Florida Keys Driving shouldn't mean a constant stream of the following from the backseat of the car.........
"Are we almost there yet?"
"Are we almost there yet?"
Well when it comes to driving down to and through the Florida Keys, make sure you are ready to slow right down.
You're on vacation after all.
Everything we do is at a leisurely pace, and that’s no different to when we drive.
Wherever you go it will take you a lot longer than you might expect, so patience is required (and best to leave those annoying kids, with their “Are we there yet?” questions at home too!!)
Driving to and from the Keys can be quite slow.
Speed limits are strictly enforced and for many areas 45mph is a fast as the law allows you to travel.
And although parking is quite easy in the majority of the islands, once you hit the Old Town Key West then parking is a little bit tricky.
So make sure you take a glance at our brilliant information at our Key West Parking Guide
To make it as easy as possible for you Florida Keys bound drivers, here is a quick Florida Keys driving guide to the kind of times it may take you, as you make your way to and from paradise.
This give you an indication of what to expect, but hey forget about getting there as quickly as possible, and slow it right down and do the "Florida Keys Driving" vacation of a lifetime.
We can show you that too.
Florida Keys Driving Times
Miami to Big Pine and the Lower Keys 2.5 hours
Key West to West Palm Beach 5 hours
Key West To Miami 3.5 hours
Marathon to Orlando 7 hours
Key West to Fort Lauderdale 4 hours
Key West to Naples 5.5 hours
To check what the current drive conditions are on the US1 then click here
Driving Distances From Miami Airport
Miami Airport to Key Largo and the Upper Keys is approximately 60 miles.
Miami Airport to the island of Islamorada 80 miles.
Miami Airport to Marathon 115 Miles
Miami Airport to Big Pine 130 Miles
And lastly, the route that many people take is by flying into Miami Airport and then driving down to Key West...so how long does it take?
Well the distance is 160 miles, so look for over three hours give or take for this one.
These are the green and white signs scattered along the route which will tell you exactly how far you have to go.
They start in Florida City with MM 126, and end at MM 0
Hit the 0 and you are exactly where you should be.
On vacation in paradise.
But hang on a minute, what about our readers that wanted to savour their Florida Keys driving experience.
Well read on friends.......
Florida New Turnpike Extension (FTE)
It doesn't get any better than this.
You're in your car, racing across the Florida Keys tarmac, the miles of road being eaten up behind you.
The weather is almost perfect, the road is as free from other cars as it could possibly hope to be.
And then........ you see in the distance the Electronic Toll System loom into view.
As you hit the bit separated by Milepost 127 (which is all the way down in Florida City) and Milepost 47 (which is the top of US1 near the Miami-Dade/Broward County line, you push yourself out of your seat, and desperately try to get a finger or two inside the pockets of the skinny jeans your wife hates, but you think make you look cool.
But then things get even worse, as you slow down to the tolls and realise that it is a cash taking ghost town.
There is no one there to take your coins and let you through.
What should you do?
Quite simply smile and nod happily at other drivers queued up around you, as you have all the information already after reading this.
You clever reader, you!
The new card system came into existence on the 19th of February 2011, and works its cash free magic in four separate locations.
This is great news and makes things a lot quicker for the residents of the Florida Keys, but of course there are lot of people who come back and forth to the Keys.
So how does it impact the visitor?
Not a lot really, as lots of people in this area will have hired a car, and most rental car companies have programs that allow customers to use lanes that utilize SunPass, a pre-paid toll program already in place for travel on toll roads.
And how do they do this?
Well, quite simply the tolls plus a minimal service fee are charged to the credit card used to rent the vehicle.
And to make things easy, even those motorists that for whatever reason do not have a SunPass can also whiz through without stopping, and desperately searching their glove boxes for a few coins.
This is done by an administrative invoice system that takes a snapshot of the drivers number plate, and then sends a bill requesting payment at the end of each month.
There is a slight charge for this of $2.50 added to the amount of all the passes made through the tolls that month, but I'm sure you'll agree, they have tried to make it as painless as they can for all drivers entering or living in the Florida Keys.
Road Trip To The Florida Keys
Right let's start you on the perfect Florida Keys Driving trip.
Convertible would be great.
Gorgous and sexy partner by your side.
And music to hit the spot “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys or anything by Jimmy Buffett.
Got all that??
Ready, let’s go.
Driving through to Key West is all about the Overseas Highway.
This wonderful road takes you all the way thorough the Keys, and you better like a nice ocean view, because you are going to get a lot of them.
You see the Keys are just a string of Islands connected with this one massive road.
Actually the majority of the road is a series of small bridges, as the Islands almost bang into each other such is their close proximity to each other.
Make sure you check out the Seven Mile Bridge and the historic center at Pigeon Key, which gives you great information about Henry Flagler the man behind the road that you will be doing your Florida Keys driving on.
Number One Florida Keys Driving Tip
Well actually its number two if you have the music sorted already, but this is still very important.
If you are considering getting in the old wagon, and cranking it up to hit the Florida Keys then you would be well advised to travel during Monday to Friday.
The weekends as you can imagine, with people looking to break from their normal lives, and get to the ocean can get extremely busy.
So if you are planing a long weekend, miss Friday nights and either travel Friday morning or Saturday morning, and definitely skip Sunday afternoons as you make your way back to the hum drum existence we call life.
You will spend more time looking at the irritating bumper sticker that says something rude about the drivers in fronts mother in law than you will the scenery.
Stop Number One
“You won’t want to stop in Key Largo !!”
People may tell you this but don’t let them put you off.
Yes, it may not be as luxurious as its Florida Keys neighbours, but it has its own charm all on its own.
And if you do whizz through then you will miss the best snorkelling you may ever experience at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park .
This undersea park is one of America’s first, and if you like swimming with everything from Nemo, to Turtles to Jaws (Yep the odd shark or two are common visitors) then this is the Number One place to get your snorkel on.
For the best providers of tours to the area, or lessons to get up to speed on snorkeling and diving around Key Largo then click here.
I thoroughly recommend making sure that your Florida Keys driving route allows for more than a day in Key Largo, and if you want to do this make sure that you check out all the available RV sites which allow a totally different feel to the place, than the hotels and motels which are common place.
However you might think the thought of camping is worse than hell, so we can also point you in the direction for the best hotels and motels in Key Largo.
Just a few days in the area will really give you a taste of the Island.
Stop Number Two
Islamorada is not just one island, as it actually covers four islands.
There are loads of things to do, but most of them are more of the couple of hours in length variety, great to go to but will not take more than a whole day.
But then you come to the word that changes everything in Islamorada.
If you like to fish, however, you could easily spend more than one day as this area is known as the sport fishing capital of the world.
There are a mass of fishes (sailfish, tuna, tarpon, bonefish, Hogfish and mahi mahi)that will get the excited angler, forgetting all about their Florida Keys driving adventure, and running down to the nearest bridge to cast their rods into the crystal blue waters that surround the area.
And if you want to get a boat and sail out a bit deeper then one call will hire you one of the many charters that are available around the area.
This is a small place just off the road in Lower Matecumbe Key where the giant tarpon come into be fed.
Buy some bait, walk to the water and watch the fishy frenzy in front of you.
This is great for kids and adults, but it wont take more than a hour.
Probably a lot less, but its still fun.
And in the evening then I suppose you could do a lot worse than visiting the Tiki bar, the original creator of the world famous Rum Runner recipe but of course if you do have one of these babies, make sure that you have already arranged your accommodation for the night.
You don't want to spend a rather uncomfortable night in the cells.
That is one part of the Florida Keys driving experience that we would rather not find out about.
Stop Number Three
You have made it to the end, so I guess we should share with you some extra special Florida Keys Driving information.
Now you are at Key West then use our guide to find a Parking Space , leave the car and walk.
Key West is a tiny bit difficult to cruise around in your car, and it really is a lovely place to stroll around.
And what can you see there?
Well best to read all the great information that is contained in the pages to your left.
But a couple of top tips would be:
Firstly to visit Ernest Hemingways Home
If you fancy wandering down to take a look, the house can be found at 907 Whitehead Street, near the famous Key West lighthouse close to the Southern coast of the island.
Secondly,do the Duval Crawl
This mile-long stretch of road is lined with shops, bars, and clubs.
It's a fantastic vibrant collection of places and pubs to pop into and have a refeshing drink or two.
Beware though many of them do not close until 4:00am, and then some open again at 5:00am.
Have the aspirins ready (and good job you left the car behind too)
So no more Florida Keys Driving......sob, sob.
You have travelled the entire length of US1.
You have listened to more Jimmy Buffett than you can stand!! (Sorry Jimmy!)
And now it's time to drink a beer or two, watch the sunsets and savour what everybody else knows.
Key West is paradise!
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