Florida Keys vacation: Highlights from Key Largo to Key West

Six months after Hurricane Irma, the Florida Keys are on the road to recovery.

Nearly 80 percent of hotels throughout the Keys are open, with Key West and Stock Island seeing the highest recovery (92 percent), according to the tourism bureau Florida Keys & Key West.

If you’re considering a visit to the 120-mile string of islands, here are highlights from each region.


Key Largo

Cruise Key Largo’s canals aboard the original African Queen (from $49; africanqueenflkeys.com), made famous by the movie of the same starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. To enjoy the scenery on land, take in a sunset dinner overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at Sundowners (103900 Overseas Hwy., 305-451-4502, sundownerskeylargo.com).


Shop local artists, sculptors and vendors at the open-air marketplace Rain Barrel Artisan Village (86700 Overseas Hwy., 305-852-3084) — just look for the giant lobster at the entrance. Throw back beers at the Florida Keys Brewery (200 Morada Way, 305-916-5206, floridakeysbrewingco.com). End the day with the famed hogfish at Chef Michael’s (81671 Overseas Hwy., 305-664-0640, foodtotalkabout.com).


Grassy Key

At the Dolphin Research Center ($28/adults, $25/military and veterans, $23/ages 4-12; 58901 Overseas Hwy., 305-289-0002, dolphins.org), interact with and learn about the creatures.


Grab lunch or dinner at Key Fisheries (3502 Gulfview Ave., 866-743-4354, keysfisheries.com), a no-fuss seafood restaurant where the lobster Reuben is a local favorite. And don’t forget to order a slice of Key lime pie.


Big Pine Key

Up the Keys in Key West recently launched “volun-tours.” Spend part of a day volunteering in Big Pine Key, which might include clearing debris from a residence, cleaning up a beach or mangrove at the National Key Deer Refuge, or planting fruit trees at the Grimal Grove urban farm (from $99/per person; upthekeys.com).

Key West

During the day, explore the area’s history and architecture on a Key Lime Bike Tour ($45; keylimebiketours.com). The new Tennessee Williams Museum (admission $7/adults; 513 Truman Ave., 305-842-1666, twkw.org) — highlighting personal photographs of the playwright at home, first-edition plays and books, his typewriter and more — is a must. Come evening, the place to be is the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration (daily at sunset; mallorysquare.com). Expect live music and street performers — you might even see a cat jump through a hoop on fire.


Getting there: Fly direct on United Airlines to Key West International Airport (about 3 1⁄2 hours). Or if flying into Miami International Airport (about 3 hours), there’s the Keys Shuttle (prices vary; about 75 minutes to Key Largo, nearly 4 hours to Key West; keysshuttle.hudsonltd.net).

Getting around: Hop on and off the Old Town Trolley (from $33/day) or free Duval Loop Bus in Key West, or rent a bike.

Where to stay: Resort options include Playa Largo Resort and Spa (97450 Overseas Hwy., 305-853-1001, playalargoresort.com) in Key Largo and The Marker (200 William St., 855-485-9291, themarkerkeywest.com) in Key West.