The Florida Keys are comprised of over 1,700 islands, 32 of which are inhabited.
US-1, or the Overseas Highway, is the only road that connects our string of islands to the continental United States. It is approximately 110 miles long and is our Main Street.
You will cross 43 bridges on your way from mainland Florida to Key West. The total population of the Florida Keys is about 85,000, with concentrations in Key Largo, Tavernier, Marathon, Big Pine Key, Summerland Key, Big Coppitt Key and Key West.
Experience one of America’s great drives with amazing water views and natural vistas. The Overseas Highway was designated as an All-American Road by the US Department of Transportation. Only 30 other roadways in the nation have earned this prestigious title.
Take your time at a slower pace as you travel south of reality and ease yourself into island time. Lots of great places to eat and drink, as well as quirky tourist stops and unique attractions. Meet the locals to discover the real Florida Keys.
Figuring rental car pick-up plus drive time…
US-1 is heavily patrolled by both the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department (white cars with green stripes) and the Florida Highway Patrol (black cars with tan roofs). Speed limits bounce between 35, 45 and 55 mph. Stay strictly to the posted speed limit (or within 5 mph if you’re feeling frisky). With little crime to keep them busy, the guys in uniform love to catch the speeders. And, your rental Sebring or Mustang convertible is and easy target. Because US-1 is our Main Street, expect cars to enter and exit frequently. Enjoy the views, but drive safe too.
From FLL, (Fort Lauderdale Airport), follow the signs to I-595 West and continue on I-595 West (stay in the right lane) to the Florida Turnpike South exit.
From MIA, (Miami Airport), follow the signs to I-836 West. Merge your way over to the left lane and look for the exit to I-836 West about two miles from the airport. I-836 turns into I-874 and then merges with the Florida Turnpike South.
These are all toll roads. Have singles handy (you won’t need many), but this is your best choice. You do not want to go through Miami on I-95. It will take FOREVER.
You will stay on the Florida Turnpike southbound for about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on which airport you came from. It’ll end at Florida City and put you directly on US-1 South. Just follow the signs toward Key West. Everything in the keys is on or just off of US-1.
If you need a bathroom break, now’s the time. There are plenty of fast food joints and convenience stations. You may also want to make a quick stop at Robert is Here in Florida City to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies and have a smoothie.
Once in the Florida City, you have a choice to make. Either one will take you about 30 minutes with no stops. A suggestion is to take Card Sound Road on your trip into the Keys and the 18-Mile Stretch on your way out.
Once off Card Sound or the Stretch, welcome to the Florida Keys! You are in Key Largo.
t’s time to take notice of the Mile Marker signs. Key West, the end of the road, is MM 0. At MM 85.5, you cross the Snake Creek, and this is where it starts to get fun. At the top of the drawbridge, you can see both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico for the very first time.
Below is a Mile Marker by Mile Marker trip guide with some STOP recommendations to make your trip pleasurable.
64.0 = Middle of Long Key Bridge. If southbound, entering the Middle Keys.
62.2 = Walker’s Island (Little Conch Key)
61.2 = Tom’s Harbor Cut Bridge
You are now entering the Islands of Marathon!