The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is a bucket list drive for many people all over the world.

Drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West: Your Guide to This Bucket List Road Trip! {2024}

Looking to make the incredible drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West? Well if so, you’re not alone!

The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is one of the most popular road trips in America.

Driving the Overseas Highway to Key West was always a bucket list dream of mine and I can happily say that I’ve now done this drive a few times!

So join me as I help guide you on this ultimate bucket list road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West!

Everything you need to know is here, plus we will talk about the best destinations to stop at along the way!

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How far is the drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West?

The drive from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Key West is approximately 189 miles. On this drive, you will travel along the scenic Overseas Highway (U.S. Route 1).

If you were to drive direct without stopping it would take you approximately 4 hours to reach Key West from Fort Lauderdale.

Is the drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West worth it?

The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is one of the most scenic drives in America.  The drive here over the beautiful turquose waters is gorgeous.

Absolutely! The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is definitely worth it and is considered one of the most scenic road trips in the United States.

The journey takes you along the iconic Overseas Highway, which offers stunning views of the sparkling turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, picturesque bridges connecting the islands, and lush tropical landscapes.

Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore charming coastal towns, indulge in fresh seafood, and experience the laid-back, island atmosphere that the Florida Keys are famous for.

Additionally, the journey is an adventure filled with scenic beauty, unique wildlife sightings, and the thrill of driving through a series of small islands connected by bridges. So, if you’re looking for a memorable road trip that combines natural beauty, cultural exploration, and a touch of tropical paradise, the drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is definitely worth embarking on.

Map of Route from Fort Lauderdale to Key West

Where to Stop on a Fort Lauderdale to Key West Road Trip

When you make the drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, there are many exciting places to stop and explore along the way.

Yes, you could drive directly to Key West, but you would be missing out on a lot of fun and adventure! So make sure to take some breaks and visit a few of the following places along the route!

If you have more time to spare, stay overnight at one of these stops!

Here are several stops that are worth considering on a drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West!

1. Hollywood Beach

A great first stop on a drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is Hollywood Beach.

Start your journey from Fort Lauderdale to Key West by visiting Hollywood Beach. Hollywood Beach is known for its pristine sandy shores and lively boardwalk. Take a stroll, rent a bike, or grab a bite to eat at one of the beachfront restaurants.

Our favorite spot to eat at Hollywood Beach is LandShark Bar & Grill at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. And this is because of the fun, family-friendly beach vibe with an excellent location overlooking the beach.

Recommended Hotel in Hollywood Beach:

🏨Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort

2. Everglades National Park

A stop at Everglades National Park is a must on a drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.  Take an airboat tour to see some alligators.

You’ve made it this far south in Florida, so why not cross Everglades National Park off your bucket list too?

And the best way to experience the Everglades is on an airboat tour. I highly recommend doing an airboat tour with Everglades Holiday Park. Not only do you get a 1-Hour Narrated Everglades Airboat Tour but they also have a fun Gator Show hosted by the renowned Gator Boys from the Animal Planet reality show.

And you can’t leave Everglades Holiday Park without getting your picture taken holding a baby alligator🐊.

Recommended Hotel Near Everglades Holiday Park:

🏨 Residence Inn Doral Mall Area

3. Miami

Visiting South Beach and walking along Ocean Drive is a must on a drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.

Miami is a must-visit destination on your drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.

I absolutely love Miami! It’s a vibrant and culturally diverse city that offers a unique and exciting atmosphere.

Explore the trendy neighborhoods of South Beach and Wynwood, visit iconic landmarks like the Art Deco Historic District, or take a scenic drive along Ocean Drive.

Additionally, Miami is a melting pot of different cultures, which is reflected in its diverse culinary scene. From savoring delicious Cuban cuisine in Little Havana to indulging in fresh seafood in the trendy restaurants of Miami Beach, food enthusiasts will be in heaven.

Miami is also renowned for its beautiful beaches. If you’re a beach lover, you’ll be delighted by the pristine sands and crystal-clear waters that line the coastline. Whether you want to relax under the sun, go for a swim, or try various water sports, Miami’s beaches have it all.

Overall, visiting Miami on your road trip to Key West allows you to experience the best of urban excitement, stunning beaches, and cultural richness. And it’s a chance to experience something quite different that the laid-back island vibes of the Florida Keys.

➡️ If driving from Fort Lauderdale to Key West with kids, be sure to check out, 21 Best Things to Do in Miami with Kids.

Recommended Hotel in Miami:

🏨 Loews Miami Beach Hotel

4. Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park makes a great stop on a drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.

Located just south of Miami, Biscayne National Park offers a unique opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a boat tour to explore the diverse marine life, go snorkeling or scuba diving, or enjoy kayaking through the park’s beautiful waters.

Biscayne National Park is also a great place to have a picnic, relax, fish, or go camping.

Recommended Hotel Near Biscayne National Park:

🏨 TownePlace Suites by Marriott Miami Homestead

5. Key Largo

Key Largo is a great stop for diving and snorkeling in the Keys.

Every time I hear the word Key Largo, my mind goes straight to the song “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys. What about you?

Key Largo is the “first” key of the Florida Keys.

It is often referred to as the “Diving Capital of the World” due to its proximity to the vibrant coral reefs of the Florida Keys. This area offers exceptional diving and snorkeling opportunities.

And Key Largo is home to the first underwater park in the United States, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The park is renowned for its beautiful coral reefs and diverse marine life. This makes for the perfect spot for snorkeling or diving in the Keys.

Also, located in the waters of Key Largo is the famous underwater statue, Christ of the Abyss. This iconic site offers a unique diving and snorkeling experience.

But diving and snorkeling is not the only thing you can do in Key Largo. Key Largo is also a great spot to go swimming with dolphins at Dolphins Plus Bayside.

And if you’re afraid of underwater life like, me then a glass-bottom boat tour in Key Largo would make for a great activity! You can experience marine life and admire the coral reefs without getting wet!

Recommended Hotel in Key Largo:

🏨 Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection By Hilton

6. Islamorada

The Islamorada Sandbar is a fantastic sandbar in the Keys to have fun.

Located in the middle of the Florida Keys, Islamorada is known for its stunning beaches, water sports activities, and world-class fishing.

Stop by Robbie’s Marina to hand-feed tarpon or enjoy a meal at one of the waterfront restaurants. At Robbie’s Marina, you can also rent kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and boats to explore the surrounding waters and enjoy recreational activities on the ocean.

My favorite thing in Islamorada is the Islamorada Sandbar. It’s located less than a mile from the shore and you can only get there by boat or jet ski. The Islamorada Sandbar is a shallow area with crystal-clear, turquoise waters. It’s the perfect spot to hang out, swim, float on rafts, kayak, play water games, or just soak up the sun.

Also, located in Islamorada is the Theater of the Sea. This would make a memorable experience for animal lovers.

With a General Admission Ticket at Theatre of the Sea, you can watch the dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows. Included is also a ride on a bottomless boat and a fish and reptile tour with tropical fish, sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, alligators, and crocodiles.

For an additional amount at Theatre of the Sea, you can choose to swim with dolphins, sea lions, or sharks!

Recommended Hotel in Islamorada:

🏨 Cheeca Lodge & Spa

7. Marathon

Marathon is another great spot to stop on a drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.

Continuing on your way to Key West, you will reach the town of Marathon.

In Marathon, you can relax on the beautiful shores of Sombrero Beach, interact with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center, or learn about sea turtle conservation at the Turtle Hospital🐢.

Additionally, the scenic Seven Mile Bridge provides stunning views and a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the Florida Keys. Marathon is an excellent addition to your journey to Key West!

Recommended Hotel in Marathon:

🏨 Courtyard by Marriott Faro Blanco Resort

8. Bahia Honda State Park

A view of the iconic Old Bahia Honda Bridge at Bahia Honda State Park.

As you approach the Lower Keys, make sure to stop at Bahia Honda State Park. Bahia Honda State Park is located at Mile Marker 37. It’s a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and nature trails, this park is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, picnicking, and even camping. Hike along nature trails or simply relax and soak up the sun on its sandy shores.

The park’s highlight is the Old Bahia Honda Bridge, an iconic landmark that once served as part of the Overseas Highway. Today, it stands as a remnant of the historic railroad-turned-highway, providing a picturesque backdrop for taking pictures or just admiring the surrounding beauty.

8. Big Pine Key

Adorable Key deer found in Big Pine at National Key Deer Refuge.

Nature lovers will appreciate a stop at Big Pine Key, home to the National Key Deer Refuge.

Start off by going to the Visitors Center to learn about the fascinating ecosystem and wildlife that is located here in the Florida Keys. There are exhibits and displays to help you understand the unique environment here and the efforts to protect it.

After exploring the Visitors Center, take a scenic drive through the refuge and keep an eye out for the adorable Key deer. The Key deer is an endangered species that is only found in the Florida Keys.

9. Key West

Getting your picture taken at the Southernmost point in Key West is a must when in Key West.

Of course, the ultimate destination of the drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is Key West itself!

Key West offers a variety of attractions and activities to enjoy. Here are some of the best things to do in Key West.

Explore Mallory Square

Visit Mallory Square to experience the lively atmosphere, stunning sunsets, street performers, and local vendors. It’s a great place to start your Key West adventure.

Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Explore the former residence of the renowned writer, Ernest Hemingway. Take a guided tour to learn about his life, see his personal belongings, and encounter the famous six-toed cats that still reside there.

Stroll along Duval Street

Duval Street is the heart of Key West’s entertainment district. It offers a lively atmosphere with vibrant bars, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. It’s a great place for nightlife and people-watching.

Take a Conch Tour Train 🚂

Hop on the Conch Tour Train to get a comprehensive overview of Key West’s history and landmarks. The narrated tour provides interesting insights into the city’s past and takes you to popular attractions.

Visit the Southernmost Point Buoy

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a photo at the Southernmost Point Buoy, which marks the southernmost tip of the continental United States. It’s an iconic Key West landmark.

Explore the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory 🦋

Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of butterflies in this tropical paradise. Walk through the butterfly-filled gardens and observe various bird species and beautiful flora.

Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving 🤿

Key West boasts breathtaking underwater ecosystems. Join a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion to explore the vibrant coral reefs, encounter marine life, and discover sunken shipwrecks.

Visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Spend a day at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park which combines history and natural beauty. Explore the fort, relax on the beach, go swimming, have a picnic, or enjoy hiking and biking trails.

Take a Sunset Cruise 🌅

Key West sunsets are legendary, and there are several sunset cruises available. Sail along the coastline, enjoy live music, sip on tropical drinks, and witness the stunning sunset views.

Enjoy Water Sports 🚣‍♂️ 🎣

Key West offers a wide range of water activities. Try jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, parasailing, or fishing to make the most of the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island.

Eat Delicious Key West Food

When in Key West, make sure to try Key Lime Pie, Conch Fritters, and Conch Chowder.

Recommended Hotel in Key West:

🏨 Opal Key Resort & Marina

Summary: Where to Stop on a Fort Lauderdale to Key West Road Trip

Here is our summary of the best places to stop on a Fort Lauderdale to Key West road trip:

  • Hollywood Beach
  • Everglades National Park
  • Miami (South Beach, Wynwood Walls, Little Havana)
  • Biscayne National Park
  • Key Largo (John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park)
  • Islamorada (Robbie’s Marina, Islamorada Sandbar, Theatre of the Sea)
  • Marathon (Sombrero Beach, Dolphin Research Center, Turtle Hospital)
  • Bahia Honda State Park
  • Big Pine Key (National Key Deer Refuge)
  • Key West

Remember these are just a few highlights of the places to stop and things to do on your Fort Lauderdale to Key West road trip. Take the time to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery, indulge in local cuisine, and make spontaneous stops along the way to create an unforgettable journey.

Best Time to Go on a Road Trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West

Take in the beauty of the colorful Key West homes while in Key West.

First, let me go ahead and say there is no bad time to go on a road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.

The Florida Keys have a tropical climate, so the weather is generally warm and sunny throughout the year. The peak tourist season runs from December to April when temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is minimal. However, this is also when the area is most crowded, and accommodations may be more expensive.

If you prefer fewer crowds, you might consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) or fall (September to November), when the weather is still enjoyable, and there are fewer tourists.

Also, you might want to consider the activities you want to enjoy on your trip. If you’re interested in water sports and outdoor activities, the warmer months of spring and summer might be ideal.

However, if you plan to spend more time exploring the historic sites and cultural attractions in Key West, the cooler months of fall and winter can provide a more comfortable experience.

FAQs- Drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West

You will see many roosters roaming the streets of Key West.
Is it better to drive or fly to Key West?

This depends. If you plan on having a quick weekend getaway in Key West, then it might make more sense to fly directly to Key West. If you have a longer period of time, take the drive and experience one of the best road trips in America.

Is it easy to drive to Key West?

Yes, the drive to Key West is quite easy. Once you arrive on the Overseas Highway, it’s a direct shot all the way to Key West!

How many days is enough for Key West?

I think 3-4 days in Key West is plenty enough time to see and do everything most people want to do.

Do you need a car in Key West to get around?

Once you reach Key West, you really don’t need a car again for the rest of your stay. Key West is a very walkable city and most of the places you will be going can be reached by foot.

The Wrap-Up: Drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West

Signage showing how far popular cities are from Key West.

Embarking on the epic drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West is an adventure that belongs on every traveler’s bucket list.

From the stunning coastal views along the Overseas Highway to the vibrant charm of Key West, this journey promises unforgettable experiences at every turn.

Whether you choose to explore the vibrant culture of Miami, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the Florida Keys, or savor the laid-back atmosphere of Key West, each stop along the route offers its own unique charm.

So, buckle up, soak in the breathtaking scenery, and let this guide be your companion on the road to an unforgettable Fort Lauderdale to Key West adventure. Get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime on this incredible road trip of a lifetime!