Key West, Florida
Driving from Miami to Key West through the beautiful Florida Keys is a classic American road trip. Here’s what you can expect on the journey, plus my favorite things to do!
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!
These were our favorite things to do on the drive from Miami to Key West in the Florida Keys!
Key West Road Trip Guide 2021
Driving Through The Florida Keys
Getting to Key West from Miami means driving down to the first “key” (island) of Key Largo, then starting a scenic 113 mile trip across the amazing Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys.
These islands are connected by a series of small bridges, making for quite a memorable road trip.
In my opinion, the only way to experience 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!
Stopping for photos and quirky souvenirs at the different islands, like a stuffed shark who would become our mascot for the rest of our Key West road trip!
Another option is to rent a car with Discover Cars. They search all the big car rental companies and find the best price.
Islamorada Key: Things To Do
Feeding Wild Tarpon
Dangling my arm over the water, a massive sea creature suddenly leaped out and wrapped 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 live 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. Be careful, 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: Things To Do
While you could drive directly from Miami to Key West in about 4 hours, there’s a lot of cool stuff to see around the rest of the Florida Keys too.
I recommend driving down over the course of 2 days, maybe spending a night in Marathon before continuing on to Key West.
That’s exactly what we did, booking a room at the beautiful Faro Blanco Resort to break up the drive.
Deep Sea Fishing Adventure
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 is the base for many companies.
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
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.
Key West: Things To Do
There are many amazing things to do in Key West, so I’ve put together a dedicated Key West Travel Guide here. You’ll find a few of my favorite activities below:
Sailing Day Trip
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.
Go Snorkeling 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.
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 puuuurfect activity for crazy cat lovers (like me)!
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!
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!
Where To Stay In Key West
Where To Eat 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!
Florida Keys Travel Tips & Advice
- 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.
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READ MORE FLORIDA TRAVEL TIPS
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:
- Fantasy Fest In Key West: Travel Guide
- Best Things To Do In Key West
- Learning To Sail In The Florida Keys
- Unique Travel Jobs: Working As Yacht Crew
- What Do I Pack In My Backpack?
Have any questions about driving from Miami to Key West? Are you planning a trip? Drop me a message in the comments below!