I’m a total tourist when I go on holiday, I want to do everything. While staying in Miami I had to drive down to Key West through the scenic Florida Keys and do a classic American road trip.
Here is my day trip to Key West from Miami!
Key West is an island city that lies to the southernmost point of the United States, it’s a three and half hour drive from Miami via the scenic Overseas Highway. While driving through, I even spotted an orange road sign that said ‘State Prisoners at Work’. This immediately made me think of prison break, and I was definitely anticipating seeing orange jumpsuits. To much disappointment, I only spotted a few men clearing garbage from the side of the road – awesome!
No hired car, no problem you can take the bus from Miami to Key West.
The journey is ‘165 miles’, and there were plenty of signs reminding us of our distance from Key West.
Driving through the Keys was fun, and it didn’t take long of me to notice that we were passing through quite a few towns with the word “key” included in their name. The ones that stood out to me were (Ragged Key, No Name Key, Knockemdown Key, Upper Key, Shark Key, Saddlebunch Key, Little Torch Key, Fat Deer Key, Indian Key, Tea Table Key), but my favourite was Sugarloaf Key. There was even a Sugarloaf Elementary school.
The view from one of the many bridges on the drive down to Key West.
Seven Mile Bridge
Driving over the clear blue ocean as the seagulls flew overhead on the seven-mile bridge was a treat. The Seven Mile Bridge was originally built in 1912 for railroad traffic and is also a part of the Overseas Highway.
Although I enjoyed the scenery on the way there, nothing peaked my excitement more than when I saw the sign reminding us that we only had four miles left to go, before we got to Key West. At this point, there was a frenzy of activity at a stop light as we entered Key West; with motorbikes, little trams and scooters coming from all directions and people hooting on the trams. I found that entire experience riveting and it made me appreciate seeing people hustling and bustling around again. After a long drive from Miami, believe me, it was necessary.
Where to stay while in Key West
We stayed at the Southernmost Point Guest House, which should not be confused with ‘Southernmost House’ (we actually ended up trying to check-in to the wrong hotel). It is in every sense a hotel, but from the outside and in, it definitely felt like a very well-kept home. This beautiful historic house had tons of character and was quiet despite its central location on Duval Street. It was surrounded by trees, which made it feel nice and secluded; which meant pool time was private and comfortable; it felt like my very own secret garden.
All of this was adjacent to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, and only a hot skip from the iconic Southernmost Point buoy.
Things to See – Southernmost Point
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Following tradition, well that’s what I’ve heard; I had to take time out of my poolside lounging to visit the Southernmost Point. Even though it’s there and you shouldn’t miss it, I almost walked right pass this brightly coloured 10ft concrete buoy until. I saw the masses of tourist queuing to take a photo next to it – I was distracted by a deliciously pineapple flavour snow cone I had just brought from a stall near by.
The buoy has been there since 1983 and mark as the southernmost point in the USA. However, the true southernmost point in the USA is Ballast Key, a privately owned island just west of Key West.
To beat the queue of tourist, go in the morning.
Ernest Hemingway House and Museum
You will definitely learn a few interesting facts about the great American Author, Ernest Hemingway, from the building where he sat and wrote his greatest masterpieces in, to his three scandalous marriages and love of cats. The museum is now a U.S. National Historic Landmark and the home of approximately 50 polydactyls (six-toed) cats, which are direct descendants of Hemingway’s own cats.
You can catch all these cats lazing around the grounds of the house.
Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum
After grabbing two coconuts from a coconut stall directly in front of the Hemingway house to cool down from the heat. We walked two doors down, from the Hemingway house to the Key West lighthouse.
Slowly mastering my fear of heights, I climbed up the tiny and constricting 88 steps to the top of the Key West Lighthouse to an impressive 360-degree view of the Key West. The climb back down was equally challenging.
Catch the Sunset at Mallory Square or on Sunset Pier
The Key West Sunset Celebration is a nightly festival that occurs two hours before sunsets with entertainment and food, we grab a glass of wine and watch the sun paint the sky with furious shades of orange, purple and yellow as it falls below the Gulf of Mexico.
Where to Eat
Key Lime Pie
I had never tried key lime pie before so grabbed a cheeky slice from Kermit’s Key Lime Pie – it was interesting.
The Conch Shack
I’m a big fan of street food and found the Conch Shack wandering Duval Street – I had a Maine lobster roll and seafood sampler platter. The seafood sampler platter was lacking but the winner was the sweet warm butter roll stuffed with tons of Maine lobster.
This place is cash only, so bring your dollar bills.
Roosters of Key West
Key West is known for being a quirky place and there was no better example than being woken up by a rooster or seeing them roaming the streets in the early hours of the morning. I caught a quick photo of this little fella to show you how free they are, and you could bump into them anywhere.
You can’t visit Miami without taking a trip to Key West.
If you do take a day trip to Key West from Miami, maybe you could rival my amazing photo of my little rooster. You can tag me in your best photo, and the best one wins ha!