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7 Best Things to Do in Key Largo

| Updated Mar 5, 2021

Based on our experience, these are the best things to do in Key Largo!

Jennifer and I love RVing through the Florida Keys!

What more can you ask for than plenty of sunshine, sandy beaches, and tons of fun things to do? Key Largo answers it all!

About Key Largo

Key Largo is the first key in Paradise, at the very top of the Florida Keys. It is world-renown for scuba diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, and its beaches.

Key Largo boasts diverse botanical beauty with tropical species seen nowhere else in the world. It is also home to the world's second largest artificial reef, two state parks, and near other popular destinations. 

Key Largo is a slice of paradise everyone can enjoy. In fact, we list Key Largo as one of the 10 Romantic Road Trips for RVing Couples.

Best Things to Do in Key Largo

key largo

Even though Key Largo is quite small, it is packed with options for fun and relaxation. It's hard to narrow it down, but here are what we think are the best things to do in Key Largo.

Dagny Johnson Key largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Once you cross the sound to North Key Largo, one of your first stops should be to hike under the tropical hammock of Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.

The park was established in 1982 and named for Dagny Johnson, a local environmental activist who fought through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s to stop the development that was planned for much of north Key Largo.

This park is home to an immense amount of biodiversity. There are 80 different species of trees and 84 protected species of plants and animals, including wild cotton, mahogany mistletoe, the Key Largo woodrat, the Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly, semaphore cactus, and the American crocodile.

When you go, take a walk on the Port Bougainville Trail, a 2-mile self-guided trail that loops its way through part of the park. There’s also a smaller nature trail that leads to an overlook of a pond that used to be a quarry.

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Key Largo for plant-lovers!

Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Just up the road from Dagny Johnson State Park you’ll find the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Established in 1980 to provide a stronghold for this vanishing species, Crocodile Lake NWR is a large refuge that encompasses the east shore of Barnes Sound almost all the way to the northern extent of Key Largo, it also includes Lake Surprise and a portion of the shoreline of Little Card Sound.

Found only in South Florida, the American crocodile is less aggressive than its cousins and far more reclusive than the American alligator. This refuge is one of their major protected nesting grounds and nearly a quarter of the entire American crocodile population of the United States makes their home

There’s a small visitor complex with a number of interpretive stations here, along with a butterfly garden.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

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Visiting this state park is one of the best things to do in Key Largo. It's a hidden gem!

There is a great Visitor Center here featuring a 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium and nature walks are available along the Mangrove, Wild Tamarind, and Grove trails, as well as seventeen miles of paddling trails through the mangrove swamp.

But, the real treasure of this state park (if you can’t tell by the name) is snorkeling and scuba diving in the coral reef!

The park was created to protect and preserve a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States. It is the first undersea park in the United States and encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles! There are sponges, shrimps, crabs, turtles, lobsters, and hundreds of species of
fish that live among the corals.

Please be careful when you are in the reef as touching or standing on corals may kill them. You can reserve guided snorkeling, scuba, or glass-bottom boat tours to explore the reef here.

Christ of the Abyss Statue

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If you take a tour, you’ll head out three miles from shore to the famous Dry Rocks Reef. One of the highlights is the Christ of the Abyss statue. An 8-and-a-half foot, two-ton bronze statue of Jesus in 25 feet of water. A replica of a statue in the Mediterranean, it was donated to Pennekamp in 1966.

1715 Spanish Fleet Shipwreck

If you don’t want to do a tour, head over to Cannon Beach and rent snorkeling equipment to see the remnants of a 1715 Spanish shipwreck at a marked buoy offshore! If Cannon Beach is too crowded (it’s a popular destination) try going down the road to Harry Harris Beach and Park.

The African Queen

Another Key Largo landmark is the steamboat the African Queen, made famous in the 1951 movie “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

She has been restored to her former beauty and now back in operation, offering canal and dinner cruises. This is a great way to see parts of the canals from the water!

Cruises are an hour and a half and run daily at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm, departing from the Marina Del Mar and traveling down the Port Largo Canals.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center

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In our opinion, one of the best things to do in Key Largo is the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.

The Wild Bird Center houses an Avian Rehabilitation Hospital and the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary which is home to over 100 non-releasable, permanent bird residents as well as wild birds including hawks, owls, vultures, pelicans, terns, gulls, and herons.

It’s easy to stop in and take a self-guided tour where you’ll learn about the many of the native and migratory birds of the Keys and the fragile ecosystems they live in.

The Sanctuary is open year-round from sunrise to sunset and admission is free. Though, they are a non-profit and recommend a $10/person donation.

7 Best Things to Do in Key Largo 4Best Things to Do in Key Largo and Beyond!

With so many interesting bits of history and natural beauty packed into such a small area, it's no wonder the Florida Keys are an international tourist destination. It's certainly no surprise as a favorite destination for snowbirds. 

In our 7 Day RV Adventure Guide of the Florida Keys, we guide you through all the best things to do in Key Largo through Key West. We provide travel routes, itineraries, and lists of suggested campgrounds! 

All you need to do is pack up and head toward paradise!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-03-05

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

2 Responses to “7 Best Things to Do in Key Largo”

March 06, 2021at6:17 am, Stephanie Geohagan said:

Are this places on Key Largo dog friendly?

March 07, 2021at9:45 am, Shirley Abraham said:

Most everywhere is pet friendly as long as u are a responsible owner….
Many restaurants are open air seating where u may take your dog….

Comments are closed.

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