If I made a list of my favorite road trip adventures in the US, a Miami to Key West road trip would definitely be floating near the top.
I have made a road trip from Miami to Key West at least four different times and throughout various times of the year, resulting in some epic stories (and many, many mishaps!)
This guide will detail how to take the ultimate Miami to Key West road trip and will tell you about several fantastic places to stop on your Miami to Key West drive!
You can make this road trip to Key West from Miami in one day so we have given some Miami to Key West itinerary options that will take you from one Florida destination to the other in 1, 2, or 3 days.
I will note now that does NOT take long to make this drive- but there is a lot to see on the way if you want to break it up a bit! You will also find many RV parks in the Florida Keys that make camping a completely viable option for many!
This guide will also detail places to eat and where to stay along the way, in addition to mileage and approximate driving time (including fuel costs). If you have any recommendations or tips, please leave them in the comments!
In this post...
Miami to Key West Drive Map
We have created a map to help you plan this trip! You can check out our Miami to Key West road trip map below. It highlights all places on this guide.
For road trips, I use a map app called ‘Roadtrippers’. This app is brilliant and it creates maps like none other – you can see everything from times, points of interest on your route, estimated gas costs, accommodation options, and more!
This is one of my top recommended apps and I use Roadtrippers Plus to create maps for the trips I take. If you want to sign up and create your own, you can save $5 by clicking here and using my promo code BTR5QTP.
Renting a Car in Miami
If you’re looking to rent a car in Florida for your road trip to Key West, we recommend finding one that is fuel-efficient and getting full-coverage insurance with the rental car agency on the car. This will give peace of mind when you’re exploring all the awesome places to visit in Florida!
It is also advised to book ahead because if you wait until the last minute, you may end up stuck with something you don’t want to drive or can’t afford!
In addition, rental cars usually need to be booked by the card of the main driver. Not always, but I have found that in the US, this is often the case in many states.
National Parks Pass
If you are visiting any of the national parks or sights in Florida (the Everglades are in Southern Florida – hint, hint!), or any of the other 2,000 federal registered sites in the US, we highly, highly recommend purchasing an ‘America the Beautiful’ pass that lasts for 1 year and grants you admission to all registered sites. At only $79.99, it is a steal and one of the best values for your buck for US travel!
Florida Keys Road Trip Stops – Our Favorites
This guide contains 16 worthy stops in between Miami and Key West. Here is a quick reference guide to the stops we love and think should be included in your Florida Keys itinerary:
- Coral Castle
- Manatee Bay Eco Tours
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock
- Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
- Wahoo’s Bar and Grill
- Ligumvitae Key State Park
- Islamorada Brewing & Tasting Room
- Florida Keys Brewing Company
- Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
- Indian Key Historic State Park
- Long Key State Park
- Old Seven Mile Bridge
- Burdines Waterfront (Restaurant)
- Bahia Honda State Park
- Blue Hole (Big Pine Key)
Miami to Key West Drive Itinerary
One of the biggest mistakes people make when embarking on the drive from Miami to Key West is that they don’t stop except for food and gas. And, there are quite a few cool places to see.
While 3 days is very long for the trip to Key West from Miami, I am planning this out in a way that will allow people to take 1-3 days on their Miami to Key West itinerary and adjust accordingly.
Below are the days, destinations, and approximate mileage for the journey:
Day 1: Miami to Key Largo (69 miles, 1 hour and 21 minutes)
Day 2: Key Largo to Marathon (48 miles, 1 hour and 4 minutes)
Day 3: Marathon to Key West (45 miles, 1 hour and 1 minute)
Day 1 – Drive from Miami to Key Largo
- Distance: 69 miles
- Time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
- Fuel: about $7
- Attractions on the way: Coral Castle (Homestead), Manatee Bay Eco Tours (North Key Largo), John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo), Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock (Key Largo), Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
On the first day of this Miami to Key West road trip, you will be making the journey from Miami down into the Upper Keys. However, depending on how you want to break up this trip, there are quite a few places you could stop along the way, including the Everglades, before getting to the islands.
I didn’t include the Everglades in this guide as most people visit as a day trip from Miami and not en route to the Keys, but please know that it is a possibility and a sensible detour if you opt to do it!
This first part of the itinerary takes you from Miami to Key Largo, where you will find plenty of places to stay overnight. There are all-inclusive resorts, some of the best meditation retreats in Florida, and more alternative (and relaxing) places to call home for a while.
The distance is only about an hour and a half, maximum, and most people choose to skip Key Largo, but I think it is an underrated place due to its parks and refuges and that it is worth a stop (or an overnight).
Below are some of the highlights in Key Largo, Florida:
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge: This wildlife refuge is a satellite of the National Key Deer Refuge and was established under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
It covers 6,700 acres (650 of which are open water). You will find a variety of habitats including salt marshes, tropical hardwood hammock, mangrove forests, and more. Some species you’ll find here are the American crocodile, Key Largo woodrat, and the Schaus’ Swallowtail butterfly.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: This state park is unique and such a worthwhile stop for those on a Miami to Key West road trip. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States and it spans approximately 70 nautical miles.
Some of the things you can do at this Florida state park is to check out the mangroves and tropical hammocks, take a glass-bottom boat tour, go scuba diving or snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and more. It truly is a must-visit on your drive from Miami down to the Keys!
In my opinion, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of the most fascinating things to do in Florida and should be a must on your Keys itinerary!
Top-rated restaurants in Key Largo: The Fish House, Lazy Lobster Seafood Restaurant, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, Key Largo Conch House, Doc’s Diner, Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Cafe.
Where to Stay in Key Largo
There are a variety of places to stay in Key Largo. Here are some hotels and Airbnbs in Key Largo, Florida:
- Hotels: Key Largo Bay Marriott Resort (3-star hotel on the Bay), Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo (4-star luxury on the Gulf), Coconut Palm Inn (mid-range accommodation located in Tavernier right on the Florida Bay).
- Airbnbs: Bayside Cabin On the Sea (entire guesthouse in Key Largo), Tiburon Cottage (seaside apartment in Key Largo), Key Largo waterfront home (has a tiki bar and boat dock)
Pro tip: I have previously stayed at the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort and while I don’t love recommending chain hotels (I was there for a wedding), it did offer a beautiful view over the Bay and you could see manatees hanging out in the waters which was pretty cool!
Day 2 – Drive from Key Largo to Marathon
- Distance: 48 miles
- Time: 1 hour, 4 minutes
- Fuel: about $5
- Attractions on the way: Lignumvitae Key State Park (Islamorada), Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Indian Key Historic State Park (Islamorada), Long Key State Park, Old Seven Mile Bridge (Marathon)
For the second part of your Florida Keys road trip, you will make your way from Key Largo to Marathon, via Islamorada (one of my favorite places in the Florida Keys!).
One of the reasons I am fond of Islamorada is because it is home to craft beer in the Florida Keys. Well, one of the homes as you will find Florida Keys Brewing Company and Islamorada Brewing Company both located on the island.
They are BOTH worth a stop. If you are driving- they sell to-go options for your journey so you can buy and drink somewhere else. Islamorada is kind of like a stop on an American foodie road trip… but for beer lovers!
Read More: Best things to do in Key West in December
The driving distance from Key Largo to Marathon is merely an hour and four minutes and this will give you ample time to stop and explore places along the way.
Another perk of Islamorada is that it is home to one of my favorite restaurants in the Florida Keys, Wahoo’s Bar and Grill Restaurant. While it is not upscale dining, it does have sea views and a good atmosphere (and some solid fish tacos).
Here are some of the highlights for the trip from Key Largo to Marathon:
Lignumvitae Key State Park (Islamorada): You will need a boat/kayak to visit this Florida state park. It is a park teeming with tropical hardwood hammock and it will transport you back to the 1930s. Please note that it is only open from Thursday until Monday from 8am until 5pm.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park (Islamorada): Another popular state park in Islamorada is Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park.
The park is formed from Key Largo limestone (fossilized coral) and today you can visit the 8-foot high quarry walls to learn more about the history of ancient coral that is preserved in the park. The park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Long Key State Park: Open year-round from 8am until sunset, Long Key State Park has long been a famed tourist spot for the affluent, but it has transformed into a haven for bird-watching, kayaking, relaxing, and swimming. Click here for more.
Old 7-mile Bridge (Marathon): At the very western edge of Marathon, you will find the Seven Mile Bridge that connects the Middle Keys to the Lower Keys (where Key West is). You will also see the Old Seven Mile Bridge, an old engineering feat that was constructed in the early 1900s to connect the railway to Key West.
The bridge was replaced in the 1980s and is currently used as a fishing pier and walking route and is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Top-rated restaurants in Islamorada: Wahoo’s Bar and Grill Restaurant, Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar, Florida Keys Brewing Company, Islamorada Brewing & Tasting Room, Lazy Days Restaurant, Chef Michael’s, Marker 88, Meze Morada, Morada Bay, Islamorada Fish Company
Top-rated restaurants in Marathon: Island Fish Company, Burdines Waterfront, Irie Island Eats, Fish Tales Market and Eatery, Keys Fisheries, 7 Mile Grill
Where to Stay in Marathon
There are a variety of places to stay in Marathon. Here are some hotels and Airbnbs in Marathon, Florida:
- Hotels: Tranquility Bay Resort (4-star resort in Marathon with beachfront accommodation), Isla Bella Beach Resort & Spa (private beach area 5-star luxury hotel), Sea Dell Motel (2-star, budget accommodation in Marathon – fun fact – I stayed here back in like 2005 or something!)
- Airbnbs: Angler’s Terrace (entire house with private pool and rooftop terrace), Waterfront home in Key Colony Beach (dock and private corner lot), Guest suite in Marathon (tiki hut and waterfront property), Casa Mariposa (entire guest suite with an easy walk to Sombrero Beach)
Pro tip: If you decide to stick around Islamorada and enjoy the beer and restaurant scene (can’t blame you!), a great place to stay is at Bud N’ Mary’s.
The name may be a bit unassuming but I stayed there on a whim as I was desperately looking for a place last minute on a Key West Miami road trip a few years back and it was a rather cool experience! There is a huge harbor (it is a sport fishing area) where you can watch the sunrise and take it all in. It is also an independently-owned business.
Day 3 – Drive from Marathon to Key West
- Distance: 45 miles
- Time: 1 hour, 1 minute
- Fuel: about $5
- Attractions on the way: Bahia Honda State Park, Blue Hole on Big Pine Key
Your third day on this Miami to Key West road trip will be completely at your leisure as I suspect many completed the road trip within a day or two and not three. However, this day includes one of my favorite places in the Florida Keys, Bahia Honda State Park.
The distance from Marathon to Key West is 45 miles and will take around an hour without any stops. But, you should stop at Bahia Honda!
Visiting Dry Tortugas? Get your US National Parks Pass for only $79.99 here!
Here is a bit of information about Bahia Honda State Park and the Blue Hole on Big Pine Key, as well as a few restaurant recommendations along the way to Key West:
Bahia Honda State Park: At Mile Marker 37, you will find fantastic Bahia Honda State Park, with award-winning beaches and a historic bridge. The park is on an uninhabited island that encompasses over 500 acres and has some fantastic snorkeling and beaches (I have been there 4 times- I can attest to this!).
There are snorkel tours, kayak rentals, a snack bar, and gift shops available, so you will be able to make a good day or half-day visiting Bahia Honda State Park.
Bahia Honda State Park is open from 8am until sunset, daily. There is an entrance fee and it is $8 per vehicle.
Blue Hole (Big Pine Key): The Blue Hole is an abandoned rock quarry that was used for Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad (that never really came to fruition). While I think there is not much to see there, you can find iguanas, key deer, snakes, alligators, and more.
Top-rated Restaurants in Big Pine Key: Big Pine Rooster, Milagro Restaurant and bar, Florida Keys Cafe, Island Deli, Trianos Taco Company, Coco’s Kitchen
Where to Stay in Key West
There are a variety of places to stay in Key West (like lots and lots!). Here are some hotels and Airbnbs in Key West, Florida:
- Hotels: Kimpton Winslow’s Bungalows (mid-range accommodation with an outdoor, heated swimming pool), Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina (4-star luxury in downtown Key West), Barbary Beach House Key West (mid-range 1.6 miles from Duval Street), Avalon Bed and Breakfast (3-star B&B located on Duval Street)
- Airbnbs: Duval Balcony Spanky’s Retreat (entire apartment on Duval), Condo in Mallory Square (has a pool and fits 2 guests), Colorful Cottage (accommodates 3 guests located in the downtown area), Private room near Duval (gorgeous room with pool and happy hour)
Pro tip: Okay, so this is definitely stating the obvious, but accommodation in Key West is far more expensive than other places in the Keys. If you’re looking for budget accommodation, opt to stay in Marathon or somewhere in the Middle and Upper Keys instead.
Alternatively, if you’re traveling to Key West in winter or the off-season, accommodation is far more affordable!
Miami to Key West Road Trip (1 Day Suggested Itinerary)
If you’re eager to make the trip to Key West all in one day (which is totally feasible… don’t let this post throw you off!), here is my suggested Miami to Key West itinerary:
- Leave Miami
- Visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for an hour or two
- Lunch at Wahoo’s Grill and Bar (Islamorada)
- Grab some beers to-go in Islamorada at Islamorada Brewing or Florida Keys Brewing Company (if you are driving- otherwise stop in and have a few if you’re the passenger!)
- Stop in Bahia Honda State Park for a few hours
- Arrive in Key West
If you’re staying in the Keys for two days before venturing all the way to Key West, I recommend picking and choosing what fits your travel needs on this list.
If you’re a nature person, there are plenty of state parks along the way that are worthy of visiting! If you’re a foodie, there are several places to grab delicious and fresh seafood as you make your way to Key West.
Once you’re actually on Key West, you can visit one of the most iconic lighthouses in FL, take a snorkeling tour, or even a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park!
We hope that this guide to the best stops on your Miami to Key West road trip helps you plan your itinerary for this epic adventure!
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