Miami to Key West: Take a Memorable Road Trip Through Florida’s Breathtaking Coast and islands

One of the best things to do visiting Florida is to drive from Miami to Key West on a road trip through the entire length of the Florida Keys.

It’s a fantastic way to experience the casual and Caribbean and Florida lifestyle while visiting the beautiful landscape, cuisine and outdoor lifestyle of these gorgeous Florida islands.

Now you can do this as an easy but long day trip to visit the Floriday Keys all the way down to Key West, but why not just extend it out to a nice weekend or getaway vacation to the Keys? It’s all about the pit stops and fun experiences along the way: tasting conch fritters, stopping for amazing sunsets or lonely beaches just for you to enjoy. Once you start heading out of the busy Miami metropolis on Route 1, you’ll start to relax and unwind quickly even before you get out to your first island in your Florida Keys road trip.

Check out the details of this Miami to Key West road trip below or how about this Florida road trip through some cool areas around the state. Even a bigger New York road trip to Florida is a great way to explore the entire South to Florida experience.

Why do a road trip from Miami to Key West?

Getting out of the Miami metro district and doing a road trip to the Florida Keys all the way to Key West transports you to another world. It’s so easy to do a road trip here and getting to the first island at Key Largo. The road trip is fairly easy and flat with slower driving when you arrive in each island and taking you into a complete island vibe that is slower paced, outdoors oriented and water and adventure focused.

The Florida Keys is about living outdoors and having a recreational lifestyle and doing this road trip can be an easy day trip or longer stays on each island chain all the way to Key West. Combining the history, sea life and each unique island vibe, you’ll enjoy exploring all the beaches, adventure experiences, food culture and other cool and unique places to visit in the Florida Keys now.

Best time to visit the Florida Keys?

Really visiting the Florida Keys is popular year round with fantastic weather and road conditions. You do have to be wary of hurricane season in the area which runs a long timeframe in the Florida area so the off peak time frames or even winter season is ideal. The peak travel season in the Florida Keys tends to be in the winter season when visitors from Canada and the northern USA regions come to stay for a longer timeframe like most snow birds will do so you have to plan early to book various accommodations, food venues and entertainment in the area. Also you can easily use Miami or Key West as a base and do easy day trips to the various islands or even do a nice long day trip and back from either direction to experience the entire length of the Keys and all the islands.

A popular year-round destination, there is no best time to visit since it is so easy to do a road trip here. But the should season from March to May has fantastic weather that ranges from the 70s to 80s and not as many tourists visiting this time of key makes the roads and sites so much more pleasant to explore and stay around. Room rates and entertainment tends to be a lot more affordable during this timeframe of the year to visit the Keys.

Top attractions and islands to visit from Miami to Key West

Miami to Key West road trip at the Florida Keys islands

A Miami to Key West road trip (fun, adventure sports, seafood &nd some cool places to stop along the way)

Exploring Key Largo

The first island to stop and the longest in the island chain is Key Largo which claim to fame is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park,  the first underwater preserve in the United States. You drive to the state park at mile marker 102.5 and park by the visitors center where you can reserve a ride on their snorkel tours or take a glass bottom boat out to the underwater preserve. There’s plenty of options if you just want to hang out at the nice sandy beach, reserve a kayak or SUP or even reserve a power boat to tour on your own. Outside of the State park, there are many wonderful regional beaches and outdoor activities that you can do an explore around the Key Largo area and surrounding cays that is fun and low key.

Key Largo Florida Keys 16

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park at Key Largo

Check out these cool things to do around Key Largo area

Taking the comfortable and large glass bottom boats to the underwater preserve

Miami to Key West road trip glass bottom boats at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Taking a glass bottom boats at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Checking out the beautiful Coral at John Pennekamp State park

Miami to Key West road trip glass bottom boats at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Exploring the outer islands off Key Largo

Taking a glass bottom boat at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Enjoying a beautiful day on the beach in Key Largo

Miami to Key West road trip, Key Largo beach day

Here’s a visit to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Dining at a classic Key Largo eatery

Miami to Key West road trip, Sundowners restaurant at Key Largo

After a nice tour of the Pennekamp state park, how about a nice pit stop at a fantastic eatery close by at the famous SunDowners restaurant. With wonderful views ocean views of Key Largo’s coastline, Sundowners offers up some of the best local seafood served traditionally and with a twist with a fusion of tropical flavors, not to mention the delicious cocktail drinks with really exotic ingredients to put you in that Key Largo Frame of mind. How about trying some of the favorite appetizers like some Fried Conch fritters and crispy calamari and then up to entrees like local blackened yellow tail snapper or Caribbean glazed mahimahi.

Sundowners restaurant in Key Largo, Florida Keys

A classic mojito drink at the Sundowners in Key Largo

Tropical mojito and appetizers at the Sundowners restaurant Key Largo

Tropical mojito and appetizers at the Sundowners restaurant in Key Largo

Classic Florida Lobster and fixins at the Sundowner in Key Largo

Classic Florida Lobster and fixins at the Sundowner in Key Largo

Where to stay in Key Largo

There are plenty of hotel and BnB options while staying in Key Largo from Luxury properties to mid range and more affordable lodging in the area. Check out the latest reviews and prices on these Trip Advisor postings here or you can shop for bargains and naming your own price on Priceline here for updates.

Miami to Key West road trip Visiting Islamorada Key

A visit to Islamorada

Islamorada Key is a popular stop along the Florida Keys for exploring outdoor sports and water adventures, fantastic dining venues, cool resort hotels and just relaxing and enjoying the beach or some fun water recreation. There’s a lot of things to keep you busy around Islamorada, check out my post about staying here and some of the fun Islamorada attractions and activities here for more travel inspiration to this area.

Miami to Key West road trip Visiting Robbies at Islamorada Key

Outdoor fun at Robbie’s

A local institution at Islamorada and located at mile marker 77.5 is Robbie’s, an eclectic tropical village where you can check out the local market, rent a kayak or watercraft or have a nice seafood lunch serving some local fish and other fresh seafood favorites. There are many private fishing operators at Robbie’s, or you can also take a group fishing experience with Captain Michael’s fishing tours.

Robbies docks at Islamorada Key

Robbies docks at Islamorada Key

Here’s more inspiration to visiting Islamorada below

Fishing tour with Captain Michael’s at Robbies

A daily morning charter style group tour is an easy option to do at Robbie’s. The fishing tour loads up Robbie’s docks on the Captain Michael, a 65 foot deep sea fishing vessel. The offshore fishing experience is an affordable party boat experience going out into the open waters of Islamorada and all the essentials for a fishing experience is taken care of with fishing gear and tackle, they even set up the bait on your lines for you and if you catch something, the crew will gladly take the fish off the hook if you are a little skirmish in doing this icky part. At the end of the tour, the crew also takes all the fish that you have caught for the day and actually cleans up the fish for you in the end to take home.

Tip – Tours happen twice daily and the prices include pole, tackle and cleaning up your catch to take home. Tips for the dedicated crew in doing all the work is also appreciated.

Check out the tarpon feeding at Robbies wharf below

Fishing tours from Robbies at Islamorada Key

Beautiful ocean waters off Islamorada

Islamorada departing from Robbies docks on the Captain Michael

Fishing time on the Captain Michael at Islamorada

Hooking the bait on the Captain Michael’s party boat

Fishing time on the Captain Michael at Islamorada

There are plenty of other outdoor adventure options at Robbie’s from renting private charters or cruise boats, Kayaking the calm  waters at Islamorada to snorkeling and scuba diving expeditions in the warm Caribbean waters off Islamorada. Check out these other adventure tours or activities offered at Robbie’s for updated prices and tour highlights.

Here’s a video experience on the Captain Robbies fishing tour

Tiki JetPack experience at Islamorada

Tiki JetPacks at the Postcard Inn

If your idea of something fun and unusual includes flying up from the water A la James Bond style adventure, then you will definitely love the water jet pack propulsion experience with Tiki Jets. Think a combination of jet skiing with flyboarding,  after the safety session, you quickly get up to speed on learning how to walk on water, do high water propulsion lifts and drops back into the bay. It really is an adrenaline rush and you learn by doing with an expert guide showing you all the basic techniques while having some real adventures on the water.

Tiki JetPack experience at Islamorada

Here’s a video experience to doing the Jet Paks below

Beach time in Islamorada

The beaches in Islamorada tend to be smaller stretches of beach or in little coves. A few resorts also have elevated beach areas that you have to go down ladders to reach the water, this is a way of protecting the precious beaches from eroding away overnight. Beach time at Islamorada is a well deserved time to just chill and maybe have a nice cold beverage handy when it really gets hot during the day time and the water temperatures are just as warm when you get in. Popular beaches around Islamorada include family friendly Anne’s Beach, Library Beach Park, or Long Key State Park.

Beach time at Islamorada

Sandy beaches and palm trees = perfect down time

Beach time at Islamorada

Enjoying Islamorada Sunsets

Finding a spot for a wonderful sunset isn’t that difficult to do with all the scenic places and open areas that you can go to and enjoy a magnificent view while the sun goes down. Check out the Hungry Tarpon at Robbie’s, Morada Bay Beach Café or the Lorelei Cabana Bar to enjoy sunset with a delicious tropical drink to toast another amazing day in the Florida Keys.

Enjoying a magical sunset in Islamorada

Miami to key west drive – take the time to enjoy those sunset views!

Enjoying sunsets in Islamorada – a perfect way to end the day

Enjoying a magical sunset in Islamorada

Where to Stay in Islamorada

Amara Cay resort Islamorada

Amara Cay resort

A welcoming stay is perfect at the Amara Cay Resort designed in an organic and contemporary fusion that’s both comfortable and very chic. This boutique luxury hotel has beautiful lounge areas, swimming pool and a beach area, it’s hard to even leave the resort to explore the rest of Islamorada.  Check out the Trip Advisor site here for the latest prices and reviews.

Or, check out all these other reviewed hotel sites in Islamorada here for inspiration and current rates and availability.

Amara Cay resort Islamorada

Additional hotels in Islamorada

For more lodging options staying in Islamorada check out Trip advisor here or check out the express deals with Priceline here for the latest reviews and prices.

Dining spots around Islamorada

Robbies restaurant in Islamorada

Hungry Tarpon at Robbie’s

The Hungry Tarpon is a great venue for seafood in a casual environment next to Robbie’s docks with views of the harbor area and surrounding islands. The extensive fish and seafood menu is as fresh as it gets with different fish and seafood locally sourced from the area and served a variety of ways just the way you like it.

The Hungry Tarpon at Robbies in Islamorada

Oltremare Restaurant, Islamorada

Waterfront dining in a contemporary and chic restaurant with easy and comfortable dining atmosphere. Oltremare restaurant specializes in fresh seafood and wonderful prepared dishes that are flavorful and beautifully presented. There is an Italian infusion in all the dishes presented but with a tropical and modern aesthetic and preparation.

Oltremare restaurant in Islamorada Key

Delicious appetizers at Oltremare at Amara Cay

Oltremare restaurant and appetizers in Islamorada Key

Fine dining at Chez Michael’s

Local chef-owner Michael Ledworth trained in some of the finest restaurants in New York before settling down to Islamorada and opening his namesake restaurant Chez Michael’s. Featuring the best quality seafood and other specialty foods from the area, the cuisine here is made to order with a variety of sauces and finishing techniques to cater to each individual’s taste. It really is fine dining at its best in Islamorada.

Appetizer plate at Chez Michael's Islamorada

 Dishes that are almost too good to beautiful to eat

Appetizer plate at Chez Michael's Islamorada

If you are looking for more places to eat, check out all these other Islamorada venues below

A visit to Marathon Key

Located right in the middle of the Florida Keys, Marathon Key stretches for about 10 miles and covers the main islands of Marathon, Vaca Key, Fat Deer Key and Grassy Key. This area is a boating haven for outdoor water sports along with so many different types of water recreation that can be found all around this area. You can find world class fishing, sailing diving and snorkeling along with beautiful beaches, eco attractions and even a turtle rescue center which you can visit.

Things to do in Marathon Key

Florida National Marine Sanctuary off Marathon Keys

Miami to key west tours – at the Florida National Marine Sanctuary

Florida National Marine Sanctuary off Marathon Keys

The Florida Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is one of the most pristine coral reefs left in the world that can only be accessed by boat. Strike Zone Charters in Big Pine Key offers a morning cruise out to the sanctuary and offers snorkel or scuba diving experiences in the sanctuary.  Snorkel equipment is free, but the scuba dive equipment is extra along with any additional instructions. They also offer separate fishing excursion packages for catching big fish in the area – think sailfish, wahoo, tuna or mahimahi.

Florida National Marine Sanctuary off Marathon Keys

Underwater experiences of the Looe marine sanctuary courtesy of Florida Keys TV

Faro Blanco lighthouse in Marathon and harbor

Places to stop on drive from Miami to key west – check out the Faro Blanco Lighthouse

Check out the Faro Blanco Lighthouse

Mornings when the harbor area and lighthouse are still quiet from the tourist crowds make it a perfect time to visit and explore this wonderful area. If your inquisitive and friendly to the harbor master, he might just let you go up to the top for a nice view of the harbor and areas surrounding Marathon.

Morning views of Marathon from the lighthouse

Faro Blanco lighthouse in Marathon and harbor

Wake boarding at Otherside Boardsports at Cable Lake in Marathon

Wake boarding with Otherside Boardsports, Cable Lake

Adventure thrill seekers will love trying the wake boarding experience with Otherside Boardsports. A visit includes instruction and ski session or if you already have some wake boarding experience, you can just do a visit on an hourly basis. This outfitter also offers a variety of adventure experiences with kiteboarding in the Middle and Upper Keys. I love how attentive and patient the instruction is for beginners and how they can get you going very quickly to maneuver basic skills in one session.

Happy hour time in Marathon

Looking for a unique spot to grab a refreshing drink and check out the latest catch? Then head out to Keys Fisheries which is a combination seafood market, marina and restaurant that oozes fresh caught and made to order. There’s plenty of places to hang out in the nicer restaurant overlooking the marina or right next to the fish market in a covered seating area. A late afternoon or sunset happy hour is a great time to hang out in this local hangout spot.

Happy hour and a bite at Kings Fisheries on Marathon

Happy hour and fresh catch of the day at Keys Fisheries

Kings Fisheries casual dining and fresh seafood to go Marathon Keys

More fun Marathon Keys attractions and activities

Fish charters at Marathon Keys Florida Keys

Catching the big fish at Marathon –  there are several fishing charters available for hire in Marathon for your fishing adventure. Check out this website here for a variety of fishing charters and services.

Best beaches at Marathon – The best beaches around Marathon can be found at Curry Hammock State Park,  Sombrero Beach, or Coco Plum Beach.

Turtle Hospital – at mile marker 48.5  is the only licensed veterinary hospital treating turtle injuries in the Florida Keys. Tours are available to visit and see the programs happening at the hospital.

Check out these other delcious places to eat at Marathon below

Where to Stay in Marathon Key

Faro Blanco Resort Hyatt Place swimming pool

Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club -Hyatt Place

This Hyatt Place property sits next to the Faro Blanco Yacht Club and Lighthouse operating since the 1950s. This luxury property excels at quick check in with friendly and prompt front desk service. The rooms are large and spacious looking out to the pool areas and harbor scene towards the back of the property.  Click here for latest prices and reviews of the Hyatt Place property.

Faro Blanco resort - Hyatt Place Marathon Florida

For additional hotel locations check out Trip Advisor here or the Express deals at Priceline here for the latest reviews and prices.

Dining venues on Marathon Key

Fresh fish for sale on Marathon island, Florida Keys

Baby’s Coffee

A popular locals coffee shack to pick up some snacks or a light meal along with the excellent Baby’s coffee or even smoothie drinks. It’s an easy spot to just pick up some picnic or light food for the day.

 Light bites at Baby's Coffee Marathon island, Florida Keys

Grassy key Outpost

Located on mile marker 48, this low key diner style café serves some creative and delicious cuisine that’s sure to impress anyone. It’s a popular locals spot that offers contemporary American style comfort food with fresh and tasty ingredients and home style goodness. Specials on the menu evolve with the seasons and depending on what can be sourced locally.

Café dining at Grassy Key Outpost

Casual home style dining at Grassy Key Outpost

Café dining at Grassy Key Outpost

Bar scene and fresh fish

You can pick up some fresh seafood to go or just dine in for a casual meal with some very cold drinks at  Keys Fisheries in their upstairs dining or right next to their marina. Popular seafood just caught and brought into the store is prepared at their take out counter or full dinner service in their restaurant.

Happy hour and a bite at Kings Fisheries on Marathon

Faro Blanco Resort Lighthouse Grill restaurant

A gorgeous fine dining restaurant fronts the Faro Blanco Lighthouse Grill – you can choose to dine outdoors in  a covered outdoor dining area or inside in an air conditioned dining room.  The menu offers an amazing assortment of seafood specialty dishes that are simple to more complex in ingredients and preparation and signature drinks that really add to the dining experience.

Specialty tropical drinks at the Faro Blanco Resort restaurant

Specialty tropical drinks at the Faro Blanco Resort restaurant

A classic surf and turf dish at Faro Blanco restaurant

Faro Blanco Resort restaurant surf and turf

Experience Bahia Honda

Bahia Honda State park Florida Keys road trip

Located in the Lower Keys, Bahia Honda State Park is one of the State’s southern most parks and is known for its beautiful beaches, excellent snorkeling, picnicking and outdoor activities. You can bring boats to launch from the ramp, rent a variety of water craft or enjoy birding or swimming in the warm and shallow sandy bottoms around the island. There are also snorkeling excursions offered to visit the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary from the docks at Bahia Honda.

Bahia Honda State park Florida Keys road trip

Here’s a fun visit and tour of Bahia Honda below

Yoga Sup with Serenity Eco Therapy

A popular new concept of doing Yoga outdoors on Stand up Paddle boards is a real fun and easy experience within the shallow sandy banks of Bahia Honda.  After some initial instruction and demonstration on balancing with a SUP board, we progressed into easy Yoga positions and into even more challenging positions that the instructor altered to accommodate the water and wave action that makes it more difficult to mastering Yoga positions on the water. It’s a fun way to exercise and experiment with Yoga poses without the fear of falling into deep water and I enjoyed being on the water while trying to keep up my balance and doing these poses correctly.

Serenity Eco Therapy at Bahia Honda Florida Keys

Bahia Honda– finding our yoga poses on Sup boards

Serenity Eco Therapy at Bahia Honda Florida Keys

Top things to do in Key West

The tip of the Florida Keys finally ends dramatically at Key West, a larger than life city with so much history, lore and a colorful presence at the end of the chain of islands. Considering that this is the southern most tip of the Florida Keys, Cuba is only 90 miles further South from Key West. Facing the Caribbean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, the small 4 mile long island is full of life and activity from the busy Duval main street, the colorful sunset and night events at Mallory square and historical gems to visit like Fort Zachary, the lighthouse and the Hemmingway house, the Truman White House to many important homes that have been converted into historic and living museums.

For those looking for a more active and adventure oriented visit, you have plenty of choices from sailing, snorkeling, sunset cruises to night excursions on Sup boards or Kayaks. Here are some highlights below.

Sailing in Key West, Florida Keys

Sailing at sunset around Key West

What a better way to enjoy views of Key West, the surrounding islands and the sunset from a sailing vessel for the evening. It’s a less crowded version than the hordes of tourists hanging out on Mallory Square at night.

Hemingway Home in Key West, Hemingways iconic home. This is the wrap around porch on the second floor looking out to the lighthouse and gardens

Hemingway’s House

Located in the old town, local literary icon Ernest Hemingway built this little gem and created his masterpiece works including ” For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Farewell to Arms”. The personal home converted into a living museum houses all the Hemingway’s personal furniture, collections and other personal effects for the public to visit and see in person. There are several out buildings to explore, a beautiful garden and the first in ground swimming pool built in Key West.

Light house at Key West, Florida Keys

The Key West lighthouse from above

The main light house fronting the Hemingway House is the perfect spot to climb up to the top and get a complete 360 degree view of the entire island from the light house.  There’s only 88 step to the top observation point and worth the effort to see the entire island. Also located on the property is the keepers home which contains artifacts and other personal effects from previous tenants living at the property.

A view from above at Key West, Florida Keys

Key West at Fort Zachary Taylor park Florida Keys

Beach time at Fort Zachary Taylor park

The white sandy beach is a popular spot located in Key West with a beach protected with rock barriers for safe swimming in the beach area. Close by is the Civil War brick fort which you can explore on your own or with a guide to explain how Fort Zachary operated during this pivotal time frame during the Civil War.

Key West at Fort Zachary Taylor park Florida Keys

Brick arched interior walls of Fort Zachary

Key West Florida Keys 229

Here’s a visit to the historic state park below

Sunsets & street performers at Mallory Square

Mallory Square is where you should be to watch sunset at Key West. Not only is the views and sunset spectacular from this vantage point but the area is active with street performances and street food vendors to make this a lively entertainment spot to hang out at night time in Key West and later on at Duval Street for the bar and clubbing scene happening late into the evening.

Key West Florida Keys 27

Check out the sunset experience at Key West in Mallory Square

Where to stay in Key West

Key Lime Inn Key West Florida Keys

The Key Lime Inn – part of the Heritage Hotels of Key West, the Key Lime Inn on Truman street is a classic style home that has been converted into a wonderful inn with separate cabins and adjacent buildings smartly designed in the classic Key West Florida style with modern comforts and amenities. Click here for updated reviews and prices.

Or, check out all these other reviewed hotel sites in Key West here for inspiration and current rates and availability.

Historic Key West Inns Florida keys

The Conch House Heritage Inn – Also part of the heritage hotels of Key West, the inn located on Truman street is a classic Victorian style home converted into a heritage inn on the property with cabins and adjacent buildings. The main home has the front desk, lounge areas and upstairs bedroom suites. Back of the property contains a swimming pool, cabanas and beautiful gardens to walk around to your personal suite on the property. Click here for updated reviews and prices.

For additional hotel locations check out Trip Advisor here or the Express deals at Priceline here for the latest reviews and prices.

More inside tips on doing a Florida Keys road trip to Key West

Plan your accommodations in advance: The Florida Keys, especially Key West, can get busy, especially during peak travel seasons. To secure the best accommodations at your desired price range, it’s advisable to book in advance, especially if you have specific preferences or requirements.

Pack essentials for the road: Since the road trip to Key West involves traversing the scenic Overseas Highway, it’s essential to pack some essentials. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and comfortable clothing are a must, as well as snacks and water for the journey. Don’t forget your driver’s license, insurance, and any necessary travel documents.

Explore the smaller keys along the way: While Key West is undoubtedly a highlight, don’t miss the chance to explore the smaller keys along the drive. Islands like Islamorada, Marathon, and Big Pine Key offer their own unique attractions, from pristine beaches and state parks to charming boutiques and waterfront restaurants.

Take advantage of roadside seafood stands: Along the route, you’ll find numerous seafood stands and shacks offering fresh catches from the surrounding waters. Indulge in some delicious key lime shrimp, conch fritters, or grilled fish sandwiches. These roadside gems provide a unique taste of the local flavors.

Timing is key: To avoid heavy traffic and make the most of your road trip, plan to depart early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid peak travel times. This allows for a more leisurely drive and the chance to enjoy the stunning views without rush.

Embrace the island lifestyle: Once you arrive in Key West, embrace the laid-back island lifestyle. Rent a bicycle or scooter to explore the city at a relaxed pace, take leisurely walks along Duval Street, and immerse yourself in the vibrant street performers, art galleries, and lively nightlife.

Sunset celebrations at Mallory Square: Don’t miss the famous sunset celebrations at Mallory Square in Key West. Join locals and tourists alike to watch the vibrant sunset while enjoying live music, street performances, and a festive atmosphere.

Take a snorkeling or diving trip: The Florida Keys are renowned for their crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs. Consider booking a snorkeling or diving trip to explore the underwater beauty, encountering colorful fish, coral formations, and perhaps even encountering sea turtles or dolphins.

By keeping these inside tips in mind, your Florida Keys road trip to Key West will be filled with wonderful experiences, hidden gems, and the chance to immerse yourself in the unique beauty and culture of the islands. Enjoy the journey and create cherished memories along the way.

What local dishes should you try at Key West

Key West offers a delightful array of local dishes that capture the essence of the island’s culture and culinary heritage. When visiting Key West, be sure to try these iconic local dishes:

Conch Fritters: Conch (pronounced “konk”) is a type of sea snail that’s a staple in Key West cuisine. Conch fritters are a beloved appetizer made from chopped conch meat mixed with batter, then deep-fried until golden brown. They’re often served with a dipping sauce and are a must-try for seafood enthusiasts.

Key Lime Pie: Perhaps the most famous dish associated with Key West, the Key lime pie is a tangy and sweet dessert made from the juice of Key limes, condensed milk, and egg yolks in a graham cracker crust. Its refreshing flavor makes it a perfect treat for the tropical climate.

Cuban Sandwich: While not exclusive to Key West, the Cuban sandwich is a local favorite. It’s a pressed sandwich made with Cuban bread, roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. Many Cuban immigrants brought this delicious sandwich to Key West, making it a part of the local food scene.

Stone Crab Claws: Stone crab claws are a seasonal delicacy available from October to May. These succulent claws are harvested from stone crabs, and they are usually served cold with a mustard-based dipping sauce. They’re a popular appetizer or main dish for seafood enthusiasts.

Grouper Sandwich: Grouper, a local fish, is often used to make delicious sandwiches. The fillets are typically grilled or fried and served on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce. It’s a great way to enjoy the fresh seafood of Key West.

Seafood Chowder: Key West’s seafood chowder is a hearty and flavorful soup made with a mix of fresh seafood, vegetables, and spices. It’s a comforting dish that showcases the region’s seafood bounty.

Key West Pink Shrimp: Key West pink shrimp are a staple of the local seafood scene. These large, succulent shrimp are known for their sweet taste and firm texture. Enjoy them in dishes like shrimp scampi, shrimp cocktail, or as a tasty addition to seafood pasta.

Lobster Reuben: This creative twist on the classic Reuben sandwich substitutes corned beef with lobster meat. It’s a decadent treat that combines the flavors of lobster, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing.

Mahi-Mahi Tacos: Mahi-mahi, a popular local fish, is often featured in tacos. Grilled or blackened mahi-mahi is placed in soft tortillas and topped with various garnishes such as salsa, slaw, and avocado.

Cracked Conch: Similar to conch fritters, cracked conch is a dish where tenderized conch meat is breaded and fried until crispy. It’s often served with a side of French fries or plantains.

Papaya and Mango Salsa: While not a main dish, this tropical salsa is a delightful accompaniment to seafood dishes. It’s made with ripe papaya and mango, mixed with red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and a touch of heat.

Florida Spiny Lobster: The Florida Keys offer a unique opportunity to savor Florida spiny lobster, also known as Florida lobster or Caribbean lobster. This crustacean has a sweet and delicate flavor. Grilled, steamed, or prepared in various other ways, it’s a seafood lover’s delight.

Exploring these local dishes will provide you with a true taste of Key West’s culinary scene and its emphasis on fresh seafood and vibrant flavors.

Where to eat in Key West

 The Stone Crab at Key West Florida Keys

Stone crab and other local seafood favorites at the Stone Crab

This is where you go for the freshest seafood raw or prepared a variety of ways and sauces to your liking. The Stone Crab faces a serene lagoon area and sanctuary just inside the marina. There’s also adventure sports with kayaking, Sup board rentals and other night illuminated tours in the lagoon area.

Seafood specialties at the Stone Crab Key West

Casual dining at the Blue Heaven

Located on Petronia street with homes dating back a century, the Blue Heaven is an eclectic and colorful breakfast/lunch institution worth having a nice meal and then exploring the neighborhood.

Tip – their Key Lime pie is one of the best on the island and is a huge slice so you can share with friends.

Blue Heaven café at Key West

Lobster eggs Benedict special at the Blue Heaven

Lobster and eggs benedict at the Blue Heaven Key West

Hog Fish Bar and Grill on Stock Island

It’s worth the short drive from Key West to adjoin Stock Island to eat at local favorite dining spot Hog Fish Bar and Grill. Which serves up local seafood specialties right on the dock including local favorite, the Hog Fish which tastes so much better than it looks. After a delightful meal, a way around the colorful marina and harbor is a must before you head back into Key West.

Hog Fish Bar and Grill on Stock Island Florida Keys

Fresh seafood served right up at Hog Fish Bar and Grill

Seafood specialty at Hog Fish Bar and Grill Stock Island

Casual street food and dining at Mallory Square

There’s plenty of choices trying some of the street food vendors on Mallory Square to more informal cafes lining the main boardwalk area  and attracting the nightly visitors to the area to witness another perfect sunset and then checking some of the local eateries in the area.

Mallory Square at sunset Key West

So many more food choices here in Key West below

There’s so much more to do and see in Key West on your road trip.  Check out more highlights and images from my Key West post here for more details. For more information about visiting any of the Florida Keys islands, check out the Florida Keys website here for more details, current events and and updated news on visiting the region.

Rental car for your road trip to the Florida Keys

There are plenty or rental car companies to choose from Miami, but a little more limited if you are flying into Key West and heading back to Miami for a road trip. You can check out the latest prices to these car rental sites below for the most competitive prices on your rental car.

Priceline car rentals – click here for latest prices.

Travelocity car rentals – click here for latest prices.

Cool adventure or activity tours in the Florida Keys

If you are looking for more unique and cool touring ideas around the Keys, check out these fun adventure or active tours around the Keys.

Helicopter flight around the Florida Keys –  if you have limited time, this is a great way to see all the islands in the Florida Keys from above which is a fantastic way to experience the chain of islands all the way down to Key West.

Day trip to Key West – let someone else do the driving while you enjoy the views and photo moments exploring all the islands with a nice long open visit time frame in Key West. Check the link for all the details.

Miami and the Keys explorer pass – admits one to the top attractions and other discounts along the Florida Keys and Miami for one price which is a great deal if you take advantage of all the attractions.

Key West sunset schooner sail – Enjoy sunset on a wooden two masted sail schooner along with champagne, cheese and other light appetizers while sailing into the sunset and coastline of Key West.

Check out these other cool adventure tours around the Florida Keys here for updated prices

Check out these other Miami and Florida Keys posts


How to spend a long week in South Florida

Florida Keys and top attractions and things to do in Islamorada

Things to do and see on Marathon Island

Top 10 things to do in Key West

What to see and do in Miami, Florida

Touring the Wynwood district of Miami

Visiting Vizcaya Museum and gardens

The Holocaust Memorial in Miami

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

South Beach food tour

Little Havana food tour

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A road trip from Miami to Key West  A road trip from Miami to Key West

This this inspire you to visit Key West?

Have you been to Key West on a road trip, what was your favorite part of the trip? Please share any experiences you’ve had in the comments below.

Conclusion on a Miami to Key West road trip

Doing a road trip from Miami to Key West is a thrilling adventure through the scenic beauty of the Florida Keys. From Miami’s energetic vibe to Key West’s laid-back charm, the journey offers diverse experiences. Enjoy stunning beaches, indulge in local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the cultural heritage. Witness breathtaking sunsets, cross iconic bridges, and encounter fascinating marine life. Arriving in Key West, savor the island atmosphere, explore landmarks, and relax on sandy shores. This road trip creates lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the enchanting Florida Keys.

Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Miami to Key West road trip,  hope you are inspired to plan a vacation to the Florida Keys and enjoy some of these wonderful attractions. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.

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