The Florida Keys are open but restrictions apply. Here's what to expect.


Last updated on July 10th, 2020 at 08:04 am


 

Things to do in Key Largo: Watch the sunset
Things to do in Key Largo: Watch the sunset (c) Can Stock Photo / FictionMediaHD


 
Don’t judge Key Largo by the view from the highway.
 
The jumble of commercial storefronts is far from charming, but it comes with the territory Key Largo occupies as centerpiece destination for the world’s third largest living coral reef, 25 miles of which lie inside Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. 
 
As the first island you reach on the Overseas Highway, Key Largo offers visitors from South Florida a quick escape. And there is beauty in Key Largo, off the highway, where the land meets the water, and especially under the water. 

To help you navigate Key Largo, we prepared this Things to do in Key Largo Visitors Guide. Many of the listings have been gleaned from our popular Florida Keys Overseas Highway Mile Marker Guide.


Dive & Snorkel | Kayaking | Parks & Beaches | Points of Interest | Restaurants & Bars | Places to Stay | Places to Camp | RV Services | Groceries 


Dive and Snorkel Trips

Can Stock Photo / offaxisproductions
Things to do in Key Largo: Snorkel. Can Stock Photo / offaxisproductions

All life in Key Largo revolves around watersports, particularly diving and snorkeling the coral reefs in Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and there are dozens of outfits that will take you out to enjoy the experience.

For reviews and ratings, go to the Tripadvisor links for each business. (Links on the names of businesses go directly to their web site.)

Read more: 11 Best Snorkeling Sites in Key Largo


Silent World Dive Center, (MM 106) Garden Cove Marina, 51 Garden Cove Dr. Tripadvisor reviews

Pirates Cove Watersports. (MM 104) Diving, snorkeling paddleboards, kayaks. Tripadvisor reviews

Quiescence Diving Services (MM 104). Tripadvisor reviews

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (MM 103, oceanside) Snorkeling, diving, glass-bottom tour boat, beaches, boat ramps, campground, hiking and kayak trails. 

Read more: Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Rainbow Reef Dive Center, (MM 101) Tripadvisor reviews

Island Ventures. (MM 103) Specializes in small groups at Jules Undersea Lodge. Tripadvisor reviews

Key Largo Dive Center. (MM 105) Dive excursions and scuba charters. Tripadvisor reviews

Sea Dwellers Dive Center, (MM 100) 105 Laguna Ave. Tripadvisor reviews

Divers Direct (MM 100). Mega-store for divers, snorkelers and other water sports. Tripadvisor reviews

Florida Keys Unique Diving (M 92.6). 106 Arctic Ave, across from Harry Harris Park. Tankless diving known as snuba. Tripadvisor reviews

More:  Key Largo Tours, Pricing Tickets on Tripadvisor
 

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Kayaking in Key Largo

florida keys kayaking dusen Visitors Guide: Things to do in Key Largo
Things to do in Key Largo: Kayak a mangrove tunnel.

The islands on the bay side of Key Largo offer a range of paddling experiences in shallow waters that extend to Key Largo from Everglades National Park, and some near-shore kayak trails on the ocean side offer a taste of what can be found in deeper waters.

Sunshine Watersports Key Largo (MM 108.5) Gilbert’s Resort. Kayaks, Paddleboards, jet skis and tours. 305-440-9954. Tripadvisor reviews

Florida Bay Outfitters. (MM 104.5) Small fee to launch your own kayak. Or rent kayaks and paddleboards with advice on kayak routes whether you rent or not. Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: 36 hours in Key Largo: Gilbert’s Resort and kayaking the wreck at Garden Cove

Out There Kayak Expeditions (MM 102). Kayak tours, fishing, snorkel trips, paddleboards. 305-394-1158. Tripadvisor reviews

Aquaholic Adventures (MM 100)  Kayak tours, kayak and paddleboard rentals, lessons. 305-330-9874. Tripadvisor reviews

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (MM 103, oceanside) Kayak launch, trails, rentals, tours. 305-451-6322.

Sunset Park Boat Ramp, 20 Sunset Road.  

Harris Park Boat Ramp (MM 92.6) Follow the signs.

Bottle Key Launch. (MM 92) Public boat launch, bayside. Turn right onto Jo-Jean Way.

Tropic Watersports (MM 94.5) Left on Lime Street, then right to 139 Seaside Ave. Clear, see-through kayaks, jet ski rentals. 305-709-9898. Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: 11 great kayak outings in the Florida Keys

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Parks and Beaches in Key Largo

Snorkelers head out to the reef
Things to do in Key Largo: Snorkelers head out to the reef at Pennekamp

Beaches that offer swimming on Key Largo are few and far between, although many resort hotels have built man-made beaches for their guests. Here are a few public parks and beaches you can enjoy without spending big bucks, 

Rowell’s Waterfront Park. (MM 104.5) Former marina now an 8-acre, dog-friendly park on Florida Bay. Swim and snorkel from the seawall, which has ladders.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, (MM 102.8 oceanside) Snorkeling, diving, glass-bottom tour boat, beaches, boat ramps, campground, hiking and kayak trails. 

Need a free place to stop for picnic? Behind the Key Largo government center (MM 102 bayside) there’s a waterfront park with covered picnic tables. Boats moored offshore come and go here via dinghy or kayak.

Friendship Park (MM 101.3) Oceanside. The was the center of the 1880s community of Newport.

Harry Harris Beach and Park (MM 92.6, oceanside). Pet-friendly park with nicely groomed beach, picnic tables, picnic shelters, boat ramp and a playground. Free admission weekdays. Monroe County residents free anytime. Non-residents: $5/person on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. $30 to launch a boat. Incidentally, the early community of “Planter” was here.

Read more: Our favorite beaches in the Florida Keys

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Points of Interest 

Things to do in Key Largo: The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Things to do in Key Largo: The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Most of Key Largo’s points of interest are underwater, accessible by boat or on sponsored tours by dive shops. Here are a few land-based points of interest.

MM 106.5 — Turn left for Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammocks Botanical State Park

MM 105.6 — Railroad depot and Key Largo town center from 1910 to 1940. The depot was in the highway median. The community was bayside.

Caribbean Club in Key Largo. (MM 104 Bayside) Its exterior was used in the classic Humphrey Bogart film “Key Largo,” which inspired the community to change its name. This dive bar is plastered with movie memorabilia. Tripadvisor reviews.

Read more about tracking Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo.

MM 103.5 — The 1920s Key Largo Rock Castle, end of Oceana Drive, ocean side.

MM 103.4 — Marvin Adams Waterway Bridge (The Cut), a canal that connects Atlantic to Florida Bay

Jules Undersea Lodge, (MM 103) 51 Shoreland Drive, next to the Marine Lab. Undersea lodging. Tripadvisor reviews

MM 102 — Dolphins Plus, 101900 Overseas Highway, Bayside. Dolphin encounters. Tripadvisor reviews

The African Queen, (MM 99.7) the 100-year-old steamboat from the 1951 Humphrey Bogart-Katherine Hepburn film, is moored next to the Holiday Inn Oceanside. You can take a 90-minute cruise or a two-hour dinner trip. Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: Key Largo: African Queen steamboat is for Bogart fans

MM 98.0 — Landings of Largo, Bayside; Moose Lodge, Oceanside; Everglades Park Ranger

MM 95 to 100 — The early community of Rock Harbor. A small railroad depot was also here. The name of the post office was Rock Harbor until the 1948 when Humphrey Bogart-Lauren Bacall film Key Largo inspired residents to cash in on that success.  In 1952, the post office was renamed Key Largo.

MM 95.2 — Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary building. Tripadvisor reviews

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, (MM 93.6) Bayside.  Boardwalk through a mangrove forest at volunteer-run wildlife-rehab facility with an informal backyard feel. The center is free, though you may want to make a donation. Open sunrise to sunset. Great stop for kids. Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is worth a quick stop

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Restaurants and Bars in Key Largo

Key Largo hosts a number of legendary eateries, many on waterfronts with outdoor dining and tiki bars, and there are a few land-locked that may be worthy of your attention. Sunset dining is certainly a popular pastime, but sometimes you want to just grab a bite. We list both.

Alabama Jack’s (Card Sound Road). Just before the toll bridge crossing over to Key Largo on Card Sound Road. Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: Alabama Jack’s: Classic start to a Keys trip

The Buzzard’s Roost, (MM 106 Oceanside) Dockside bar and restaurant, off U.S. 1 at the Garden Cove Marina, 21 Garden Cove Drive, Key Largo. (Big sign on U.S. 1). Tripadvisor reviews

bigchill keylargo Visitors Guide: Things to do in Key Largo

Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill, Bayside. (MM 104) Sports bar, tiki bar, restaurant. Owned by the former football coach and Fox NFL commentator, who lives down the road in Tavernier. Tripadvisor reviews

MM 103.9 — Restaurant cluster on the bay side: Senor Frijoles, Mexican food; Sundowners, outdoor seating and view of Blackwater Sound; Cactus Jack’s Sports Pub. Tripadvisor reviews: Senor Frijoles | Sundowners

Num Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar. (MM 103.2) Tripadvisor reviews

Lazy Lobster — (MM 102.8) Popular Keys restaurant directly across from the entrance to John Pennekamp State Park. Tripadvisor reviews

The Fish House and Fish House Encore Restaurants. (MM 102.4) So popular, they had to open a second restaurant. Fresh seafood. A little pricey but not shocking. Tripadvisor reviews

 

Hobo’s Cafe. (MM 101.7) Long one of Bob’s favorites. Good food at moderate prices. Oceanside. Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: Tiki bars you’ll love in the Florida Keys

Tower of Pizza Key Largo. (MM 100.6) Tripadvisor reviews

Key Largo Chocolates. (MM 100.5) Key Lime Pie on a stick! Home-made chocolate treats. Tripadvisor reviews

Key Largo Conch House. (MM 100.2) Tripadvisor reviews

Things to do in Key Largo: Go to tiki bar. This is Skippers Dockside's canal view. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Things to do in Key Largo: Go to a tiki bar. This is the canal view at Skippers Dockside. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

MM 100 — East at Laguna Avenue

Skippers Dockside, Laguna Ave. to 528 Caribbean Drive. Large dockside tiki bar and outdoor dining area. Read more in our best tiki bar guide. You may see the African Queen steam past. Tripadvisor reviews

Sharkey’s Pub and Galley, Laguna Ave. to 522 Caribbean Drive. Multi-level outdoor decks overlooking a busy canal. Worth finding. Tripadvisor reviews

MM 99.4 — Key Largo Traffic Light — Port Largo

Go east at the traffic light where U.S. 1 splits to southbound and northbound lanes, an immediate right onto Homestead, then left on Ocean Bay Drive

American Legion Post 333, 2 Seagate Blvd. Key Largo. Large, shady outdoor seating with entertainment. Drinks and food. Open to the public. 

Pilot House Marina and Restaurant, 13 Seagate Blvd, Key Largo. Unique glass bottom bar over water. Across the boat basin from Key Largo Fisheries. Tripadvisor reviews

Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Cafe,1313 Ocean Bay Drive. Old Florida wholesale and retail fish market with a new cafe out back overlooking the docks. Tripadvisor reviews

After the traffic light…

snooks bayside in key largo Visitors Guide: Things to do in Key Largo
Snook’s Bayside

Snook’s Bayside Restaurant and Grand Tiki Bar (MM 99.9) Just past the traffic light. 305-453-5004 Tripadvisor reviews

Doc’s Diner (MM 100) Family owned diner. A local favorite. Tripadvisor reviews

DiGiorgio’s Cafe Largo (MM100) Family-run trattoria. Open 4:30 p.m. 305-451-4885. Tripadvisor reviews

Bayside Grille and Sunset Bar, (MM 99.4, bayside. Hideaway bar (downstairs) and restaurant (upstairs) behind DiGiorgio’s Cafe Largo overlooking Florida Bay. 305-451-3380. Tripadvisor reviews

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen (MM 99.3)  Classic Keys roadside eatery open for breakfast and lunch only. Check out their fish and grits! Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: Legendary road food in the Florida Keys

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen II. (MM 99) An extension of the iconic original in the median. Open for lunch and dinner only. Tripadvisor reviews

Ballyhoo’s Historic Seafood Grill. (MM 97.8) Dine in a historic conch house built in the 1930s. Tripadvisor reviews

Harriette’s Diner. (MM 95.8) Popular eatery for locals. Home cookin’. Tripadvisor reviews

Snapper’s Restaurant (MM 94.5) 139 Seaside Avenue. Popular waterfront restaurant with dockage. Tripadvisor reviews

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Places to Stay in Key Largo

Everything from cabins and mom-and-pop motels to luxury resorts are available on Key Largo for the snorkeling hordes. All links go to descriptions of the properties. Some links go to Hotels.com, where you’ll get a description and can reserve a room directly.

The view at the motel at Gilbert's Resort in Key Largo. (Photo: David Blasco)
The view at the motel at Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo. (Photo: David Blasco)

Gilbert’s Resort MM 107.9

Read more: 36 hours in Key Largo: Gilbert’s Resort and kayaking the wreck at Garden Cove

Amy Slate’s Amoray Resort – MM 104

Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort – Key Largo (MM 104)

Jules Undersea Lodge, (MM 103) 51 Shoreland Drive, next to the Marine Lab. Undersea lodging. Limited room availability. 305-451-2353

Hampton Inn Key Largo Manatee Bay (MM 102.4)

Dolphin Point Villas – Key Largo MM 101.9.

Largo Resort (MM 101.7)

Marina Del Mar Resort and Marina – Key Largo. (MM 100.0)

Holiday Inn Key Largo. (MM 99.7) Book your excursion on the African Queen or the Key Largo Princess glass-bottom boat in the hotel’s gift shop. Check out the waterfall and tiki bar at the hotel swimming pool.

Bayside Inn Key Largo. (MM 99)

Sunset Cove Beach Resort. (MM 99)

Dream Bay Resort, 4 Woodward Way. (MM 99.2) Private gated resort and marina offering cottage and luxury house rentals with dockage. (305) 393-0634.

The Pelican Key Largo Cottages. MM 99

Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Gardens. (MM 97.8)

Mariner’s Resort Villas and Marina. (MM 97.5) 1- 4 bedroom luxury villas, tennis courts, swimming pools, waterside restaurant & Tiki Bar. (305) 853-5000

Coconut Bay Resort Key Largo MM 97.7.

Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection – Key Largo MM 97.0)

Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton. MM 97

Drift Hotel, Key Largo. MM 95

Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo MM 93. 500 Burton Drive.

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Places to Camp in Key Largo

Campsite at Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Campsite at Pennekamp State Park

RV camping is popular in the Florida Keys, and a few of these campgrounds offer tent sites. The prices are a bit higher than you’ll find on the mainland, but hey!, you’re in the Florida Keys.

Read more: Best tent camping in the Florida Keys

Keys Palms RV Resort. (MM 104.2 Bayside) Tripadvisor reviews

King’s Kamp RV Park, (MM 103.5 Oceanside). Private campground with many waterfront sites. Packed in winter, but OK the rest of the year. Shaded tent sites along north fence. Tripadvisor reviews

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, (MM 102.8 oceanside): Snorkeling, diving, glass-bottom tour boat, beaches, boat ramps, campground, hiking and kayak trails. Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: Pennekamp State Park: It’s all about the coral reef

Key Largo Kampground and Marina, (MM 101.5) at the end of Sampson Road. Tripadvisor reviews

Calusa Campground and Marina, bayside at 325 Calusa St. (MM 101.5) Tripadvisor reviews

Blue Fin Rock Harbor Marina & RV Park. (MM 97.5) Tripadvisor reviews

Read more: Hacks for booking a campsite in the Florida Keys

 

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RV Services

Holiday RV and Marine, (MM 100) Full service repair, parts and sales. 10099 Overseas Highway. 305-451-4555. TripAdvisor reviews

Larry’s RV Service. (MM 95.2) Mobile service that will go to your campground, 95231 Overseas Hwy. 630-460-7676 TripAdvisor reviews

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Groceries

Winn Dixie Supermarket, 105300 Overseas Hwy., (MM 105.3) Bayside. Recently renovated and clean. We found the staff friendly and the store had a good product selection. Shopping plaza partially hidden by trees. 7 am-10 pm. (305) 451-0328

Betty’s Health Foods, 103200 Overseas Hwy. (MM 103.2 ) Open 10 am-6 pm, Monday-Friday; 10 am-2 pm, Saturday; Closed Sunday

Francis Fruit Stand, 102800 Overseas Hwy. (MM 102.8) Fresh fruits and vegetables. Open 7 am-7 pm daily.

Publix Supermarket in the Tradewinds Plaza shopping center, 101437 Overseas Hwy. Oceanside. (MM 101.4) Typical Publix product selection. Clean and friendly staff. Shopping center is partially hidden by a wall of trees. 6 am-10 pm. (305) 451-0808

Key Largo Fisheries,1313 Ocean Bay Drive. (MM 99.4) Old Florida wholesale and retail fish market with piles of fresh stone crabs and Florida lobster (in season), shrimp, snapper, mahi and more. Display cases offer conch salad, smoked fish dip, lobster chowder and bisque.

Convenience stores include Tom Thumb and Circle K. 

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Key Largo and the Florida Keys

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Important Disclosure: Nobody has paid to be included in this guide, nor has anybody paid for a positive review. We comment honestly on places we visit, or we don’t comment at all. For the convenience of readers, links to some accommodations may go to Hotels.com, Booking.com, VRBO or Tripadvisor, from whom Florida Rambler may receive a modest commission.

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Explore the Keys with our Overseas Highway Mile-Marker Guide


2 Comments

  1. Lucimar Moore

    Failed to mention Ocean Pointe Suites

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