Travelling from Miami to the Florida Keys will be the greatest experience you will get from one of the road trips that the United States has to offer.
I have visited many places in the state of Florida such as Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville but the thought of visiting West Keys never crossed my mind.
While browsing the mesmerizing pictures of Florida, the Key West and surroundings came onto my radar. I was surprised to see its beauty and felt dumb that I hadn’t visited this place yet. The areas such as Islamorada, Key West and Blue Hole were unspeakable.
I already had plans to explore Miami again, and then I decided it’s perfect to take a road trip down to the Keys to see how adventurous will it be?
Let me tell you how long it takes
Key West is around 110 miles from Miami International airport, and considering the traffic it takes us about four hours to get there. But if you want to stop for sightseeing, which I totally suggest you do, it will be worth travelling. An example? I don’t know if it’s your thing, but I really like to take photos of mailboxes: people here have the cutest marine-inspired mailboxes ever!
And here is why I want you to spend your precious 48 hours on the road.
Homestead: The first point of interest
Well, the first thing you’ll find intriguing while driving from Miami to Key West is Homestead. It contains the following exciting highlights.
The popular area, Coral Castle, which is not really a castle, and definitely not made up of coral, has been compared with Stonehenge. It is an amusing place for the kids and comes with a pretty interesting story, “Sweet Sixteen” which was written by Billy Idol.
A quick dip at the Miami Beach
Before travelling from Miami to Key West, I spent a few days in Miami with my best friends. I would say that was the best moment of life. I had amazing drinks, food and sunbath for hours as the weather was perfect at 100▫C in Miami.
Miami Beach offers you a dozen incredible things and places to explore and here are the few:
Morgan’s Restaurant, don’t forget to bring your camera
A cute little restaurant located in the Wynnewood area of Miami gives you the best collection of shots for your Instagram. And you know what you don’t have to make reservations in this restaurant; isn’t that cool!
Delano South Beach: A spot for relaxation
Whenever you visit Miami, just take a trip to Delano South beach which has awesome cute little outdoor pools to relax with your friends and companions. Just grab some drinks, a cabana and soak up the sun and I assure you, it will be the best feeling forever.
Best Colombian dishes ever
Guess what, if you are a fan of Colombian dishes then you came to the right place by visiting Bolivar Restaurant. If you are with a group, then you got yourself lucky, just order a dozen multiple dishes and taste each of them, as they all are extremely delicious.
Want to explore history and culture and eat at the same time?
Miami Culinary Tours offers you the best taste of heritage food. With its tradition filled tour and delicious food, you can discover the city’s culture and history.
Wynnewood is all about art
Wynnewood is one of my favourite places to visit in Miami due to its spectacular artworks.
Can’t-Miss Stops from Miami to Key West
Key Largo is an absolute gem
The closest key to mainland Florida is the Key Largo with some stunning natural landscape. You would not believe that it is a paradise bursting with local character and relaxing Caribbean vides. It’s the same Key Largo that is an icon in literature written by Ernest Hemmingway and in a popular song by the Beach Boys.
Perfect Days in Islamorada
The most loving about Islamorada is its 360 degree vibe change from Key Largo. They are so close together but offers completely different experience. It feels like connecting with the local people of the Florida Keys.
The sightseeing for the bright, fresh water is a spectacular display that you can’t miss. The water is accessible from small pull-offs where white sand gently rolls into the water.
The best way to explore both islands in a short amount of time is visiting these two places; Key Largo and Islamorada.
Moreover, another place to visit in Islamorada is the diving museum which allows you to discover the world’s largest collections of international artefacts and diving helmets. The most loving thing about this museum is the history of underwater photography and the evolution of cameras.
The entrance charges in the museum are $12 for adult, 6$ for children and free for children under five. They are open for full week from 10am to 5pm.
Amazing things you can do while driving from Miami to Key West!
Rent a car from Miami
To start your epic adventure, rent a jeep wrangler or convertible, from Tons of Fun Tours in Miami, as they got the best cars in the city, drop the top (be careful, you may get sunburned) and enjoy the beautiful trip to Key West. Another bonus of a wrangler is that you can take great pictures and awesome videos if you are travelling across Overseas Highway 42 bridges.
Feeding Wild Tarpon with Care
While feeding some fishes in the water, I got myself tangled by a strange water creature. It wrapped its mouth around my hand, and I was screaming to my death, but I was saved eventually. Then I got to know that it is Tarpon and is a huge game fish that lives in the tropical waters off the Florida Keys.
Hey you know what, you can get yourself a bucket of bait and feed these giant fishes with your hands but be careful, they have small teeth that will leave marks!
Marathon Key is the world of incredible resorts
While driving to the Key West from Miami, you got yourself 4 hours to do cool stuff and to see around the Florida Keys.
I suggest you spend two days driving down to Key West, spend a night in Marathon, and I assure you, it will be the best trip ever.
There are many resorts here, but the best place to stay in Marathon Key is the beautiful Faro Blanco Resort. We booked a room there, and it doesn’t cost much as it was $2.95/ft. in summer and then we grabbed our dinner at the Lighthouse Grill which serves the best kind of tasty fishes caught locally.
The Century-Old Bridge That’s More Than Just A Transportation Route
One of the best and longest crossing linking Marathon with the Lower Keys is the Seven Mile Bridge. Hey, do you know that it was built in 1912 for railroad traffic? While crossing it, you got yourself a magnificent view of waters and the remains of a railroad line that was built in the last century to connect the Keys to Mainland. Did you know that it is also called “parallel bridge”?
These days you just cross it, or you could just park and explore Mile Marker 47 at the north and go for an amazing walk to the Pigeon Key along the older span. You will be surprised to hear that it was also a part of the railroad, though it is hard to find joining with the stone-made parallel bridge on the other side of the highway.
Welcome to the Key West
My second stop was at Key West, after crossing seven miles bridge I drove directly to it. You know what, there are many incredible things that you can do in Key West. In fact, I learned them and had such a great time. Who would have thought that it will be the only Caribbean island that you can get to by car?
Things to do in Key West
When you decide to take a trip from Miami to Key West, guess what; the most incredible things to do are not only in Miami but in Key West too.
Some of the highlights of my trip to Key West included:
Learn To Sail
They offer you day trips, sunset sails and overnight excursions isn’t that amazing. Gather a few of your friends and go for boat sailing lessons with Sunset Sail Key West and explore the island as best as you can.
Funnily enough, you can go for a swim with nurse sharks, parrot fish, sea turtles and spiny lobsters on the shallow reefs around Key West. I may tell you; it will feel like the waters are teeming with life.
The water is so warm and shallow and accommodating for beginners and families with young children. Just snorkel from the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, and you get yourself a boat tour to go with, and here you go!
Watch Key West Sunsets
Watching sunsets in the Key West is one the most astonishing thing I have done in my life and it’s worth watching. Grab a beer and watch the sky as the sun drops below the Gulf of Mexico, painting the sky into different shades of pink, orange, purple and yellow.
Reach the Southernmost Point Buoy
If you want to get a great, massive collection of photos, you should stop by the southernmost point in the continental United States marked by a white & red concrete pillar. And one of the important tips is that you should get there early in the morning because the line for photos is too long, that made me sick too!
Where to Stay?
This small island has hundreds of options to stay, but I will recommend the lovely Hilton Garden Inn Key West in the northeastern part of town. Guess what, it is not too expensive, and the services like a hot tub, fitness centre, cool bar and room service are also fascinating. The best available rate with one queen bed is $139 per night. So whenever you got a chance to visit here, stay at Hilton Garden.
For Foodies, here is what Key West offers
If you want to eat the best meal in Key West, you should discover Bagatelle Restaurant. Located in an old building on Duval, I got myself a hogfish with jasmine rice and pineapple salsa. Yum!
They offer the best lime pie known as key lime pie, and you know what it was born during the early 20th century. They make the best lime pie that is more favourable than regular limes. The Key Lime Pie Company makes a good one.
The Blue Hole in Big Pine Key Is Simply Blue Heaven!
After a quick journey around the Key West, I decided to move my trip forward to my next destination: Islamorada.
Before reaching there, I made a small stop at an area called blue hole located in the Big Pine Key.
If I tell you, that the blue hole is the only freshwater lake in the entire state of Florida, you won’t be surprised. Sometimes, visitors get to see alligators, deer, birds and turtles, all roaming in their natural habitat.
Oh thank God I was lucky to see little baby gators around the lake, but If you happen to see gators, keep a safe distance from them.
Key West Tips & Advice
- The road trip from Miami to Key West takes about 4 hours without stopping, however, if you want to stop your all fun don’t drive straight, take almost a full day.
- Another thing you would want to know is that winter is the best time to visit Key West, but also it is the busiest due to high-season. But don’t be sad, March is also a suitable month to visit, May is less packed, hotel rates are reasonable, and the weather is similar.