The Ultimate 3 Day Travel Itinerary

The Florida Keys are a quintessentially American vacation spot with white-sand beaches, turquoise oceans, and outdoor activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and camping. The Florida Keys are a chain of islands 120 miles off the state’s southern coast. To truly appreciate the beauty of the Florida Keys, a road trip from Miami to the Keys is one of the best things to do in the Sunshine State.

One of the most beautiful roads in the world, it connects more than 600 islands by a series of bridges over the sea. Find out how to organize a trip that encompasses everything the Keys have to offer, from unique attractions along the way to stunning beaches and national parks to coastal bars and restaurants.


Related: Heading to the Florida Keys? Here are some visits to plan your trip

When and how to drive from Miami to Key West

When starting the Road Trip by plane, Miami International Airport or Fort Lauderdale Airport is the perfect option. Although Miami International Airport is where most travelers would want to start their trip, several low-cost airlines land in Fort Lauderdale instead. From the United States, budget airlines such as Spirit, Frontier, Southwest and JetBlue are great options for travelers on a tight budget.

Those coming to Miami by car from the northern United States will likely take Route 95. Visitors can rent a car at either airport and get on their way. Time-pressed travelers can often rent a car for a single trip; however, this incurs an additional charge. Rental can be picked up at Miami International Airport and dropped off at Key West International Airport or vice versa. The distance between Miami and Key West in its shortest form is 166 miles. How long it takes to get somewhere depends on how often and how far off-road drivers stop.

While it’s possible to travel from Miami to Key West in just over four hours each way, we highly recommend spending at least three days on the road to fully enjoy the trip. For those wondering when is the best time to drive from Miami to Key West, consider that the Keys are one of the sunniest and hottest places in the country, averaging 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. There’s no better time than March and May to take a scenic drive through the Florida Keys when the crowds have died down and hotel rates have come down.

Avoid traveling in August and September, which are the height of hurricane season. With an average of over 90 degrees, July and August are the hottest months in the Florida Keys, and the wettest are June, August and September.

On day one, bask in the warm Miami glow

Flying into this bustling city is the first stop for many tourists traveling to Key West. Miami is home to many world-class attractions, beaches, and restaurants. For beach lovers, spend time basking in the sun on South Beach, considered one of the best beaches in the United States. Those looking to beat the Miami heat should head to Lummus Park and relax under the shade of palm trees by the sea.

Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is as well known as the beach and is the perfect place for those interested in arts and culture. Ocean Drive is the epicenter of the historic Art Deco District, home to over 800 monuments. Drop by the Art Deco Museum or the Art Deco Visitor Center to learn the full story of the Art Deco movement in Miami Beach. Both are in Lummus Park, which is between Ocean Drive and the beach.

A few blocks down Ocean Drive is the historic 1920s neighborhood of Española Way. A replica of a traditional Spanish Mediterranean village inspired the design of this street. While one day in Miami isn’t enough to see it all, visitors shouldn’t miss Española Way. Plus, visit Miami Design District, Midtown Miami’s most upscale neighborhood and home to many museums, trendy boutiques, and restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs.

Visit Key Largo, the first of the scenic Florida Keys, on day two

Key Largo is the most famous Florida Key and is sometimes called the “diving capital of the world”. Visitors can find the largest artificial reef in the world here, among many other unique attractions. A 24-hour stay in Key Largo should begin at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, widely considered one of the city’s top attractions. For visitors to the park, which opened in 1963, a wide variety of options are available, from snorkeling and kayaking or canoeing to boat trips and picnics.

Have fun on the African Queen Canal Cruise as it travels from Marina Del Mar to Port Largo and then out into the Atlantic Ocean. The African Queen Cruise rose to prominence after the 1951 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart brought her to public attention.

Divers who prefer scuba diving will have a wonderful time exploring the Spiegel Grove wreck. It is two football fields long, allowing intrepid divers to experience an incredible journey. Get lost in this colossal shipwreck and marvel at the abundance of fish that call it home. As you visit the famous Spiegel Grove, see hairy corals and see barracudas and horseeye trevallies in their natural habitats.

Related: 10 Incredible Facts You Didn’t Know About Key West Florida

On day three, travel to Key West

Key West has become famous as the southernmost point in the United States and the last of the Florida Keys. Enjoy a full day in Key West to visit the Key West Lighthouse and take in the breathtaking scenery. The 65-foot-tall monument, originally built in 1825, is still one of the most famous landmarks on the island, although it has been decommissioned.

Then, experience the island’s signature Caribbean vibe as you pass Bahama Village’s colonial-style Caribbean homes, including one once owned by literary great Ernest Hemingway. At the Hemingway House and Museum, visit the museum and stroll through the beautiful gardens. Buy a one-of-a-kind literary souvenir from the bookstore and gift shop before enjoying tropical cuisine and community music.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is less than a 10-minute walk along Duval Street from the Hemingway Home. One of the most common things to do in Key West with kids is to experience this ecosystem.

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