in Homestead. The other shorter tour begins in Key Largo and explores Florida Bay’s marine environment. This relaxing day tour includes guided snorkeling and kayaking experiences with marine science certified guides who are trained biologists and naturalists. Both tours are safe and family-friendly. Check the website for what to wear and what to bring.
99010 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-393-3223
9.What to Do in Key Largo: EcoSail
EcoSail offers guests a tranquil journey through the backcountry of Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys, gliding through the calm bays. On this eco-exploration, visitors can paddle through overhung tunnels, snorkel at the edges of the mangroves, and investigate underwater forests. During the months when the water is too frigid to enter, guests can take an educational sail that includes learning about grasses, mangroves, hardpan, and why they’re essential to the health of local ecosystems. Participants will also assist the captain in population research by learning to identify many fish species and helping with the fish count.
107900 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 561-281-2689
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10.Graceful Fishing Charters
© Graceful Fishing Charters
Anglers looking to catch “the big one,” have found their captain with Graceful Fishing Charters. Owner/Operator Captain Matt has a USCG 100 ton master’s license and has worked fishing charters most of his life. The 40-foot Bertram sport fishing boat has an air-conditioned cabin with full bathroom and a large fly bridge with ample seating for everyone. Offshore charters go 15 to 20 miles from the coast and fish 400 to 1000-foot depths for wahoo, marlin, sailfish, tuna, and mahi-mahi. Reef charters go seven miles out and fish 70 to 280-foot depths for grouper, snapper, mackerel, porgies, and shark.
1313 Ocean Bay Drive, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 321-704-4895
11.Island Dolphin Care
© Island Dolphin Care
Island Dolphin Care is a unique program that helps children and adults with various emotional, physical, and educational needs using dolphin therapy. The goal is to achieve therapeutic success and help participants to be more expressive and develop closer relationships with family and medical services providers. Visitors can drop in and observe the dolphins from a balcony. Guided tours must be scheduled in advance and include an overview of the therapy program, observation of a therapy session, a tour of the facility, and a touch tank experience. Purchases from the on-site gift shop help fund scholarships for soldiers, families, and children.
150 Lorelane Place, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-451-5884
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12.Jetpack Water Flights
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Adrenaline junkies, rejoice! Jetpack Water Flights has what it takes to satisfy your deepest thrill-seeking desires. There are two activity options, neither of which take strength but rather rely on balance. Jet Pack flights give pilots (you) the ride of their lives with fast forward speed and sweeping go cart-style turns in air. The more skilled you get, the faster you go. Jet Blade flights are slower, but with more vertical lift, making them a favorite for learning and practicing tricks. Hydro Academy certified instructors deliver personal and in-water instruction and control the flight throttle during flights. Jet Pack flights are for 16 years and up; Jet Blade flights are for those 10 years and up.
104000 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 954-298-5069
13.Keys Adventures Watersports
© Keys Adventures Watersports
The motto at Keys Adventures Watersports is “Let’s Get Wet!” With a dozen ways to explore the warm Florida waters, they aren’t kidding. They have jet ski and boat rentals for those who prefer to go it alone, and they also rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. There are plenty of guided activities too. Adventurers can choose guided jet ski snorkel and eco-tours, guided boat snorkel and eco-tours, sunset boat cruises, parasailing, and jet pack and jet blade flights. For those who loathe the thought of a wet face, Keys Adventures Watersports also provides glass-bottom boat excursions.
104000 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-731-9472
14.Jules Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida
© Jules Undersea Lodge
Sci-fi and Little Mermaid enthusiasts alike will be thrilled with a stay at Jules Undersea Lodge. Once a research laboratory and underwater habitat, it’s now been retired to this Key Largo mangrove lagoon. Guests can reserve the underwater lodge for overnights or for three-hour Mini Adventures. There are two guest rooms and a large common area with all the comforts of an above water hotel. Hotel snorkel and dive packages are also available. Guests enter in dive gear through a “moon pool” into a wet room. Round 42-inch windows provide a view of reef fish like parrotfish, tropical angelfish, and barracuda. If nothing else, guests can stay here because Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler did!
51 Shoreland Drive, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-451-2353
15.Things to Do in Key Largo: Key Largo Parasail
© Key Largo Parasail
Parasailing over the sparkling ocean on a bright sunny day can be quite an exhilarating experience. Key Largo Parasail, in business for over twenty years, strives to make it as safe as it is fun. All crews are professionally trained and certified in CPR and first aid. Guests can choose flights with single flyers or flights with two or three flyers at a time in special tandem parasails. Observers can ride along for a fee if there’s room on the boat. Flyers under 14 must fly with an adult, and groups are limited to six per boat without reservations.
103900 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 877-904-8865
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16.Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat
© Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat
For those who long to peer underwater but wouldn’t dream of getting their face or hair wet, Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat is the answer. The 70-foot glass bottom boat can accommodate up to 129 passengers with an underwater viewing area of 280 square feet. Guests can sit back in air-conditioned comfort with snacks and drinks on board for purchase and watch as the boat passes over John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the only undersea park in the country. Visitors will see exotic coral reefs teeming with hundreds of colorful tropical fish. There are three daily cruise times, weather permitting.
99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-453-9553
17.Key Largo Watersports, Key Largo, Florida
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Life on the water is one of the biggest draws to Key Largo, and there are lots of ways to do it. Key Largo Watersports is the choice for people who are looking for a guided and personalized experience on the water. Visitors can choose a 2.5-hour sunset or sunrise cruise, a half-day eco-tour to either the ocean side mangroves or into Everglades National Park, or a half-day snorkel trip to the many shallow reefs of Key Largo. Guests can customize tours and trips, since they’re limited to six people. Tours can also be paired with other activities for full-day excursions.
13 Seagate Boulevard (Pilot House Marina), Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-731-9683
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18.Miss Chief Fishing Charters
© Miss Chief Fishing Charters
Miss Chief Fishing Charters offers half-day, ¾-day, and full-day chartered fishing adventures to anglers of all skill levels. Guests bring their own lunch, beverages, and personal sunscreen, glasses, and hats. Everything else is provided, including licensing, fishing gear and bait, ice and bottled water. Miss Chief will fillet and bag catches too. Target fish include mahi-mahi, wahoo, shark, kingfish, and other offshore varieties. For those with something else in mind, let the captain know, otherwise count on hitting just the right spots for these catches. Kids are welcome, making this a good family fishing choice. Splits and shares are sometimes available.
1313 Ocean Bay Drive, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-393-2430
19.African Queen Canal Cruise
© African Queen Canal Cruise
The African Queen Canal Cruise is a 1.5-hour cruise departing from Marina Del Mar and traveling down the Port Largo Canals ending at the Atlantic Ocean where it makes its turn and returns to port. Guests will hop aboard the newly restored historic African Queen steam-boat that once served as a shuttle for cargo, missionaries, and hunting parties in England. It became famous when it appeared in the legendary movie by the same name featuring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in 1951. Still as recognizable as ever, it found a new home in Key Largo in 1982 proffering tours of the picturesque canals.
99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-451-8080
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20.Capt. Sterling’s Everglades Tour
© Capt. Sterling’s Everglades Tour
Check out the other side of the Florida Keys with Capt. Sterling’s Everglades tours featuring three dynamic and unique trips. The Everglades and Florida Bay Ecology tour give guests a chance to learn about Everglades National Park, Florida Bay, and Mangrove Jungle. It also includes an opportunity to explore Hemingway Pass, which National Geographic called “the prettiest area in the Everglades.” The Manatee tour offers visitors a chance to shoot photos of these endangered and gentle creatures in their secret locales. Lastly, Flamingo Express private charters take guests across Everglades National Park to Flamingo, the most remote outpost in Florida.
103900 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-853-5161
21.PADDLE! the Florida Keys
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For those who have never planted a foot on a paddleboard but would love to try, PADDLE! is the place to do it. Paddling is all they do, so they’re experts at it, and their specialty is first timers. Voted the number one eco-tour in the Upper Keys, their two-hour daily paddle board eco-adventures depart mid-morning and mid-afternoon, but guests can request sunrise, sunset, and nighttime paddle board tours also. Nighttime paddles take place on lighted paddle boards. Seasoned paddle boarders will love their SUP yoga class. Guests can also take their award-winning kayak eco-tour, or rent kayaks, paddle boards, and skate boards to go it alone.
90773 Old Highway, Tavernier, FL, Phone: 305-434-5930
22.Rainbow Reef Dive Center
© Rainbow Reef Dive Center
Rainbow Reef Dive Center provides dive trips to Key Largo, Pennekamp State Park, and the Upper Florida Keys. They are Blue Star Certified, which means they’re committed to educating divers and snorkelers in low impact practices that protect the marine ecosystem. Their fleet of dive boats can accommodate small parties or groups of up to thirty-six. Thirteen dive sites include coral reefs, ledges, walls, wrecks, and centuries old wrecks. Dives range from 18 feet to 120 feet. Rainbow Reef can provide a range of dive instruction from beginner Discover Scuba instruction to PADI Dive Master and Instructor Training.
100 Ocean Drive, Mile Marker 100, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 800-457-4354
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23.Snorkel Key Largo
© Snorkel Key Largo
Snorkel Key Largo provides snorkeling excursions aboard their USCG certified Reef Roamer and Quicksilver sailing catamarans. The 50-foot catamarans have been customized for snorkeling with sun decks and shaded cockpits, stairways to the sea for easy water access, and bathrooms onboard. Key Largo snorkel sites include Mosquito Bank, Canon Patch Reef, John Pennekamp State Park, and White Banks in the National Marine Sanctuary. Combined, sites have over fifty kinds of coral and 600 types of fish. Beginners are welcome as long as they can swim. All snorkelers are required to wear life vests. Snorkel Key Largo also offers sunset cruises.
99751 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-453-0110
24.Sail Fish Scuba
© Sail Fish Scuba
Sail Fish Scuba offers personalized small group dives which include tanks, weights, and complimentary tour photos. All dives are guided and never exceed six divers to one PADI Divemaster guide. Snorkeling tour guides show snorkelers the best spots and explain what they’re seeing. Guided half-day snorkel/kayak tours into the mangroves of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park include kayak and snorkel gear, wet suit, and complimentary tour photos. Sail Fish full-day adventure tour includes kayaking, scuba diving, and snorkeling with lunch, souvenir T-shirt, and complimentary photos.
103100 Overseas Highway #33, Key Largo, FL, Phone: 305-453-3446
25.The Gallery of Wildlife Art by David Wirth, Key Largo, FL
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There’s more to Key Largo than watersports, though they’re excellent reasons to come here. When people need a break from the sun and sea, what better way to do it than to look for the symbolism of the sea in art? David Wirth, marine wildlife artist, is a California transplanted Hawaiian who has set up shop in Key Largo. An avid hunter and fisherman, David has a reverence for wildlife reflected in his sculptures, carvings, and furniture. One concept visitors will see repeated is the Hawaiian fish hook, which represents a reverence for the sea, strength, and prosperity. Visitors can view and purchase David’s work in Islamorada.
88005 Overseas Highway, Suite 10-136, Islamorada, FL, Phone: 951-551-3594
25 Best Things to Do in Key Largo, Florida
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Microgen - Fotolia.com
- Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
- Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Photo: Courtesy of gudrin - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Key Largo: Dolphin Cove, Photo: Courtesy of Akop - Fotolia.com
- Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Elenathewise - Fotolia.com
- Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, Photo: Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
- USCGC Bibb, Key Largo, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of tantawat - Fotolia.com
- Garl’s Coastal Kayaking Everglades, Photo: Garl’s Coastal Kayaking Everglades
- What to Do in Key Largo: EcoSail, Photo: EcoSail
- Graceful Fishing Charters, Photo: Graceful Fishing Charters
- Island Dolphin Care, Photo: Island Dolphin Care
- Jetpack Water Flights, Photo: Courtesy of stocktributor - Fotolia.com
- Keys Adventures Watersports, Photo: Keys Adventures Watersports
- Jules Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida, Photo: Jules Undersea Lodge
- Things to Do in Key Largo: Key Largo Parasail, Photo: Key Largo Parasail
- Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat, Photo: Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat
- Key Largo Watersports, Key Largo, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of marybethcharles - Fotolia.com
- Miss Chief Fishing Charters, Photo: Miss Chief Fishing Charters
- African Queen Canal Cruise, Photo: African Queen Canal Cruise
- Capt. Sterling’s Everglades Tour, Photo: Capt. Sterling’s Everglades Tour
- PADDLE! the Florida Keys, Photo: Courtesy of Patrick Moyer - Fotolia.com
- Rainbow Reef Dive Center, Photo: Rainbow Reef Dive Center
- Snorkel Key Largo, Photo: Snorkel Key Largo
- Sail Fish Scuba, Photo: Sail Fish Scuba
- The Gallery of Wildlife Art by David Wirth, Key Largo, FL, Photo: Courtesy of elenanoeva - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of strannik_fox - Fotolia.com
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