Julie Itinerary, United States 12 Comments

Driving from Miami to Key West is one of the best road trips in the USA. White sandy beaches, palm trees, beautiful aquamarine water, warm sunny skies…sounds nice, right? Add in tropical drinks, alfresco dining, a few slices of key lime pie, a national park or two (or even three), and some of the most beautiful sunsets in the US, and you have an awesome road trip destination. In this guide, learn how to put all of this together into the perfect Florida Keys itinerary.

We have done this numerous times over the years, sometimes flying into Key West, other times starting near Miami and road tripping through the Florida Keys. I recommend driving through the Florida Keys at least one way, because there are a lot of cool things to see and do along this drive.

For those of you on a quest to visit all the national parks in the USA, three of them are located along this drive (Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas). Even if you aren’t trying to tick these off your bucket list, they still make great additions to your Florida Keys itinerary.

There are several different ways to plan your trip, depending on your interests and how much time you have. In this guide, we provide three different options: 7 to 10-day road trips that make great starting points for planning your itinerary.

 

Brief Overview of the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys stretch over 180 miles. Along this distance are more than 800 keys.

The term “key” comes from the Spanish word “cayo,” which means “small island.” Keys are formed on the surface of a coral reef.

This coral reef (which is called the Florida Reef) forms the keys that run from mainland Florida down to Key West and out to the Dry Tortugas.

The Florida Reef is the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world (the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Belize Barrier Reef are larger). This reef starts in Biscayne National Park and runs to Dry Tortugas National Park.

So, on this Florida Keys itinerary, you get to visit both ends of this massive reef system, plus road trip along the small keys that were formed by the reef.

The Florida Overseas Highway is 113 miles long, running from mainland Florida to Key West. As you road trip along this highway, you will drive through hundreds of small keys, all joined by numerous bridges. It’s a gorgeous drive with lots to do, as you will see in this post.

Florida Keys itinerary sign

Florida Keys Itinerary

In this guide, we provide three different itineraries.

The first is a detailed 10-day Florida Keys itinerary that includes all three national parks, some time in Miami, and a road trip through the Florida Keys in both directions. It also provides lots of time in Key West.

This itinerary can be easily modified. If you don’t want to visit the three national parks, simply take them out. And you can also save time by flying either to or from Key West, rather than driving both ways (but this will raise the cost of this trip).

Florida Keys itinerary #2 and #3 are 7-day road-trips that are done point-to-point. Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Key West form the end points for both itineraries, and you will drive through the Florida Keys one way. I provide an itinerary for both directions through the Florida Keys, because rental car prices can vary depending on the direction you choose.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you are planning to road trip in only one direction through the Florida Keys, I recommend researching flight and rental car costs before choosing your route. By traveling one way, you will have a rental car drop fee. It is usually (but not always) cheaper to start in Key West and drop the car in Miami or Fort Lauderdale (rather than starting in Miami and ending in Key West). It’s good to know this cost, and your flight costs, before finalizing the direction you go.
 
With that being said, the cheapest way to visit the Florida Keys is to road trip in both directions, dropping the car off where you picked it up. Also, flights are generally cheaper if you fly into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, rather than Key West.

Florida Keys Itinerary #1

10-Day Road Trip: Miami, Key West, Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas National Parks

This 10-day Florida Keys itinerary is done out-and-back from the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. It includes a visit to all three national parks plus lots of time along the Florida Keys and in Key West.

 

Florida Keys Itinerary Map

Florida Keys Itinerary Map

 

Day 1: Arrive in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale

Arriving in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale

To start off your trip, you have two major international airports to choose from. Miami International Airport and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport are located relatively close to one another.

We typically fly into Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Southwest Airlines. Flights are cheap and this airport is smaller and a bit easier to get around. By car, Ft. Lauderdale is located 30-minutes north of Miami, so it adds a little extra driving time to get to Homestead and the Florida Keys, but for us it has been worth the cost savings.

On this Florida Keys itinerary, you will fly round trip out of one airport (either Miami or Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood) and pick-up and drop-off the rental car from this same location.

When planning your trip, I recommend checking flights for both airports. Also check rental car prices, because there could be a slight difference in price as well.

If you plan your flight such that you arrive in the morning, you will have the afternoon and evening to visit Miami and/or South Beach.

Where to Stay

If you plan to spend the evening in Miami or South Beach, sleep in Miami tonight.

However, the best place to minimize driving tomorrow is Homestead. This town is located south of Miami, near Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, and the start of the drive down the Florida Keys.

In Homestead, we have stayed at both the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Miami Homestead and the Courtyard by Marriott Miami Homestead, and both are great. The Speedway Blvd Townhouse is a two-bedroom townhouse that can accommodate up to six people and gets excellent reviews.

In Homestead, we ate at the Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria (good Italian food) and Bangkok Cuisine (good Thai and Southeast Asian food). Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery was highly recommended, but they were closed during our visit. This winery is located to the west of Homestead so you will do some extra driving to get here but it really looks great.

Day 2: Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is one of the largest national parks in the lower 48 states. This enormous wetland park is home to manatees, American crocodiles, a huge number of birds.

With one day, you can visit the eastern side of Everglades National Park, visiting both Shark Valley and the Flamingo area of the park.

Start at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, ideally by 8 am, before the park gets busy. From Homestead, it is just a 20-minute drive to get here.

Spend the morning visiting the sights along Highway 9336, as you drive towards Flamingo. Spot alligators from the Anhinga Trail, walk the short Mahogany Hammock boardwalk trail, and look for manatees in Flamingo.

One Day in Everglades

Anhinga Trail

In the afternoon, drive north to Shark Valley, one of the best spots in Everglades National Park for wildlife viewing. End the day with an airboat ride through the Everglades.

Alligator Florida Keys itinerary

An airboat ride is a great way to spot alligators.

Tonight, sleep in Homestead.

ITINERARY MODIFICATION: If you spent last night in Miami, South Beach, or Ft. Lauderdale, I recommend starting at Shark Valley, then do the airboat ride, and end with the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park. This will save you some driving time if you do it in this order.

Day 3: Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is located south of Miami. 95% of this park is water, so the best way to explore it is by boat. If you like snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, paddle boarding, kayaking, or simply cruising around by boat, you will love this park.

Our favorite experiences in the park are visiting Boca Chita Key, snorkeling the reefs and shipwrecks, and paddle boarding in Jones Lagoon. For the full list of things to do, and a lot more information about the park, read our Guide to Biscayne National Park.

Biscayne National Park

Lighthouse on Boca Chita Key | Florida Keys Itinerary

 

Boca Chita Water

The view from Boca Chita

 Stiltsville

Stiltsville

 

Fowey Rocks Lighthouse

Fowey Rocks Lighthouse

To visit Biscayne National Park, you will have to join a tour or hire a private charter.The Biscayne National Park Institute is the main tour operator for the park, and they offer lots of different tour options, from half to full day trips into the park, where you can go snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and paddle boarding.

They offer a lot of different tours and availability changes throughout the year. If you need help narrowing down the list, here are several tours I recommend:

  • Jones Lagoon Eco-Adventure: $89 per person, 3.5 hours
  • Sail, Paddle, Snorkel & Island Visit: $179 per person, 6 hours
  • Small group snorkel experience: $99 per person, 3.5 hours

Alternatively, you can also hire a private boat. This is more expensive, but you can customize your trip. There are very few companies authorized to lead tours of Biscayne (get the full list on the National Park Service website). We used Explore Miami Boat Rental. Prices start at $700 for a 4-hour tour with a max group size of 6. 

That sounds like a lot, and it is, but if you are a family of four, you could spend $400 – $700 for a group tour with Biscayne National Park Institute. By hiring a private charter, you can customize your itinerary and move at your own pace.

What We Did: We spent two days in Biscayne National Park. On the afternoon of day 1, we took the Jones Lagoon Tour with Biscayne National Park Institute. On day 2, we hired Explore Miami Boat Rental for a 6-hour tour of the park.

Where to Stay

Tonight, sleep in Homestead or Key Largo.

Key Largo is one of the northernmost Florida Keys. There are a lot of beachfront resorts and restaurants here, making this a great spot to spend the night.

Coconut Bay Resort gets excellent reviews and has rooms that can accommodate up to six people.

In Tavernier, which is just south of Key Largo, the Island Bay Resort and the Atlantic Bay Resort get rave reviews. If you want to stay in a large hotel with lots of amenities, take a look at the Playa Largo Resort & Spa.

For dinner, Gilbert’s Resort, the Caribbean Club, Hobo’s Café, and Sharkey’s Sharkbite Grill all get good reviews.

Caribbean Club

Caribbean Club | Florida Keys Itinerary

Day 4: Florida Keys road trip to Key West

Today, road trip along the Florida Keys to Key West. If you are starting the day in Homestead, it is about a 3-hour drive (130 miles) without stops. From Key Largo, you are looking at a 100-mile drive that takes about 2 hours without stops.

The to-do list in the Florida Keys is long. For the full list, read our Florida Keys Road Trip Guide, but below I list several great activities to do on the drive today.

Note: Since this Florida Keys itinerary includes two separate drives through the Florida Keys, I will be listing different activities to do on the return drive. Places we are saving for the return drive are snorkeling in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Turtle Hospital.

Breakfast in Key Largo

For breakfast in Key Largo, Mrs. Mac’s is our favorite spot. Wait times for brunch can get long. If the wait is too long, we also really like Harriette’s Restaurant. They are famous for their Key Lime muffins, which are good, just not quite as good as key lime pie (in my opinion).

Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary

This sanctuary is home to more than 100 birds that cannot be released back into the wild. Owls, pelicans, vultures, hawks, and other species native and migratory to the Florida Keys have a home here. The sanctuary is free to visit but donations are appreciated.

Bird Sanctuary

Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary | Florida Keys Itinerary

Best Key Lime Pie in the Florida Keys

We have sampled a lot of key lime pie, in both the Florida Keys and Key West. The key lime pie at the Blonde Giraffe is our favorite. Buy a slice or two and enjoy it while sitting in their lovely garden.

Blonde Giraffe

Garden at the Blonde Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory

Rain Barrel Village

This quirky cluster of shops is a great place to go shopping for souvenirs and unique Florida Keys gifts.

The Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel Village | Florida Keys Itinerary

History of Diving Museum

If you have an interest in scuba diving, this is a cool museum to visit. Drs. Joe and Sally Bauer have spent the last 40 years assembling the largest collection of dive helmets, scuba gear, armored suits, and diving memorabilia in the world.

The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and tickets cost $15 per person.

Early Lunch at Morada Bay Beach Café

This is one of our favorite spots in the Florida Keys. Dine al fresco, on a white, sandy beach, under the shade of palm trees. The food is great, and the drinks are even better.

Best Florida Keys Itinerary

Tacos Florida Keys itinerary

Fish tacos at Morada Bay

If it’s still too early for lunch, you can save Morada Bay for the return drive up the Florida Keys on day #9. The Midway Café and Coffee Bar, just a few miles down the road, makes a great spot to stop for a snack or a cup of coffee.

Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s

This is a must do in the Florida Keys.

Tarpons are large fish that grow up to 8 feet in length. At Robbie’s, you can hand feed these fish.

It costs a few dollars for a bucket of fish. And it helps to have a buddy…someone to chase away the pelicans, who are very determined to steal your fish before you have a chance to feed them to the tarpons.

A visit to Robbie’s is tons of fun, cheap, and takes just a few minutes of your time.

Feeding Tarpon at Robbies Florida Keys itinerary

Tim feeding a tarpon at Robbie’s

Visit Sombrero Beach on Marathon Key

As you drive through Marathon Key, you can make a detour to Sombrero Beach. If you want to get in some beach time on today’s drive, this is a great place to do it (another option is Bahia Honda State Park).

Sombrero Beach

Sombrero Beach | Florida Keys Itinerary

Seven Mile Bridge

Enjoy the drive, and the views, as you drive over the Seven Mile Bridge.

Seven Mile Bridge

Drone photo of Seven Mile Bridge | Florida Keys Itinerary

Bahia Honda State Park

Entrance fee: $8 per vehicle

This state park is a beautiful place to visit in the Florida Keys. Calusa Beach and Loggerhead Beach are located at the far end of the peninsula, near the Old Bahia Honda Bridge. Currently, Sandspur Beach is closed for a renovation project.

You can also go kayaking, boating, snorkeling, and fishing.

Bahia Honda State Park

Calusa Beach | Florida Keys Itinerary

One of the best things to do in the Florida Keys is walking to the end of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge. This trail was once part of the Overseas Railway. In 1938, the railway was converted into a road, and this was used as part of the Overseas Highway until 1972, when a replacement bridge was constructed.

It’s an uphill walk to get onto the bridge but what a great view from the top!

Old Bahia Honda Bridge

View from the Old Bahia Honda Bridge

Big Pine Key: Key Deer & the No Name Pub

In Big Pine Key, keep a look out for the Key Deer, an endangered deer that only lives in the Florida Keys. They are smaller than other white-tailed deer and we usually see them near the No Name Pub.

Key Deer

The No Name Pub is the coolest bar in the Florida Keys, at least out of the ones we visited. Located in what feels like the middle of nowhere on Big Pine Key, this pub has the slogan, “a nice place if you can find it.”

No Name Pub dates back to 1931 and started off as a bar and a brothel. It’s no longer a brothel, but since the 1980’s visitors have been adding their dollar bills to the walls and ceiling of the pub. Now it looks like every square inch of the No Name Pub is covered with the faces of George Washington, with a few bills from other countries thrown into the mix here and there.

No Name Pub

Key West

From Big Pine Key, it takes about 45 minutes to get to Key West. Check into your hotel and then have dinner. For restaurant recommendations, read our Key West Restaurant Guide. For recommendations on where to stay in Key West, read our Key West Hotel Guide.

 

Days 5 & 6: Key West

One of the great things about Key West is that there is plenty to do, if you want to stay busy. Or simply relax on the beach or at a resort during the day and go out at night.

Below I list several ways to plan your days in Key West.

Morning: Brunch at Blue Heaven or La Grignote
Midday: Tour the Hemingway House, then take in the view from the Key West Lighthouse, go shopping along Duval Street, visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, then wait in line to have your photo taken at the Southernmost Point (optional)
Evening: Dinner (we recommend Café Marquesa, Salute! On the Beach, or El Siboney; Louie’s Backyard at sunset is nice), then go bar hopping on Duval Street

Best Key West Restaurants

Brunch at La Grignote | Florida Keys Itinerary


Morning and midday: Breakfast at Cuban Coffee Queen, take an Uber to Smathers Beach or Fort Zachary Taylor Beach and spend the morning and midday here
Afternoon and evening: Rum distillery tour, visit the Key West Historic Seaport, take a sunset cruise (we love the sunset tiki boat tour with Cruisin’ Tikis Key West).

Smathers Beach

Smathers Beach | Florida Keys Itinerary

 

Rum Tasting Florida Keys itinerary

Rum tasting at Papa Pilar’s Rum Distillery


Morning: Kayaking tour of the mangroves with Lazy Dog Adventures
Midday: Lunch in Key West (Amigos Café, Santiago’s Bodega, and DJ’s Clam Shack are all great options)
Afternoon: Visit the Truman Little White House, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and/or the Key West Shipwreck Museum
Evening: Watch the sunset in Mallory Square, dinner and drinks on Duval Street

Mallory Square Sunset

Sunset at Mallory Square | Florida Keys Itinerary

 

Duval Street

Sloppy Joe’s Bar on Duval Street


Morning: Take a Jet Ski tour or Dolphin watch and snorkeling tour
Midday: Lunch in Key West
Afternoon: Spend the afternoon in one of Key West’s museums (Hemingway House, Truman House, Mel Fisher Museum, etc.) if you have not done this yet
Evening: Dinner at Latitudes (upscale dining experience with gorgeous sunset views)

For the full list of things to do in Key West, including pricing and hours of operation, read our article 18 Great Things to Do in Key West.

Day 7: Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is located at the end of the Florida Keys, about 70 miles west of Key West.

Day trips from Key West last anywhere from 4 to 10 hours, depending on the mode of transportation you use.

Getting to Dry Tortugas National Park

The only way to get to this remote park is by boat or by seaplane. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

By Ferry

The Yankee Freedom Ferry is the ferry that connects Key West to the Dry Tortugas.

Taking the ferry is a full day experience (about 10 hours total). Check-in time is at 7 am. The ferry departs at 8 am and it takes 2.5 hours to get to Dry Tortugas National Park. After spending four and a half hours in the park, it’s another 2.5-hour ride on the ferry, getting you back to Key West at 5:30 pm.

By ferry, it costs $190 for adults and $135 for children and this also includes your national park fee.

You can also hire a private charter, but prices average about $3000 for the day.

By Seaplane

This is the quickest way to get to the Dry Tortugas. It’s also an incredibly scenic flight.

You will fly over the keys and the Marquesas Islands and get to see both Key West and Dry Tortugas National Park from the sky. The plane flies low, so you can also see nurse sharks and sea turtles in the water (yes, the water is that clear!), underwater sand dunes, reefs, shipwrecks, and the keys.

Dry Tortugas National Park photo

Dry Tortugas National Park from the seaplane

 

Dry Tortugas Seaplane Florida Keys itinerary

Key West Seaplane Adventures is the only company that flies to Dry Tortugas National Park. They offer flights throughout the day, and you can choose between a half day visit and a full day visit.

A half day trip lasts 4 hours and costs $361 per person, plus the $15 national park fee. A full day trip lasts 8 hours and costs $634 per person, plus the $15 national park fee.

What We Did: We took a morning flight to Dry Tortugas National Park. At 8 am, we flew to the Dry Tortugas and then spent two and half hours exploring Garden and Bush Keys. We returned to Key West at noon and had all afternoon in Key West.

For more information on how to get to Dry Tortugas National Park, with essential planning tips, click here to read our detailed guide.

Things to Do in Dry Tortugas National Park

On a day trip to the Dry Tortugas, your time will be spent on Garden Key and Bush Key, if it is open.

Tour Fort Jefferson, the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere. This historic building was used as a fort, a prison, and a coaling station. Touring the fort and walking on top of the walls is one of the best experiences in this national park.

How to Visit Dry Tortugas

Fort Jefferson Florida Keys itinerary

Dry Tortugas Day Trip

View from Fort Jefferson | Florida Keys Itinerary

The Dry Tortugas are also a great spot to go snorkeling. Not only can you see a wide variety of tropical fish and sea corals, but there is also a chance to see sea turtles.

One of our favorite experiences is walking around Bush Key. Along this 1-mile loop, the views of Garden Key and Fort Jefferson are awesome. Note: Bush Key is closed from February through September for bird nesting.

Florida Keys Itinerary

Dry Tortugas National Park | Florida Keys Itinerary

For the full list of things to do, and a lot more photos, read our article Best Things to Do in Dry Tortugas National Park.

How Much Time Do You Need in Dry Tortugas National Park?

For most people, just a few hours are all you need to see the highlights (the half-day seaplane tour is sufficient). If you want to spend a lot of time snorkeling, plan on spending a full day here (take the ferry or the full day seaplane tour).

It is possible to camp at Dry Tortugas National Park, spending multiple days here. This gives you enough time to kayak out to Loggerhead Key. Learn more in our Dry Tortugas post.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: For the best experience, take the first seaplane flight of the day. You will have almost two hours on Garden Key before the ferry arrives, so you will be sharing the park with just a handful of other visitors.

Day 8: Key West

Today is your last full day in Key West. Use this time to visit places still on your to-do list, or to simply relax on the beach before heading home.

Use our suggestions earlier in this itinerary for ideas on how to spend your time today.

Tonight, sleep in Key West.

Sunset Key Florida Keys itinerary

View of Sunset Key from the Cruisin’ Tikis Key West tiki boat

Day 9: Florida Keys road trip to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale

Today you will road trip through the Florida Keys once again, ending in either Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. This drive is roughly 170 miles and takes 4 hours without stops.

Earlier on this itinerary, there were a few places we skipped on the drive through the Florida Keys, saving them for today.

Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital rescues and rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles so they can be returned to the wild. Guests can take a 90-minute tour of the hospital facilities. It’s one of the best things to do in the Florida Keys and great for all ages.

Fibropapillomatosis Sea Turtle

The Turtle Hospital rescues turtles that have fibropapillomatosis, a disease that causes large tumors. These tumors are removed and the sea turtles spend several months at the hospital before being returned to the ocean.

 

Turtle Hospital Florida Keys itinerary

Tickets cost $30 for adults and $15 for children. The Turtle Hospital is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. The last tour starts at 4 pm.

The Turtle Hospital is located on Marathon Key. To get here from Key West, it takes one hour. I recommend making a reservation in advance, because tours do fill up, particularly those midday. We took the 10 am tour, which gave us enough time to have breakfast in Key West before starting the drive. 

Long Key State Park

This small state park has a short nature trail, the Golden Orb Nature Trail, that makes a 1.1-mile loop through mangrove swamps. We did this in 2021 and a lot of the mangroves were damaged during the 2017 hurricane. It’s worth it for those who like nature trails and see mangroves, if you haven’t seen them yet while in the Florida Keys.

Lunch at Morada Bay Beach Café or Marker 88

If you skipped Morada Bay Beach Café earlier this week, or loved the experience and want to repeat it, here’s your chance. This restaurant serves great food and drinks, right on the beach.

Farther up the road, on Plantation Key, is Marker 88. It has a similar vibe to Morada Bay. Alfresco dining, right on the beach, with more good drinks and good food. Here, you can sit at tables that have swings. This would be a nice spot the spend the entire afternoon.

Marker 88

Go Snorkeling at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Key Largo is one of the best places to go snorkeling or diving along the Florida Keys. You can take 2 to 4-hour snorkeling trips of the John Pennekamp reef. One of the highlights here is seeing the famous statue “Christ of the Deep.”

Tonight, sleep in Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

Day 10: Fly home

Today, fly home or continue to your next destination.


 

USA Road Trips

 

Florida Keys Itinerary #2

7-Day Road Trip Itinerary: Miami/Ft. Lauderdale to Key West

This is a shorter version of the above itinerary. If you only have a week, you have just enough time to visit all three national parks, road trip through the Florida Keys, and spend some time in Key West.

This Florida Keys itinerary is done point-to-point. Fly into Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and out of Key West. You will pick up your rental car in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and drop it in Key West.

Starting near Miami and ending in Key West is the most popular direction for a point-to-point Florida Keys road trip. It’s great ending in Key West, with its laid-back vibe, beaches, restaurants, bars, and sunsets. This also tends to be the more expensive route, since rental car drop fees can be higher in this direction.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Before finalizing the direction you plan to go, research rental car prices, drop fees, and flight costs for road tripping through the Florida Keys in both directions. By traveling one way, you will have a rental car drop fee. It is usually (but not always) cheaper to start in Key West and drop the car in Miami or Fort Lauderdale (rather than starting in Miami and ending in Key West).

Day 1: Arrive in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale

Ideally, plan to arrive by midday, so you can spend the afternoon and evening in Miami or South Beach. Tonight, sleep in Miami, South Beach, or Homestead.

Day 2: Everglades National Park

Spend the day at Everglades National Park (refer to day #2 above). Tonight, sleep in Homestead.

Day 3: Biscayne National Park

Spend the day at Biscayne National Park (refer to day #3 above). If you do a half-day morning tour of Biscayne, you can drive to Key Largo in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day here. Tonight, sleep in Homestead or Key Largo.

Day 4: Florida Keys road trip

Drive from Homestead or Key Largo to Key West, visiting sights along the way that interest you. For more information, read our Florida Keys Road Trip Guide or refer to day #4 and day #9 in the itinerary above. Tonight, sleep in Key West.

Day 5: Key West

Spend the day in Key West. If it is your first time in Key West, don’t miss the Hemingway House, a visit to one of Key West’s beautiful beaches, and the bars on and around Duval Street.

Day 6: Dry Tortugas National Park

Today, day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, either by seaplane or on the Yankee Freedom Ferry. Tonight, sleep in Key West.

Day 7: Fly Home

Today, fly home or continue to your next destination.

Best Key West Beaches

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach | Florida Keys Itinerary

Florida Keys Itinerary #3

7-Day Road Trip Itinerary: Key West to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale

This itinerary is done point-to-point from Key West to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. If you find that rental cars and/or flight prices are cheaper to do it this direction, this 7-day itinerary is simply the reverse of the itinerary above.

Day 1: Arrive in Key West
Day 2: Key West
Day 3: Dry Tortugas National Park day trip
Day 4: Florida Keys road trip
Day 5: Everglades National Park
Day 6: Biscayne National Park
Day 7: Fly home

Best Time for this Florida Keys Itinerary

The best time for this Florida Keys itinerary is between November and March, when the weather is cool and rainfall is low. December through February is peak season in the Florida Keys for visitors, so expect larger crowds and more expensive prices for hotels during this time. I also recommend reserving your activities and restaurants in advance.

From June through October, expect hot, humid weather. Tropical storms and hurricanes can occur during this time, which can disrupt travel plans.

In recent years, we did this same road trip in both February and December. February is an awesome time to visit the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, since mosquitoes are at their lowest during this time. In December, we learned that mosquitoes can still be quite annoying in Biscayne National Park.

In December, Key West is decorated for Christmas, making this a very festive time to visit. Plus, crowds tend to be a little lower just before Christmas, making this a great time for this Florida Keys itinerary, if you want to visit during the winter months with lower crowds.

Key West Sunset

Key West Sunset | Florida Keys Itinerary

Additional Costs for this Florida Keys Itinerary

In addition to the prices I listed above for activities in the Florida Keys, here are a few more items to budget for.

Rental Car: Rental car prices can range from $75 to $200 per day, depending on the time of year you visit, how far in advance you make your reservation, and the type of vehicle you plan to rent. If you are doing a point-to-point trip, you will also have a drop fee. This is typically several hundred dollars and in general, this fee is cheaper if you start in Key West and end in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.

Hotels: Key West has gotten to be quite expensive in recent years. A mid-range hotel at double occupancy can start at $400 to $500 per night. Prices are cheaper in Homestead, averaging about $250 per night for a mid-range hotel.

Food: Prices in Key West and along the Florida Keys are typical for other places in the USA, averaging about $10 to $18 per plate.

More Information about Florida

FLORIDA KEYS: Florida Keys Road Trip: 25 Awesome Things to Do between Key Largo and Key West
BEST OF KEY WEST: 18 Great Things to Do in Key West
KEY WEST: Cruising around Key West on a Floating Tiki Boat
KEY WEST: Best Restaurants in Key West: 20 Places to Eat & Drink
WHERE TO STAY IN KEY WEST: Where to Stay in Key West: Best Hotels & Neighborhoods
DRY TORTUGAS: Best Things to Do in Dry Tortugas National Park
DRY TORTUGAS: How to Get to Dry Tortugas National Park
BISCAYNE: Top 10 Things to Do in Biscayne National Park
EVERGLADES: One Perfect Day in Everglades National Park
ROAD TRIP IDEAS: Best USA Road Trips: 18 Ideas for Your Next Big Adventure


If you have any questions about this Florida Keys itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.

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United States Travel Guide

 

Key West Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary

 

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Comments 12

  1. Avatar for Barry
    Barry

    Love this list. One to add for breakfast halfway down. If you like canal-front dining with excellent food, then consider Made 2 Order located at MM 90.6 on the east side of the road directly across from Tavernier Creek Marina.
    My oldest sister has lived in Miami since the 1980s, and they go down for breakfast about once a month. In particular, the Tropical French Toast is fantastic (IMO).
    We spent a week in Naples a while ago, and we literally drove over for this breakfast (and to show the visitor kids with us the keys and Miami).
    FYI – you have to go early. This place is known by the locals and fills up. We get there at 8AM when they open. Walk around to the back outside rather than having to walk through the inside like a tourist…

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
  2. Avatar for Joe
    Joe

    Hi Julie !!

    Just got back from NM (followed your recommendation and visited White Sands, Carlsbad caverns and Guadalupe).
    I am thinking of doing a NP in May. Do you think FL is doable in mid-late May?
    IF so, can i do this as a 5d trip? or is that too much driving?
    Or would you rather do a trip to CA and check out Sequioa and Redwood?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      You have great timing. Over the past few days, I have been writing a series of guides to the best months to visit the national parks. Tomorrow I plan to publish May.
       
      Florida is doable in late May but you will have hot, humid weather. If that’s not a big deal for you (it would be for me 😊), then this is a good road trip to do. In California, Sequoia and Redwood Parks are far from each other (about a 10 hour drive). I think grouping them together is not a great road trip option unless you don’t mind doing a drive that long. Another issue is that the two parks near Redwood (Lassen Volcanic and Crater Lake) sit at a higher elevation and are still cold and not all of the roads are open in May. But you could combine Sequoia and Kings Canyon with Yosemite and maybe even Pinnacles National Park. Another road trip idea is combining New River Gorge, Great Smoky Mountains, and Shenandoah into one road trip. For the May article, check back in tomorrow. Here is the link to our Parks to Visit in April guide and a link as to the best time to visit each national park.
       
      Cheers, Julie

      Redwood does make our May list. Sequoia and Kings Canyon can be grouped together but average temps this time of year is still in the 50’s so we recommend them for June.

      1. Avatar for Joe
        Joe

        Ty !!
        Oops, I meant Kings Canyon and Sequioa.
        I’ve already done Yosemite last year (and Death Valley and Joshua tree in the last 3-4 months).

      2. Avatar for Joe
        Joe

        Hi Julie, If i aim for 7d (say i land on 13th and fly back late evening 20th) – you think I can do the 7 day itinerary that you have above? with day 7 being me driving back to miami from key west area?

        1. Avatar for Julie Post
          Author
          Julie

          Yes, that should work fine. On day 7, schedule a late afternoon flight to give you enough time to make the drive. OR, on day 6, visit Dry Tortugas in the morning and in the afternoon, drive part or all of the way back to Miami. You could stay in a hotel along the Florida Keys to break up the drive. Cheers, Julie

          1. Avatar for Joe
            Joe

            Perfect !
            Ya I was planning to do Dry Tortugas and then start driving back late afternoon and maybe spend a night (or two) in Miami to go check out local sights and scenes

  3. Avatar for Sarah
    Sarah

    We loved staying in Marathon (or Key Colony Beach) as it was equidistant from the northernmost and southernmost keys for great day trips. Snorkeling at Sombrero Reef was amazing. Also the Dolphin Research Center is a great must see along with your rec of the Turtle Hospital. Being around Marathon kept us close to all these attractions in addition to Sombrero Beach and Bahia Honda for beach days. In Key West, the Lobster Shack has amazing lobster rolls! Paradise Restaurant is also a fun and lively family owned Latin American restaurant there with Columbian, Cuban and Latin Amercian food. Also we did a private catamarran tour with kayaking and snorkeling that was absolutely great with Key West Eco Tours. Robbies is so fun! Just a head’s up for families going to Key West…It is a true party scene there after dark, so just be aware with children.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
  4. Avatar for Caroline Hancock
    Caroline Hancock

    Hi Julie!
    I am loving your 10 day itenerary for miami, key west, etc. but I dont see an option to print. Is that possible? Thank you!
    Caroline

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Using your browser, you can save this post as a PDF and/or print it. Press CTRL+P to open the printer dialog box. You should be able to select Print from your web browser’s menu (the web browser menu typically looks like 3 dots in either the horizontal or vertical position). If you still have problems please let me know. Cheers, Julie

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