Key Largo is called the "first of the Florida Keys," because of its northernmost location along the Florida Keys chain. It takes an hour to drive here from Miami, but feels like a different world entirely. There are 2 state parks in Key Largo and a national marine sanctuary.
John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park is America's first underseas park. It has been referred to as the "crown jewel of the state park system." There is a visitor's centre which has a refurbished 30,000 gallon aquarium, nature trails, picnic areas and 2 beaches, as well as extensive diving opportunities. Be aware that this place gets extremely busy at weekends. We had to sit in a long queue of traffic just to get into the park.
Shell World in Key Largo is a good place to visit with children. Seashells are a great reminder of your holiday in the Keys. You can get your own collection from the beach, but here they have beautiful, rare and fascinating seashells. Children can be hands-on and examine everything from large conch shells to spindly starfish. They sell other elaborate creations made from shells too - everything from necklaces to little shell people.
We stayed in Key Largo on our last night on the Florida Keys before we flew out of Miami airport. It is about 3 hours drive from Key West, but only 1 hour's drive to the airport at Miami. It is thus a very convenient place to stay, if you have a time constraint the next day.
We chose the Holiday Inn hotel for our last night's accommodation. It is clean, comfortable and a reasonable place to stay - not memorable or quirky but adequate. The location is the main advantage - it is on the marina, so you can walk to a number of bars and restaurants and the marina is a lovely place for an evening stroll.
The marina at the Holiday Inn is also home to the original Africa boat, featured in the movie The African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. It is on display here free of charge.
There are a couple of reasonable restaurants on the marina - we ate our evening meal in one of these, there was live music playing, a great relaxed atmosphere and a lovely view over the marina.
We loved strolling around the marina after dinner. There are lots of huge yachts and other impressive boats, the atmosphere is lovely and everyone is relaxed and friendly. It was a beautiful end to our holiday on the Florida Keys.