Miami Beach to Key West: One of Florida’s most iconic overland routes!
Our Florida expert is Jeremy Albeda, Miami native and an experienced traveller who - when he’s not making us “wish we were there” by blogging about his time on the road - edits the globe-spanning regional travel website Hometown Travel Guides, which is written by local experts.
“Ahhh the sun, the crystal blue waters, the swaying palms – South Florida is just one of those places that will melt even the most stoic of individuals with its natural beauty. Sporting a delicious sub-tropical climate, South Florida has unique weather for the United States; nowhere else in the country can you rock your flip-flops and tank-top in January with a smile on your face.
The summer is most definitely hot in South Florida, but from November through March, the humidity dissipates, the rain goes bye-bye and you’re left with weather so delectable, you’ll have to experience it for yourself to see how awesome it truly is.
While Miami has more than enough to keep you occupied for weeks - with amazing white-sand beaches, amazing restaurants, epic nightlife, and a tropical-cosmopolitan vibe not experienced anywhere else in the world - sometimes you just gotta hit the road, and the route between Miami and Key West is one jaw-dropping drive.
Key West, the southernmost city in the continental US, is only 90 miles north of Cuba. Many people have laid claim to the small island town over the past 300 years, including the Spanish, British and, of course, Americans, and now it has become both a tourist destination and home to a sizeable local community.
You’ll find some amazing architecture there, museums about the history and seafaring roots of the town, some of the freshest seafood available, and plenty of bars to wet your whistle. There is also a wealth of hotels and especially bed & breakfasts in many of the historic homes.
If you’re in Florida and heading to Key West, you will most likely start in Miami. You can rent a car virtually anywhere in the city, including at the airport, which just finished a brand new rental center that is directly connected to the terminal by a free tram.
The drive is about 160 miles, and if you don’t stop, it will take you about 3.5 hours. But, given the natural beauty of the ride and cool things to see along the way, you’ll want to leave a whole day to get there. If you don’t want to pay any tolls, opt for taking US 1 the entire way, which will take you directly to Key West. Just make sure you leave after rush hour!
Road Trip Map
Head south from Miami, and after about an hour you’ll reach Homestead, the last small city before you head through the end of the Everglades and on to the Florida Keys. The Keys are actually a string of islands that are connected by many bridges and once you reach them from the mainland, US 1 becomes the Overseas Highway.
Stop for lunch in Key Largo, the first key once leaving the mainland. A great place is Sharkey’s Pub, which serves well-priced fresh seafood and is located on a quiet intercostal waterway.
If you have time, or want to extend the trip, spend the night in Key Largo - which has plenty of hotels -and try out some of the world-class snorkelling that Key Largo is known for.
Continue south and the keys start to become narrower - many are just the width of the road, offering amazing vistas of the ever-changing aquamarine waters that reflect many blue and purple hues, depending on how the light is hitting it.
Seven Mile Bridge
As you continue south, you’ll reach the Seven Mile Bridge, which is one of the longest segmented bridges in the world. The original bridge was built in 1912 for the railroad - this was removed and a concrete roadway was laid down to support automobiles instead. There are still parts of the original railroad bridge - now used mostly for fishing by locals - standing next to the modern one.
After the Seven Mile Bridge, the ride is only about an hour longer until you arrive in Key West to enjoy the rest of your holiday!
Road Trip Photos