Planning a drive to Key West from Miami Florida? Lucky you!! Here are 50 FUN places to stop along the way, including the best beaches in Florida Keys, favorite places to eat and quirky spots, too.
How long does it take to drive to Key West from Miami? Without stops, the fastest route to drive from Miami International Airport to Key West is 3.5 hours (164 miles). To avoid tolls, it’ll take you 4 hours. If you want to include North Key Largo via Monroe County Toll Bridge, add 15 minutes.
Is it worth driving from Miami to Key West? Yes!! The drive to Key West from Miami is scenic and beautiful, with lots of fantastic stops along the way. Take your time, and let your Florida Keys road trip get you in the mood for an incredible getaway in Key West.
How much are tolls from Miami to Key West? Use the calculator at Sunpass.com to enter your route and figure out current tolls. At the time of writing this post, the fastest route is under $10.
Okay, let’s go!
MAP of Florida Keys Road Trip
Below is a map showing the best places to stop on your Florida Keys road trip. They’re color-coded as follows:
- Blue: Things to DO
- Red: Where to EAT
- Turquoise: Places to STAY
50 BEST Places to Stop on Your Drive to Key West from Miami
Whether you’re making it a quick weekend getaway in Key West or lingering in the Keys, make the short Florida Keys road trip part of the fun!
These best places to stop on your drive to Key West from Miami are organized from east to west. Here’s how they’re broken up:
- Best BEACHES to Stop At
- More SCENIC Places to Stop
- Quirky, Serious and FUN Things to Do
- Places to Stop for FOOD
- Beautiful Places to STAY
Also check out How To Plan a Road Trip You’ll LOVE in 7 Steps.
7 Best BEACHES on Florida Keys Road Trip
Anne’s BEACH, Islamorada
Anne’s Beach is a pretty first beach to stop at on your drive to Key West from Miami. Enjoy the soft sand between your toes and wander out in the shallow water. Have a picnic at one of the tables and take a stroll on the boardwalk. This free beach is named after a local environmentalist.
Long Key State Park BEACH, Long Key
Long Key State Park was once a luxury resort and now offers visitors bonefishing, canoeing and hiking. It’s a great spot if you like to camp, and if you have kids. The beach is shallow up to 100 yards depending on tide.
Curry Hammock State Park BEACH, Marathon
Curry Hammock State Park is another great spot for campers, with fishing, kayaking and hiking trails. The beach is 1200-feet long and shallow, but with more slope than most beaches on your Florida Keys road trip.
Sombrero BEACH, Marathon
Sombrero Beach is the BEST free beach in the Florida Keys, with something for everyone. The beautiful white sand is in an arc shape, backed by grassy lawns and palm trees. You can do some snorkeling. Kids can run around at the playground. Make use of the grills and picnic tables for dinner. There are change rooms, restrooms, and showers. Sombrero Beach is two miles off the main road.
You may even get to see Loggerhead turtles nesting! If you’re so lucky, remember to give them their space and not to approach. Nesting is from April to October.
Veterans Memorial Park BEACH, Little Duck Key
Right at the end of Seven Mile Bridge (which we’ll discuss below) is this quiet and pretty little sandy beach. Veterans Memorial Park has shallow water, lots of wildlife and views of the Seven Mile Bridge. There are picnic tables and porta potties.
Bahia Honda State Park BEACHES, Marathon
The overall BEST beach in the Florida Keys are those at Bahia Honda State Park. Bask on 2.5 miles of white sand and shallow water, all natural. Sandspur Beach is on the Atlantic side and Loggerhead Beach is at the south end of the park. There are kayak rentals, snorkeling tours and a snack bar onsite. Note that these beaches get busy!
While at Bahia on your drive from Miami to Key West, also take advantage of the short but pretty walking trail. Walk to the end of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge, which was once part of the Overseas Railway.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and BEACH, Key West
End your drive to Key West from Miami with another excellent beach right in Key West. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park has plenty to do, including a beach with sports rentals, cafe, nature trails and a pre-Civil War fortress. This beach is best for snorkeling, with clear water and a rocky bottom.
5 More SCENIC Places to Stop from Miami to Key West
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo
You can start your Florida Keys road trip right by stopping at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. This is a fantastic spot to meet the vibrant marine life in the waters around you. Go kayaking, snorkeling, or diving. Or take a glass-bottom boat tour. This is where you’ll see the famous 9-foot “Christ of the Deep” statue, installed in 1965.
Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary, Tavernier
If you love birds, this is a must-do place to stop on your drive to Key West from Miami. Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary takes in injured birds, including herons, cormorants and owls. If possible, plan your stop around daily pelican feeding times. Follow the boardwalk through the back, too (just watch for alligators). This free place to stop gratefully accepts donations to keep things running.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Islamorada
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is a fascinating spot to explore, with trails that take you past views of fossilized coral.
Seven Mile Bridge
The Seven Mile Bridge is the longest bridge in the Florida Keys, joining Knights Key in the Middle Keys with Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. Along the way, wave at Donna the Bush and Fred the Tree, growing strong on the neighboring old bridge. At Christmas, you’ll even see Fred decorated!
When you reach Little Duck Key, park and walk for 15 minutes to reach the end of one section of the old bridge. Unfortunately you can’t walk to Fred and Donna, but it’s still a great way to stretch your legs on your drive to Key West from Miami.
And across the road from the bridge parking is a pretty little beach called Veterans Memorial Park, mentioned above. Soft white sand, shallow water and lots of wildlife make it a fun little place to stop on your Florida Keys road trip.
Blue Hole Observation
To see gators and key deer, take this 5-minute detour off the main road on your drive to Key West from Miami! Blue Hole is a small freshwater lake inside a reserve where you can see a whole bunch of key creatures. From the observation platform, you can see key deer, alligators, iguanas, turtles, anhinga birds, warblers, geckos and other small lizards.
19 Quirky, Serious and Fun Places to Stop on Drive to Key West from Miami
Rain Barrel Village, Islamorada
Rain Barrel Village is a quirky and FUN place to stop on your drive to Key West from Miami. It’s a collection of small shops, perfect for finding those travel treasures. You’ll know you arrived when you see the giant lobster!
Theater of the Sea, Islamorada
Theater of the Sea is a fun place to stop with kids on a Florida Keys road trip. Visitors love the continuous shows, especially the dolphin show, which are included in the price. Shows also include parrots, sharks and alligators. The beach and garden paths are lovely, too. You can also pay extra to interact with the animals. Food, however, seems to be a miss.
History of Diving Museum, Islamorada
Here’s a cool museum (yup, unbelievers … those two words can go together!). If you love all-things diving, check out the History of Diving Museum on your drive to Key West from Miami. This unique museum is packed with relics that show how diving has evolved. Cool helmets, scuba gear and armored suits that look like they’re out of a movie set. Cool, right?!
Keys History & Discovery Center, Islamorada
If you’d love to understand the early culture and history of the beautiful Florida Keys, stop at the Keys History and Discovery Center in Islamorada on your Florida Keys road trip. The building itself is lovely, and the displays and model bring the history of the Keys to life.
Hurricane Monument, Islamorada
Here’s a quick but meaningful place to stop on your drive to Key West from Miami. The Hurricane Monument is a somber and well-done tribute to those who died in the Category 5 hurricane on September 2, 1935, estimated to be between 400 and 600. It was crafted from fossilized coral, which clearly reveals many fossilized plants and creatures. A humbling and beautiful testament to the power of nature.
Feed a Tarpon at Robbie’s, Islamorada
Islamorada is known as the “sport fishing capital of the world,” so here’s an appropriate thing to do on your Florida Keys road trip. Hold a small dead fish above the water and drop it into the mouth of a tarpon as it jumps up at you! All while guarding your bucket of fish from cute but rather assertive pelicans. This quirky thing to do is at Robbie’s, a popular waterfront restaurant.
Note that the pelicans will snatch fish out of your hand. This might be a little scary for a kid … or a grown up that’s timid with birds! It’s also fun just to watch others from the comfort of Robbie’s excellent waterfront restaurant.
Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key
If you love dolphins, check out the Dolphin Research Center on your drive to Key West from Miami. You can spend the day with trainers and researchers and schedule a private dolphin encounter. Visitors speak highly of the obvious care and attention given to the dolphins. Emphasis is on education and encounters versus shows. There are also picnic tables and a small splash pad for hot days.
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, Marathon
Another option for a wildlife encounter experience is the Florida Keys Aquarium in Marathon. The Florida Keys Aquarium features touch tanks, opportunities to feed stingrays and lobsters, and snorkeling and diving in a controlled setting. This is a great option for kids and those timid with open water. Meet alligators, sharks, moray eels, tortoises, and horseshoe crabs. Visitors love how interactive this aquarium experience is. Cafe onsite.
Turtle Hospital, Marathon
Love sea turtles? Me, too! Check out the Turtle Hospital in Marathon on your drive to Key West from Miami. The Turtle Hospital rescues and rehabilitates injured sea turtles, and tells you all about it. Take a guided public tour, meet the turtles and browse the gift shop. You can also adopt a turtle.
SKYDIVE Key West
If you’re looking for adventure, you can’t get much better than skydiving in the Keys! Woah, now that’d be incredible. Just imagine the views. Skydive Key West is based at the airport just north of Lower Sugarloaf Key. It has fantastic reviews, as well as views! Get the package that includes the photos. Both to recapture those incredible moments and to prove you did it.
HEMINGWAY House, Key West
The Hemingway House is a popular historic site to visit when you reach Key West. If you love Ernest Hemingway’s books, you’ll be thrilled to see his original typewriter. For garden lovers, you’ll be thrilled with the property’s pretty gardens. And for cat lovers, you’ll meet some of the 6-toed cats hanging around!
Key West LIGHTHOUSE, Key West
Don’t you just love lighthouses? They’re such an iconic symbol of island life. And in Key West, you can climb 88 steps to the top of the historic Key West Lighthouse. Take a deep breath and get ready for an amazing getaway in Key West. Enjoy the views!
The Key West Butterfly and Nature CONSERVATORY, Key West
While in Key West, be sure to visit this beautiful conservatory. As is the name of the game with such facilities in the Keys, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is interactive. It’s enclosed in glass and filled with luscious plants, making it a lovely place to stroll and meet butterflies and birds. Like Pink Flamingos!
Southernmost Point of Continental USA, Key West
Here’s a simple and fun place to stop on your drive to Key West from Miami. The southernmost point of Continental USA! Hello, selfie. This point is also 90 miles north of Cuba and US1 – Mile Marker 0.
Truman Little White House, Key West
The Truman Little White House was once, you guessed it, President Harry S. Truman’s White House in winter. Take a guided tour and enjoy this pretty property. Visitors give it great ratings. You’ll enjoy it if you like US history, pretty gardens and cool old cars.
Mel Fisher Maritime MUSEUM, Key West
Now, aren’t you fascinated by shipwrecks? Maybe it’s a morbid curiosity, but there’s something so haunting and romantic about them. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West features artifacts from a shipwreck back in the 1600s. Plus, learn the science of conservation and get insights on piracy, the slave trade and Cuban missile crisis.
Audubon HOUSE, Key West
The Audubon House in Key West is a lovely restored home from the 1840s. Its restoration reflects the elegance of a wealthy family, featuring antiques and pretty gardens. Visit the gift shop for unique travel treasures, too.
Mallory SQUARE, Key West
Now, you can’t go to Key West without stopping at Mallory Square. Mallory Square is a fun and vibrant waterfront plaza, with restaurants, shops and nightly festivals. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset, too.
Dry Tortugas National PARK
Okay, so this spot is past Key West. But it’s a good one! Take a boat tour or seaplane from Key West out to the gorgeous and remote Dry Tortugas National Park. Fort Jefferson is one of the biggest forts built in the 1800s, surrounded by incredible snorkeling and diving. Just watch the interactive tour … you’ll be hooked!
16 Places to Stop for FOOD: Drive to Key West from Miami
Look out… you have a LOT of awesome places to stop for food on your drive to Key West from Miami. All of these spots have awesome reviews, so be prepared to food-hop all the way down.
Places to Eat in the UPPER KEYS:
- Caribbean Club, Key Largo: The oldest bar in Upper Keys, right on Florida Bay with live music on its waterfront stage on weekends. It was also the filming site for Key Largo in 1947 (starring Humphrey Bogart).
- Sharkey’s Sharkbite Grill, Key Largo: Set on the marina, this is a fun and casual spot with great food, cocktails and live music.
- Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, Key Largo: A popular (and busy) long-running restaurant decorated with license plates and serving seafood and steak.
- Harriette’s Restaurant, Key Largo: A quaint, less touristy option in a charming yellow shack, open for breakfast and lunch. Known for its key lime muffins.
- Blond Giraffe Key Lime Factory, Tavernier: A favorite spot for both classic and unique versions of key lime pie. Enjoy with a coffee under shady trees outside.
- Marker 88, Plantation Key: A casual beachfront bar and grill, with shaded swinging chairs.
- Islamorada Brewing & Distillery: Indoor and outdoor seating with a fun atmosphere, tasty food and drinks. Plus, they have yard games!
- Florida Keys Brewing Company, Islamorada: Delicious local beer, paired with delicious pub food and fun vibe. In a true, beautiful beer “garden.”
- Morada Bay Beach Cafe, Islamorada: A beautiful open-air beachfront location, across the main road from the Florida Keys Brewing Company.
- Robbie’s, Islamorada: A popular waterfront spot to eat, as well as feed tarpon (see above), rent a boat or kayak, or take a fishing charter.
Places to Eat in the MIDDLE KEYS (Between Long Key Bridge and Seven Mile Bridge):
- Irie Island Eats, Marathon: A fantastic food truck offering fun, locally-sourced food in a comfortable shaded outdoor setting. Featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.
- Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Marathon: A classic pub-vibe setting with excellent seafood, sushi and tap beer. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Places to Eat in the LOWER KEYS (West of Seven Mile Bridge):
- No Name Pub, No Name Key: A funky tavern serving interesting pizzas and homey food like chili. It dates back to 1931 and was once a brothel. Now, dollar bills cover its ceiling and walls, displaying names, quotes and dreams of past visitors.
- Yellowfin Bar & Grill, Stock Island: A classier option that’s part of the Oceans Edge Resort and Marina, with room to spread out inside and out.
- Margaritaville Restaurant, Key West: A fun and lively spot to enjoy island-inspired food, margaritas and live music.
- Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, Key West: Take a tour, a tasting and a class to make an awesome mojito! A former saloon with great decor and delicious rum cakes. Think: chocolate and bacon. Yum.
3 Places to STAY in Florida Keys:
- Cheeca Lodge and Spa, Islamorada: A lush beachfront resort in the Upper Keys, and a favorite of presidents and celebrities since 1946. Features an onsite spa, golf course, fishing pier, adult and family pools, watersports and three restaurants.
- The Mermaid and The Alligator, Key West: A lovely adults-only boutique hotel in downtown but nestled among lush private gardens. Some rooms have a balcony and soaker tub.
- Opal Key Resort and Marina, Key West: A waterfront resort in Old Town, with a restaurant, bar, heated outdoor pool, hot tub, onsite shops and watersports.
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Featured Photo Credit: Florida Guidebook from Unsplash