The epic drive from Miami to Key West in the Florida Keys is one of the most beautiful road trips in the USA. The route crosses multiple islands that are connected via the Overseas Highway and, on our most recent road trip from Seattle to the Florida Keys, the Miami to Key West drive was one of the most magnificent and memorable journeys we made.
Having driven this route many times, we’ve put together a list of everything there is to see and do on the Miami to Key West drive – we’ve included the best stops between Miami and Key West, where to enjoy great food and all our favorite things to see along the way!
When To Visit the Florida Keys
Best time to visit the Florida Keys: the best time to visit the Florida Keys is in the spring between March and May. The weather is a little cooler and there are fewer crowds than in the winter months. This also means you can enjoy lower hotel rates during this period.
Busiest months in the Florida Keys: generally speaking, the winter months between November and February are peak season in the Keys as blue skies and warm weather draw visitors from colder parts of the USA. The weeks over Christmas and New Year are the busiest. It’s a fantastic time to visit the Florida Keys but you’ll need to book accommodation well in advance and prepare for lots of traffic.
Low season in the Florida Keys: Low season in the Florida Keys is during the summer months when temperatures soar and the weather is generally wet and humid. The hurricane season runs June to November. While the weather is a risk, it is in these months that the crowds are lower and accommodation is cheapest.
Miami to Key West drive tip: as there is only one road in and out of the Florida Keys it gets congested and delays are insanely long at busy times. We last visited Key West for New Year’s Eve and the drive from Miami to Key West took a painful 8 hours – we’ve driven it previously in 3.5 to 4 hours!
Renting a Car
We highly recommend renting a car to drive from Miami to Key West. The freedom and flexibility provided by a rental car will allow you to make the most of the trip and to see as much of the beautiful Florida Keys as possible. We’ve rented cars in Miami, Orlando, New York and even Seattle and San Francisco to drive to Key West! A rental always proves invaluable during our times in Florida, allowing us to explore everything this amazing state has to offer.
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – check prices here!
Miami to Key West Drive: The Route
The drive from Miami to Key West is very straightforward and simply follows the US Route 1 from Miami, passes through each of the main islands of the Florida Keys before ending at Key West. The stretch of the US 1 that connects the Florida Keys to the mainland is known as the Overseas Highway – most visitors will instantly recognize sections of the route from Hollywood blockbuster movies such as True Lies and Licence to Kill.
The route can be driven in around 4 hours without stops but as there are so many things to see along the way we recommend allowing at least one full day.
Miami to Key West Drive tip: as mentioned, there is only one Highway in and out of the Florida Keys (Highway 1), and traffic can get extremely heavy at peak times like Thanksgiving and the Holidays. We recommend trying to plan your drive to avoid the buesiest times as it will allow more time for stops and will be a more pleasant experience!
How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.
Where to Stay in Key West
We recommend staying in the heart of the action in downtown Key West so you are within walking distance of all the attractions and can park up and enjoy Key West!
Demand for Key West accommodation can get extremely high, especially during peak times like the winter holiday break, so we recommend booking your stay well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Miami to Key West drive tip: day parking is both limited and expensive in downtown Key West so, despite the higher hotel prices, you’ll save on parking each day. We paid $40 for single entry parking on a recent visit where all the hourly lots were full.
Orchid Key Inn – a luxury hotel located right on Duval Street making it perfectly located for exploring Key West. Guests are just steps from everything Key West has to offer and we loved relaxing by the pool in between exploring – check prices now!
Almond Tree Inn -located between Duval and Simonton Streets, the Almond Tree Inn is another fantastic option in downtown Key West – check prices now!
Barbary Beach House Key West – this is a great option for those looking for a resort-style stay in Key West. Located at Smathers Beach just steps from the Old Town, this is a Key West gem – check prices now!
Best Places to Stop on Miami to Key West Drive
1 | Miami
The first part of the road trip from Miami to Key Largo is relatively uneventful and takes around 90 minutes in regular traffic.
If you are staying in Miami the night before the road trip we recommend leaving early in the morning to allow the most amount of time to explore on the drive down to Key West.
Key Largo is the first of the Florida Keys islands you will reach en route from Miami. It is home to some of the best sea diving in the USA and is a very popular spot for watersports – Key Largo draws visitors for its awesome kayaking, fishing, swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. The majority of these activities are offered in the incredible John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park. The often-overlooked Biscayne National Park at the north of the island is also a great option for hikes and swimming.
2 | Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
With two locations on Key Largo Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen has become a legendary Florida seafood restaurant. Established in 1967, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is an awesome place to stop for a snack along the drive from Miami to Key West.
We stopped at the original Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen for food on the way to Key West and had a wonderful experience. The diner itself is really cool, with the interior decorated with hundreds of licence plates from all over the world – it’s a lot of fun spotting the plates from different places! The food is delicious and we highly recommend the Key Lime pie (you’ll probably sample a few Key Lime Pie’s in the Keys and this is a good one!)
3 | John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located on Key Largo and is the first undersea state park in the US. The park covers over 70 nautical square miles of stunning reefs, unique underwater dives and mangrove swamps. There are also some nice beaches and short trails for walking.
Activities in the park include kayaking around the mangroves and scuba/snorkel boat trips to the coral reefs. The snorkelling and scuba diving in John Pennekamp Coral Reef are some of the best in the US and the reef is home to the famous Christ of the Abyss.
Group and Private Tours offer diving and snorkeling tours into the waters of the state park daily and are the best way to experience the park. We’ve included some of the most popular ones below:
- Sundiver Snorkel Tours: this is one of the most popular snorkel tours in Key Largo and is aimed at snorkelling beginners. All equipment is included – check prices now!
- Pirates Cove Watersports Snorkel Tour: another great half-day snorkel option for beginners that visits most of the popular reefs in John Pennekamp State Park – check prices now!
- Snorkel the Keys (Private Snorkel tour): this private snorkel tour accommodates groups up to 6 and departs from Key Largo. If you are a small group or family it’s a perfect way to have an unforgettable experience in the Floriday Keys – check prices now!
4 | Biscayne National Park
If you have the time at Key Largo it is definitely worth taking a few hours to explore Biscayne National Park. Running from Miami to the northern tip of Key Largo, 95% of Biscayne National Park is actually water. The park attracts water lovers with the incredible scuba diving and snorkeling on offer, including access to many shipwrecks and coral reefs. There are lots of things for non-swimmers to do too, from walks and hikes to cruises through the park. There are a number of guided tours within the park, the most popular being the half-day cruise to Boca Chita Key, the park’s most visited island.
Despite being so close to Florida’s Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park receives far fewer visitors each year and, unlike most national parks, there is no entrance fee.
Islamorada is a collection of 6 islands located mid-way between Miami and Key West and is a very popular destination in itself for visitors seeking sun and fun. There is lots to see as you pass through and we sometimes stop overnight here on the drive from Miami to Key West.
5 | Grab lunch in Morada Bay Florida Keys
If you are making a stop for food on the drive from Miami to Key West, make sure that Morada Bay is on of your list. Morada Bay is a beachfront restaurant on Islamorada that has some of the best food in the Florida Key and perfectly embodies the Keys island vibes.
A stop for lunch at the outdoor dining area, called the Beach Cafe and Bar, is nothing short of idyllic. The Beach Cafe serves Meditterean inspired meals with everything from Mahi Tacos to Key Lime Pie.
6 | Rain Barrel Village
It’s impossible to drive past the Rain Barrel Village without noticing its most iconic resident, a huge lobster statue known as Betsy. Rain Barrel Village is a quirky studio that sells handmade crafts, artwork and Florida Keys inspired souvenirs and is worth a stop on the Miami to Key West drive – you are sure to find some unique gifts from your trip to the Keys.
The main attraciton for visitors is, of course, Betsy the lobster. Standing at over 30 feet tall and 40 feet long, Betsy is a great photo op along the Overseas Highway!
7 | Feed the Tarpons at Robbie’s of Islamorada
Robbie’s is one of our favorite and most fun stops along the Miami to Key West Drive. Located just south of Islamorada at the end of the Overseas Highway bridge, Robbies is a one-stop shop for all things fun. With an open-air market, a restaurant, jet-ski tours, kayak/paddleboard rental and various cruises, visitors can easily spend an entire day here.
One of the most popular activities is feeding the tarpons, a medium-sized Atlantic fish. The fish, known as “Silver Kings”, flock to the dock at Robbie’s where visitors feed them. Buckets of fish are available for sale ($4 per bucket)
Feeding the tarpon is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to lie down on the dock and dangle your fish above the water to lure one of them up to grab it – they’re very determined and you might get a bit of a bite from their small teeth. If you hold your nerve, a tarpon will leap out of the water to grab your fish.
Beware of the local pelicans swooping in to steal your fish: there are lots of signs telling visitors not to feed the pelicans who are eager for an easy fish meal!
Miami to Key West Drive tip: Make sure to take everything out of your pockets when feeding the tarpon as it’s easy to drop your phone into the water! We’ve witnessed a few iPhones disappear into the water when feeding the tarpon!
8 | History of Diving Museum
The History of Diving Museum is a must for anyone with an interest in the ocean and diving. The museum has the largest collection of historic diving equipment in the world. The collection is really well arranged and is enjoyable to wander around. Even though it’s located right on the main highway, this is a real hidden gem on the Miami to Key West drive.
Visitors will learn everything about the history of diving, from ancient techniques dating back thousands of years to modern scuba diving equipment. The quantity of exhibits and documents on offer at the museum is staggering and worth checking out.
9 | Florida Keys Brewing Company
The Florida Keys Brewing is the only production brewery in the Florida Keys that is open to the public. The tasting room is a really colorful and fun space for a stop and they have a wide range of microbrews on offer.
The best part of the Florida Keys Brewing Company is their outdoor beer garden which also has a food truck if you’re feeling like a snack. This shaded outdoor area is perfect for a quick stop and a great place for the non-drivers can enjoy some beer and tacos!
10 | Indian Key Historic State Park
This tiny state park is located a half-mile off the coast of Islamorada just south of the Overseas Highway and is one of the most beautiful places in the Florida Keys. Part of what makes Indian Key State Park so special is that it is only accessible via boat or kayak.
A short paddle across the shallow seagrass flats of crystal clear water leads visitors to the 11 acre island. To protect the shoreline there is a single kayak landing area on the island. From here visitors can hike around the island and enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty of Indian Key State Park.
The Indian Key Historic State Park is open from 8am to sunset every day. Most visitors rent kayaks from Robbie’s on Islamorada. There are no facilities on the island so you’ll need to take all your supplies with you. The entrance is $2.50 and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
Miami to Key West Drive tip: From May 2021 Indian Key Historic State Park is only accessible via kayak due to storm damage at the main boat ramp.
11 | Anne’s Beach, Islamorada
Before leaving Islamorada make sure to check out Anne’s Beach, one of the nicest beaches in the Florida Keys and it is a lovely stop to relax and take in the views en route to Key West. Located at mile marker 73.5 on the south end of Lower Matecumbe Key. Anne’s Beach reopened in 2019 after been severely damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
The beautiful natural sand beach is free to visit. Annes Beach is perfect for families with young kids as there are almost no waves and the swimming area is shallow.
Miami to Florida Keys Drive tip: Parking at Annes Beach can be tricky due to limited spaces so try to aim for quiet periods, expecially on weekends.
12 | Seven Mile Bridge
The Seven Mile Bridge is one of the best-known images from the Overseas Highway that connects the Florida Keys to the mainland. The original bridge, named after its length, runs alongside the modern bridge which is actually slightly shorter than seven miles at 6.79 miles long. The original bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists while the modern bridge is for vehicle traffic.
To really appreciate Seven Mile Bridge and get a good view of it you’ll need to stop and get out of the car. There are two places we recommend for getting the best view of Seven Mile Bridge. The first is from the Sunset Grille & Raw Bar located on the north end of the bridge. The Sunset Grille has an outdoor area with perfect views of the ocean and the Seven Mile Bridge.
The other best view of Seven Mile Bridge is from the south end of the bridge at a pull-in area called Little Duck Key. Here there is parking for around 20 cars and visitors have the chance to walk along the original Seven Mile Bridge. If you cross the road to the small Veterans Memorial Park there are great views of the arch of the Seven Mile Bridge.
13 | Sea Turtle Hospital, Marathon
Everyone visiting the Florida Keys should take the time to visit the Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon, The hospital was one of the first of its kind in the world when it was established by Richie Moretti in 1986 and cares for injured and sick sea turtles that are found in the Keys.
As it’s a working hospital visitors need to take a guided tour to visit the hospital. Tours run every 30 minutes from 9 am each day where guests learn of the amazing work that the hospital does for the sea turtle population in the Florida Keys.
14 | Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park is a beautiful island paradise located at mile marker 37 on the drive between Miami and the Florida Keys. It’s located just after leaving the Seven Mile Bridge driving south. There are three main beaches in the park, Sandspur, Calusa and Loggerhead Beach. Our favourite is Calusa Beach between the old Bahia Honda Railroad Bridge and the Overseas Highway.
The beaches are some of the most beautiful in the Florida Keys with white sands and palm trees lining the shores. Swimming, snorkeling and kayaking are among the most popular activities in the park.
The entrance is $8 per vehicle and the park is open from 8am to sundown every day.
Miami to Key West Drive tip: Sandspur Beach is currently closed for day use and camping due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017
15 | No Name Pub, Big Pine Key
The No Name Pub is a great spot for food and is a little off the beaten track on Big Pine Key just south of Marathon. Renowned for its great food and drinks, the No Name Pub is a perfect chilled spot to grab some good food and relax before arriving in Key West.
The small kitchen at the No Name Pub has been producing some of the best food in the Florida Keys for years so you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. We recommend trying the pizza here as it’s really good.
The No Name Pub has a really cool interior, with its roof decorated with dollar bills. There is also an outdoor area and a beer garden if you want to relax in the sun.
16 | Key West
After the epic drive along the Overseas Highway, it’s finally time to kick back and relax in Key West. Key West is our favorite place in the Florida Keys and there are lots of great things to do in Key West to ensure everyone has fun! From taking in the sights to enjoying the nightlife on Duval Street, Key West offers a real taste of that tropical island life!
So there you have it, all of our best places to stop on the Miami to Key West Drive. We always have a lot of fun driving the Overseas Highway and love this bit of our Florida Keys experience!