Stephen Frink Collection / Alamy

Standout reef peeping along Florida’s Upper Keys.

December 16, 2012

Key Largo, the first pit stop in the Keys, is one of the area’s largest and most developed. With so many options for where to go, eat, and stay, it’s the most wallet-friendly base for exploring the backwaters and beaches. To make the most of the natural beauty, head to John Pennekamp State Park to snorkel colorful coral reefs.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Alabama Jack's

Kitschy old license plates and the bartender’s amiable bulldog mix welcome you to this honky-tonk pub, where the food looks as rugged as the bikers at neighboring tables. Equally addictive: the free-form fritters and the Southern sweet tea.

Crack'd Conch

The restaurant—renowned for its cheap eats from the sea and honey biscuits—has a fun, junk-shop-style interior.

Largo Lodge

The quirky property features six airy cottages (and one regular room). Its eccentric owner will loan you books from her personal library for enjoying in the surrounding hammocks.

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