Miami to Key West Road Trip Itinerary | All the Best Stops!

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This thin strand of pavement skipping along bridges through the Florida Keys is one of the best road trips in the country. If you are thinking about making the drive from Miami to Key West, this guide is for you. Here is everything you need to know, from the best stops on a Florida Keys road trip.

Miami to Key West is a 165 Mile drive and would take you just 3 hours and 20 minutes if driven without stops – but then you’d miss one of the great drives in America. We suggest a 2-3 day road trip driving through the Florida Keys to hit most of the highlights with a few nights in Key West at the end.

We have personally done this drive 8 times and heading back again this year because we love it so much. In this guide, we are going to share some of our favorite experiences and essential stops in the Florida Keys!

Hurricane Ian update:

US1 is open all the way, there are no road closures from Hurricane Ian on the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. The Florida Keys were not as heavily affected by Hurricane Ian as other areas of Florida. We just spent 2 weeks in the Florida Keys in November of 2022 and everything is open as far as hotels, restaurants, and attractions.

Aerial View of the Overseas highway the drive from Miami to Key West - Road Trip Guide for the Florida Keys

Miami to Key West Road Trip FAQs

Q: How long does it take to drive from Miami to Key West Florida?

A: There are 165 miles between Miami and Key West, and if you drove it straight, it would take a little over 3 hours. However with all the amazing stops between Miami and Key West you should really plan on 2-3 days to make the trip. This will give ample time to hit the highlights with some time to truly experience the Keys. 

Q: How is the drive from Miami to Key West is it Worth it?

A: YES! Stop thinking about a Miami to Key West road trip and start planning. Keep reading to see all of the best stops between Miami and Key West.

Q: Is it safe to drive from Miami to Key West?

A: Yes, The road from Miami to Key West is a popular drive with tourists and is very safe. Drive safely and take your time and get ready for a great road trip!

Using the Mile Markers on the Overseas Highway

The first thing to understand is that most of the attractions on a Miami to Key West Road Trip are referenced by what Mile Marker they are located near.

At Mile Marker 118, you are officially in the Florida Keys! From here, you are just over 100 miles from Key West, with lots of fun adventures ahead of you.

At the southwestern end of Key West lies the end of the road at Mile Marker 0. Between those mile markers, there are plenty of amazing stop-offs with lots of fun and adventures.

On your way to Key West, You’ll pass through hundreds of small islands that make up the Florida Keys. The islands are all connected by Highway 1 or “The Overseas Highway.”

Top 17 Places to Stop on the drive from Miami to Key West

Every good road trip needs a destination, but many times the things to see along the way are what really make the trip, and the drive from Miami to Key West is no different. The Overseas Highway is full of fun and sometimes quirky stops to break up the drive on the way down to Key West.

Here’s a collection of some of our favorites organized from north to south, as you’d find them on the way to Key West, labeled by the nearest mile marker on HWY 1.

Miami skyline at night from Mandarin Oriental Miami

1. Miami 

Many people choose to start their Miami to Key West Drive by flying into this vibrant city – but don’t just land and leave. There are a lot of great sights, beaches, and of course, amazing restaurants in Miami. If you are starting your Florida Keys drive in Miami, do yourself a favor and spend at least a night. 

If you do spend a day or two, here are some of our favorite things to do in Miami to help plan your itinerary. If you get a rainy day, check out some of the best museums in Miami.

We really like to stay at this hotel, the Iberostar Berkeley Shore Hotel. It is in a great location right on Miami Beach, with a nice pool, a beach area with chairs & umbrellas (a big selling point for us), parking, and more.

Another place we recently stayed was this hotel Uma House by Yurbban South Beach. It is located in South Beach, but not right on the beach. The hotel is new, has a great location, and is an easy walk to South Beach and restaurants. It is a super cute smaller hotel that has room options with separate. bedrooms which are great for families. 

Cypress trees in the calm swap of the Everglades National Park during a Miami to Key West Road Trip

2. Everglades National Park

On your way down to the Florida Keys on Highway 1, a turn-off just south of Florida City will take you into a portion of the Everglades National Park. In this guide, we are going to focus more on the Florida Keys portion of the road trip, but if you have more time, this is definitely worth a stop.

Click here for the best Everglades National Park tour – Small group boat, kayak, and walking guided Eco Tour. 

Underwater statue of Jesus at the John Pennekamp State Park - Top things to see on a road trip to Key West

3. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – (Mile Marker 102.5)

This Florida State Park was the first underwater park in the United States and covers about 70 square nautical miles. There are mangrove swamps to kayak and hammocks to lounge in, but the main draw to the park is what lies beneath the surface.

Under the waves, you’ll find beautiful coral reefs, plenty of sea life, and even an underwater sculpture. In addition to the natural wonders, the visitor center also has a 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with some of the same sea life you’ll find in the park.

If you have time, this is our favorite snorkel trip in the Florida Keys at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. 

Where to Stay Between Miami and Key West

Most people rush their way down to Key West, which is deserving of your time, but there are lots of things to see in the Northern and Middle Keys too. We suggest staying at least a night or two in the Northern or Middle Keys, and if you have time on your road trip, both.

Iberostar Berkeley Shore Hotel – Miami

Kona Kai Resort – Key Largo

Cheeca Lodge – Isla Morada

Southernmost Beach Resort – Key West


diver swimming near the Spiegel Grove Ship wreck in the florida keys - Top activities for road trippers

4. Spiegel Grove Ship Wreck (about 6 miles offshore from Mile Marker 102)

This massive Navy ship sits about 6 miles from the shore of Key Largo and is one of the top dive sites in the Florida Keys. In 2002 it was intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef and home for marine life. At the time of the sinking, the 512 ft ship was the largest ship ever to be intentionally sunk for use as an artificial reef. It is a must for divers visiting the Florida Keys.

Woman riding in the African Queen Boat in Key Largo - Top Road Trip attractions

5. Cruise on the Africa Queen (Mile Marker 100)

Movie buffs will surely want to pull over to take a scenic ride through the canals of Key Largo aboard the ship from the movie, The African Queen. Featured in the 1951 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, this boat was built in 1912 and worked in East Africa building railroads before it became a star.

woman standing in front of the MM88 beach sign at mile marker 88 on the overseas highway during a Florida Keys road trip

6. Mile 88 Beach & MM88 Tiki Bar (Mile Marker 88)

Soak in the tiki vibes at Plantation Key’s Mile Marker 88 Beach and Bar. With an unobstructed view to the west, this is also a great spot for sunset and a few sundowners.

A statue of a giant lobster along Highway 1 the overseas highway to Key West at Rain Barrel

7. Rain Barrel Artisan’s Village & Lobster Statue (Mile Marker 86)

This road trip stop in the Florida Keys is easy to spot, with a statue of a giant lobster named Betsy sitting out front. Many people stop for a selfie with the lobster and then realize there is a fun artist village here as well.

Islamorada Sandbar party - Must do things driving from Key West to Miami

8. Islamorada Sandbar Island Party (Near Mile Marker 84)

The sandbar located right offshore from Islamorada is the perfect place to spend an afternoon in the Florida Keys! You’ll find boats parked here just about every day, but on Sundays – this is the place to be. On the weekends’ hundreds of boats gather for an informal party in the crystal clear waist-deep water! You can charter a boat of the day and enjoy this unique local party.

Join this Waverunner tour, which visits the famous Islamorada Sandbar, mangrove tunnels, go under Whale Harbor Bridge, and more! Another great option if you are traveling with a group and looking to go on a fun tiki boat, you can rent this Tiki boat for a private 3 hours Islamorada Sandbar Tour

woman standing in front of the history of diving museum - Things to do on a Miami to Key West Drive

9. History of Diving Museum (Mile Marker 83)

Whether you are a diving enthusiast or not, the history of Diving Museum should be a part of anyone’s Key West road trip itinerary. Inside there is a fascinating collection of diving equipment dating back hundreds of years – and YES, you can even put on an old-school diving helmet!

Flight of 6 beers at Islamorada beer company - things to do in the Florida Keys

10. Islamorada Beer Company (Mile Marker 82)

You can’t miss the bright yellow building that make up Islamorada Beer Company and their adjoining distillery. Pull up a seat at the bar and grab a flight of tasty beers from the long list of brews. Their IPAs were pretty solid, and it was fun to try some of the beers that included regional ingredients and local flare.

Exterior view of the Ceecha Lodge and spa - Places to stay on the drive fromMiami to Key West

11. Cheeca Lodge & Spa (Near Mile Marker 82)

After a long day of driving, nothing works out the kinks like a good massage. Here at Cheeca Lodge, they have one of the top spas in the Keys. Indulge in a massage on your way to Key West and make time to have lunch at the Atlantic Edge restaurant on the property with great views of the sea.

12. Florida Keys Brewing Company (Mile Marker 81.5)

You don’t have to go very far between stops on a road trip from Miami to Key West to find fun places to grab a drink. Also, one in Islamorada is the Florida Keys Brewing Company which is one of the top breweries in the area. Their bottle cap tiled beer garden and taproom are surely worth pulling over for in your voyage down the Keys.

Woman feed Tarpon at Robbies in the florida Keys - Top things to do on a Key West Road Trip

13. Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s Restaurant (Mile Marker 77)

One of our favorite stops on our Florida Keys road trip was Robbie’s Restaurant. Where else in the world can you have a 5-foot-long fish jump out of the water to grab a fish from your hand? They also make some great brunch. Robbie’s because famous for its terrapin feeding, which started after trying to nurse an injured fish back to health.

14. Dolphin Research Center (Mile Marker 59)

The Dolphin Research Center provides a forever home for animals that have been recused and rehabilitated but can’t be released back into the wild. The research center was established in 1984 by Jayne & Armando Rodriguez as a non-profit to provide a habit for dolphins and educational experiences for visitors.

Teal colored exterior of the turtle hospital in the Florida Key - Things to do on a Miami to Key West Road trip

15. Turtle Hospital (Mile Marker 48.5)

The Turtle Hospital started helping everyone’s favorite sea creatures back in 1986. Since then, they have rehabbed and released more than 1,500 turtles back into the water surrounding the Florida Keys. On your road trip in the Keys, you can stop in and see the turtles that are currently being treated on one of their 90-minute tours that start on the hour from 9 am-4 pm daily.

Aerial View of the 7 mile bridge - Top things to see on a Road trip from Miami to Key West - Florida

16. Seven Mile Bridge (Mile Marker 47-40)

One of the most impressive bridges you’ll ever drive across is located on the west end of Marathon in the Middle Keys. As the name implies, this bridge spans 7 miles across the sea, and in some spots, it’s so long and straight you can’t see the end of it.

Here you’ll also find a walking bridge that was once a railway – it spans this stretch too. However, in 2019, it’s under construction and not open the entire length.

Yellow exterior of No Name bar in the Florida Keys while driving between Miami and Key West

17. No Name Pub (Near Mile Marker 30)

This pub with no name is worth the short detour off of the Overseas Highway near the key that shares the “No Name” name. This place is full of kitsch, with the walls and ceilings covered in dollar bills. It’s one of those old-time places that they just don’t make anymore. If this sounds like your kind of place, be sure to build it into your road trip itinerary for a drink or a bite to eat.

Where to Eat in the Upper & Middle Keys

Dinner at Sol by the Sea - Seafood platter - Places to eat of a Key West Road Trip

Sol by the Sea

Fine dining with unobstructed sunset views in Key Largo at the Playa Largo Resort & Spa. It’s an excellent place for a special dinner or just to celebrate being in the Keys! Many of the dishes here take hints from Caribbean Influences.

Mrs. Mac’s

An upper keys icon serving up classic dishes with an easy-going flare that made the Keys what they are. This place is a must for breakfast or brunch before continuing your Key West Road Trip. It is one of the best restaurants in Key Largo for sure.

Lunch of salad at the Atlantic way located at the ceech lodge - places to eat on a Florida keys road trip

Atlantic’s Edge

Located at the Cheeca Lodge, Atlantic’s Edge is the perfect place for lunch or dinner with fantastic ocean views. We highly suggest the fresh fish tacos and salad if you are looking for a lighter lunch.

Plate of lion fish at Chef Michales in the Florida Keys - Top places to eat

Chef Michaels

Chef Michaels is one of the best upscale restaurants in the Upper Keys. If you can get a reservation, we highly recommend it. They are known for their fresh seafood and steaks at Chef Michales.

Hungry Tarpon Restaurant

The Hungry Tarpon Restaurant is located at the famous Robbies of Islamorada for feeding the tarpon. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat or drink before or after feeding the tarpon. We stopped in for breakfast. Portions are large, the food is tasty, and it’s a great value.

Aerial View of the lower keys and Key West - Road Trip Guide to the Florida Keys

The Lower Keys

As you make your way further south, the Keys become less populated and more natural until you get to the final few islands like Key West. While there may not be as many pull-offs with signposts, there are still many natural places to explore in this more rugged and wild stretch of the Florida Keys.

Keep your eye out for nice beaches like Bahia Honda and many places to put a kayak in the water.

Best Things to do in Key West on a Road Trip

Once you reach Key West, you’ll have enough things to do to fill a few days and then some. We compiled a shortlist of our favorite things to do in Key West to help you make the most of your next road trip.

A catamaran seen from a sunset cruise from Key West - Top things to do while visiting Key West by car

Sunset Sail in Key West

One of the best things to do after a road trip down the Florida Keys is to sit back and let someone else do the driving or sailing rather aborad a sunset catamaran cruise. We sailed on this sunset sail with a full bar and live music with Sebago Watersports, and we highly recommend them.

Explore Duval Street at Night (and Day)

Duval Street is to Key West, as Bourbon Street is to New Orleans. While only slightly tamer (certain festivals excluded), Duval street has a reputation for great Key West nightlife. Just about any night of the year, you can find great live music along with fun and entertainment. The weekends are when the real parties are, while regional visitors are coming down to partake in the parties too.

If it is your first time in Key West, we suggest joining this Key West Pub Crawl. Not only will it give you the lay of the land, but it also includes five drinks, and you’ll probably make a few friends to join you out later that night. 

However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to see on Duval street while the sun is out. This historic street is home to a number of great art galleries, shops, and attractions – plus, you’re on vacation, and the bars are open during the day too!

Related Article: Things to do in Key Largo

Woman with her feet up in a kayak tour of Key West - Things to do in Key West

Kayaking with Lazy Dog

We went on this Key West Mangrove Kaying tour with Lazy Dog. In our opinion, it was one of our favorite tours in Key West. 

Grab a paddle and head out into the mangroves. You can rent kayaks here or take a guided tour which will bring you to the beautiful backwaters of Key West. On one of their tours, you’ll paddle through mangrove creeks with blueish-green water, at some points only a few inches deep.

You’ll have a chance to spot all sorts of wildlife above and below the surface. Nurse sharks, jellyfish, and sea birds are frequently seen while kayaking in the lower keys. As a bonus, on some tours, you can even bring your dog!

Exterior view of the Hemingway House in Key West - Top road trip attractions

Hemingway House

The world-renowned author Ernest Hemingway called Key West home for most of the 1930s. During his time in the keys was when his most successful books were published.

While in Key West, you can visit the home he shared with his wife of the time, Pauline. The Hemingways no longer live here, but descendants of Hemmingway’s 6-toed cats can still be found in the house and garden. 

You can join this Hemingway Food and Walking tour. It starts outside the Hemingway House (it does not go inside the house, so you’ll have to do that on your own). The tour follows in Hemingway’s footsteps, giving you a glimpse of his life and the history of Key West. 

View of Sloppy Joes Bar in Key West Florida at night - Top things to do in Key West

Stop in for a Drink at Sloppy Joe’s

Made famous by one of Key West’s most memorable residents, Ernest Hemmingway, who frequented the bar and allegedly had a hand in naming the place. Today you won’t find Hemmingway, but you will find a big open, lively bar with live music and food.

However, if you visit in July, you might just see Hemmingway or at least a really good doppelganger at the annual Hemmingway Lookalike contest held at Sloppy Joe’s. If you join the Hemingway Food and Walking tour, you will visit Sloppy Joe’s, as it is an important stop. 

Green and yellow exterior of Kermit's Key West Lime Pie Shoppe - Places to eat in Key West

Key Lime Pie at Kermit’s

While every storefront from Mile Marker 118 to the furthest piers in Key West all claim to have the best Key Lime Pie, Kermit’s is the real deal. Don’t miss this Key West institution on your road trip! For a mid-day snack, be sure to grab a chocolate-dipped frozen slice of Key Lime pie on a stick. YES – it’s as good as it sounds.

Smathers Beach

This deep sandy beach located on the southern shoreline of Key West is arguably the best beach on the island. Despite its stunning white sand, it’s not bursting at the seams with visitors. During most times of the year, you’ll have no problem finding a spot to lay your beach towel.

woman in a striped dress standing next to the "Southernmost Point" Marker Buoy - top tourist attractions while driving to key west florida

Southernmost Point Marker

This painted concrete buoy is a popular photo spot that marks the piece of land furthest south in the Continental United States. From here, it’s said only to be a short 90 miles to Cuba. Snapping a selfie here is a must on a Florida Keys road trip.

Group of dolphins swim in front of the Honest Eco electric boat in Key West - Top day trip in Key West

Dolphin Watch and Snorkel with Honest Eco on their Electric Boat

Set sail about Key West’s first electric catamaran for a truly memorable eco-friendly experience with local wildlife. Dolphins are regularly spotted in the water just offshore of Key West, and the snorkeling is good with clear waters. 

This is the exact tour we took with Honest Eco. Check rates here

woman standing in front of the mile marker 0 in Key West Florida - Road Trip Itinerary

Mile Marker Zero

This spot here ceremoniously marks the end of your Miami to Key West drive. This is the end of the road – Mile Marker Zero. There are two signs, one on each side of the road – one for the end of the road and one for the beginning.

We suggest joining this guided bicycle tour of Old Town Key West, as it visits several of the stops on this list and more, including Mile Marker Zero. 

Woman eating diner at Latitudes at sunset Key - Top things to do in Key West - places to eat

Romantic Dinner at Latitudes on Sunset Key

Finish off any good road trip in style with dinner at Latitudes, voted one of the most romantic dinner spots in the country. If you want a table here, you should put your name on the list before you even start planning your road trip.

Dinner tables book up months in advance. If you have less time, you can also dine here for lunch too, but you just won’t get the full effect without the sunset, but still some great food.

Related Article: Things to do in Key West

Where to Eat in Key West

There’s no shortage of great food in Key West. We were really surprised at all the good food we had while visiting – we didn’t have a plate that we weren’t impressed with. In a city full of top-notch restaurants, it can be hard to pick where to go. Make sure to indulge in some fresh fish too. Here are some of our favorite places with the best seafood in Key West.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite restaurants in Key West and standout meals from our recent trip to Key West. Make sure to check out our complete best restaurants in Key West article.

Cuban Coffee Queen

Start your day off right with a cup of classic Cuban coffee. This tasty little shop has two locations, one downtown and another by the waterfront. In addition to coffee, the Cuban Coffee Queen serves up smoothies, Cuban-inspired sandwiches, breakfast favorites, and even desserts. Don’t miss the giant Key West postcard painted on the side of their waterfront location.

If you are looking for a more filling meal, make sure to check out our best Cuban food in Key West article. There are tons of great Cuban restaurants in Key West.

Cafe Marquesa

Our favorite meal in Key West was at Cafe Marquesa. We enjoyed everything we had. The menu often changes as everything is fresh. We highly recommend the shrimp & grits appetizer and beignets as a dessert.

The restaurant is one of Zagat’s highest-rated restaurants in Key West. The chef, Graham Dailey, has been on Iron Chef and trained under Anthony Bourdain.

Matt’s Stock Island

If you love brunch, you have to go to Matt’s Stock Island for their Sunday brunch. Every Sunday from 10:30 am – 2 pm includes three buffets (including a raw bar), unlimited small plates, and bottomless Bloody Marys & Mimosas.

We dined for dinner one evening as we weren’t in town on a Sunday morning. We started our meal with the crab beignets and scallops & bacon, and each got today’s catch blackened. Make sure to save room for dessert too. The Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream Sammich is where it’s at!

Kermit Key Lime Pie shop

In addition to the pies, Kermit’s is a local’s favorite lunch spot. On the menu are nice wraps and awesome fries for reasonable prices. Of course, save room for pie because leaving without trying a slice would be a sin!

Latitudes at Sunset Key

If you only have one splurge meal, it should probably be Latitues out on Sunset Key, and it should be dinner at sunset. As the name of the island suggests, the sunsets here are pretty amazing and make for a special night. Make your reservations well in advance.

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View of the seven mile bridge from above in the Florida Keys during a road trip