One of the most famous scenic routes in Florida is the Miami to Key West drive. With stops like the Everglades, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Seven Mile Bridge, and of course Key West, there’s no question of why this 166-mile drive has garnered so much popularity.
While you might be tempted to try to make this Miami to Key West road trip a single-day adventure, I highly recommend taking your time!
In order to fully appreciate all the stops, I personally recommend taking at least three days to do this drive, although there are some people who take a week or more to explore all that this part of Florida has to offer.
To make sure you don’t miss any of the locations that are worth your time, this guide has over 25 of the best stops on the famous Miami to Key West drive.
Why You Should Do a Miami to Key West Drive
The Miami to Key West drive is undoubtedly one of the best road trips in the States and you’ll be able to see for yourself why.
First of all, this road trip gives you an opportunity to explore Florida a little deeper. After all, it’s the land of beautiful white sand beaches and a lovely tropical climate.
Plus, this road trip is packed with quirky stops, delicious restaurants, and heaps of roadside attractions.
Be prepared to ooh and ahh over the picturesque views of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. If I had a dollar for every time I gasped in amazement, I could have paid for my gasoline.
Lastly, the Florida Keys are famous for their diving and snorkeling opportunities. With clear blue water and colorful coral and marine life, it’s no wonder that the Keys are regarded as one of the best dive and snorkeling spots in the world. In fact, the Florida Reef is the only living coral reef system in the continental States and the third-largest system in the world!
Best Time to Do the Miami to Key West Drive
Basically, any time besides hurricane season is the best time to do the Miami to Key West Drive. Hurricane season is from June to November so you’ll want to do this road trip during the winter or spring.
If you’re feeling brave, you can certainly try to have a go at this Miami to Key West road trip during hurricane season. You’ll pay less for your hotels and flights since it’s the off-season. However, I don’t entirely recommend this especially if you’re visiting from outside of Florida.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that the winter months are the busiest in Florida since people from the North and other colder areas come down to escape winter. Consequently, hotels are more expensive.
All in all, the absolute best time to tackle this road trip is between March and the end of May. You’ll be able to skip the crowds and you’ll get a better price on hotels.
Where to Stay on Your Miami to Key West Drive
There are so many accommodation options in the Florida Keys that are perfect for any traveler. You’ll find budget-friendly options, luxurious options, resorts, hotels, and more! You can stay in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West.
If you’re spending a few days doing this road trip, you can opt in to spend the night in Key Largo. It’s a laidback town and there are several fun things to do here from snorkeling, diving, fishing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins, and more. Spend the evening watching the gorgeous sunset with a tropical cocktail in hand.
Islamorada encompasses six of the Florida Keys. Islamorada means “purple island” and legend has it that Spanish explorers gave it this name because they saw a purple sky at sunset. It’s also known as the Sport-Fishing Capital of the World. Here, you can explore hiking trails and shipwrecks. You can also learn about the history of the Florida Keys at the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center.
Marathon is the halfway point between Miami and Key West which makes it a popular place to stop. There are several things to do in Marathon such as deep-sea fishing, kayaking, jet-ski tours, paddleboarding, and more. Marathon is spread out over thirteen Keys so island hopping is also a fun thing to do.
Known for the infamous Duval Street, Key West is one of the most lively and biggest party cities in Florida. It has a New Orleans vibe to it and it’s brimming with things to do. Make sure you visit Southernmost Point, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park, Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and more. Make sure you grab a coffee from Cuban Coffee Queen and try some seafood at Key West Fish & Chips.
Whatever you decide to do in Key West, be sure to have dinner at Seaside Cafe at the Mansion. You’ll catch epic views of the sunset here as it’s perched just a few steps away from the Atlantic Ocean. Their lobster pizza is out of this world and I think about it all the time. You’ll also want to get a mojito and have them add an extra shot of rum. You won’t regret this Key West gem!
Miami to Key West Drive in a Nutshell
This guide contains over 25 epic stops on your Miami to Key West road trip. Here they are in a nutshell:
- Everglades National Park
- Coral Castle
- Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery
- Robert Is Here Fruit Stand and Farm
- Homestead-Miami Speedway
- Alabama Jack’s
- Key Largo
- Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
- Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
- C&C Wood Fired Eats
- Cafe Moka
- Rain Barrel Village
- Morada Way Arts & Cultural District
- History of Diving Museum
- Florida Keys Brewing Company
- Robbie’s Marina
- Dolphin Research Center
- Turtle Hospital
- Seven Mile Bridge
- Bahia Honda State Park
- National Key Deer Refuge Nature Center
- Key West
The Ultimate Miami to Key West Drive
Are you ready to start your Miami to Key West drive? Let’s go! In this mega guide, I’ve included 25+ of the best stops, places to eat, where to stay, and helpful tips from a local’s perspective. I live close to the area and I do a Miami to Key West road trip pretty often. If you stick to this guide, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time!
You’ll be starting your Miami to Key West road trip in Miami so it’s a no-brainer that you explore Miami before you embark on your trip. Miami has so much to offer in terms of entertainment, food, beaches, and more.
I recommend spending two full days exploring Miami. But, not all of us have unlimited vacation days. If you’re focused, you can definitely see some of the main highlights in one day in Miami, which is what I’ve included below.
I know, I know. You want to jump right into the road trip. But, I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you about a few of the best things to do in Miami.
One of the most infamous places to visit in Miami is Miami Beach. I’m sure you’ve seen this iconic area in plenty of movies and tv shows.
This neighborhood is brimming with exciting nightlife, restaurants, cafes, shops, and more. It’s a trendy and fun part of the city. You could spend days hopping around Miami Beach. But, for the sake of time, I’ll narrow down the list for you.
You can tour the Art Deco Historic District, spend a few hours basking under the sun at South Beach, and stroll along Ocean Drive.
If you want to spend a few hours at the beach, make sure you get there early because it can get packed pretty fast — especially on the weekend. I went around 10 am on a weekday and I didn’t have any issues find a secluded place to hang out.
Brickell is Miami’s financial district and one of the hottest and up-and-coming neighborhoods in the city. It’s an easily walkable area with lots to do.
If you’re into upscale shopping, this area is for you. Even if you’re not a fan of shopping, I still highly recommend checking out Brickell City Centre. There’s a walkway where you can see epic views of the city.
My absolute favorite thing to do in Brickell is to just eat. There are two food halls that you have to go to — La Centralle and Casa Tua Cucina. You’ll find pizza, pasta, cocktails, cooking classes, and more.
You can’t leave Miami without visiting the hip area of Wynwood. This area is home to colorful murals, museums, shops, galleries, and more.
If there’s one thing you do in Wynwood, it’s to check out the Wynwood Walls. These are unique and colorful murals created by smaller artists and more popular ones as well.
If you have time or if you’re a museum junkie, you can also check out the Museum of Graffiti and the Miami Selfie Museum. Lastly, be sure to grab a bite to eat one of the many food trucks and stop by a brewery to try some local craft beer.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
You’ll end your day in Miami at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens — one of the most historical stops on your Miami to Key West drive. Previously known as Villa Vizcaya, this mansion/villa was built between 1914-1916 as a winter home for a Chicago businessman named James Deering. After he died, it became a museum.
You can explore both stories of the house and you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time. Keep an eye out for Italian architecture and design. You’ll definitely feel the luxury that Deering enjoyed in his life.
2. Everglades National Park
I initially didn’t want to include Everglades National Park on this list because most people tackle it as a day trip from Miami rather than making it a stop along their Miami to Key West drive. But, I felt like my list would be incomplete without including it because I definitely think that it’s worth the detour.
Everglades National Park is one of the best national parks on the East Coast and one of the coolest places to explore in Florida. It’s home to one of the biggest wetlands in the world and includes 1.5 million acres of wetland. It encompasses mangrove forests and it’s home to many fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and more.
I highly recommend taking a tram or doing a bike tour of Shark Valley Road. You’ll end up at an overlook where you’ll see gorgeous views of the Everglades from the top.
Another must-do at Everglades National Park is to hike the Anhinga Trail. It’s an easy one-mile hike on paved walkways and boardwalks. If you’ve wanted to see an alligator in the world, you’ll probably see it here.
Other fun things to do include taking an airboat tour, birdwatching, kayaking, and more.
3. Coral Castle Museum
28655 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL 33033
Yay! You’re at your first official stop on your Miami to Key West Drive. Welcome to Coral Castle Museum. Fair warning — this place is odd and whimsical.
Basically, this open-air museum is a castle made from extremely heavy coral stones. Rumor has it that it’s one of the most haunted places in Florida.
It was singlehandedly built by one man — Ed Leedskalnin. He built it for the love of his life (kind of like the Taj Mahal). He carried over 1000 tons of heavy stone to build the castle. People think he had some kind of superhuman powers since he didn’t use heavy machinery. All he had was his own manpower.
Even today, the history behind “Florida’s Stonehenge” remains a mystery. Don’t forget to check out the Polaris telescope while you’re there.
4. Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery
30205 SW 217th Ave, Homestead, FL 33030
I didn’t discover this gem until my second Miami to Key West road trip. Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery is the southernmost winery in the United States and they specialize in tropical fruit wines.
The grounds are absolutely gorgeous with a flourishing courtyard and natural waterfalls. They have sparkling wines, several kinds of Rosé, sparkling wines, and more.
Be sure to book a wine tasting and tour of the estate. If you’re not into wine, you can do the beer tasting. Lastly, indulge in some gourmet food at the restaurant on-site. They source all of their ingredients from local farmers’ markets.
5. Robert Is Here Fruit Stand and Farm
19200 SW 344th St, Homestead, FL 33034
I never complete my Miami to Key West drive without stopping at Robert Is Here Fruit Stand and Farm. It’s a family-owned and operated fruit stand and they specialize in exotic and rare vegetables and fruits that are all grown on their farm.
It’s open from 9 am to 6 pm every day and it’s the perfect place to stop to grab a smoothie or try some interesting fruits.
6. Homestead-Miami Speedway
One Ralph Sanchez Speedway Boulevard Homestead, Florida 33035-1501
Calling all car aficionados! This is the perfect stop on your Miami to Key West drive if you’re a NASCAR lover.
If you’re lucky, you can catch an event here. Just check online to see if they have an event the day you’re there. Even if there’s not an event going on, you can still tour the speedway and peruse the gift shop.
Sometimes you can even drive exotic cars on the speedway. Check the website to see if that’s an option when you visit.
7. Key Largo
You’ve driven approximately an hour and a half from Miami and you’ve arrived in Key Largo — the first key of the Florida Keys! Sadly, a lot of people skip Key Largo. But, it’s my favorite stop because there are so many hidden gems tucked away here.
Pro tip — if you’re having a hard time finding accommodation in Key West, consider staying in Key Largo instead and doing a day trip to Key West instead. There are so many beautiful resorts, hotels, boutique hotels, and more available.
I live around three hours away from Key Largo and it’s my go-to spot when I need a quick weekend getaway. Here are some of the best things to do in Key Largo.
9. Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
10750 County Rd 905, Key Largo, FL 33037
Located in northern Key Largo, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1980 to protect the natural habitat for American crocodiles.
It covers over 6700 acres so be prepared to walk a lot. Of course, not all of the refuge is accessible to visitors. But, you’ll probably end up spending a few hours here.
You’ll see crocodiles, crocodile nests, salt marshes, mangrove forests, and more.
10. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037
If you don’t plan on spending the night in Key Largo, you should definitely still stop at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Did you know that it’s the continental United States’ only living coral reef? It’s also the first underwater park in the USA. Because of this, it’s a popular spot for snorkelers and divers.
If you’re going to dive, keep an eye out for the Christ of the Abyss statue. It’s a nine-foot-tall bronze statue and it’s one of the highlights of the state park.
If you’re like me and you don’t like diving and snorkeling (or if you don’t know how to swim like me — eeek!), you can explore the park via a glass-bottom boat tour. It’s around a two-hour tour and it’s perfect if you’re traveling with kids. You can also go kayaking instead.
One of my favorite areas within the park is Cannon Beach. Yes, there are cannons on the beach so be sure to grab some photos with them. You can even snorkel to a shipwreck site pretty easily.
You’ll also want to check out the visitor center. They have a massive saltwater aquarium. I basically had to get dragged out of there because I thought it was so cool.
11. Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
92080 Overseas Hwy, Tavernier, FL 33070
If you want to learn more about Florida’s wildlife, this is a must-stop on your Miami to Key West drive. You’ll get to see humongous owls, hawks, and other injured birds up close. And, just as the name suggests, the birds are kept at the rehabilitation center until they’ve recovered from their injuries. Entrance is on a donation basis.
12. Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
99336 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037 / 99020 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037
I can’t tell you the best things to do in Key Largo and not tell you about the best places to eat while you’re there. Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen is one of the best places to satisfy your cravings. It’s so good that they actually have two locations!
They serve all kinds of food here including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more. But, you have to try one of their seafood dishes. I’ve tried their coconut shrimp basket and I had enough food for three meals. Also, their key lime pie is perfect.
13. C&C Wood Fired Eats
99201 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037
Yes, I know that you should be eating seafood when you’re in the Keys. But, hear me out. C&C Wood Fired Eats is one of those hidden gem restaurants that only locals know about.
They’re famous for their wood-fired pizzas and great drinks. I highly recommend going during happy hour. You’ll get a cheese pizza and a pitcher of beer for $10. Yes, an entire pitcher to yourself! To this day, this is the best happy hour deal I’ve come across in my life. You’ll want to take an Uber or a taxi though.
14. Alabama Jack’s
58000 Card Sound Rd, Key Largo, FL 33030
Alabama Jack’s is a laidback, rundown seafood shack that you’ll see right as you leave mainland Florida and head to the Florida Keys. While the conch fritters are worth a try, you want to stop at Alabama Jack’s more for the tradition of it. Just about every first-time visitor to the Florida Keys makes a stop at this historic establishment – and you definitely should too!
15. Cafe Moka
91865 Overseas Hwy, Tavernier, FL 33070
If you’re not hungry, I’ve got the perfect solution for you. On the way out of town, stop at Cafe Moka. It’s a French-themed cafe and they serve amazing coffee and pastries. Their croissants are a must. They also serve salads and sandwiches.
After about a thirty-minute drive from Key Largo, you’ll reach the adorable town of Islamorada. It’s the exact halfway point on your Miami to Key West drive. If I had one word to describe Islamorada, it would be vibrant. You’ll find many hotels, restaurants, and attractions here. Here are some of the best stops in Islamorada.
17. Rain Barrel Village
86700 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
Rain Barrel Village is one of the spunkiest places to stop on your Miami to Key West road trip. This is an open-air complex and it houses galleries, shops, and boutiques. You’ll see all kinds of paintings and sculptures.
It’s fun to talk to the artists and learn more about their paintings. I have to warn you and tell you that the artwork is pretty pricey.
You’ll also notice a gigantic lobster in the parking lot. Meet Betsy! Betsy is 30 feet tall and 40 feet long. You’ll for sure want your picture taken with Betsy.
18. Morada Way Arts & Cultural District
151 Morada Way, Islamorada, FL 33036
Speaking of art, here’s one more artsy place for you to check out in Islamorada — Morada Way Arts & Cultural District.
You’ll also find galleries, boutiques, studious, stores, and more here. Every third Thursday of the month, there’s an art walk with live music. I highly recommend going if you’re there when it’s taking place. It’s fun to walk around peek into the galleries. Keep an eye out for Florida-themed pieces because they’re truly spectacular.
19. History of Diving Museum
82990 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
If you’ve wanted to explore the seas without swimming, here’s your chance! If this is you, you’ll want to stop at the History of Diving Museum.
You’ll see all kinds of photographs, antiques, books, and documents here. There’s even a collection of diving equipment that’s hundreds of years old!
20. Florida Keys Brewing Company
81611 Old Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
There are so many fun places on your Miami to Key West drive for you to grab a drink. One such place is Florida Keys Brewing Company. It’s located in the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District and it’s one of the most popular breweries between Miami and Key West.
The interior is Insta-worthy because they’ve decorated the walls with bottle caps from all over the world. They even have a fun beer garden where you can hang out.
21. Robbie’s Marina
77522 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
Robbie’s Marina is an iconic stop on a Miami to Key West drive. Basically, hundreds of tarpons live in this marina and visitors can feed them. It’s quite an exhilarating experience.
If you don’t want to feed the tarpon, you can hang out on the dock and watch other visitors do so. If you plan on feeding the tarpon, I don’t recommend hand feeding them because they have sharp teeth.
Entrance to the dock is $2.25 per person and a bucket of fish to feed the tarpon is $4.
But, don’t just go to Robbie’s to feed the tarpon. Grab a bite to eat and enjoy a few cocktails. The key lime colada is amazing and they’ll even cook your catch for you.
After Islamorada, you’ll find yourself in Marathon. Marathon is set on 13 islands. Because of that, you’ll have great opportunities for boating and deep-sea fishing. Aside from that, here are some fun things to do in Marathon.
23. Dolphin Research Center
58901 Overseas Hwy, Grassy Key, FL 33050
If you love dolphins and want to learn more about them, the Dolphin Research Center is a great stop for you. This non-profit houses injured dolphins and sea lions.
You can take a basic tour of the facility or you can pay extra and get a more hands-on experience. You can paint with a dolphin, play with them, and more.
I’m pretty sensitive to how animals are being treated by facilities like this and I can attest with confidence that these creatures are being taken care of with so much love. The staff is very knowledgeable and they love answering your questions.
24. Turtle Hospital
2396 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050
If you’re an animal lover, I’ve got one more stop on your Miami to Key West drive that you’ll love — the Turtle Hospital. They rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles back into the ocean.
This is a very popular place to stop so be sure to book your tickets in advance. The tours are very educational and you can ask all the questions you want.
25. Seven Mile Bridge
Now you’re at the most iconic stop on your Miami to Key West drive — Seven Mile Bridge. It’s the main reason why a lot of people take this scenic road trip.
It’s the longest bridge in the Keys and it connects Knight’s Key (in the Middle Keys) to Little Duck Key (in the Lower Keys). You’ll be surrounded by gorgeous blue water on both sides of the bridge. You can also spot small mangrove islands.
I highly recommend stopping at the pull-offs and soaking in the views. You should be able to see tons of colorful fish including turtles, stingrays, and more. You might even be lucky enough to see a dolphin or two.
26. Bahia Honda State Park
36850 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043
I’m going to let you in on a secret. Most people think that they’ll find the prettiest beaches in Key West. That’s a false assumption. If you’re looking to hang out at some gorgeous beaches on your Miami to Key West drive, you’ll find them at Bahia Honda State Park located on Bahia Honda Key.
The best beaches include Calusa Beach and Loggerhead Beach. Make sure you have snorkeling gear for this portion of your road trip because this is the place to spot some amazing marine life.
You should hike the Old Bahia Honda Bridge Trail. From the top of the bridge, you can see marine life. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by epic views of the water. The scenery from that particular area is surreal.
27. National Key Deer Refuge Nature Center
30587 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043
If you want to see some adorable deer, you’re going to want to stop at National Key Deer Refuge Center which is located on No Name Key and Big Pine Key.
Here, you’ll see several Key Deer which are endangered species. The good news is that they’re slowly repopulating. Hence, please be respectful and mindful of them. The center is free to visit.
28. Key West
You’ve arrived in Key West — the final stop on your epic Miami to Key West drive. Woo! Key West has so much to offer and you’re in for a real treat. Did you know that Key West is closer to Cuba than it is to Miami?
One thing that you should know about Key West is that you’ll find roosters roaming about freely throughout the town. I think they add to the charm. Oh, and if you see conch fritters on the menu, keep in mind that it’s pronounced “conk.”
Another fun fact about Key West is that it was once home to Ernest Hemingway and other prominent writers. Do you know how Nashville is home to famous music stars? Key West is the Nashville equivalent for writers.
Enough fun facts about Key West! When in Key West, you have to take a photo with the Southernmost point buoy which commemorates the southernmost point of the continental United States.
You can also hang out at Mallory Square, stroll along Duval Street, visit the Hemingway Home and Museum, learn about history at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, and much more!
Can I Complete the Miami to Key West Drive in One Day?
Although I don’t recommend doing your Miami to Key West road trip in one day, it’s certainly doable. Here’s what I suggest:
- Head out from Miami
- Spend some time at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- Have lunch at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
- Stop at Cafe Moka and grab some coffee for the rest of the trip
- Spend an hour or two at Bahia Honda State Park (or just stop for enough time for you to hike to the top of the bridge)
- Get to Key West and have fun!
Do you have any stops to add to this Miami to Key West drive? Let me know in the comments below!
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Go Wander Wild
Sunday 22nd of August 2021
This Miami to Key West guide is incredibly helpful. You’ve really thought through everything you need to know before planning a trip. Thank you for this helpful resource. Saving this guide for later!
Sunday 22nd of August 2021
Thank you so much for reading! :)
Friday 5th of March 2021
Mangrove Mamas and the No Name Pub are definite must in Marathon and Big Pine Key.
Monday 8th of March 2021
I will definitely check those out when I go back. Thanks for reading and thank you for the recommendations! :)
Thursday 4th of March 2021
I’ve been to the Keys multiple times and am a huge fan! But I’m always looking for new things to see and do. Great article with excellent tips and ideas.I’d love to be able to send this to my email for my next trip there in a few months. Is there any way to do that?
Monday 8th of March 2021
Hi Lynette! Thanks so much for reading. You can just copy and paste the URL into an email and send it to yourself. Enjoy your trip to the Keys!
Wednesday 3rd of March 2021
How about Mel Fishers Place , is it still open ??? I was there in the 70,sand as a diver I thought it was very interesting !!!!
Monday 8th of March 2021
That's a great museum that I'll have to check out the next time I'm back. I believe it's still open.
Wednesday 3rd of March 2021
Went to Key West 8 times already and I'm going to go again next year I love all the keys Islamorada 2 Marathon and then Key West I love them all and I'll keep going back it's just a feeling that I have when you get there you are in another place
Monday 8th of March 2021
Thanks so much for reading, Lydia! I agree with you — the Keys are a magical place!