If all you know about Key Largo is that the Beach Boys want to take a trip there, you’re in for an eye-opening surprise. It’s the first of the Florida Keys, opening up the world of the Everglades and showcasing wildlife and marine life that’s distinctly Floridian. It hides treasures along its coastline, but the only way you can discover them is to head to Key Largo yourself.
Experience Life Under the Sea
Image via Flickr by Wilfred_Hdez
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of Key Largo’s most breathtaking attractions. Perhaps it’s not technically an “outdoor” park, but it’s the country’s first park that exists entirely under the sea, to the point where you just might run into Ariel or Sebastian. The park, which was originally founded in 1963, protects the sole living coral reef in the United States. In addition to exploring the underwater world, you can dive, kayak, and snorkel, take a class in scuba diving, or go on a glass bottom boat tour.
Stop and Smell the Flowers
Have you ever strolled through 6 miles of flora and fauna? You have the chance at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. The park is full of trails that you can walk, hike, or bike. You can take self-guided tours, but signs along the trails inform you about the local ecosystem, the wildlife in the park, and the plants and flowers you admire.
Dagny Johnson Park is a beautiful place to spend the entire day, particularly if your day begins early in the morning so that you can watch the sunrise over the garden. To get there as soon as possible, check out Key Largo hotels near the gardens or any of the other attractions you’re eager to see. It’s always smarter to headquarter your vacation near the things you want to see and do.
Walk on Water
Outdoor enthusiasts can’t miss the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. It’s actually composed of several multi-use trails spread over 76 miles — and the trails are smoothly paved. Given enough time, you can visit each of the railroad bridges along the path, whether you decide to ride your bike, walk, or even go skating. You’ll pass by a number of national parks and state parks as you follow the Overseas Heritage Trail, including the Everglades National Park, the Biscayne National Park, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Dive for Treasure
Key Largo is home to the USCGC Bibb, which is a Coast Guard ship that sank in 1987. Commissioned in 1937, the ship saw lots of action before sinking to the briny deep. Since the wreck is close to the Gulfstream, divers have the opportunity to view the artificial reef along with barracuda, Goliath grouper, and sharks. However, the current is strong, so this one is best left to the experienced divers.
Key Largo is a legendary town and not just because the Beach Boys crooned about it. The city enamored Ernest Hemingway, and it enchants countless visitors every year. Will you be the next one?