Miami To Key West Road Trip: Ultimate Florida Keys Experience

Miami to Key West Drive
Driving from Miami to Key West
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!

Table Of Contents

Key West Road Trip Guide 2021

Driving Through The Florida Keys

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

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.

Rental Cars

Rent A Car In Florida

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

Islamorada Key: Things To Do

Tarpon Feeding Islamorada
Feeding Tarpon at Robbie’s Restaurant

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

The Lighthouse at Faro Blanco
Marathon Key

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.

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 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.

Fishing Charter

Catch A Big One!

Charter a fishing boat and head out into open water to catch big game fish like Mahi, Marlin, and Barracuda!

Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys
Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys
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.

Where To Stay In Marathon Key


BEST HOTELS IN MARATHON KEY

COOL AIRBNB’S IN MARATHON KEY

Luxury

Island Villa

Midrange

Deluxe Cabin

Budget

Cottage 07


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.

Key West: Things To Do

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

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.

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 puuuurfect 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 cocktail scheduled at each stop, a great way to make new friends!

Wander the Key West Pier
Wander the Key West Pier

Where To Stay In Key West


BEST HOTELS IN KEY WEST

COOL AIRBNB’S 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

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.
Travel Planning Resources For Florida
Packing Guide
Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.
Book Your Flight
Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.
Rent A Car
Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.
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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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:


Have any questions about driving from Miami to Key West? Are you planning a trip? Drop me a message in the comments below!

THANKS FOR READING

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, beautiful photos, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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