Miami to Key West Drive – The Overseas Highway
The Miami to Key West drive via the Overseas Highway is one of the great American road trips and one of the most scenic drives in the world.
The Overseas Highway spans nearly 120 miles of breathtaking scenery as it runs over the Atlantic Ocean, the Florida Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico connecting the far flung Florida Keys before finally reaching mile marker zero in Key West.
Along the way you’ll pass through the Florida Everglades, a UNECSO World Heritage Site, numerous state parks and wildlife refuges, stunning beaches, and numerous keys. The area is home to a wealth of rare and exotic animals including both the American Alligator and the American Crocodile, the endangered Key Deer, and countless bird species.
A great part about the Miami to Key West drive is that it’s a great drive at any time of the year so there’s no need to bring your snow tires! Of course you’ll want to plan around any impending storms which typically occur between late May and early July.
The scenery along this spectacular drive is unparalleled and is not something you’ll soon forget. I find myself dreaming of cruising down the Overseas Highway with the windows down during the cold winter months.
So let’s dive into this incredible drive and all that it has to offer.
Planning Your Miami to Key West Drive
Things to Know Before Your Miami to Key West Drive
Weather: As you can imagine with a thin strip of highway separating you and miles of open ocean, the Overseas Highway is prone to flooding and extreme weather events. Make sure to check the weather forecasts before you set out and remember that you don’t need a hurricane to make things dicey on this road, heavy rain and/or winds can make things very dangerous.
Gas/Charging: The distance from Miami to Key West should be well within your electric vehicle’s charge range and there are plenty of gas stations along the way. That said make sure to have a full tank or a full charge before you set out. More info on this further down.
Sunscreen: It’s the Florida Keys, need we say more? Bring your sunscreen and be glad you did. We happen to like this one because it works AND it’s not full of a bunch of chemicals.
Leave No Trace: That’s right, as you visit Florida’s parks and green spaces remember to leave these places beautiful. We’re big fans of Leave No Trace here at MTJP. Want to learn more? Read about the seven principals of Leave No Trace here.
Clothing: Pack your swimsuits and flip flops and prepare for a good time! Remember to bring a rain jacket – they call that liquid sunshine in Florida and it comes out of nowhere.
Insect Repellent: You hope not to need it, but you want to have it. We typically bring an Eco-Friendly Insect Repellent with us just in case.
Mapping Out Your Miami to Key West Drive
Sure it’s a fairly straight shot along the Overseas Highway, but if you want to get the most out of this amazing drive head over to Google Maps and start plotting points along the way that look interesting to you (parks, restaurants, overlooks, etc.).
Once you’ve plotted out your points of interest you can send the map to your phone and follow the path you’ve charted as you make your way to mile marker zero in Key West.
Best Miami to Key West Drive Map Tool
We always use google maps for this as the interface is hard to beat. However, they do currently have a 10 destination limit on the regular one.
If you want/need to add more points to your map than the 10 destination limit, google also has a “my maps” tool which is free and even savable right to your google account.
We’ve ranked the 15 BEST Road Trip Planning Tools if you’re looking for more!
Distance From Miami to Key West
The distance from Miami to Key West is 165 miles, give or take a few depending on where exactly you’re starting. If you have an electric vehicle, worry not as it’s well within your range.
There are also a number of electric vehicle charging stations in Key West (including Tesla) so you’ll have plenty of charge to get back.
Miami to Key West Drive Time
Depending on traffic getting out of Miami and whether or not you want to take the Reagan Turnpike or just get straight onto Route 1 the Miami to Key West drive should take about 4 hours with no stops.
But trust you’ll want to plan plenty of stops along this gorgeous stretch of highway.
If you’re interested in other National Parks Road Trips, you might want to look over our post ranking the National Park Road Trips. You also might be interested in our ALL 63 National Parks Ranked post that lists all of the national parks. We ranked them from best to worst based on our comprehensive 50 point rating system.
Miami to Key West Drive – Camping
There are a number of privately owned campgrounds along the route to Key West, but for our purposes we’ll stick to public parks offering campsites.
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (RV & tent camping options – reservation only)
- Long Key State Park (Hike-in tent camping only – visit park website for more info)
- Curry Hammock State Park (28 campsites – reservation only)
- Bahia Honda State Park (3 campgrounds totaling 80 campsites – reservation only)
Each of these state parks offer incredible scenery and fun outdoor activities for everyone in the family.
Getting Gas During Your Miami to Key West Drive
The distance from Miami to Key West isn’t terribly long at 165 miles, and fuel isn’t scarce along the way, but nobody wants to run out of gas in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Make sure to fuel up before hand!
Miami to Key West Drive
Miami to Key West Drive Overview
Total Drive Time: 4hrs
Number of State Parks: 9 (plus one national wildlife refuge)
My recommendation is setting out for Key West before the sun rises. I know! You’re thinking I’m crazy, but hear me out. Firstly, you’ll have the road to yourself and will be able to get out of Miami without any hassle.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to catch a spectacular sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as you cruise along the Overseas Highway.
Destinations: Florida State Parks
- Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park (1 hour from Miami)
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (1 hour & 10 mins from Miami)
- Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park (1.5 hours from Miami)
- Indian Key Historic State Park (1 hour & 50mins from Miami)
- Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park ( 2 hours from Miami)
- Long Key State Park (2 hours from Miami)
- Curry Hammock State Park (2 hours & 15 mins from Miami)
- Bahia Honda State Park (2 hours & 45 mins from Miami)
- National Deer Key Refuge (3 hours from Miami)
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (3 hours & 45 mins from Miami)
Miami to Key West Drive Map
Feel free to zoom in on this map and see each park plotted as a point on your route. Remember the Miami to Key West drive time is just about four hours so each of these stops will add to that overall time.
(Note: The last two points start over again as “A” and “B” because Google only allows 10 points.)
Miami to Key West Drive Highlights
7 Mile Bridge
This is perhaps the most breathtaking portion of the Miami to Key West drive and it’s easy to see why. 7 miles of thin concrete separates you from the vast Atlantic Ocean as you make your way from Knights Key to Little Duck Key.
The views from the 7 mile Bridge are magnificent and have been featured in numerous movies and car commercials. This is a must see on your trip to Key West and frankly you have no choice if you want to reach your ultimate destination!
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Home to spectacular coral reefs and aquatic sea life, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a must on your trip to Key West. Don’t scuba or snorkel? No problem! The park has plenty of hiking trails and pristine beaches for you to relax and enjoy the peaceful scenery.
Long Key State Park
A former private resort destination for the rich and famous, Long Key State Park is now open to the public and offers beachfront views that are hard to beat.
Camping, fishing, and relaxing are popular activities here. The park is very family friendly and a great spot to let kids play in the sand.
Bahia Honda State Park
Yes this state park is pronounced like you’ve just stepped foot onto a Honda dealership and encountered a pushy salesperson. Rest easy though, the only thing you’ll encounter here are spectacular views and the peaceful sound of waves lapping against the shore.
This is one of the most scenic and popular state parks located along the Overseas Highway.
Visit the southernmost point in the continental U.S. If you’ve made the journey to Key West then you have to mark your visit by snapping a picture at the southernmost point in the continental USA.
Visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. This beautiful civil war era fort on the edge of the continental U.S. is a great spot to visit if you’ve made it down to Key West. Walk the fort grounds and feel the history while taking in the spectacular views around you.
When is the Best Time of Year to Plan Your Miami to Key West Drive?
The best time to embark on your Miami to Key West drive is in the winter. Late Spring and early Summer can see storms and unpredictable weather while later summer sees swelling crowds.
In the winter you get the benefit of escaping wherever you are and enjoying a less crowded and scenic drive.
Alternatively, fall is a great to go as well. Schools are back in session making for fewer crowds and the weather is mild and predictable.
Miami to Key West Drive Additions
Dry Tortugas National Park
I guess we couldn’t end this article without mentioning a national park. Yes 70 miles off the coast of Key West is the most remote of the Florida Keys, home to Dry Tortugas National Park.
Dry Tortugas is home to a beautiful old fort and lighthouse along with white sand beaches and spectacular scenery. Camping is available, but it’s pack in pack out and facilities are very limited.
The park can only be reached by ferry, float plane, or private watercraft. The ferry from Key West is the easiest way to get there. For more information visit the park website here.
Everglades National Park
Time Added: extra 2 hours driving plus any time spent in the park
If you haven’t been and want to make this a full on road trip then plan an early morning stop in Everglades National Park. You can drive in via the main park road, catch a spectacular sunrise, and hike a trail or two before hitting the road for the Overseas Highway.
Arriving early also gives you your best wildlife viewing opportunities in a park where visitors travel from all over the globe to catch glimpses of it’s rare and beautiful wildlife.
Biscayne National Park
Time Added: Varies
Biscayne National Park is just 45 minutes from Miami (at least to the Visitor Center). The park is a snorkelers & divers dream with an immense diversity of underwater sea life just waiting to be explored.
While this park is not really a hikers park with more than 90% of it being underwater, it’s a unique addition to the National Park System that is a great addition to your south Florida trip.
I would allow an extra day to truly experience this park.
Why An Article About the Overseas Highway?
Great question! The answer is partly in our name – More Than Just Parks. While we can tend to focus heavily on national parks and forests there are so many other parks in the U.S. worth talking about.
It’s safe to say the string of state parks along Florida’s Overseas Highway are absolutely worth your attention (not to mention the national parks nearby). This article is also part of our larger road trips collection which we’ll be writing more of to help you plan safe and exciting road trips all over the USA.
List of Miami to Key West Drive Stops
- Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
- Indian Key Historic State Park
- Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
- Long Key State Park
- Curry Hammock State Park
- Bahia Honda State Park
- National Deer Key Refuge
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Summary – Leave us a Comment!
That’s all I’ve got for you to plan your Miami to Key West drive! Let us know what we missed and what else we should include. And please drop us a note if there’s a road trip that we haven’t written about that your interested in knowing more about!
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