Ultimate Florida Keys Road Trip Inspiration
The Florida Keys are a chain of islands located just off the southern tip of Florida, and they offer a unique blend of natural beauty, laid-back island charm, and a vibrant culture.
If you’re looking for a tropical paradise that’s just a short drive from Miami, look no further than the Keys.
Since Key Largo, the first of the fabulous Florida Keys, is just an hour or so away from Miami (depending on how fast you drive) you could plan a simple weekend getaway!
However, I HIGHLY recommend doing a 7 day Florida Keys road trip from Miami. Trust me, you won’t regret it! I loved our week long road trip so much I’m planning to retire in the Sunshine State! 😎
When we got back from our road trip, to my surprise, a lot of people asked if the Florida Keys are worth visiting (I guess since they’re a little expensive to experience). In short, it’s a HELL YEAH from me – they are 100% worth visiting and should be at the VERY TOP of your travel bucket list!
Below I’ve highlighted all of the top spots that we visited in the Florida Keys, including secret spots and restaurant tips. I’ve deliberately not done a strict itinerary for the 7 Day Florida Keys road trip, as I think it’s great to have a rough idea of what you fancy seeing, as well as some time for flexibility and spontaneous adventures!
Essential stops on your 7 Day Florida Keys Road Trip from Miami 🎧📍🏝
🚥 1. Seven Mile Bridge to Key West 🚥
The 7-mile bridge is a marvel of engineering! It’s one of the longest and most beautiful bridges in the world, spanning 7 miles over the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Driving or biking across the bridge is an awe-inspiring experience that offers breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding islands.
Crazy fact: The Florida Keys are connected by the Overseas Highway (U.S. Route 1), which is a 113-mile long highway running from Miami to Key West.
In terms of how many bridges connect the Florida Keys, can you believe that it’s a whopping 42 bridges that connect all the islands!? 🤯
The Seven Mile Bridge, is 35,716 feet long, and it connects the mainland of Florida to the Florida Keys.
There’s several places you can easily pull over and take a closer look at the views when you’re driving along the Seven Mile Bridge – it’s ideal for getting some awesome drone content.
We took full advantage and did this at almost every opportunity, which paid off, as we spotted several sharks swimming extremely close to shore.
Believe it or not, we even witnessed a crazy shark attack 🦈🦈🦈 but more about that later!
🚥 2. Discover Unique Wildlife 🚥
The Keys are home to an incredible array of wildlife, including some species found nowhere else on Earth. For example, you can spot Key Deer, which are an endangered species of miniature deer that only live in the Florida Keys!
The best place to spot these adorable creatures is the National Key Deer Refuge, located on Big Pine Key and No Name Key in the Lower Florida Keys.
These are the opening times of the Refuge to take note of so you can fit in a visit at some point during your 7 Day Florida Keys Trip:
|Thursday||10 AM–3 PM|
|Friday||10 AM–3 PM|
|Saturday||10 AM–3 PM|
|Wednesday||10 AM–3 PM|
🚥 3. Explore the Best Beaches in the World 🚥
Some of the most amazing beaches in the world are located in the Florida Keys. In fact, the beaches here are so stunning they literally look photoshopped!
With crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sandy shores, Florida Keys beaches are the PERFECT place to relax and unwind on. They’re also a great place to get some epic Instagram content!
The most popular beaches in the Florida Keys are:
- Bahia Honda State Park, an island on the lower portion of the Florida Keys. This is a picturesque and popular state park known for its stunning beaches, clear turquoise waters, and diverse marine life. You can enjoy activities like swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and camping here, all while taking in the beautiful tropical scenery.
- Smathers Beach, the largest public beach in Key West (it’s almost 1 mile long!) This beach is lined with palm trees that give it an idyllic vacation vibe. Smathers also has everything you need to spend the day, from food trucks and rentable chairs to jet skis and public bathrooms!
- Sombrero Beach, known as one of the Florida Keys “secret beaches” is located half way down the Overseas Highway at mile marker 50. It’s got a soft sandy shoreline, a shady park with picnic pavilions, restrooms and showers, as well as plenty of places to park nearby.
🚥 4. World-class Snorkelling and Diving 🚥
As you might expect, the marine life in the self-proclaimed ”Dive Capital of the World” is one-of-a-kind.
The Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States, which provides for incredible scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities.
In the Keys, you can swim with dolphins, encounter exotic fish species, and witness a wide variety of sharks (we saw a crazy amount of sharks, including bull sharks, lemon sharks, and nurse sharks during our Florida Keys road trip)!
On one occasion, when we pulled over on the Seven Mile Bridge, one particularly large bull shark attacked a pelican right in front of us, but in the end it managed to escape relatively unscathed (video just before the attack is featured below).
Some of the best dive spots in the Florida Keys include:
- Molasses Reef – considered the crown jewel of Key Largo diving, Molasses Reef consists of over 30 distinct sites to explore. This expansive reef system stands out thanks to its clear teal waters and abundance of moorings, making it highly accessible to snorkelers and divers. Molasses frequently attracts large marine wildlife like sea turtles, reef sharks, and spotted eagle rays. Its beauty and biodiversity led to protected status within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
- USCGC Duane – the US Coast Guard Cutter Duane is a 327-foot-long vessel that lies beneath the waters of the Florida Keys, situated approximately one mile south of Molasses Reef. This submerged site, intentionally sunk in 1987, is a must-visit for experienced divers on a Florida Keys diving expedition. The USCGC Duane is still upright and divers can marvel at the sight of large schools of snapper near the bow and barracuda hovering around the crow’s nest. Additionally, keep a lookout in the blue waters, as bull sharks frequently make their presence known!
- Christ of the Abyss – When scuba diving in the Florida Keys, a visit to “Christ of the Abyss” is practically a rite of passage. It’s one of the most well-known and frequently sought-after dive sites in the Upper Keys. This iconic bronze statue stands at nearly 3 meters tall and warmly welcomes both snorkelers and divers so don’t forget your GoPro!
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the US, covering over 70 nautical square miles of ocean waters. The park is home to the third largest coral reef system in the world and also has extensive mangrove swamps. These ecosystems provide a home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, making them an epic place for diving. This is also considered to be one of the best places to kayak in the Florida Keys.
Or, if you prefer to stay dry but still want to experience the beauty of the reefs in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, why not take a glass bottom boat tour? These tours provide an up-close look at the coral and marine life, without requiring any diving or snorkelling!
🚥 5. A True Hidden Gem: Robbie’s Marina of Islamorada 🚥
When we had to pull over on the Overseas Highway in Islamorada, we accidentally discovered this amazing place, where you can do one of the most unique things to do in the Florida Keys!
At Robbies, you can buy a bucket of fish to feed the tarpons (if the cheeky pelicans don’t steal the fish first!) This is such a cool experience as the tarpons have an incredible jumping ability and are enormous.
Some of the tarpons are easily up to six feet long and weigh more than 200 pounds. To be honest, I’m not surprised given the number of people constantly feeding them!
On our visit to Robbies, we spotted a manatee in the shallows, as well as a lemon shark lurking close to shore, which was incredible to experience up close.
It’s very easy to spend a whole day here, as there’s fantastic shops and eateries on-site, where you can pick up souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, or enjoy a signature cocktail.
Robbies really does have something for everyone and has got to be one of the most fun and unique things to do in the Florida Keys for sure.
🚥 6. Famous Metal Detecting Spots in the Florida Keys 🚥
Fun fact: Some of the best beaches in Florida to metal detect are found in the Keys! This is because these tropical islands have a long history of exploration, colonisation, and shipwrecks.
The islands were a significant site during the Spanish colonial period, with many ships loaded with treasures from the New World passing through their waters.
Shipwrecks and lost items from these times can occasionally be found washed ashore!
Some of the best beaches in the Florida Keys for metal detecting during your 7 Day Florida Keys road trip are:
- Bahia Honda State Park: This park is a fantastic beach with a lot of history. It’s a popular spot for metal detecting enthusiasts especially because it sees lots of tourist traffic throughout the year.
- Fort Zachary Taylor State Park: This Key West beach is adjacent to a Civil War-era fort, and it’s possible to find some historical items here in addition to the usual dropped items from beachgoers.
- Smathers Beach: As Key West largest public beach, it often attracts large crowds, making Smathers a prime spot for dropped coins and lost jewellery.
- Higgs Beach: Also located in Key West, this beach is popular and has a rich history, offering good opportunities for metal detecting.
Remember, Florida state parks usually require a permit for metal detecting, and detecting is not allowed in archaeological areas. Always be sure to follow all local regulations, and respect the environment by refilling any holes you dig!
🚥 7. Discover Key West 🚥
Key West itself is full of history and charm and an essential stop of any Florida Keys road trip from Miami. It’s known as the “Conch Republic,” and has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s.
The town is also home to numerous art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants serving fresh seafood and tropical cocktails.
What we liked the most about Key West was the laid-back and welcoming atmosphere that really encourages you to slow down and enjoy the moment.
Whether you’re sipping a cold drink at a beachside bar or strolling through the streets of Key West, you’re sure to feel at home in this tropical paradise.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth and informative experience, here’s a link to one of the most popular Key West tours currently on offer!
🚥 8. Try Delicious Local Cuisine 🚥
On your Florida Keys road trip from Miami it’s *mandatory* to sample some of the tasty local cuisine.
From conch fritters to traditional Key Lime pie, the Keys offer a unique blend of Caribbean and Southern flavours that are sure to satisfy the palate of any foodie!
Best Places to Eat in the Florida Keys 😋
Conch House (Key Largo) – the food was so good we went there 3 times in one week! Note: Although the food isn’t the healthiest every dish is absolutely delish. I still often dream of the fluffy Conch Fritters and Fried alligator!
Hobo’s Café (Key Largo) – ignoring the unusual name, this restaurant was fantastic. It’s so good that National Geographic has named it as one of the most authentic Keys eateries. It’s a no fuss eatery and serves tasty local dishes with fresh seafood and produce, including mahi mahi, tuna, lobster, and crab.
Key Lime Pie Bakery (Key West) – an amazing find on our day trip to Key West, this bakery serves freshly baked Key Lime pie every day and offers a large selection of souvenirs to remember your visit to Key West!
🚥 9. Florida Keys Festivals 🚥
The Florida Keys host numerous festivals throughout the year, each of these amazing events are a celebration of different aspects of the local culture, environment, and history 🦄🍄🎡🎨🎪🍭
Here are some of the best festivals to add to your Florida Keys road trip itinerary:
- Key West Food and Wine Festival (January): Celebrates local cuisine and wines with tastings, food tours, and cooking demonstrations.
- Florida Keys Seafood Festival (January): Held in Key West, this festival celebrates the area’s seafood industry with local seafood, music, and family activities.
- Pigeon Key Art Festival (February): Held in Marathon, this event showcases fine arts, crafts, food, and live music.
- ConchFest (March): Celebrates the unique Conch Republic (Key West) with food, art, music, and parades.
- Florida Keys Island Fest (April): Held in Islamorada, this festival celebrates the Keys’ lifestyle with local art, food, music, and classic cars.
- Key Lime Festival (July): Key West celebrates its famous Key limes with pie-eating contests, cooking demonstrations, and more.
- Lobsterfest (August): This Key West festival celebrates the start of the lobster season with feasts, street fairs, and live music.
- Fantasy Fest (October): A 10-day celebration in Key West with elaborate costumes, parades, and masquerade balls.
- Key West Film Festival (November): Showcases films that exhibit excellence in storytelling and captures Key West’s essence (Creativity, Diversity, Sustainability, and Beauty).
Please note: Dates can change from year to year, so it’s always a good idea to confirm the exact dates when planning to attend!
🚥 10. Swim with Dolphins in the Florida Keys 🚥
If you’re looking for an incredible experience to swim with dolphins in the Florida Keys, the Dolphin Research Center, located on Grassy Key, offers a unique opportunity to interact with dolphins in a natural and educational environment.
You can participate in various programs that range from shallow-water encounters to deeper-water swims. It’s a fantastic place to learn about these incredible creatures and engage in hands-on experiences during your 7 Day Florida Keys road trip from Miami.
Also, you can rest assured that Dolphin Research Center prioritises the well-being of their dolphins and provide educational experiences that promote conservation and respect for marine life.
🚥 11. Jet Ski in the Florida Keys 🚥
The combination of the Keys’ natural beauty, favourable climate, calm waters, and opportunities for adventure makes it an epic place for jet skiing enthusiasts.
Marathon is probably the best place to jet ski in the Florida Keys because of its location in the middle of the Florida Keys island chain. Here you can rent jet skis and venture out to explore the pristine nature reserves and secluded coves that make Marathon such a hidden gem in the Florida Keys.
🚥 12. Sailing Around the Florida Keys 🚥
With clear blue waters, abundant marine life, and numerous islands to explore, sailing trips around the Florida Keys are unsurprisingly one of the most popular activities you can do on any Florida Keys trip.
Arguably the best place to sail around the Florida Keys is Islamorada, as it’s known as the “Village of Islands,” offering a serene sailing experience with its calm bays and stunning sunsets.
You can charter a sailboat and cruise along the shores, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and spotting marine life along the way.
🚥 13. Everglades Alligator Farm 🚥
No trip to Florida is complete without seeing some alligators! As this farm is located just outside of Miami, it’s ideal for visiting at the start or end of your Florida Keys road trip.
The Everglades Alligator Farm is home to over 2,000 alligators, as well as a variety of other exotic animals (such as snakes, turtles, and birds), which are awesome to see up close.
However, the best part of the day was taking an airboat ride through the Everglades, which is a high-speed boat that takes you through the wetlands. On this thrilling adventure, we saw loads of alligators in their natural habitat. Be warned though, the airboat is as loud as it is exhilarating – make sure to wear the ear plugs you’re given!
🏩 Where to Stay in the Florida Keys 🏩
For our 7 Day Florida Keys road trip from Miami, we booked Island Bay Resort due to the private beachfront location, and it truly exceeded our expectations! Although it’s technically a 2 star resort, don’t let this put you off!
The sunsets here are out of this world, and the resort boasts gorgeous and spacious rooms, high-speed WiFi and is super close to some of the best restaurants in the Florida Keys, as well as supermarkets and petrol stations.
I also personally think that Key Largo is the most convenient place to stay if you’re doing a Florida Keys Road Trip From Miami, as it’s the northernmost island, making it easily accessible from the ”Magic City”! ✨
Overall, the Florida Keys offer a unique blend of natural beauty, laid-back island vibes, and lively culture. From pristine beaches to exotic wildlife and mouthwatering cuisine, the Keys have something for everyone.
So, pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to experience one of the most beautiful and fascinating destinations in the United States!
Do you have any questions about my 7 Day Florida Keys road trip from Miami? If so, feel free to post a comment below, and I’d be happy to help ❤️
Best Florida Keys Tours:
Florida Keys Travel Map 🗺📌
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