One of the most breathtaking road trips in America is the epic one from Miami to Key West, Florida Keys. It crosses many islands connected by the Overseas Highway. Our most recent road trip from Seattle, Washington to the Florida Keys included the Miami-Key West drive. This was one of our most memorable and beautiful journeys.
We’ve driven this route numerous times and have compiled a list of all the things you can do along the Miami to Key West drive.
When to Visit the Florida Keys
The best time to visit Florida Keys is between March and May. It is cooler, and there are fewer people than during the winter months. You will also find lower hotel rates during this time.
The Florida Keys’ busiest months: The winter months between November-February are the peak season. Blue skies and warm weather attract visitors from the USA. The busiest weeks are those between Christmas and New Year. The Florida Keys are a wonderful place to visit, but it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for traffic.
Low season in Florida Keys: The Florida Keys’ low season is the summer months, when temperatures soar and it is generally humid and wet. From June through November, hurricane season is observed. Weather is always a concern, but it’s in these months that there are fewer people and the cost of accommodation is lower.
Renting a car
Renting a car is a great way to travel from Miami to Key West. Renting a car allows you to have as many adventures as possible and has the flexibility to drive around the beautiful Florida Keys. To drive to Key West, we rented cars in Miami and New York, as well as Seattle and San Francisco. We have found that renting a car is invaluable in Florida. It allows us to see all the amazing things this state has to offer.
The Route from Miami to Key West
It is easy to drive from Miami and Key West. The route follows US Route 1 from Miami. It passes through all the major islands of Florida Keys, before reaching Key West. The Overseas Highway is the stretch of US 1 connecting the Florida Keys to mainland. Most visitors will recognize this section from blockbuster Hollywood movies like True Lies or Licence to Kill.
Although the route can be completed in approximately 4 hours with no stops, there are many sights to see along its length so we recommend at least one day.
Key West: Where to Stay
Stay in downtown Key West to be in the heart of everything. You can walk to all attractions, and park up so that you can enjoy Key West!
Key West accommodation is in high demand, especially during peak periods like the winter holiday break. We recommend that you book your stay early to avoid disappointment.
The Best Places to Stop in Miami-Key West Drive
The road trip from Miami-Key Largo takes approximately 90 minutes and is fairly uneventful.
We recommend that you leave Miami early in the morning if you plan to stay in Miami the night before your road trip. This will give you the best chance to see the area on your way down to Key West.
Key Largo will be the first island in the Florida Keys you reach on your way from Miami. It’s home to some of America’s best sea diving and is a popular spot for watersports. Key Largo is known for its amazing kayaking, snorkelling, swimming, snorkelling, and fishing. Most of these activities can be found in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef state park. You can also enjoy swimming and hiking in the Biscayne National Park, which is located to the north of the island.
2 | Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
Two locations in Key Largo have made Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen a famous Florida seafood restaurant. Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen was established in 1967 and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a great place to stop along your drive from Miami to Key West.
On our way to Key West, we stopped by Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen and enjoyed a delicious meal. It’s cool to see the diner decorated with hundreds upon hundreds of license plates from around the globe. It’s great fun trying to spot plates from different countries! We highly recommend the Key Lime Pie (there are a few Key Lime Pies in the Keys, and this one is good!)
3 | John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, located on Key Largo, is the first US undersea park. It covers more than 70 miles of spectacular reefs, mangrove swamps, and unique underwater dives. You can also find short walking trails and nice beaches.
Kayaking in the mangroves is one of the many activities that can be done here. You can also take scuba/snorkel boats to the coral reefs. John Pennekamp Coral Reef is home to some of the most amazing snorkelling and scuba diving, and the famed Christ of the Abyss.
Both private and group tours offer snorkelling and diving trips into the waters of the state parks every day and are the best way for visitors to the park. Below are some of our most popular:
Sundiver Snorkel Tours is one of Key Largo’s most popular tours and it is designed for beginners. All equipment is included.
Pirates Cove Water Sports Snorkel Tour is another great option for beginners, and visits the majority of the reefs in John Pennekamp State Park.
Snorkel the Keys (Private Snorkel Tour): This private snorkel tour is available for groups of up to six and departs from Key Largo. This is a great way to enjoy a memorable experience in the Florida Keys with a small group of friends or family.
Biscayne National Park
It is worth spending a few hours exploring Biscayne National Park if you have time in Key Largo. 95% of Biscayne national park is water. It stretches from Miami to Key Largo’s northern tip. Water lovers love the park’s incredible snorkelling and scuba diving, as well as access to shipwrecks. Non-swimmers can also enjoy the park’s many attractions, including walks and hikes as well as cruises. There are many guided tours available within the park. The most popular is the half-day cruise from Boca Chita Key to the park’s most popular island.
Biscayne National Park is located close to Florida’s Everglades National Park. However, it receives far fewer visitors every year. There is also no entrance fee, unlike other national parks.
Islamorada, a group of six islands situated midway between Miami & Key West, is a popular destination for tourists looking for sun and fun. You will find plenty to see and you can often stay overnight in this area while driving from Miami to Key West.
5 | Grab lunch in Morada Bay Florida Keys
Morada Bay should be on your list if you’re planning to stop for food while driving from Miami to Key West. Morada Bay, a beachfront restaurant in Islamorada that serves the finest food in Florida Keys and perfectly captures Keys island vibes, is Morada Bay.
The Beach Cafe and Bar is a wonderful place to stop for lunch. The Beach Cafe offers Mediterranean-inspired meals, including everything from Mahi Tacos and Key Lime Pie.
6 | Rain Barrel Village
You can’t drive by the Rain Barrel Village and not notice Betsy, its iconic lobster statue. Rain Barrel Village, a quirky studio selling handmade crafts, artwork, and Florida Keys-inspired souvenirs is worth a visit. You are certain to find unique gifts from your Keys trip.
Betsy, the lobster, is the main attraction. Betsy, standing at more than 30 feet tall and 40ft long, is an excellent photo opportunity along the Overseas Highway!
Feed the Tarpons at Robbie’s of Islamorada
Robbie’s is a favorite stop along the Miami-Key West Drive. Robbie’s, located just south of Islamorada near the Overseas Highway Bridge, is your one-stop shop to find all things fun. Visitors can spend the entire day here, with an open-air marketplace, a restaurant and jet-ski tours.
Feeding the tarpons is a popular activity. They are a medium-sized Atlantic fish. Visitors can feed the fish, also known as “Silver Kings”, at Robbie’s dock. You can buy buckets of fish ($4 each)
The tarpon are not easy to feed. To lure a tarpon to your fish, you will need to lay down on the dock. If you are patient, a Tarpon will jump out of the water to grab your fish.
Watch out for the pelicans that might be trying to steal your fish! There are many signs warning visitors to not feed these pelicans, who are looking for easy fish meals.
History of Diving Museum
Anyone with an interest in diving and the ocean should visit The History of Diving Museum. This museum houses the largest collection of historical diving equipment anywhere in the world. It is a pleasure to explore the museum’s collection. This hidden gem is located on the main highway but it’s a great place to stop on your way from Miami to Key West.
The museum will teach visitors everything they need to know about the history and evolution of diving from ancient techniques that date back thousands of years, all the way up to current scuba diving equipment. It is worth visiting the museum to see the incredible collection of documents and exhibits.
Florida Keys Brewing Company
The Florida Keys Brewing, the only Florida Keys production brewery that is open to public consumption, is also the only one. They have many microbrews available and the tasting room is bright and cheerful.
The Florida Keys Brewing Company’s outdoor beer garden is the best. They also have a food truck for those who want to grab a bite. This shaded outdoor area makes a great stop for those who don’t drive and is a great spot to have a beer or taco!
Indian Key Historic State Park
This small state park is located just south of Islamorada on the Overseas Highway. It is one of Florida Keys’ most beautiful spots. Indian Key State Park is accessible only by boat or kayak. This is what makes it so special.
The island is reached by a short paddle through the shallow seagrass flats and crystal clear water. A single kayak landing area is located on the island to protect the shoreline. Visitors can walk around the island from here and take in the natural beauty and tranquility of Indian Key State Park.
Every day, the Indian Key Historic State Park remains open from 8 am to sunset. Robbie’s is the most popular place to rent kayaks in Islamorada. You’ll need all your supplies, as there are no facilities available on the island. It costs $2.50 to enter and is a great place to spend an afternoon.
Anne’s Beach, Islamorada
Make sure you stop at Anne’s Beach before leaving Islamorada. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida Keys. It is located at mile marker 73.5, south of Lower Matecumbe Key. Anne’s Beach was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, and reopened in 2019.
You are welcome to enjoy the beautiful natural sand beaches. Anne’s Beach is great for families with young children because there are not many waves and the pool is shallow.
Seven Mile Bridge
One of the most well-known images on the Overseas Highway connecting the Florida Keys and the mainland is the Seven Mile Bridge. The original bridge was named for its length and runs alongside the modern bridge, which is 6.79 miles in length. While the original bridge is accessible to cyclists and pedestrians, the modern bridge is only for vehicles.
You need to get out of your car and stop at Seven Mile Bridge to really appreciate it and enjoy a great view. Two places offer the best views of Seven Mile Bridge. The Sunset Grille & Raw Bar is located at the north end. The Sunset Grille offers an outdoor space with stunning views of the ocean, Seven Mile Bridge and beyond.
Another great view of Seven Mile Bridge can be found at the south end, in a pull-in called Little Duck Key. Visitors can park their cars here and walk the original Seven Mile Bridge. The Seven Mile Bridge arch can be seen from the Veterans Memorial Park, which is just a short distance away.
Sea Turtle Hospital, Marathon
Everybody visiting the Florida Keys should visit Marathon’s Sea Turtle Hospital. Richie Moretti established the hospital in 1986. It is the only one of its kind worldwide. The hospital cares for the injured and sick sea turtles found in the Keys.
Visitors must take a guided tour of the hospital as it is a hospital in operation. The hospital’s amazing work for the Florida Keys sea turtle population is shared with guests on guided tours that run every 30 mins starting at 9 AM each day.
14 | Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park, a paradise island paradise is located at mile 37 on the road between Miami and Florida Keys. It is located right after you have crossed the Seven Mile Bridge. Three main beaches are available in the park: Calusa, Sandspur and Loggerhead Beach. Calusa Beach is our favorite, located between the Bahia Honda Railroad Bridge (now the Overseas Highway).
With white sand beaches and palm trees along the shores, the beaches of the Florida Keys are among the most picturesque in the country. The most popular activities within the park include snorkelling, kayaking and swimming.
15 | No Name Pub, Big Pine Key
The No Name Pub, a great place to eat on Big Pine Key south of Marathon, is a great place for food. The No Name Pub is known for its delicious food and drink. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy some food before you head out to Key West.
No Name Pub’s small kitchen has been making some of the finest food in the Florida Keys over the years. You can’t go wrong if you order anything from the menu. The pizza is delicious and we recommend it.
The No Name Pub’s interior is very cool, with its roof covered in dollar bills. If you’re looking to unwind in the sun, there is an outdoor area with a beer garden.
After a long drive on the Overseas Highway it is time to relax in Key West. Key West is our favorite place in Florida Keys. There are many great things to do in Key West that will ensure everyone has fun. Key West is a great place to enjoy the tropical island lifestyle, from the sights and nightlife of Duval Street.
These are the best places to stop along Miami to Key West Drive. The Overseas Highway is always a great experience and we love it!