kayak
And Beyond,  Children

Key Largo Family Vacation

Key Largo Family Vacation– I know, I know, Key Largo has nothing to do with Disney. As the local Florida resident on this blog team, I wanted to bring you all some other great Florida destinations. As our kids are getting bigger we are trying to get out and about and explore our state! Also, in full disclosure, we had such a great time on our Key Largo Family Vacation I wanted to share our adventures.

Key Largo is in the Upper Keys of Florida. It is approximately 4 1/2 hours from Orlando. US 1 runs the length of the Keys and is basically two lanes. This makes sometimes for a slow drive, but everything is not far off the main road either.

Camping

florida camping
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We stayed at a campground called John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is a small campground that books up fast. If you feel like camping book ahead! You can head to this website to book any Florida campground around 11 months ahead. We camped in a tent. One of the few families to do so. I would much rather be in some sort of camper #glampinggoals. Next time we will rent a camper… it was hot! Despite the heat, this is a very economical way to visit the keys. Three nights at the campsite was around $135 total.

John Pennekamp
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If you are not into camping this is still a great park to visit as a jumping-off point for adventure. The park itself is home to two “beaches”. The beaches are not the lush sandy oasis I am used to. Read about the beach in my hometown here. Cannon beach has some sunken relics and cannons to view a very short snorkel from the shore. The campground has a small aquarium and a few activities for Jr. Rangers ( a program for kids that visit the Florida State Parks ). You could make almost a full day adventure just exploring the park.


Adventure

glass bottom boat
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There are several ways to enjoy the water from the state park. A snorkel tour. ( our kids are not strong enough swimmers yet). A glass-bottom boat tour and kayak or stand up paddleboard rentals.

glass bottom boat
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The glass bottom boat was a wonderful way to pass a few hours. The water was crystal clear and so beautiful. The boat had four viewing wells. We were seated around the wells on benches and the boat stopped at various spots for us to view the coral beds below. We saw a nice variety of sea life and hard and soft coral. We visited in October.

jelly fish
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Our guide explained that the visibility in the water and sea life is more active in the summer months. I could have stayed all day out on the water. The boat was also covered and equipped with a marine potty. I recommend the earliest departure time. We were able to visit more parts of the reef since there were not as many snorkel boats out on the water at that time of day yet.

mangrove path
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We also rented kayaks here and padded around and explored all the mangrove trails. It was a great way to be out on the water in easy to navigate paths.

Florida Parks Passport

cannon beach, john pennekamp
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From here we visited a few other state parks. We are on a mission to visit all 170 something Florida State Parks. We have a Florida State passport book. When you visit each park you can have your book stamped. When you visit them all you receive an annual pass for your family to all Florida State Parks. I wrote about another campground here.

Indian Key
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Since we were in the area we wanted to try to get some of the parks near Key Largo crossed off our list. We took a short trip down to Islamorada. There is a “tourist trap” that was recommended to us. It was totally worth the visit for a variety of reasons. Robbie’s Marina is home to several activities. Here we rented a kayak to paddle about a mile offshore to reach a Florida State Park that is only accessible by boat. Indian Key is home to an old abandoned town. All that is left is the footprints but it was fun to explore and swim off the coast of the little island.

Side Trips

 Robbies, tarpon feeding
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We headed back to Robbie’s to feed some giant tarpon. The fish are huge and the Pelicans swarm just like the seagull scene in Finding Nemo. If you want to see for yourself check out the live feed! This was by far one of the boys’ favorite things to do! We ended up getting a second bucket of fish. It’s not free ( tourist trap) but we had $10 worth of fun.

We also grabbed a delicious lunch on the dock and had some tasty drinks. The restaurant was also frequented by what seems like dozens of iguana. The place was simple, beachy and had a great Old Florida feel.

At the request of our oldest boy, we made time to stop at the History of Diving Museum. It was a cute little spot giving you information on exactly what you would expect. They had a great scavenger hunt to keep the kids engaged throughout the museum. You could spend a few hours here exploring. A great spot to get out of the heat or the rain. We found a coupon in the local magazine for a few dollars off admission.

Key Largo Family Vacation- Are the keys on your bucket list? Do you want to visit more of Florida? Let me know your favorite spots I am always up for a new adventure!

I'm Jen. Disney Lover, runner, penny pincher and mother of two boys, We live a few short hours away from Orlando and try to visit often. Follow along for family and adult Disney adventures as well as the occasional non -Disney family adventure.

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