As I said in the previous Florida post we are always looking for different things to do. My dad had always wanted to drive to Key West to go see the famous Seven Mile Bridge, a must see on a road trip through the Florida Keys. So since we were in Miami we decided to take the scenic drive down to the southernmost point in the continental U.S. - a classic American road trip.
Key West is the southernmost city in the United States finishing just 90 miles from Cuba, and it’s only a 4 hour drive from Miami. The Keys are all accessible via just one road US Highway 1 (which is called the Overseas Highway once you are in the Keys). Locations along the Overseas Highway from Key West to Key Largo are commonly given as mile markers.
Half the fun of getting to the Keys, is the drive through the islands, bridges, beaches, and bright blue ocean waters with small islands in between. Whether you make the drive in one day or a few, make sure to stop at a couple of these spots along the way for a nice introduction to the Keys such as Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys.
The Seven Mile Bridge is one of Florida Keys icons and not to be missed – you really CAN’T miss it if you are driving past mile 47 – as it connects the city of Marathon, which is part of the Middle Keys, to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. There are two bridges in this location. The modern bridge is open to vehicular traffic, and the older bridge is only open to pedestrians and cyclists. You are only able to walk about 2.2 miles of the bridge, as the remaining part is closed off and not maintained.
Once we arrived in Key West we started the day at The Southernmost Point. It is a must if you are in Key West and the perfect place to snap a souvenir picture, there was a line, but it moved quickly.
After you can walk around the town or take an Old Town Trolley, Conch Train or Ghost Bus tour to catch a glimpse around the island and learn a little history in the process. You absolutely must take the opportunity to tour The Harry S. Truman Little White House, the Key West vacation home of President Truman for over 175 days while he was in office. Then head over to The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum just down the street. Hemingway lived there from 1931 to 1939 and this beautiful piece of land has friendly 6 toed cats ready to welcome you.
Do not forget to make some time for a trip to the beach. If you’re looking for a natural beach, head over to the hidden Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park for crystal clear water. Other options are Smather’s Beach and Higgs Beach that are man-made beaches both located along the south side of the island.
Head over to Mallory Square, each night around two hours before sunset people come here to enjoy the nightly “Sunset Celebration”. One of the longest living traditions in Key West, locals and tourists gather here each night to admire the breathtakingly beautiful Key West sunset. There are tons of arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers and food carts. Remember to enjoy a nice walk around the marina and grab a beer at Sunset Pier.
Next stop is Duval Street that may only be a mile long, but it’s packed with small bars & old Victorian mansions. Pop in and listen to one of the many live bands playing Jazz, Cuban, or Salsa music. Create your own “Duval Crawl”, it’s no secret that Key West is a great place to party and no better way to do it that than with a Bar Crawl.
Lunch like the Locals. Whether you want to dine on the waterfront, off the beaten path, or on Duval St, the options are plentiful. But if you want fresh ingredients with a unique Key West atmosphere then you must try the popular food cart, Garbo’s Grill. Another local’s favorite lunch spot? Stock Island’s Hogfish Bar & Grill for authentic Florida Keys cuisine and atmosphere with panoramic views of a working marina, pets are welcome at both restaurants. Sloppy Joe’s, the infamous Hemingway hangout, is a fun choice for lunch or just a beer break. Hog’s Breath is another good choice, plus they have great souvenir shirts.
Whether you get it with meringue or whipped cream, as a chocolate-dipped popsicle, as a milkshake or even deep-fried (yes, you read that right) the Key Lime pie is a must in these parts.
Other things to do in Key West: Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Shipwreck Museum Key West, Key West Lighthouse and Museum and Key West Museum of Art and History.
If you want to explore more of Florida Keys visit the Sea Turtle Hospital and Bahia Honda State Park. The best beaches are: Sandspur Beach, Smather’s Beach, Dry Tortugas National Park, Sombrero Beach, Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Rest Beach, Higgs Beach, Anne’s Beach, Calusa Beach and Key West Dog Beach.
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Are you ready to start planning your next journey? We hope you found this road trip planner helpful. If you’ve recently taken a journey along the Overseas Highway, we would love to hear about it! We invite you to share your photos with us on Twitter and Facebook.