The perfect roadtrip is one with great vistas, exciting pit stops, and not having to worry about time. It is that ultimate feeling of freedom and being carefree and relaxed. My road trip from Miami to Key West encompassed all of the mentioned and was therefore the best road trip ever. The drive down from Miami to Key West takes 4 hours straight. My itinerary – with plenty of stops, photo opportunities and even a two-hour beach break – took 10 hours. There’s nothing I would’ve wanted to miss so let’s break it down for you.
7 a.m. – Hello Rental Car!
I got up at 6 a.m. to get the most out of my day, but also to avoid the Miami morning rush hour. At 7 a.m. I went to pick up my rental car from Sunny Cars at the Alamo airport counter. The reason I prefer booking via Sunny Cars is because it’s an all-in rate, so no extra insurance costs or hidden fine print. The rate you see, is the rate you get and you’re fully covered. Another plus is their premium service package. You don’t have to wait in line at the rental office but instead you can check in online and ‘skip the counter’ by using one of the self-service kiosks. With only a few screen touches you confirm your protection options, agree to the rental agreement, and enter a valid credit card. And you’re ready to go straight to the car park to pick a car of your choice in your category. The premium service package also guarantees a new car. The third perk is that you don’t have to return it with a full tank. For € 300 for 7 days I was the proud owner of a Dodge. By 7.15 a.m I was on my way to Key West!
9 a.m. – Breakfast in Islamorada
The first part of the drive down is kind of boring. Don’t expect beautiful vistas or anything spectacular except repetitive wetlands until you reach Islamorada. With that in mind (I had done my research) I only made a quick stop at Starbucks in Homestead for a coffee and muffin, and hit the road to have my real breakfast in Islamorada. Following online recommendations I skipped Key Largo. Ninety minutes later I pulled up at The Green Turtle Inn in Islamorada. I had an amazing breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict with lobster and spinach, dill Hollandaise sauce on an English muffin.
10 a.m. – Robbie’s Marina on Lower Matecumbe Key
The drive through Islamorada on Highway 1 might seem dull, unless you take the side streets and roam around. It is known as the sports fishing capital. A five minute drive from The Green Turtle Inn, just after you crossed the first bridge over the azul blue water, you’ll find Robbie’s Marina, my next stop. Here you can hand-feed huge tarpons, take pictures with the pelican tribe who has taken up residence here, rent a boat, or enjoy the tropical vibe, food and drinks at the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant. I was told by a friend that their coconut shrimp is really good, but I just had breakfast. In front of Robbie’s there’s a small hippie market with vendours selling souvenirs, shells, handicrafts, paintings, beach essentials and so on.
After Robbie’s I made a quick stop at Anne’s Beach. It looked amazing, but I had other plans for a beach stop closer to Key West.
Driving over water
Then the real journey began. After Anne’s beach you get to experience what so many people talk about. It was such a spectacular experience to drive on Highway one while being surrounded by turquoise water, mangroves, and wetlands. From this point on all stress and burdens fell off my shoulders and I had a big smile on my face for the rest of the week.
11 a.m. – Hiking in Long Key State Park
By 11 a.m. I reached Long Key State Park. Time to stretch my legs. Long Key State Park is a beautiful nature park with hiking trails and camping facilities. I only spent an hour here, but could have stayed longer. It is the perfect place to unwind and submerse yourself into tranquility and nature. I walked a short hiking trail – the 1.1 mile long Golden Orb Trail – which led through mangroves, past small creeks and treated me to gorgeous rough and raw shoreline views.
12.15 p.m. – Lunch in Duck Key
At 12.15 I arrived in Duck Key. This was my favourite key island on my road trip. Be amazed by the turquoise water, the friendly marina, the stunning homes and the relaxed atmosphere. After a simple lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants in the marina, I continued my journey.
2 p.m. – Take a swim at Sombrero Beach in Marathon
At 2 p.m. I reached Sombrero Beach in Marathon. It was time to cool down and rest for a while. Sombrero Beach was my favourite beach in the Florida Keys. The sand is soft and the sea is clear and tranquil. I also loved the atmosphere at Sombrero Beach. It is a real family beach but not too crowded. See my review of Sombrero Beach for more information. After 2 hours of swimming and basking in the sun I packed up to finish the last stretch of my roadtrip from Marathon to Key West.
5 p.m. – Arrival in Key West
At exactly 5 p.m. I arrived at The Paradise Inn in Key West, my hotel for the next few days (and the best hotel choice I ever made). There was only one place I didn’t stop and that has to be on your list: Bahia Honda State Park & Beach. I did that on purpose because it is closest to Key West (45 min) and requires a full day visit in my opinion. See my review of Bahia Honda Beach for more information.
The roadtrip to Key West was one of the most memorable days in my life. I will never forget the feeling of driving Highway 1 and the sensation of freedom it gave me. The people, the food, the vistas, the slow pace and the carefree spirit in the Florida Keys are like nowhere else. The Keys have stolen my heart.
Also read my blog post with my review about the hotel I stayed in in Key West!
Watch my video with all of the highlights:
This road trip was in collaboration with Sunny Cars.