Guide to the Florida Keys: Miami to Key West road trip
The drive from Miami through the Florida Keys to Key West is absolutely stunning and is one that you should definitely add to your bucket list of road trips.
Miami is a colourful, tropical and bustling beach city. It is great fun and was just as crazy as I had imagined!
How to get there
Miami has both a domestic and international airport, and you can fly into Ft Lauderdale or Miami.
Where to stay
The island of Miami Beach, particularly in South Beach, is where all the action is. If you do not have a car, it is best to stay around here so you can walk everywhere. In this area there are a lot of hotels however some can be quite expensive. An alternative option is to stay in an Airbnb.
I stayed at Beach Paradise Hotel which was right on the main street on Ocean Drive. Rooms started from AUD$130, and the staff were nice enough to give us an upgrade.
If you have a car, you can stay a bit further out of Miami Beach to save a bit of money.
What to do
Soak up the sun on Miami Beach
Miami’s tropical climate means that you can enjoy the beach all year around. The wide sandy beach stretches the whole way along Miami Beach island.
Stroll down Ocean Drive
Ocean Drive, the main street in South Beach, is lined with buzzing restaurants, hotels, shops and bars. It is a constant party everywhere you go!
Although be aware that eating on the main street is extremely expensive, and the restaurant hosts try and get you in to by advertising 2 for 1 frozen margarita deals, which turn out to have a whole bunch of terms and conditions attached and are kind of a rip off.
Take the water taxi to Downtown Miami
A relaxing way to travel across to Downtown Miami is by water taxi. You can sit back and watch all of the Miami islands pass you by, most of which are owned by celebrities.
Once you get to Downtown Miami, you can enjoy the wonderful markets and waterfront restaurants at Bayside Marketplace for an afternoon. If you like Cuban food I would recommend eating at Mambo Cafe.
Florida Keys – Miami to Key West
Everglades Alligator Farm
As you head south from Miami, a great first stop is the Everglades Alligator Farm. Here you can see alligator and snake shows, and take an exhilarating airboat ride through the Everglades.
As you head across the water to North Key West, I highly recommend stopping at Alabama Jacks. This is an awesome waterfront seafood restaurant where you literally sit over the water and look into the Everglades. It has great live music and a very laid back atmosphere.
Another great restaurant to stop for a waterfront meal in Key Largo is Sundowners. The outdoor area looks over the water and it is very picturesque.
Watch the sunset at Sombrero beach
Once you are about half way to Key West at the island of Marathon, I recommend stopping at Sombrero beach. This is a beautiful serene beach that is great for watching the sunset.
Seven Mile Bridge
The drive towards Key West is absolutely amazing as you drive through many islands surrounded by turquoise ocean either side. My favourite part of the drive is going over seven mile bridge.
Key West is the best part of the Florida Keys. There is so much going on here – the beaches are great, the food is delicious, the houses are gorgeous and there is this incredible holiday vibe running through the town.
There are many great activities to do in Key West. All of the sights are pretty close to one another and it is easy to walk everywhere. The main street, Duval Street, is full of buzzing shops, cafes and bars.
Key West also has a lot of great water activities including scuba diving, jet ski tours and sailing. We went on a great jet ski tour that took us all around Key West and we were able to get up close with many of the smaller surrounding islands.
On the south of the island, you can visit the Southernmost Point. From there it is just 90 miles to Cuba and is a fun place to take a photo. Just a warning, it is quite busy!
Another great place to visit is Mallory Square. Here there are markets, pop up bars and great buskers. It is also a beautiful place to watch the sunset.
The Key West Marina is also a nice area to wander around. There are restaurants, shops and also some of the best Cuban street food I had in the Keys – Cuban Coffee Queen.
How long to stay
I did this road trip in 5 days and it didn’t seem rushed. If you have more time to spend in any of the places I would highly recommend it!