Christ of the Deep — Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways Program
You will soon see why this tropical wonderland known as Key Largo is one of the many reasons people come to South Florida in the first place. It is all things to all people. This enchanting and famous destination is one of the first stops in the chain of magical and mysterious islands known as the Florida Keys. Located roughly two hours south of Ft. Lauderdale on US 1, Key Largo is home to amazing parks and aquatic adventures that will please even the most discerning outdoor enthusiasts, as well as great restaurants, one-of-a-kind boutiques --and even a bit of Hollywood History.
Not to be missed is The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This amazing destination was the first undersea park created in the United States in 1963 and is best known for its spectacular offshore coral reef. This family-friendly attraction offers a visitor center, campsites, picnic areas, playful beaches and boat rentals. Dive in and take advantage of this aquatic paradise with snorkeling or scuba diving to get up-close and personal with an array of amazing tropical fish, and even to the famous Christ of the Deep statue. For a leisurely ride take advantage of the ever-popular glass bottom boat.
For the sports enthusiast visit the Key Largo Community Park & Jacobs Aquatic Center. This Oceanside complex, located at MM 99.6 is a fourteen-acre park complete with a half-mile jogging, walking or rollerblading track, six tennis courts, a walled handball court, three basketball courts and a roller hockey rink. The Jacobs Aquatic Center offers its guests a three-pool complex featuring an eight-lane 25-meter pool with one three-meter and two one-meter diving boards, wheelchair ramp accessible teaching therapy pool, and popular with the kids is the children’s waterpark and fun pool.
Once you arrive and perhaps decide that maybe one day isn't enough, the island’s accommodations do not disappoint. Available to meet every expectation from the ultimate in luxurious resorts with such names as Hilton Key Largo Resort and Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort, to the more affordable Holiday Inn Key Largo or the welcoming Largo Lodge, you will be welcomed to the island by the locals who are eager to please – and who know their way around.
Be sure to take in as many local restaurants you can in a day. The Keys are known for delicious seafood, but that’s not the end of it. Any favorite is found here. One local eatery which is popular with locals and those passing through to the lower Keys is Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen. This place is casual and fun and friendly and is a must-do. Perhaps its Italian you want? Try Mamma Onesti. Even the Thai and sushi lover has a place at the Num-Thai & Sushi Bar Restaurant. It’s all right here.
And what about that piece of Hollywood history? It's the original boat used by Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn known as the African Queen in the 1951 classic film of the same name. Located in the marina at the Holiday Inn Key Largo, this unique attraction is sure to thrill any movie lover.
While Key Largo may be a part of the more rural Florida Keys, this has proven to be the island's enduring charm. This bit of tropical paradise is just far enough away to be the perfect one day getaway for the resident or visitor of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. It is indeed a different world with its miles of walking trails, beaches, mom-and-pop businesses, unique souvenir shops or local favorite restaurants. Here you will find a calming, soothing vibe that is known to draw back visitors time and time again.