There are a lot of magnificent roads that run along the sea or the ocean in the world but the Overseas Highway (also named the Florida Keys Highway) in Florida is actually more than 100 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, linking the Key Island to the south of Florida.
Key West drive remains surely one of the most iconic roads in the USA to this day.
Driving on the Key West Drive from Miami is liking island hopping with a boat but you’re driving on a road.
Nevertheless, it can be a difficult and exhausting road because of all of the twists and turns. Also, the Key West drive includes one of the longest bridges in the USA: the Seven Mile Bridge.
Where is the Overseas Highway located?
In order to drive on Overseas Highway, you have to fly to the US State of Florida, as the Key West drive starts a few miles south of Miami. The Florida Keys Highway connects then the continent to Key West located at 100km (60 miles) from the continent.
The road offers an amazing view of the sea and the bridges between the islands are quite low so you really feel like you are driving on water.
Overseas Highway is quite attractive to road trippers because of its uniqueness but also because more than 70.000 people live on the archipelago and use it every day to move around.
The views and the dense blue-colored water definitely make it a road to explore if you are planning a trip to Florida or staying a few days in Miami. Key West Drive from Miami to the keys will take only a few hours.
You can situate the road on the map below:
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Facts about Overseas Highway
Key West drive description:
Overseas Highway is part of U.S. Route 1, the road running along the US East Coast from Florida to the Canadian border. Overseas Highway is 113 miles (181 kilometers) and connects 44 islands of the Key Archipelago through 42 bridges.
The highest bridge on the Island is the Seven Mile Bridge at 20 meters (65ft) above the sea. That is indeed not that high and all the other bridges are quite low as well giving you the impression to drive almost on the same level as the sea.
Also, the road is mostly straight with no turns so it’s very easy to drive it and it is in overall good condition.
The Miami to Key West road trip takes at least 3 to 4 hours oneway, don’t forget to plan the drive back. You might also consider stopping along the drive to enjoy the sights on the magnificent Key Islands. Indeed, you might want to take a full day or two to enjoy the Key Archipelago to its fullest.
A Key West road trip is always great but know that the prime season for visiting the islands is between November and March when the weather is warm and dry. However, it is the period of the year when the islands are the most crowded…
As already said, there can be a lot of tourists during some seasons or on weekends. Our advice is to choose a weekday or starting your itinerary to Key West earlier in the morning!
History of the Key West drive
The road to Key West was built on the trail of a railroad originally built from 1905 to 1912. Some parts of the railroad are still up to this day but some parts of the tracks were destroyed by a hurricane just a few years after its completion. The pharaonic project that cost more than 50 million dollars and was considered an engineering masterpiece was destroyed in 1935.
The state of Florida bought the remaining of the tracks and started building the Overseas Highway on what was left after the hurricane in the 1930s. By 1987, 37 bridges were replaced to make the road wider and easier to drive. The Seven Mile Bridge was built from 1978 to 1982.
Works to restore the original bridges for pedestrian use are still going on. The old bridge going along the Seven Mile Bridge is due to be restored in 2021.
How to get to Key West Drive from Miami?
Most probably your trip to Key West will start in Miami. The itinerary from Miami to Key West is pretty easy with Highway 1. From Miami, follow the highway to Key Largo, then just follow Overseas Highway, no turns, just a straight road!
If you take a wrong turn you might end up in Everglades National Park, another place to not miss on your Florida trip.
You can view the itinerary of the road on this map:
What to do in the Keys in Florida
The Key Islands are filled with amazing nature and wildlife. As they are islands there’s a lot of magnificent beaches and water activities to enjoy
Along the road from Miami to Key West, you will find viewpoints and stops for everybody to enjoy the azure views of the ocean. Here are a few things you can try or visit on your Overseas road trip:
- Visit the different islands. The highway connects 42 of them, don’t hesitate to make a stop at some of them and visit them! The architecture is very unique: have a walk along Duval Street on Key West.
- Beaches: there a lot of them on all the different islands of the archipelago, but some say that some of the most beautiful beaches are located in Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key.
- If you want to go even further into the sea, take a boat or a seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park and explore fort Jefferson, a 19th century built on a remote island. Super clear blue water and amazing marine life, it is also a perfect place for snorkeling or just relaxing.
Once again, these are only a few of the activities you can enjoy on your Overseas Highway road trip but there is so much more. You will find the perfect activity just for you!
Also, it will be very easy to find an accommodation in the keys as an hotel or an Airbnb.
Is Key West drive open?
Overseas Highway is usually opened all year round. Although the road can be closed in case of important tropical hurricanes. Also, it’s better to check the weather if some storms are announced.
Be aware that the road to Key West is very crowded in high season. So remember to always drive carefully and respect the road signs.
Also, Florida Keys Highway is quite scenic so don’t forget to stay focused on the drive at all times and drive carefully. The speed limit is 45-55 mph (70-90 km/h) and the road can be hectic on weekends and in high season. Indeed, many people want to explore Key West Drive from Miami.
A preview of the Key West drive:
If you are planning your road trip from Miami to Key West on the Overseas Highway, you can watch this video to have an idea of the Florida Keys Highway:
The Key Islands are full of marvelous sights, wildlife, and history. The Overseas Highway that connects these islands stunning in itself. It is definitely a road to enjoy if you have the occasion to go there. Visiting Miami? Take a day to explore this magnificent archipelago. Even in high season, you won’t regret it, so take the Key West drive and enjoy your adventure!
Credits: Chase Baker/Unsplash
Discover our other roads in the U.S.: click here or see our road map!