Are you looking to plan the ultimate Miami to Key West road trip? Then you’ve come to the right place! I have been exploring Florida for 30 years, and I have tried a lot of things in my home state! So, I’m here to take the guesswork out of planning your Miami to Key West drive.
I’ll be giving you only the best suggestions in the keys. And all of them I have personally tried! So that means you’ll find the things you must see during your Florida Keys roundtrip.
I haven’t put any lackluster stops on this road trip. Every stop is worth it and you’re sure to have a ton of fun exploring the Florida Keys. Which is one of my favorite areas in Florida to explore.
On this itinerary, you’ll have all the information you need. From the mile marker of each location, where to stay on each Key, the best restaurants on each Key, and so much more. There is a reason this is one of the best road trips in the USA!
Literally, all the guesswork has been taken out of the planning for your next Florida Keys road trip. Which means you’ll just be able to hit the road and relax! So, let’s take a look at the ultimate itinerary for your Miami to Key West road trip!
Distance From Miami To Key West
Typically, the distance from Miami to Key West is just over 3 hours, and there are 165 miles between Miami and Key West. But that’s if you’re driving straight through. The directions from Miami to Key West are pretty straightforward and easy to follow as you head south to Key West one one of the greatest East Coast road trips.
When you’re planning on driving to Key West, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore everything you want to see. You can also stop at some of the stops on the way down to Key West, and then the rest on the way back up to Miami. It’s just up to you, and how much time you have to explore!
Miami To Key West Drive Map
When you’re planning your trip, I highly suggest downloading a map of Miami to Key West on your phone. It’s a great way to plan out all your stops ahead of time and get a good idea of where everything is that you want to stop and see.
Generally, the cell service is pretty good in this area, but there can be spots where your service isn’t great. So if you have a map already downloaded, you’ll still be good to go if you’re service is a little spotty while you’re on the road.
Best Stops On The Drive From Miami To Key West
You can absolutely do this road trip in a day, with all of the stops. But it will be a fairly long day if you decide to do that. If you want to hit all of these stops, I suggest planning a day or two for your Florida Keys road trip.
That will give you plenty of time to explore everything you want and not feel rushed. But of course, you can shorten or extend the road trip to fit your needs and interests! I just wanted to walk you through what I would personally suggest as your Miami to Key West Drive highlights!
Start Your Key West Road Trip In Miami
You’ll be starting your Key West road trip in Miami! I do recommend renting a car in Miami and it is often quite affordable to do so from the Airport.
There are tons and tons of things to do in Miami because it’s a pretty popular tourist destination in Florida. Miami is a city that truly has something for everyone and every interest. For foodies, I suggest the Little Havana Walking Food Tour complete with tastings! You’ll get to explore one of the most popular areas of Miami and get to sample the unique Cuban food scene in the city.
Another great option while you’re in Miami is the Biscayne Bay Millionaire Row Sightseeing Cruise. The sightseeing cruise takes you on a tour of Biscayne Bay where you’ll find massive mansions that are definitely a sight to see. It’s a popular thing to do when you’re in Miami, especially if you enjoy checking out unique architecture.
Of course, don’t forget to explore the famous Miami Beach and South Beach during your stay.
Book your Little Havana Walking Food Tour Here: Getyourguide.com
Book your Biscayne Bay Millionaire Row Sightseeing Cruise Here: Getyourguide.com
Just outside of Miami, you’ll find your next stop on the road trip to Key West – the Coral Castle. The Coral Castle is in Miami-Dade County, in the town of Homestead. This is definitely a unique stop while you’re driving from Miami to Key West. Coral Castle was built by Ed Leedsklanin, a Latvian immigrant, from 1923 to 1951. He spent 28 years building the castle, but no one really knows what his motivation was.
Today, you can visit the castle, which has been turned into a museum. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. There is an admissions fee, which helps with castle upkeep and enables it to be open for visitors. If you want to visit this fun road trip stop, make sure you plan to visit when they are open. You definitely don’t want to miss it!
Florida Everglades National Park
From Coral Castle, I suggest heading to the Florida Everglades. It’s definitely a Florida bucket list thing to do. The main entrance for the Everglades is also in Homestead, FL. You’ll find it just off of US 1, on Palm Drive. Once you turn onto Palm Drive, it’ll be very easy to find the entrance to park, as there are a ton of signs. It’s honestly super easy to find! When you’re in the Everglades, there are a ton of things to do.
Easily one of the most popular attractions is the Everglades National Park Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show. Its a short 1 hour tour, so it doesn’t take a ton of time to stop here on your road trip. But you’ll probably want to spend more than 1 hour exploring the park because it’s so cool.
If you’re really planning to take your time on your way to Key West consider doing an Everglades Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour. It’s a three-hour kayak tour, and it’s a great way to see the park.
Book your Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show Here: Getyourguide.com
Book your Everglades Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour Here: Getyourguide.com
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
The next stop is the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, which is also off of US 1, on CR 905 North. This unique wildlife refuge was established in 1980 to protect the natural habitat of native several species in this area of Florida. This can also be done as an easy day trip from Miami.
In particular, they rely on the tropical hardwood hammock, the mangrove forest, and the salt marshes in the area. There are currently eight species protected there, like the Key Largo woodrat, Key Largo cotton mouse, and the Keys tree cactus.
In general, the lands are closed to visitors. This is mainly to protect the habitat of the wildlife that live there. Especially because a lot of them are small critters you don’t always see before you step on them! But you can still visit! They have a small visitors center that has a native butterfly garden, an informational kiosk, and knowledgeable staff members who can answer all of your burning crocodile questions!
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Back on US 1, at mile marker 102.5, you’ll find your next stop, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is another super cool stop while you’re driving the Florida Keys. That’s because it was the first underwater park in the US! It’s a beautiful state park full of unique activities, like kayaking in the mangroves.
However, the big draw to this Florida state park is actually found underwater. There are beautiful coral reefs, an underwater sculpture, and tons of sea life. In fact, you can snorkel in the water and the park and see everything. In the visitors center, there is a 30,000-gallon saltwater tank that has a lot of the same sea life. So if you don’t want to go snorkeling, you can still see the area’s natural sea life in the tank!
Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen is an absolutely incredible restaurant in Key Largo. You’ll find it on Overseas Highway and it’s open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a local favorite, and over the years, it’s become a world-famous restaurant. If there’s one thing you skip on this Florida Keys itinerary, don’t let it be this!
I promise you won’t regret stopping for a bite to eat here. On their menu, you’ll find tons of Florida soul food classics. Like fish and grits, crab cakes benedict, conch chowder, Florida lobster, and tons more. You’ll also be able to try more unique Florida dishes like alligator tenders and Key West shrimp on rice.
This is also home to some of the best key lime pies I have ever tried. Don’t miss it!
Dive Spiegel Grove Shipwreck
The next stop is the Spiegel Grove Shipwreck, which is 6 miles off-shore at mile marker 102. This is definitely one of the itinerary stops that won’t be for everyone. Especially because it may be a bit tricky if you’re driving from Miami to Key West by car and you don’t have your diving gear with you!
But, if you are a fan of diving and have your gear, then this is one of the top diving spots in the Florida Keys. It’s super popular thanks to the purposefully sunk navy ship. It’s absolutely massive and it’s created an artificial reef for the local sea life. The combination of the massive ship and the abundance sea life makes it a popular spot for scuba divers.
Where to Stay In Key Largo
The Hampton Inn Key Largo for beach-front views right off of the Overseas Highway.
The Waterside Suites and Marina is perfect if you’re traveling with family or a group, thanks to their two-story houses.
Or the Bayside Inn Key Largo if you want to book a tour with their Key Diver’s Snorkel Tour company for some snorkeling adventures.
Key Largo is also home to one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Florida in case you want to have a luxury getaway!
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
If you’ve stayed the night in Key Largo, then your first stop of the day will be the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park. It is located at mile marker 85. The state park is located on Islamorada, a popular island in the Florida Keys to explore. The big draw of this state park is the Key Largo limestone, which is actually fossilized coral.
When you are at the park, you can visit the 8-foot-high quarry walls, which are full of fossils. It’s a cool way to learn about the history of the ancient fossils that used to actually live in the area. One thing to keep in mind is that the park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Morada Way Arts District
One of my favorite stops in Islamorada is the Morada Way Arts District. It’s an arts non-profit located in the heart of Islamorada, with proceeds going to support art in the Florida Keys! Every month they host an art walk, typically on the third weekend of the month. There you’ll get to see tons of artwork from local artists and be able to support them by purchasing pieces.
If you can’t make it to one of their monthly art walks, don’t worry. The area is full of studios owned and operated by local artists. They all have different opening times and days, but when you visit there will be plenty of studios open for you to explore. If you want to get a souvenir from your Florida Keys itinerary, this is a great place to find one!
Feed Tarpon At Robbie’s Waterfront
After visiting the Morada Way Arts District, head to Robbie’s Waterfront at mile marker 77. There, you’ll be able to feed the tarpon. For those who might not know, tarpons are large fish native to the Atlantic Ocean and you’ll typically find tons of them around the keys. At Robbie’s Waterfront, you’ll be able to bucket of ‘fish food’ to feed the tarpon.
Be careful though, they are hungry fish who will literally jump 5 feet out of the air to get their food. Standing on the dock along the water, you can hold up a fish and watch the tarpon jump out of the water to grab it from your hand.
There are also TONS of pelicans which I thought was really cool to be up close.
It’s a lot of fun and a super unique stop during any Key West itinerary
Where To Stay On Islamorada
For a tranquil luxury beachfront experience, check out the Islander Resort.
Another excellent resort, right on the beach, is the Lime Tree Bay Resort with its own private beach.
Or you can stay at the Cheeca Lodge & Spa for a luxurious getaway on 26 acres of lush gardens with its own private beach.
The Dolphin Research Center
At mile marker 59, you’ll find the Dolphin Research Center. The research center was originally founded in 1984. It is the permanent home for dolphins and California sea lions who can not be rehabilitated and released back into the wild after they’ve been injured. All animals that call the center home have been rescued and nursed back to health.
You can visit the Dolphin Research Center and learn more about the work they do there. They have seasonal visiting hours, so make sure you check ahead of time to see when they are open. You’ll also need to book your tour ahead of time! So keep all of that in mind and plan ahead before you visit.
Snorkel The Sombrero Key Light
This is another stop on the road trip from Miami to Key West that might not be for everyone. But if you enjoy snorkeling, you’ll definitely want to stop at the Sombrero Key Light, on Marathon Key. There are a few different tour companies that offer snorkeling packages, so you don’t have to bring your own equipment!
What makes Sombrero Key Light a must-stop snorkeling spot? It’s one of the largest, and easily most spectacular, barrier reefs on the planet. Yes, the planet! Offshore, you can snorkel at the Sombrero Key Light, which is a huge lighthouse. You’ll need to ride a boat to get there, which is why using a tour company is a great way to snorkel in the area.
The Turtle Hospital
The Turtle Hospital is another great stop on any Florida Keys itinerary, at mile marker 48.5. It’s a small non-profit rehabilitation and rescue center on Marathon Key. They rescue endangered sea turtles and provide hospital services to them. If they can be fully rehabilitated, they will eventually be re-released out into the ocean. But some of them will never be fully rehabilitated, so they call the Turtle Hospital home.
You can visit those turtles while you’re at the Turtle Hospital. Since they can’t be released back into the ocean, they are used to provide a unique educational experience for visitors at the hospital. A lot of them have been injured due to interactions with humans. Or things like eating garbage left by humans on the beaches and in the ocean.
So the hospital uses them to show the harmful impact humans have on them, and hopefully inspire visitors to be better and do better when enjoying the beautiful natural areas in Florida.
Drive The 7 Mile Bridge
You can get to the rest of the Florida Keys without driving on the famous 7 Mile Bridge. The 7 Mile Bridge is easily one of the most impressive bridges you’ll cross. It is actually 7 miles long, that’s not just a random name. You’ll cross it at the west end of Marathon Key, in the Middle Keys, and it takes you to the Lower Keys and Key West.
Here you will also see the famous Duck Key which is also an interesting stop along the way.
As you’re driving across the bridge, you’ll also see the ‘Old 7 Mile Bridge’, which was originally built in the 1900s. The bridge you’ll be driving across was built between 1978 to 1982, so it’s totally safe to drive across. But, if you want, the ‘Old’ bridge is open for pedestrians to walk across, which can be fun, even if you just walk on it for a couple of feet.
Where To Stay In Marathon Key
Just a mile away from Key Colony Beach, you’ll find the budget-friendly Fairfield by Marriot Inn & Suites Marathon Florida Keys.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious option, the Grassy Flats Resort & Beach Club is an excellent option.
The Hampton Inn Marathon – Florida Keys is another great budget-friendly option with great reviews.
Bahia Honda State Park
At mile marker 37 you’ll find the Bahia Honda State Park located on Big Pine Key. The Bahia Honda State Park is easily one of the best state parks in the Florida Keys. So this is one stop in the Florida Keys that I’d highly suggest you don’t skip. Not only is it one of the best state parks, but it’s also where you’ll find some of the best beaches in the Florida Keys.
At over 500 acres, the park is pretty huge and has plenty of hiking trails, and pristine beaches, and you can even go snorkeling there. You can rent kayaks, grab a snack at the concession stand, or schedule a snorkeling tour through the park itself. You can also camp overnight at the park in a camper, RV, or bring your own tent!
This is my favorite place to recommend in Florida. It is just spectacular.
National Key Deer Refuge
The National Key Deer Refuge is located at mile marker 30.5, in the Lower Florida Keys. It was established in 1957 to protect the Key Deer, a unique species of deer found in the Florida Keys. The park is 8,542 acres and inside the park there is a large variety of habitats that the endangered Key Deer thrive in. From pine rockland forests, freshwater wetlands, mangrove forests, and more.
In the refuge you can go hiking, bird watching, and you can even take part in Ranger-led tours throughout the park. You can also go boating, fishing, snorkeling, and diving off-shore. The trails all have different difficulty levels, but many of them are paved. Just remember that you can not have any motorized vehicles anywhere on the refuge grounds – besides the parking lot.
End Your Florida Keys Road Trip In Key West
You made it and you’re finally in Key West! Key West is probably the most popular Florida Key to visit, and it’s one of my favorite small towns in Florida. So you’ll find tons and tons of things to do there. One of my favorite things to do in Key West is to take a Guided Bike Tour that ends with a slice of famous key lime pie.
You may be surprised to learn that key lime pie was invented in Key West. So you can’t visit Key West without at least trying a slice of locally made Key lime pie from Old Town Key West! Of course, there are lots of great options to try all along Duval Street, the most famous street in the city.
If you like being out in the water, another great activity in Key West is a Sunset Sail with Live Music. You’ll set off on the ocean in a sailboat that is stocked with unlimited drinks and appetizers. While you enjoy the sunset view, you’ll be serenaded by live music. It’s a great romantic activity during your road trip from Miami to Key West.
No matter what you decide to do while you’re in Key West, you’ll have a good time. You can choose to stay the night in Key West, or you can drive from Key West to Miami and hit the stops you missed along the way. It’s really up to you and how you want to spend your time driving the Florida Keys!
Book your Guided Bike Tour Here: Getyourguide.com
Book your Sunset Sail with Live Music Here: Getyourguide.com
Where To Stay In Key West
The Hampton Inn – Key West is a great budget-friendly option for staying in Key West.
If you’re looking for a more elevated experience, try the Kimpton Winslow’s Bungalow, an IHG Hotel.
The Capitana Key West is perfect if you’re looking for a luxurious beachfront hotel in Key West.
Best Places To Eat On The Miami To Key West Road Trip
Alabama Jacks, in Key Largo, is a super popular restaurant in the Florida Keys. They’ve been open since the 1950s, and it’s been considered one of the best Florida fish shacks for decades. It truly is a little shack, built over the water, that looks like nothing from the road. But don’t drive by this hidden gem while you’re driving to Key West. Alabama Jacks is known for their conch fritters, so make sure to give them a try!
Hogfish Bar & Grill, in Key West is a favorite with the locals and with tourists. While you enjoy a delicious meal, you’ll also get to enjoy panoramic views of the ocean. That’s because it’s literally on a dock, with plenty of outdoor seating and heaps of character. When you’re there, make sure you try their signature dish – fried hogfish on fresh Cuban bread!
Make sure you stop by Better Than Sex, in Key West, for a post-meal treat. It’s a dessert bar with a speakeasy vibe that makes eating and enjoying dessert an ‘experience’. At this dessert bar you’ll be able to try local specialty, key lime pie. But they also have freshly baked cookies, pies in almost any flavor you can think of, and so much more.
Just a heads up, as the name of the restaurant probably suggests, the menu items are named very cheeky things. So you might want to skip this place if you’re traveling with kids and don’t want to have to answer any awkward questions.
As you can see, there is so much to do and see when you’re road-tripping the Florida Keys! It’s such a cool part of Florida to explore. I hope that you’ve found this Miami to Key West road trip helpful and inspires you to head out onto the road.
Have you ever explored Miami to Key West by car? If so, I’d love to hear about your favorite stops in the comments!