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Miami To Key West – Florida’s Best Road Or Boat Trip!


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Heath Brinkley



Welcome to the sunny state of Florida, where endless adventures await! If you’re looking for an unforgettable road trip or a memorable boat trip, then traveling from Miami to Key West should be at the top of your bucket list. This iconic journey takes you through breathtaking scenery, vibrant cities, and charming coastal towns.


Miami, known as the “Magic City,” is a vibrant metropolis renowned for its stunning beaches, glamorous nightlife, and diverse culinary scene. From the trendy Art Deco District of South Beach to the vibrant neighborhood of Little Havana, Miami offers a unique blend of cultures and experiences.


On the other end of the spectrum lies the tropical paradise of Key West. Just off the coast of Florida, this laid-back island is a haven for artists, writers, and free spirits. With its colorful architecture, crystal-clear waters, and year-round warm weather, Key West exudes a relaxed atmosphere that captures the essence of the Florida Keys.


Whether you choose the road trip option or the boat trip option, the journey from Miami to Key West is filled with exciting possibilities. Let’s delve into the details of both options and explore the must-see attractions that await along the way.


Overview of Miami

Miami, the gateway to Florida, is a dynamic city that blends stunning beaches, world-class shopping, and a vibrant cultural scene. With its tropical climate, Miami attracts visitors year-round who come to soak up the sun, enjoy water sports, and experience the city’s unique energy.


One of Miami’s most iconic neighborhoods is South Beach, popularly known as SoBe. This Art Deco district boasts pastel-colored buildings, bustling streets, and a thriving nightlife. Take a stroll along Ocean Drive, where you’ll find an array of trendy restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels.


Aside from its beautiful beaches, Miami is also renowned for its diverse cuisine. From local seafood delicacies to international flavors, the city is a foodie’s paradise. Don’t miss the chance to try Cuban cuisine in Little Havana, where you can savor authentic dishes such as Cuban sandwiches and decadent pastries.


For art enthusiasts, Miami offers a thriving arts scene. Visit the Wynwood Walls, a vibrant outdoor gallery featuring colorful murals from renowned artists around the world. The Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Miami Design District are also worth exploring for their contemporary art exhibitions and unique architectural designs.


If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, head to the luxurious Bal Harbour Shops or explore the trendy boutiques in the Design District. For a more eclectic shopping experience, make your way to the Bayside Marketplace, where you can find everything from souvenirs to local crafts.


No visit to Miami would be complete without experiencing the natural beauty of the Everglades. Take an airboat tour through this vast wetland and encounter alligators, birds, and other native wildlife.


Miami offers a myriad of attractions and experiences, making it the perfect starting point for your journey to Key West. Whether you’re looking for beach relaxation, cultural exploration, or thrilling adventures, Miami has it all.


Overview of Key West

Welcome to the enchanting island of Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and vibrant culture, Key West is a tropical paradise that captivates visitors with its stunning sunsets, rich history, and charming streets.


Key West is famous for its colorful and eclectic architecture. Take a leisurely stroll down Duval Street, the main thoroughfare, lined with quaint shops, lively bars, and delicious eateries. Immerse yourself in the island’s unique culture, where artists, writers, and musicians have long sought inspiration.


No visit to Key West would be complete without witnessing the breathtaking sunset at Mallory Square. Gather with locals and tourists alike to applaud the sinking sun while street performers entertain the crowd. The sunset celebration is a beloved tradition that captures the island’s relaxed and joyful essence.


The island’s rich history is showcased in its many historic landmarks. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where the iconic writer once resided. Explore the Truman Little White House, the former winter residence of President Harry S. Truman. Don’t forget to visit the Key West Lighthouse, offering panoramic views of the island.


Key West also boasts a vibrant culinary scene, with a focus on fresh seafood and Caribbean flavors. Enjoy a meal at one of the many waterfront restaurants, where you can savor local specialties like conch fritters, Key West pink shrimp, and key lime pie.


For nature enthusiasts, Key West offers opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and fishing in its clear turquoise waters. Take a boat excursion to the nearby Dry Tortugas National Park, home to pristine beaches, coral reefs, and the historic Fort Jefferson.


The island’s vibrant nightlife is another highlight of Key West. Experience the famous bar-hopping scene on Duval Street, where you can enjoy live music, dancing, and tropical cocktails. The Key West Fantasy Fest, held annually in October, is a wild and extravagant celebration that draws visitors from around the world.


With its welcoming atmosphere, rich history, and breathtaking natural beauty, Key West is a true gem of the Florida Keys. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a taste of paradise, Key West will exceed your expectations.


Road Trip from Miami to Key West

Embarking on a road trip from Miami to Key West is a popular way to experience the beauty of the Florida Keys. The journey takes you along the scenic Overseas Highway, a 113-mile stretch of road that connects the islands of the Florida Keys.


The drive from Miami to Key West is an adventure in itself, offering stunning views of turquoise waters, picturesque bridges, and lush tropical landscapes. As you make your way south, be sure to take your time and make stops at some of the notable spots along the route.


One of the highlights of the road trip is the Seven Mile Bridge, a spectacular bridge that spans the gap between Knight’s Key and Little Duck Key. This engineering marvel offers breathtaking panoramic views and is a must-stop for photo opportunities.


Another notable stop along the way is the quaint town of Islamorada, located about halfway between Miami and Key West. Known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World,” Islamorada is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. You can also indulge in fresh seafood at the local restaurants or visit the Theater of the Sea, a marine mammal park and animal sanctuary.


Once you arrive in Key West, you’ll be greeted by the island’s charm and laid-back ambiance. Spend your days exploring the historic streets, visiting museums, or basking in the sun at Smathers Beach. Don’t forget to sample some of the island’s famous key lime pie!


While traveling by car allows for flexibility and the freedom to explore at your own pace, it’s important to note that parking in Key West can be challenging and expensive. Consider staying at a hotel or guesthouse with parking facilities, or opt for alternative transportation options once you arrive on the island.


A road trip from Miami to Key West offers the opportunity to soak in the beauty of the Florida Keys and experience the unique charm of each island along the way. With its stunning landscapes, vibrant wildlife, and vibrant culture, this journey is truly a road trip to remember.


Route and Stops along the Way

The road trip from Miami to Key West follows the picturesque Overseas Highway, also known as U.S. Highway 1. This scenic route takes you through the stunning Florida Keys, offering breathtaking views of the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.


As you depart Miami, you’ll travel southwest through the chain of islands that make up the Florida Keys. The journey starts on the mainland and takes you over several bridges and causeways, including the renowned Seven Mile Bridge.


Along the way, there are several notable stops that are worth exploring. One such stop is Key Largo, the first of the Florida Keys. Here, you can visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and go snorkeling or scuba diving to explore the colorful coral reefs and abundant marine life.


Continuing down the highway, you’ll reach Islamorada, a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. Consider stopping at Robbie’s Marina to hand-feed tarpon or visit Theater of the Sea, an interactive marine park where you can swim with dolphins and sea lions.


Further along the route, you’ll come across Marathon, a charming town that offers beautiful beaches and the opportunity to visit the Turtle Hospital. This rescue and rehabilitation facility is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles.


As you approach Big Pine Key, make sure to visit the National Key Deer Refuge, where you can spot the adorable and endangered Key deer, a subspecies unique to the Florida Keys.


Finally, the drive concludes in Key West, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, explore historic sites such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and take in the stunning sunset at Mallory Square.


Throughout the journey, there are numerous scenic overlooks and photo opportunities, so take your time to savor the breathtaking views and capture memories along the way. Keep in mind that traffic can be heavy during peak tourist seasons, so plan accordingly and allow for extra travel time.


The road trip from Miami to Key West is an unforgettable adventure that takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Florida. With its charming towns, stunning beaches, and unique wildlife, this journey is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.


Attractions in Miami

Miami is a vibrant city that offers a wide array of attractions and activities to suit every traveler’s interests. From beautiful beaches to cultural landmarks, here are some must-visit attractions in Miami:


South Beach (SoBe): South Beach is a world-renowned neighborhood known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and iconic Art Deco architecture. Relax on the white sandy shores, explore the lively Ocean Drive, and soak up the atmosphere of this trendy hotspot.


Art Deco Historic District: Spanning from 5th Street to 23rd Street on Ocean Drive, the Art Deco Historic District is a paradise for architecture enthusiasts. Admire the pastel-colored buildings and intricate designs that characterize this iconic neighborhood.


Little Havana: Immerse yourself in the vibrant Cuban culture of Little Havana. Take a stroll along Calle Ocho, sample authentic Cuban cuisine, and watch a game of dominoes in the local parks.


Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM): Located in downtown Miami, the Pérez Art Museum Miami showcases modern and contemporary art from around the world. Explore the diverse exhibitions, sculpture gardens, and outdoor installations that make up this cultural hub.


Wynwood Walls: Indulge in Miami’s street art scene at Wynwood Walls. This open-air museum features colorful murals and graffiti art created by renowned street artists from around the globe.


Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Step back in time at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a stunning Italian Renaissance-style villa surrounded by lush gardens. Explore the opulent interiors, picturesque gardens, and breathtaking waterfront views.


Bayside Marketplace: Situated along the waterfront in downtown Miami, Bayside Marketplace is a bustling outdoor shopping complex. Browse through a wide range of shops, dine at waterfront restaurants, and enjoy live entertainment.


Everglades National Park: Just a short drive from Miami, Everglades National Park is a unique ecosystem that is home to diverse wildlife. Take an airboat tour to explore the wetlands, spot alligators, and learn about the fragile ecosystem.


Miami Design District: Shopaholics will delight in the Miami Design District, a luxury shopping destination filled with high-end fashion boutiques, renowned art galleries, and exceptional dining options.


Miami’s attractions offer a perfect blend of beautiful natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and exciting entertainment options. Whether you’re relaxing on the beach, immersing yourself in art and culture, or exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods, Miami is sure to provide a memorable experience.


Attractions in Key West

Key West, the jewel of the Florida Keys, is a paradise for travelers seeking a laid-back atmosphere, rich history, and stunning natural beauty. From historic landmarks to beautiful beaches, here are the top attractions in Key West:


Mallory Square: Head to Mallory Square to experience one of Key West’s iconic traditions – the Sunset Celebration. Join locals and tourists alike as you watch the breathtaking sunset while enjoying live music, street performers, and a festive atmosphere.


Duval Street: Discover the heart and soul of Key West along Duval Street. This lively thoroughfare is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. Explore the unique boutiques, indulge in fresh seafood, and join the vibrant nightlife scene.


Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Visit the former home of the legendary writer Ernest Hemingway, now converted into a museum. Explore the beautiful gardens and learn about Hemingway’s life and works. Don’t miss the chance to meet the resident six-toed cats, descendants of Hemingway’s own cats.


Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city at Fort Zachary Taylor, where you can relax on the beach, go for a swim, or explore the historic fort, which played a role in the American Civil War.


Key West Lighthouse: Climb the steps of the Key West Lighthouse for panoramic views of the island. Learn about the history of the lighthouse and its significance to maritime navigation.


Harry S. Truman Little White House: Explore the winter retreat of former President Harry S. Truman. This historic landmark offers guided tours that provide insight into Truman’s presidency and his ties to Key West.


Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory: Step into a tropical oasis at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Marvel at the colorful array of butterflies as they flutter freely around the lush gardens.


Smathers Beach: Relax and unwind at Smathers Beach, the largest public beach in Key West. Soak up the sun, swim in the turquoise waters, or take part in water sports such as jet skiing and paddleboarding.


Dry Tortugas National Park: Take a day trip by boat or seaplane to the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. Explore the historic Fort Jefferson, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters, and enjoy the pristine white sand beaches.


With its unique blend of history, natural beauty, and leisure activities, Key West offers something for everyone. Whether you’re wandering the bustling streets of Old Town, relaxing on the beach, or exploring the island’s fascinating history, Key West is sure to captivate you with its island charm.


Boat Trip from Miami to Key West

If you’re looking for a scenic and stress-free way to travel from Miami to Key West, a boat trip is an excellent option. Not only does it offer stunning coastal views, but it also allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys.


Several ferry services operate daily between Miami and Key West, providing a convenient and enjoyable means of transportation. These ferries offer a range of amenities, including comfortable seating, onboard restrooms, food and beverage options, and sometimes even live entertainment.


The boat trip from Miami to Key West typically takes around three to four hours, depending on the weather and sea conditions. During the journey, you’ll have the opportunity to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy the panoramic views of the ocean.


Arriving in Key West by boat provides a unique perspective of the island as you approach the historic harbor. You’ll get a taste of the maritime charm and understand why Key West is often called the “Conch Republic.”


Once you arrive in Key West, several options are available for exploring the island by boat. Rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the calm waters around the island, or book a snorkeling or diving excursion to discover the vibrant coral reefs and marine life.


Boat charters are also available for those looking to have a more personalized adventure. Choose from fishing charters, sunset cruises, or private boat tours that can take you to remote islands and hidden coves.


While traveling by boat is a relaxing and scenic way to reach Key West, it’s essential to plan your transportation back to Miami in advance. Make sure to check the return ferry schedule or arrange for alternative transportation options if you’re not planning a round trip.


A boat trip from Miami to Key West offers a unique and memorable experience. It allows you to enjoy the beauty of the Florida Keys’ waters, embrace the island lifestyle, and arrive in Key West with a sense of adventure and excitement.


Ferry Services and Options

When it comes to traveling from Miami to Key West by ferry, there are several options available that cater to different preferences and budgets. Here are some popular ferry services and options to consider:


Key West Express: Key West Express offers a high-speed catamaran service that departs from Fort Myers Beach, Marco Island, and Fort Lauderdale. The journey takes approximately three to four hours, and the ferries are equipped with comfortable seating, an onboard bar, and panoramic windows to enjoy the view.


Arctic Onsite Marine: Arctic Onsite Marine operates an express ferry service between Miami and Key West. Their air-conditioned ferries provide a comfortable and scenic ride, with onboard amenities such as restrooms, refreshments, and outdoor decks to soak up the sun.


Yankee Freedom III: For a unique experience, consider the Yankee Freedom III ferry service. This ferry departs from Key West and offers day trips to the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. Along the way, you’ll enjoy informative narration, onboard breakfast, and access to the park’s pristine beaches, snorkeling spots, and historic fort.


Private Charters: If you prefer a more personalized experience, private boat charters are available for hire. These allow you to tailor your itinerary and explore the Florida Keys at your own pace. Whether you want to go fishing, snorkeling, or simply cruise the waters, a private charter offers flexibility and exclusivity.


It is advisable to check the schedules, availability, and prices of the ferry services in advance, as they may vary based on the season. It’s also recommended to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your spot and avoid any last-minute disappointments.


Regardless of which ferry service you choose, traveling by boat from Miami to Key West allows you to relax, enjoy the scenic views, and experience the beauty of the Florida Keys. Whether you opt for a high-speed catamaran, an express ferry, or a private charter, the journey itself becomes an adventure that adds to the magic of your trip.


Exploring Key West by Boat

Exploring Key West by boat is a fantastic way to fully immerse yourself in the coastal beauty and unique charm of this tropical paradise. With its crystal-clear waters and stunning marine life, Key West offers countless opportunities for memorable boating adventures. Here are some activities and experiences to consider:


Snorkeling and Diving: Discover the vibrant underwater world surrounding Key West through snorkeling or scuba diving. Explore the vibrant coral reefs, swim among colorful fish, and encounter other fascinating marine creatures.


Boat Tours: Take a guided boat tour around the island to gain insight into Key West’s history, culture, and natural wonders. From informative narrations to fascinating stories, these tours provide a deeper understanding of the island and its landmarks.


Sunset Cruises: Experience the breathtaking beauty of Key West’s sunsets by embarking on a sunset cruise. Enjoy a leisurely sail along the coast, sip on a refreshing drink, and marvel at the sky as it transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors.


Kayaking and Paddleboarding: Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the calm and shallow waters around the island. Glide through mangrove forests, spot marine life, and enjoy the serenity of nature at your own pace.


Fishing: Key West is a premier destination for fishing enthusiasts. Join a fishing charter and try your luck at reeling in a variety of species, from tarpon and snapper to tuna and marlin. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, there are options available for every skill level.


Island Hopping: Take advantage of Key West’s proximity to other nearby islands and embark on a day trip to explore the hidden gems of the Florida Keys. Visit the secluded beaches of Dry Tortugas National Park, venture to the unspoiled shores of the Marquesas Keys, or discover the quaint charm of nearby islands like Islamorada or Key Largo.


Exploring Key West by boat allows you to fully appreciate the natural beauty and unique marine environment of this tropical paradise. Whether you’re seeking adventure through water activities, serene moments in secluded coves, or simply a new perspective of the island, a boating experience in Key West will leave you with unforgettable memories of this enchanting destination.



Embarking on a journey from Miami to Key West, whether by road or by boat, offers an unforgettable experience filled with natural beauty, cultural discoveries, and relaxation. Miami’s vibrant energy, stunning beaches, and diverse attractions set the stage for an exciting adventure. From exploring the iconic Art Deco District in South Beach to immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Little Havana, Miami offers a blend of cultures and experiences that are simply captivating.


Then, as you make your way to Key West, you’ll enter a tropical paradise where time seems to slow down. The island’s colorful architecture, laid-back ambiance, and stunning sunsets create a charming escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. Discover the rich history of Key West, follow in the footsteps of famous writers and artists, and indulge in fresh seafood and Key Lime pie.


Whether you choose the road trip option, witnessing the breathtaking views along the Overseas Highway, or opt for a scenic boat trip, exploring the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, both journeys offer unique perspectives and memorable experiences. From snorkeling in vibrant coral reefs to kayaking through serene mangroves, there are countless opportunities for adventure and relaxation.


Key West’s warm hospitality, inviting beaches, and diverse activities ensure there is something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking thrilling water sports, soaking up the sun on sandy shores, or simply enjoying the laid-back island lifestyle, Key West promises an unforgettable getaway.


Whichever way you choose to travel, the journey from Miami to Key West is sure to provide cherished memories and a deeper appreciation for the beauty of Florida’s tropical paradise. So pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and get ready to embark on an extraordinary adventure from Miami to Key West. The magic of these vibrant destinations awaits!