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Miami To Key West Road Trip: Driving Across The Florida Keys

Miami to Key West Itinerary
Driving from Miami to Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

Driving from Miami to Key West through the beautiful Florida Keys is a classic American road trip. Here is my example itinerary and driving guide for getting to Key West!

Key West is the Southernmost city in the United States (only 90 miles from Cuba!) and just a 4-hour drive from Miami on the scenic coastal Overseas Highway.

There are tons of interesting (and kitschy) things to do during the 166-mile trip to the Conch Republic, including crossing 42 different bridges!

No visit to South Florida is complete without road-tripping from Miami to Key West for a few days. Especially if you like pirates, key lime pie, water-sports, and great live music!

Here are our favorite things to do while driving from Miami to Key West in the Florida Keys!

My Key West itinerary is completely free! I’ve worked hard putting it together for you. If you find it useful, please use my affiliate links when you book hotels, rental cars or activities. I’ll get paid a small commission, at no extra cost to you! Thanks.

Matthew Karsten

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten

I’ve been traveling the world for 10+ years as a professional photographer & writer. I hope you enjoy my Key West tips! If you find them useful, using my affiliate links to book something will give me a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Miami To Key West Map

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you’ll find a map of highlights for driving from Miami to Key West. Click on the top left of the map to find separate layers marking the route and points of interest. You can hide and show different layers, or click icons on the map to see the names of places I mention in this travel guide. “Star” the map to save it to your own Google Maps, or open the map in a new window for a larger version. Enjoy!

Key West Road Trip Guide 2024

Getting To Key West From Miami

Group of people driving in a Jeep to Key West
Driving to Key West from Miami

The 135 mile long Miami to Key West drive will take you down through Florida to the first “key” (island) of Key Largo — then across the amazing Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys.

The Florida Keys are split up into the Upper, Middle, and Lower Keys.

They are connected by a series of bridges, making for quite a memorable road trip. The drive itself takes about 3-4 hours, however with all the cool stops along the way, you’ll probably want to stretch it out into a 2-3 day drive.

I think the best way to experience driving through the scenic Florida Keys is behind the wheel of a convertible like the Jeep Wrangler we rented from Tons Of Fun Tours.

Drop the top, and enjoy a beautiful coastal drive down to Key West!

Another option is to rent a car with Discover Cars. They search all the big car rental companies and find the best price.

Rental Cars

Rent A Car In Florida

Search both local and international car rental companies to help you find a good deal.

Where To Stop Driving From Miami To Key West

The Everglades in Florida
Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

While not part of the Florida Keys, you will pass right by Everglades National Park if you’re driving from Miami to Key West. I highly recommend stopping through if you have the time! The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is located only a few miles away from US Highway 1.

The Everglades is made up of coastal mangroves, marshes and pine flatwoods. It’s also home to hundreds of animal species like the endangered leatherback turtle, Florida panther, alligators, and West Indian manatee.

One of my favorite things to do in the Everglades is take an air-boat tour, whipping over the swampland in a fan-powered boat! You’ll often get to see alligators on these trips too.

Airboat Tour

Everglades Airboat Tour

Take an exciting air-boat trip through the Florida Everglades, and get to hold a baby alligator.

Key Largo Highlights

Christ Abyss Statue
Snorkeling Off Key Largo
John Pennekamp State Park Beach
John Pennekamp State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Known as the first underwater state park in the United States, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is made up of both land and sea. Located at Mile Marker 102 on the Overseas Highway, this park is great for spending some time on the beach. Or taking a snorkeling tour for an amazing glimpse of the underwater world.

Renting a canoe or kayak is also possible, along with designated fishing areas. If you aren’t a good swimmer, you can also book a glass-bottom boat tour. The visitor’s center features some large salt water aquariums full of sea creatures (great for kids).

Islamorada Key Highlights

Tarpon Feeding Islamorada
Feeding Tarpon at Robbie’s Restaurant

Feed Wild Tarpon At Robbie’s

One of the wildest experiences I’ve ever had was dangling my arm over the side of a dock, when a massive fish leaped out wrapping its mouth around my hand to the horror of screaming onlookers.

Growing up to 8-feet long and weighing over 200 pounds, the Tarpon is a huge game fish that lives in the tropical waters off the Florida Keys.

You can buy a bucket of bait and hand-feed these giant fish from the docks of Robbie’s Restaurant on Islamorada Key. Be careful though, they have small teeth that will leave marks!

It’s a must-do experience for any road trip from Miami down to Key West.

Marathon Key Highlights

The Lighthouse at Faro Blanco
Marathon Key

While you could drive directly from Miami to Key West in less than 4 hours, there’s a lot of cool stuff to see in the Upper and Middle Keys too.

So I recommend driving down over the course of 2-3 days, maybe spending a night on Marathon Key before continuing to Key West.

That’s exactly what we did, booking a room at the beautiful Faro Blanco Resort to break up the drive.

While in Marathon, make sure to grab some lunch at Tarpon Creek Bar & Grill and dinner at the Lighthouse Grill. Both serve up all kinds of tasty fresh fish caught locally.

Mahi-Mahi fishing Florida Keys
Catching a Giant Mahi-Mahi!

Deep Sea Fishing

The Florida Keys are famous for their excellent deep sea fishing experiences. Many professional fishing shows are filmed down here. September through November is the best time for fishing the Keys, but you can really go any time of year.

Some popular species to fish down here include Mahi-Mahi, Sailfish, Cobia, Blackfin Tuna, Wahoo, and Marlin. You can book a deep-sea fishing trip from any of the Florida Keys, but Marathon Key is the base for many companies, like Sea Dog Charters.

Colorful Sunset over Seven Mile Bridge
Walking a Section of the Bridge

Walk Along Seven Mile Bridge

Driving over the vibrant blue ocean for miles on a bridge that never seems to end was one of my favorite parts of road tripping the Florida Keys.

The Seven Mile Bridge was originally constructed in 1912 for railroad traffic.

These days you drive across it on your way to Key West, or park just north of the bridge at Mile Marker 47 in Marathon Key and go walking or biking over to Pigeon Key along the older span.

Bahia Honda State Park

Abandoned Railroad Bridge in the Florida Keys
Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park located on Bahia Honda Key covers over 500 acres as well as an offshore island. It boasts some of the best snorkeling and beach walking in Florida.

Sunbathe or walk along Calusa Beach or the beautiful mile long Sandspur Beach. Marvel at the old Bahia Honda Railroad Bridge. This abandoned bridge was once part of the Overseas Railway, which was mostly destroyed during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

Best Activities To Do In Key West

Sailing off the Coast of Key West
Sailing and Snorkeling off Key West

Congratulations! You made it down to Key West from Miami. It’s time to spend a few days (or weeks?) hanging out in Key West itself. The famed Conch Republic! So what should you do while you’re here? I’ve got you covered.

Go Sailing For The Day

Gather a few friends and charter a boat for some private sailing lessons like we did. Explore the islands powered only by the wind. Sailing companies in Key West offer day trips, sunset sails, snorkeling trips, and even overnight excursions.

Snorkeling Or Scuba Diving In Key West

Dive into the ocean and swim with sea turtles, nurse sharks, parrot fish, and spiny lobsters on the shallow reefs around Key West. Join a guided boat tour for the best snorkeling offshore, or simply snorkel from Fort Zachary Taylor State Park beach.

Florida Keys Snorkeling

Snorkeling & Sailing Adventure

Go snorkeling from a sailboat at some of Key West’s best spots, and maybe see some wild dolphins!

Visit Hemingway’s House Cats

Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West during the 1920’s, and you can visit his old house, and make friends with the 50 or so six-toed cats that live there. The “purfect” activity for crazy cat lovers (like me)!

Key West Sunset Locations
Amazing Key West Sunset

Watch Key West’s Epic Sunsets

The sunsets in Key West are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Grab a beer and watch in awe from Mallory Square as the sun drops below the Gulf of Mexico, painting the sky in brilliant shades of pink, purple, yellow, and orange. Or, head out on a sunset sailing cruise to enjoy a few cocktails from the water!

Sunset Sail Key West

Sunset Sailing Cruise

Watch the sunset over Key West from the deck of an elegant sailing yacht. Drinks included!

Key West Southernmost Point
Southernmost Point in the Continental US

The Southernmost Point Buoy

You can’t visit Key West and not stop by the southernmost point in the continental United States, which is marked by a red & white concrete pillar. The line for photos is long unless you get there early in the morning!

Bar Hopping Duval Street

Duval Street may only be a mile long, but it’s packed with small bars & old Victorian mansions. Pop in and listen to one of the many live bands playing Jazz, Cuban, or Salsa music. Key West’s nightlife is not to be missed!

Don’t miss grabbing a drink in some of Key West’s most famous bars, like The Green Parrot, Sloppy Joes (a favorite hangout for Ernest Hemingway himself), or the (clothing optional) Garden of Eden!

Bar in Key West

Key West Pub Crawl

Party on famous Duval Street in Key West. Visit 5 pubs with a cocktails at each stop, and make new friends!

Read My Full Key West Travel Guide Here

Wander the Key West Pier
Wander the Key West Pier

Where To Stay In Key West



Where To Eat In Key West

Key West Food
Fresh Fish in Key West

One of the best meals I ate in Key West was at Bagatelle Restaurant, located in a beautiful old building on Duval. Locally caught Hogfish with jasmine rice and pineapple salsa. Yum!

The key lime pie was born in Key West during the early 20th century. It’s made using the small key limes native to the area, more flavorful than regular limes. The Key Lime Pie Company makes a good one!

Key West Food

Key West Food tour

Explore the intoxicating flavors of Key West’s food. Sample the island’s best while guided by a local foodie.

Key West Welcome Sign
Cuban Coffee Queen

Helpful Key West Travel Tips

  • The drive from Miami to Key West takes about 4 hours without stopping, however, with all the fun stops at different islands, expect a full day.
  • To experience the best of the Florida Keys, I’d recommend breaking up your drive down into 2-3 days, spending the night on some other islands too.
  • Winter is a great time to visit Key West, but it’s also high-season and the busiest. The shoulder season of March – May is less packed, hotel rates become reasonable, and the weather is similar.

FAQ: Top Miami To Key West Questions

Travel Planning Resources For Florida
Packing Guide
Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.
Book Your Flight
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Rent A Car
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Cheap Accommodation
Learn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.
Protect Your Trip
Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance.

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I hope you enjoyed my guide to driving from Miami to Key West! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

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