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Step by Step Guide to a Fun Day Trip to Key West from Miami

How Far is Key West from Miami?

If you are looking for some quick answers about a day trip to Key West from Miami, here they are:

  • How far is Key West from Miami? About 165 miles.
  • How long is the drive from Miami to Key West? 3.5 to 4 hours.
  • What is the road to Key West? Florida Turnpike to US 1 south – that’s it! This road is also known as the Overseas Highway.
  • Are there things to do along the drive to Key West from Miami? You just hit the jackpot! There are hundreds of things to do along the drive to Key West.

The road to Key West from Miami is lined with things to see, things to do and things to eat!

key west trip from miami map
Map of Road to Key West Trip from Miami

The Miami to Key West Drive

What to expect on the Miami to Key West drive? That depends on when you go. The traffic from Miami to the Overseas Highway (Route US 1) in Homestead should not be to traffic intense. We trust you can find you way on the day trip from Miami to get started.

The road from Homestead to Key Largo is a four-lane poorly maintained highway that can be very busy during the day hours and weekends.

The drive from Miami to Key Largo will be more stressful than the drive from Key Largo to Islamorada. Again, mostly four lanes and heavily traveled during peak hours. School zones slow morning traffic through the keys from about 7:45 to 8:45. The same applies in the afternoon from about 2:15 to 3:30.

Travel through the Keys may be slow, but for some of us that isn’t bad news. There are so many things to see and do, traffic doesn’t seem to be an issue for first time travelers. The 7-mile bridge alone is one of the wonders of the world!

Finding Places in the Florida Keys

As you will discover, many things in the Florida Keys are unlike many other places in Florida.

The culture, the food, the people, and the surroundings are all unique. You will always be on an island – in fact over 40 of them along the way.

You will also find that things change in the Keys. Mother Nature with hurricanes, winds and water tends to move things around or some just disappear.

how far is it to Key West from Miami - Betsy the Lobster
Don’t forget to say hello to Betsy the Lobster at MM 86.8.

People in the Keys rely on a mile marker system. Along the road (US Route 1) are small green and white signs every mile denoting where you are. When you get on US 1 just before you enter the Keys you will be at MM 126.0. When you end the road in Key West, you will be at MM 0.

Places in between the mile markers are in tenths of a mile. For instance, the Worldwide Sportsman Store, worth your stop, is at MM 81.3 in Islamorada. Florida Travel Blog has a complete listing of over 130 mile markers for your convenience and sightseeing during your Key West day trip.

Things to See on the Road to Key West

The road to Key West is a scenic adventure in itself, offering a diverse array of sights and experiences to savor along the way. Here are some highlights to consider adding to your itinerary:

things you need when flying
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: While you may not be snorkeling or diving on you day trip to Key West from Miami, a stop at John Pennekamp State Park is a nice interlude from your travels. Over 70 acres of the park are underwater, but the main entrance and reception area are a sight to see. MM 102.8
  • day trip to Key West from Miami - Bahia Honda
    The State Park Bahia Honda has great beaches and camping. Good stop to walk around.

    Bahia Honda State Park: Discover this beach haven with stunning turquoise waters, lush mangroves, and abundant birdlife. Perfect for swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling. MM 36.8

  • Seven Mile Bridge: Experience the breathtaking drive across this iconic bridge, offering panoramic views of the turquoise waters and emerald islands below. One of the best sights on your Key West day trip. MM 47
  • Curry Hammock State Park: Explore the remnants of an old railroad village, climb a historic observation tower, and enjoy panoramic views of the Florida Keys. MM 56.2
  • Islamorada Art Village: Browse unique artwork and handcrafted souvenirs at this vibrant collection of artist studios and galleries. This is the home to Betsy, the larger-than-life lobster along the highway. MM 86.8.

More from Florida Travel Blog

  • Key Deer in Big Pine Key: Florida has a species of deer that are about the size of a large dog that are only found near the island of Big Pine Key. Generally, a drive around the island produces sightings of these cute creatures. MM 30.2

These are just a few of the many things to see in the Florida Keys on your day trip from Miami to Key West from Miami. Other sights on your Key West day trip will include the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean to your south and the Florida Bay to your north.

Things To Do on the Road to Key West

  • African Queen Canal Cruise: Experience the African Queen Canal Cruise in Key Largo. This classic vessel, featured in the film “The African Queen,” takes you on a journey through the local waterways. Key Largo – MM 94.8
  • Theater of the Sea: Visit
    day trip to Key west from Miami - theater of the sea
    Theater of the Sea in Islamorada is a great place to learn about the creatures of the sea.
    Theater of the Sea in Islamorada for a marine mammal park experience. Enjoy shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, and parrots. MM 84.2
  • Dolphin Research Center: Learn about these playful marine mammals at the Dolphin Research Center through interactive exhibits, educational programs, and even witness feeding demonstrations. MM 58.9
  • Crane Point Hammock Nature Trail: Immerse yourself in a lush tropical hammock forest, home to native plants, towering trees, and fascinating wildlife. There is also a museum of old Florida at Crane Point Hammock. Stretch your legs and see this attraction. MM 50.0
  • Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s – Few people have frequented the Florida Keys without stopping to see huge tarpon eating out of people’s hands. This conglomeration of souvenir stores, food stands and charter boats is worth the stop. MM 77.0

There are many more things to do along you day trip to Key West from Miami, but most people don’t spend too much time on their first trip. They are in a hurry to sip a margarita on Duval Street in Key West.

If you are thinking about taking some excursions or tours while in Key West, you can find a complete list here

key west trip from Miami - Sunset Grille
The Sunset Grille in Marathon is at the base of the historic Seven Mile Bridge.

Things To Eat Along the Road to Key West

There must be several hundred bars, restaurants and tiki huts from Key Largo to Key West. We are going to list just a few that may be worth a stop for refreshments, lunch or dinner.

Listed in order in travel order on your Key West day trip –

  • Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill – Key Largo – Jimmy Johnson’s place (of NFL coaching fame) big tiki hut and bar with decent food. MM 104.0
  • Key Largo Fisheries – Perhaps one of the best grouper sandwiches we have ever had was here on the waterfront. Off US Route 1 at 1313 Ocean Bay Drive. Turn near MM 100
  • Worldwide Sportsman & Tiki – While we mentioned this is great shopping, they also have a great Tiki and restaurant on the water behind the huge shopping complex. MM 81.3
  • The Stuffed Pig – Need some breakfast or lunch?
    trip to key west from Miami - No Name Pub
    Look for the miniature Key Deer as you try to find the Non Name Pub in Big Pine Key.
    Try this famous little place in Marathon. Down home style cooking. MM 49.0
  • The Sunset Grille – Named as one of the best Tiki Bars in Florida, the Sunset Grille is at the base of the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon. MM 47.1
  • The No Name Pub – Half the problem is finding this famous Florida Keys Pub. It is near Big Pine Key. You can turn at MM 30.2, after that use your GPS to find No Name Key.
  • Mangrove Mama’s – If you must stop with 20 miles left to Key West, Mangrove Mama’s is as quirky as the come in the Keys. Lunch or refreshments, you will be there soon! MM 20.0

As we stated, you probably passed another hundred or two place to eat and drink along the drive to Key West from Miami. We have listed just a few places for pit stops along the way.

A complete food guide to Islamorada we have posted before.

Some Tips for Your Day Trip to Key West from Miami

The trip is between 3 and 4 hours. We suggest you consider our tips below. After making this trip at least two dozen times, we have some thoughts:

  • Plan your stops: Research attractions and their opening hours beforehand to make the most of your time.
  • Factor in travel time: Distances between points can be deceiving, so allow ample time for driving and potential stops. Travel is sometimes slow along the Overseas Highway.
  • Embrace spontaneity: Keep an eye out for roadside attractions and unexpected gems that might catch your eye on the journey. There are some unusual places along the way.
  • Support local businesses: Opt for locally owned restaurants, shops, and activities to contribute to the unique character of the Keys.
trip to Key West from Miami - Mile Marker 0
Your destination is complete when you see this sign.

Remember, the road to Key West is not just about reaching the destination, but about enjoying the journey itself. With its stunning scenery, charming towns, and unexpected delights, it’s an unforgettable experience waiting to be explored.

Key West and MM 0

We won’t cover all the exciting things to look forward to in Key West. We have written about this international destination many times and the links are below.

If it is your first trip to Key West, Here are the top ten thing to see in Key West:

  1. Mallory Square: Start your day at Mallory Square, where you can soak in stunning waterfront views and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Don’t miss the nightly Sunset Celebration if your schedule allows.

  2. Duval Street: Wander along Duval Street, Key West’s main thoroughfare, lined with colorful buildings, boutique shops, art galleries, and bustling cafes. It’s the perfect place for people-watching and soaking up the island’s energy.

  3. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Visit the former residence of the renowned author Ernest Hemingway, known for its iconic six-toed cats and beautiful Spanish colonial architecture. Take a guided tour to learn about Hemingway’s life and literary legacy.

  4. day trip from Miami to Key West
    The southernmost buoy is one of the top ten things to see in Key West.

    Southernmost Point Buoy: Snap a photo at the Southernmost Point Buoy, marking the southernmost tip of the continental United States. It’s a popular spot for visitors to capture a memorable moment and enjoy panoramic ocean views.

  5. Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory: Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of butterflies at this tropical oasis. Stroll through lush gardens filled with exotic plants and colorful butterflies fluttering freely around you.

  6. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park: Explore this historic fort and state park, where you can swim, snorkel, or relax on the beach. Take a guided tour to learn about the fort’s role in Key West’s military history.

  7. Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum: Climb to the top of the Key West Lighthouse for panoramic views of the island and surrounding waters. Explore the museum to discover the history of Key West’s maritime heritage.

  8. Harry S. Truman Little White House: Step inside this historic residence, once used as a winter retreat by President Harry S. Truman and other U.S. presidents. Take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating history and presidential connections.

  9. Key West Aquarium: Delve into the underwater world of the Florida Keys at the Key West Aquarium. Encounter sharks, stingrays, tropical fish, and other marine creatures native to the region. This is one of our favorite places to visit on our trips to Key West.

  10. Key West Historic Seaport: Conclude your day at the Key West Historic Seaport, where you can stroll along the boardwalk, admire the colorful boats, and dine at waterfront restaurants offering fresh seafood and lively entertainment.

With these top ten attractions, you’ll experience the best of Key West in just one day, leaving you with lasting memories of this charming island paradise.

We think your day trip to Key West from Miami should have been fun, but now you have another whole world of adventure ahead of you in Key West.

Remember, you may have to travel back to Miami so many of the things you may have missed you can catch on your return trip. Have fun and wish we were there, again!

Other Links to Key West and the Florida Keys

Best Food in Key West

Best Beach in Key West

The Ultimate Vacation to Key West & The Florida Keys

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