Driving from Miami to Key West is one of the most beautiful drives in the USA you can do. Here’s where to stop along the way.
Taking you from the glitz and glamour of Miami to the natural beauty of the Florida Keys, the Miami to Key West drive is definitely one to do in daylight.
Like any trip to Florida, you’re safe in the knowledge that this Miami to Key West road trip will give you plenty of time to enjoy the clear water and breathtaking beaches, but what you may not expect, is the fact that you can drive through it over the ‘Overseas Highway’ bridge. You’ll be surrounded by azure waters as you cruise across.
The drive to Key West from Miami is stunning.
Rather than doing the 3-4 hour drive all in one, I’d recommend breaking up the 164-mile distance from Miami to Key West with some of these top attractions.
I was a passenger on this trip a few years ago, squished in to the back seat of a 16-seater van.
I need to do this again, with me in the driving seat, and of a Mustang if possible. The good news is, renting a car in Miami is easy!
Your Miami to Key West Road Trip
Here are all the best stops if you want to drive from Miami to Key West. Make sure you plan enough time at the start of your trip, there are lots of great things to do in Miami to keep you busy.
This map of the Miami to Key West road trip will make it easier to envisage. Route seems pretty straight forward right? BUT, where to stop?
1. Take a boat trip in the Everglades
Rather than immediately going south from Miami to Key Largo, head west when you leave the city and come 30 minutes stop at the Everglades, one of the most unique and beautiful spots in the country.
The Everglades are a 20,202 km² area of wetlands made up of marshes, swamps, rivers, lakes and mangroves that, because of its unique tropical ecosystem, are home to loads of different species.
You could easily spend days here, but if you’re keen to keep on with the Miami to Key West drive, opt for just one activity like a boat tour, bird watching session or alligator farm visit. I went for the alligator airboat ride – it was wonderfully nervewracking!
You can prebook your Everglades alligator and airboat tour with GetYourGuide to get the best price, and know you have a space before you set off.
2. Snorkel at Key Largo
Another hour in the car and you’ll hit the first of the Florida Keys. Key Largo is known as the dive capital of the keys partly because it’s home to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the world’s largest artificial reef.
How can you drive by that and not take a peek?
Spend an afternoon swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving in amongst the reef as well as a Spanish shipwreck before refuelling somewhere like the Waffle House Diner, Mrs Mac’s Kitchen or Sundowners.
If you’re short on time this incredible 1 hour scenic flight over Key Largo will give you a good idea of the area, and a new perspective!
“Embark on the adventure of a lifetime and discover the wonders of Key Largo from above. Fly over the largest of the fabulous Florida Keys and soak up spectacular views of Biscayne Bay, Biscayne National Park, the Southern Glades, Miami Zoo, and more.”
3. Eat at the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Factory
Just another 20 minutes on the Overseas Highway in your rental car and you can sample the official dessert of the Keys, key lime pie.
Made from the island-grown key limes, diners, cafes and bakeries across the coral cay archipelago say that they serve the perfect pie. But how will you know if you’ve never tried one before?
One of the best things about driving from Miami to Key West is all the foodie possibilities along the way.
Start your sweet pie journey in the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Factory so you can carry onto the rest of the keys with a benchmark in mind. Located in Tavernier off Mile Marker 92.2, you can enjoy a piece roadside in the secret garden or else take a pie to go.
4. Relax in Islamorada
Another 15 minutes into the Florida road trip and you’ll reach Islamorada, which ticks all the compulsory Key boxes of white sands and turquoise waters. But there’s way more to do here than simply beach nap and swim.
You can check out the History of Diving Museum or, if you’re playing passenger, swing by the Florida Brewing Company.
The favourite spot here though is a waterfront restaurant called Robbie’s. Aside from serving up great fish, it offers a bunch of activities including tarpon feeding which, given the huge pelicans waiting to catch the feed, can be pretty funny.
6. See the animals in Marathon
Once you’ve pulled yourself away from Islamorada keep running down the miles from Miami to Key West before making another stop in the city of Marathon.
Spanning 13 islands, again it’s got the beaches, barrier reef and waters, but it’s also the home to loggerhead turtles living on the likes of Coco Plum and Sombrero beaches.
For $25, you can learn more about them by taking a tour of The Turtle Hospital, which rescues sea turtles and returns them to the waters once they’re well enough.
As if this place wasn’t hitting the cuteness factor hard enough, there’s then the Dolphin Research Center, Marathon Wild Bird Center and the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters too.
Make the effort to pop into some of these animal experiences on your drive from Miami to Key West and you can help contribute to the funding of the sanctuaries too.
7. Enjoy cruising Seven Mile Bridge
Head out of Marathon and you’ll quickly reach the Seven Mile (6.8 miles in fact) Bridge, which is not technically a stop but something to take in. If you watch the video I made below, you can see me cycling across this.
This updated version of the historical bridge was completed back in 1982 to connect Marathon with the Lower Keys and, as one of the longest bridges in the world, it’s a big part of getting you from Miami to Key West.
The bridge runs across the Florida Strait and Gulf of Mexico with the old bridge for pedestrians running parallel. This is the perfect opportunity to crank up the radio and enjoy nothing but the open road, beautiful views and your favourite tunes as you drive the Florida Keys.
8. Relax at the Bahia Honda State Park
At the end of the bridge you’ll reach this ‘beach haven and marine sanctuary’. For $8 a vehicle you can cruise on into paradise, aka the Bahia Honda State Park, and spend a few hours lapping up some relaxation.
Sunbathe, swim, snorkel or kayak, birdwatch, boat or bike, and if you end up staying until sunset, it’s the perfect place to do a bit of stargazing.
9. Kayak at Big Pine Key
Drive to Key West from Miami and up next is the quieter Key of Big Pine. Kayak the calm waters here, explore the Blue Hole for alligators or else spot the island’s resident deer. The National Key Deer Refuge is in fact the top rated activity followed by a Key West eco tour, which involves dolphin spotting.
Before you get back in the car for the final stretch onto Key West, wet your whistle with a quick drink in No Name Pub. Since the eighties, patrons have been pinning currency onto every wall making it a place where money literally falls from the sky.
10. Have fun in Key West
You’ve made it!
Well done, you’ve driven from Miami to Key West, enjoying the best of the best stops along the way. Now, all you need to do is enjoy the delights of Key West. Make sure to visit The Hemingway House & Museum where Ernest himself once lived.
Here are a few of my favourite things about Key West, and a look at the plane trip I did out to Dry Tortugas National Park too. I got to sit up front with the pilot, it was amazing!
Book your car hire for the Miami to Key West road trip in advance to make sure you get the best deal possible.
More Key West trips for a day trip
If you’re looking for ideas of what to do for day trips in Key West, take a look at these excursions.
Key West day trips
- Key West: Catamaran Tour with Snorkelling & Water Activities
- Key West: Glass-Bottom Boat Sunset Cruise and Reef Tour
- Key West: Rum and Reggae Afternoon Snorkel and Sunset
- Ghosts & Gravestones Tour of Key West
- Key West: Jet Ski Island Tour with Free Second Rider
Few ideas for what to do in the Florida Keys
You’ve done the drive from Miami to Key West – time to celebrate!
Best time to visit Florida
“Rainfall is quite heavy in the summer with 155mm spread over July that increases to 203mm in September. Thunderstorms are more likely in the summer, but they are usually brief.
If you prefer cooler weather, the best time to visit Florida is in low season. December has an average temperature of 16°C, but you can expect highs of up to 23°C.”– THOMAS COOK
Your Miami to Key West road trip
If you need anymore advice on taking a road trip in the USA, I have articles!
I’ve done quite a few road trips in Florida now, and the Miami to Key West one is definitely one of the most impressive. I hope you enjoy your trip, and let me know if this Miami Key West itinerary has helped you plan in the comments below.
You can also see this Miami to Key West road trip as a web story!
Questions about driving from Miami to Key West
If you have any questions about the Miami to Key West road trip, just let me know in the comments below.
Is the Miami to Key West road trip worth it?
Oh, absolutely! I mean, you could just drive it in 4 hours, but where’s the fun in that?
Plan you drive from Miami to Key West to include at least a few of these road trip stops and it’ll be one to remember.
How many days do you need in Key West?
I was in Key West for three days, and I’d recommend anything up to 5, unless you really like beaches.
How far is the drive from Miami to Key West?
The journey from Miami to Key West is 159 miles, which takes around four hours direct along the Overseas Highway. Drive to Key West from Miami and you definitely won’t forget it!
Is Key Largo or Key West better?
Hmmm, difficult question. If you want more activities and attractions, then Key West is a good shout. If your idea of fun is in more ‘natural’ surroundings, then go to Key Largo.
The distance from Key Largo to Key West is only 2 hours. You can definitely have a good amount of time in both with this Miami to Key West road trip itinerary.
Check out these top tips on saving money on a USA road trip to ensure you can do all the more.
Accommodation in Key West
Need to book somewhere to stay in Key West? How about checking out the apartments on Booking.com? They have some beautiful beachside homes you can book for just you and your friends, or you can book a room in a Key West home. Either way it’s a bit more personal and exciting than a hotel.
Take a look at the best apartments in Key West on this link.
PIN THIS MIAMI TO KEY WEST ROAD TRIP FOR LATER