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Can You Drive to the Florida Keys?

The Florida Keys is the only All-American Road in Florida, spanning 180 miles, crossing over 42 bridges, and featuring 800 Keys in total.

As you can imagine, seeing everything the Florida Keys has to offer takes careful planning, and if you could drive there, then this would make a great road trip, but is driving there possible?

Driving to the Florida Keys is possible and makes for a fantastic ride, with spectacular views of the ocean and countless locations to visit, with new activities to try.

There’s parking spread throughout the Keys at different locations, but you won’t find many restroom stops, and careful planning is needed, as a full experience of the Keys takes between 3-5 days. 

Driving directions from Miami airports to the Florida Keys

Driving from Miami International airport to Key Largo is straightforward, taking roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes.

  1. Coming out of Miami airport, drive onto LeJeune Road South until you reach 836 West. 
  2. Then take the Florida Turnpike South toward Key West.
  3. Keep driving, and you will end up at US-1 Highway; follow South.
  4. The US-1 is a single Highway you can use to drive in and out and the entire length of the Florida Keys, from the Northmost point of Key Largo, passing through all of the main islands of the Keys, before ending at Key West.

Driving from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is a 1 hour 35 min drive and is also fairly straightforward. 

  1. Upon leaving the airport, follow the signs for Interstate 595.
  2. Take the 595 West until you see the Florida Turnpike.
  3. Keep driving, and you will end up at US-1 Highway; follow South until you reach the Keys.

Overseas Highway mile-markers

The Overseas Highway (Highway 1) is the backbone of the Florida Keys.

There are little green mile markers spread throughout the Highway, locating addresses correlating to the nearest mile marker.

These show points of interest such as campsites, shops, and beaches.

Marker 0 begins at the Southernmost point of Key West, continuing North until mile marker 127 of Florida City mainland. 

» MORE: How Long Does it Take to Drive the Overseas Highway?

Renting a car to drive to the Florida Keys

If you’re arriving at the airport, then you’ll need a car to drive to the Keys. The average cost to rent a car in Florida is $22-$25 per day. Cars rentals are available near Miami’s airports.

Here are some general guidelines for renting a car. 

  • You must hold a full driver’s license and be at least 21 years of age.
  • Drivers under the age of 25 may have to pay an additional premium.
  • Since 2013, International drivers with licenses not written in English don’t need an international driving permit.
  • If you have small children, then consider the type of car you want to rent. Ages 6 and under require a child restraint seat such as a booster seat. 
  • Make sure you understand exactly what is included in the rental deal to avoid additional insurance premiums bumping up the price. 

Driving advice

Plan your driving times to avoid traffic

The Overseas Highway is the only road traveling through the Keys, and stretching 118 miles long. As you can imagine, at peak times and weekends, things can get very busy.

If you want to avoid waiting in long traffic lines, then driving during off-peak times will almost certainly help. 

Avoid driving during hurricane season 

If you’re planning well in advance, taking time off work, or driving from another State, then you might want to consider avoiding hurricane season. This season starts at the beginning of June and lasts until the end of November, peaking from mid-August to mid-October.

However, lots of entertaining events are scheduled in the Keys during this time, and also, hurricane forecasting has improved, so if you keep up to date with them, then if necessary, you may be able to reschedule your trip before bad weather moves in.

Plan ahead for rest stops during your Florida Keys drive

At the beginning of the Keys, once you leave Florida City on Highway 1, there’s a long stretch of over an hour to Key Largo, without rest stops.

After this, there aren’t any stops solely for restrooms. However, the majority of businesses have a restroom you can use. Although, if you decide to stop off at a State Park you’ll have to pay an entry fee to use the restrooms.

Use a map or map app

It’s useful to get a map of the Florida Keys to use on your trip, as this will show you upcoming destinations and can give detailed info.

Also, on your phone, you can access the application Google maps, which will show place names that can prove useful during your trip. 

Places to visit in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys journey is sprinkled with plenty of things to do. Here are five must-see attractions during your driving trip.

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Costing $9 per vehicle to enter the park, and located in Key Largo, this is one of the first places you will encounter upon entering the Keys, and also the first undersea park in the United States, featuring 178 square miles of coral reef, and activities such as private snorkeling tours. 

Attractions spread throughout Marathon City

Located in the middle of the Keys island chain, the City of Marathon is made up of thirteen Key Islands and has the best boating activities you’re going to find, alongside supreme beaches and barrier reefs.

It’s a must-see for dolphin fans, as the Dolphin Research Center offers interactive demos in a shallow lagoon, and there are also dolphin and sea lion shows. 

Mallory Square

With free access and located in Key West, if you enjoy sunsets and entertainment, then this is a great place to visit during the evenings, as professional entertainers get together to create a cheerful and relaxed vibe. Also, the sunsets spreading over the Gulf of Mexico are not to be missed!

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Costing $6 per vehicle, and located on the Southern edge of Key West, if you want to brush up on your history, Fort Taylor is another stop along the Keys that shouldn’t be missed!

You can join a guided tour of the fort and learn its history, such as the part it played in the Civil War. Once you reach the peak of the fort, there are spectacular ocean views and a small aquarium to visit. 

Paddle the Florida Keys

Located between Key Largo and Islamorada, and with free street parking nearby (first come, first served), this is an all-around favorite location for paddleboarding, offering a variety of paddleboards for both kids and adults.

Paddleboard lessons are also available around the safe waters of Tavernier Creek, alongside kayak and canoe rentals. 


Driving to the Florida Keys is not only possible, but also the best way to take control of your journey and experience everything the Keys has to offer.

The shortest distance from Miami to Key West is 164 miles, with a 3.30-4 hour driving time. This doesn’t account for traffic and that you’ll most likely be stopping on the way.

In fact, if you’re planning to visit all of the stopping points, then you’re going to need 3-5 days to enjoy the experience.

The Florida Keys & Key West (link)