Can you see Cuba from Florida
Florida Keys stops on the drive from Miami to Key West
These places on the way from Miami to Key West are worth seeing!
The "Road to Paradise " runs from Miami over the Florida Keys to Key West. The route is often traversed in a train to get to the end of the island chain in Key West. Since accommodations in Key West are quite expensive, many only go to Key West for a day trip and rush past all the beautiful places that would be worth a stop.
On the drive from Miami you will get to Homestead first. From here he getsUS Highway 1 the additional designation Overseas Highway and counts as Scenic Highway. It leads you over around 200 km and 42 bridges to the southern end of the Florida Keys to Key West. The further you move away from the mainland, the more Caribbean the landscape becomes. The water is turquoise and clear, the beaches are white and invite you to linger.
For some, the Overseas Highway is one of the most beautiful routes in the world. For the others as a tough ride that pulls like a piece of chewing gum.
So that you don't feel like that, I've put together for you which stops along the Florida Keys are worthwhile. The scenic route to Key West is guaranteed not to be boring. I do think that a trip to Key West deserves a longer visit.
So here are my tips for the best stops on the way from Miami to Key West!
Is it worth taking a day trip to Key West?
The distance from Miami to Key West is approximately 160 miles. The car journey takes about 3 1/2 - 4 hours without interruption at an average speed of 80 km / h. You would need 8 hours of driving time on a day trip. In any case, it is feasible if you really don't have any more time. Keep reading the article and you will see how many great places and stops you will miss.
My advice: Driving from Miami to Key West and back in one day is anything but relaxing. I advise against it. You will only "fly" over the Keys and can hardly get an idea of the beautiful places that are hidden here.
I recommend staying in Key West for at least one night, preferably two or three. Best not on a weekend when the locals are also heading to the Florida Keys. Then all the weekend traffic flows there on Friday afternoons and back on Sunday evenings via the Overseas Highway, which only has two lanes in a few places.
Here you can find mine Tips for Key West
Florida Keys Facts - All You Need To Know
The Florida Keys comprise around 200 coral islands, which are strung together over 290 kilometers like a pearl necklace on the southern tip of Florida. Until the Labor Day hurricane in 1953, the islands were connected by a railway line. The route was destroyed by the hurricane and no longer built. You can see the remains of it in Bahia Honda State Park.
The Overseas Highway, over which the islands are connected by 42 bridges, was built on the old railway line. The most famous bridge is the Seven Mile Bridge.
The third largest tropical coral reef in the world extends underwater. After the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Belize Barrier Reef which stretches from Mexico to Honduras.
In 1982 the residents of the Keys wanted to become independent as the "Conch Republic". Named after the large fencing snail that is so typical there, the shimmering pink mussel (Wikipedia).
Incidentally, the term “key” is not derived from the English word “key”, but from the Spanish word “cayo” (island).
Map for an overview of the Florida Keys and the Overseas Heritage Trail
Key Largo - largest island in the Florida Keys
If you turn from the mainland onto the largest and first station on the way to Key West, the first thought is probably: "Oh my God, that's ugly". That's right, because the first glance falls on concrete structures. The view of the mangroves, palm trees and the picturesque nature remains hidden from you on the largest island in the Keys.
From here you finally leave the mainland and it goes from island to island. Past former pirate nests and subtropical paradises!
By the way, Key Largo is the longest island of the Keys at 53 km. The Caribbean Club Bar is a well-known filming location in Key Largo. The ship “African Queen” from the film of the same name is located directly behind the Holiday Inn Hotel on the shore.
On our way back to Miami we stopped for lunch at Mrs. Mac's Kitchen. Because here you have to try a piece of the famous Key Lime Pie. Of course we also had a bite to eat. Since my salad wasn't a hit, I recommend sticking to the key lime pie or ordering a typical conch salad.
Islamorada - Middle of the Florida Keys
Islamorada is the secret capital of the Upper Keys. From Islamorada you are completely surrounded by water. Unfortunately, you can only see a rudimentary view of the water through the lane boundary. That is why we decided in advance for an SUV that is generally taller and gave us more “outlook”.
Incidentally, Islamorada has declared itself the “sport fishing metropolis of the world”. The conditions here are ideal for deep-sea fishing at sea. That's why you can bring your own fish with you in many restaurants, which will then be prepared for you. Since I've never been fishing before, I skipped this activity.
At the Anne's Beach you will find an idyllic beach. This section is popular not only for relaxing, but also for kite surfers. There was no wind here, so that this activity was also ignored on our trip. We also found the beach section to be quite small, there are hardly any parking spaces and we couldn't quite understand the recommendation for this beach. After a short break, we drove on quite quickly (also because we hadn't found an official parking space).
In Islamorada we have the wonderful Midway Cafe made a stop for breakfast. The MidwayCafé is - as the name Midway suggests - exactly in the middle on the way to Key West. From here it is exactly 80 miles to Miami and 80 miles to Key West. Here you can get really good coffee, breakfast like omelets or granola, snacks like burritos or bagels and juices.
More information on the website of the Midway Cafe. Address: 80499 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036-3775.
Marathon - helicopter flight over the Florida Keys
Marathon is a mixture of tourist center, nature reserve and fishing village. Here we took a helicopter flight over the Keys and the Seven Mile Bridge. The views were sensational. The weather was perfect, the sea was calm and there were perfect conditions for crystal clear water and a view of the bottom.
So we could not only see rays, manta rays and even manatees and turtles in the water.
Alternatively, you can cycle along the Old Seven Mile Bridge (Old 7) from Marathon to Pigeon Key. Pigeon Key is best reached on foot or by bike. Alternatively by ferry. You will find this heading south on the left side of the bridge towards Knight's Key. The latter is the more pleasant choice in the great heat. The small island is 2 miles from Marathon. Railway workers used to live there.
- You can rent bikes from Wheels-2-Go, for example.
- We booked our helicopter tour through Viator.
Seven Mile Bridge - one of the longest bridge roads in the world
The Seven Mile Bridge is the most famous of the bridges on the way to Key West. By the way, it is not exactly seven miles, but only 6.79 miles long (approx. 10.93 km). But that number doesn't sound that good, does it? It is one of the longest bridge roads in the world. It connects Marathon and Bahia Honda. About halfway there is still the old Railway Bridge, which extends to Pigeon Key.
If you want to go to the old bridge, you have to head for the parking lot directly in front of the bridge. Unfortunately, you only see it late. From the parking lot you come to the old bridge and can also enjoy the view of the new Seven Mile Bridge.
Driving over the bridge by car is only half as spectacular as flying over it in a helicopter! Simply gigantic:
Bahia Honda State Park
My driver from the airport in Miami to Miami Beach raved about it Bahia Honda State Park and great beachesin front. Allegedly the most beautiful beaches of the Florida Keys are located here, to which restaurants and residents from Miami also travel. To call them by name, these are: Calusa Beach, Logger Head Beach and Sandspur Beach. Sandspur Beach and Logger Head Beach are on the Atlantic Ocean, Calusa Beach on the Gulf of Mexico (I'm still looking for a good map, no easy task).
The most beautiful beach in Bahia Honda State Park is called for meSandspur Beach. It is also the longest beach. You can reach it when you turn left after the park entrance. Here you have a clear view of the sea. Only a few mangroves line the shore. Here you can lie down in the sun (be careful, there are no shady palm trees or trees), snorkel or go kayaking.
The water is bright turquoise and the beach is white. However - which many do not like - you will also find a lot of seaweed here on the beach. As a result, the smell is not always the best. For everyone who complains, a sign was put up that explains why the lake grade is not removed. Class!
If you turn right after the park entrance, you will find more beaches to the left and right. There are kayak rentals and a souvenir shop that also sells drinks, food, and ice cream. From here you can also take great pictures of the old onesBahia Honda Rail Bridge do. She often just willOld Railway Bridge called.
Here you can see the remains of the old railway line that Henry Flagler had built 100 years ago. At that time it was the only connection from island to island to Key West.
You can get a better view of the old, half-collapsed construction from the other side of the peninsula Bahia Honda State Park. If you are coming from Miami, the turn off is on the left after the bridge. You have to walk a little more to get a good view of the old bridge.
Information and admission price for the Bahia Honda State Park
- Bahia Honda State Park is $ 4.50 per person. The more people you are, the cheaper it becomes. Two people pay $ 9, three people only pay $ 9.50 for entry. I don't understand the logic behind it, but it doesn't matter.
- A sign at the entrance shows when the tide is ebb and tide. In addition, the times when snorkeling trips are offered and how many degrees the water is.
- By the way, alcohol is officially prohibited.
Map of Bahia Honda State Park (I have marked beaches in yellow):
Big Pine Key
To get to Big Pine Key, you have to leave the Overseas Highway. There are signs everywhere warning you about deer. Before deer? Yes, the Key white-tailed deer, or Key Deer for short, lives here. We didn't think we'd see one of these rare and critically endangered species of deer during the day, but hope dies last and suddenly a key deer crossed the road in front of us. We were so perplexed (and I was a driver too) that we didn't have a camera to hand quickly enough. But we really saw a little Bambi.
Key West - southernmost point of the Florida Keys
Key West marks the westernmost point of the Florida Keys island chain. Next to the Hemingway house is especially the sunset on Mallory Square famous, who is applauded here every evening (crazy).
If that's too much of a good thing, you can take a catamaran tour to snorkel on the third largest reef in the world. Then experience the sunset on board before heading back to Key West Harbor. I can recommend this tour to everyone.
Read more: My highlights in Key West
A detailed report on my stay in Key West will follow soon.
More articles for the Florida trip
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