Key Largo -- Gateway to the Florida Keys
Key Largo is the first of the Florida Keys that you will see on your vacation, if you are coming from the Florida mainland. It's also the largest of the Florida Keys, and outside of Key West, has the most diversity and things to do.
Of course there is a down side: this Key is also the most like mainland Florida. Don't be surprised to see many of the same restaurants, hotels and stores that you'd see in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. However, don't let that stop you -- the Florida Keys atmosphere keeps this island a world away from ordinary.
Before you start your planning, though, check for the time of year for the best weather in Key Largo. After all, nice weather is part of a great vacation!
Think automobile, since about the only way to get here is by car, as the island does not have an airport. I guess technically you could get a cab to bring you down from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale airports, but it would likely cost as much as a week's car rental price anyway.
Besides, you will need a vehicle of some sort to get around the island itself. The stores, restaurants and lodging are all strung out along US1 (the Overseas Highway).
Scuba Dive Key Largo
Yes, you can scuba dive here; Key Largo is one of the world-class destinations for diving, in fact.
Visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park as it is the big draw. Pennekamp is a diver's mecca, and if it has to do with diving, you'll find it here. And it's great also for anyone who would like to get certified and dive the continental United States' only living coral reef. Find out more about scuba diving in Key Largo.
Snorkelers, don't feel left out. The same reef has areas of shallows where you can get closer to the reef and its inhabitants. Barring any weather problems, you can book a snorkel tour for just about any day.
Snorkel and dive tours are available both from private outfits as well as from Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. As you travel on US 1 (the Overseas Highway), you'll come across dive shops galore.
Other Things to Do
Think water. The big resorts offer jet ski rentals, para-sailing, canoe and kayak rentals. The smaller hotels often have boats (canoes/kayaks) available for their guests.
You notice there is a trend here, for things watery. Part of the mystique of the Florida Keys is enjoying the great outdoors.
If you'd rather not get wet, there are glass-bottomed boats that go out to the coral reef, as well as tour boats that keep you close to shore. Or how about a walk or bike ride in some of the nearby parks?
Aside from Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, there is also Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock for you to explore.
One place you might want to go for a visit is to the World Parrot Mission (sometimes also known as the World Parrot Museum). Especially on Thursdays, you can go an interact with the birds. Ever seen a parrot play basketball? Check it out -- it's at MM 99.
If you are into old movies, take a side trip to visit the African Queen -- the same boat that was in the movie with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. You can even take a tour on the water in her!
And if you like to exercise your wallet, there are plenty of places to shop.
Hotels, Motels Resorts -- Where to Stay
You have to stay somewhere on your Florida Keys vacation. The good news is that all kinds of lodging are available here, from deluxe accommodations to mom and pop motels.
One thing to keep in mind -- while there are price ranges for lodging, none of it is inexpensive. Unless maybe you come from somwhere where the hotel rooms are over $150 per night on average.
At any rate, take a look at places to stay.
Time to Eat - Key Largo Restaurants
It's getting to be that time, and your tummy is growling. Never fear, from fast-food to gourmet dining, Key Largo has it all. My personal favorite? Hmmm, gotta think about that one. You really should try some conch (pronounced "conk") fritters while you're here.
Not that adveturous? Go for the Key Lime pie!
Meanwhile, here's a list of places to eat.
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