A drive through The Florida Keys & Key West is one of the best scenic road trips in the U.S. Only one road connects the 100-mile-long island chain: It began as Flagler’s Railroad, it became the legendary Overseas Highway and now it has been designated an All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways program. The drive has magnificent scenery, significant historic value and an abundance of recreational opportunities, making it a vacation unto itself.
This journey transports you through hundreds of little islands nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Overseas Highway begins in Key Largo, home of Everglades National Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which is popular among eco-adventurists because of its many activities including kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and snorkeling. Go back in time to historic Tavernier or enjoy a family outing at Harry Harris Park.
Continue south to experience Islamorada, known as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World. This village of islands prides itself on fresh seafood, fine dining and plenty of marinas. An artisan village is chock full of colorful arts, crafts and other island treasures.
Just beyond, you’ll reach Marathon, a retreat for families and boating with its plentiful activities, accommodations and marinas. Here you’ll feel like you’re driving on water as you cruise over the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge. You can also take part in a dolphin encounter where Flipper’s original 1950s movie was shot.
The pace slows down as you enter Big Pine Key & The Lower Keys. Here, you can see our endangered Key Deer as they feed and frolic in the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge, which is home to several hundred of the miniature deer. And if you want to find out what a gorgeous beach is really about, visit Bahia Honda State Park, one of the nation’s top beaches. Stay for the beautiful camping, marinas and picnic grounds.
After you leave The Lower Keys, you’ll reach Key West, the end of the road and the southernmost point in the continental United States. John Audubon and Ernest Hemingway lived here. One had a passion for conservation, and the other, a great zest for living. That combination exemplifies Key West’s unique personality. Here, you no longer need your car. You can tour the city by foot, bicycle, trolley or electric car and enjoy the Bahamian village, theaters, museums, galleries, sidewalk cafes and legendary pubs.