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Driving through the Keys - The Overseas Highway

The Overseas Highway stretches 127.5 miles from the Florida mainland near Florida City to what seems like the end of the earth -- Key West. Along the way you pass some famous towns like Key Largo and Marathon, along with some not so famous places like Jewfish Key, Saddlebunch, Cow Key, and the oddly named Ohio-Missouri Channel.

The highway follows the path of the Overseas Railroad that was completed about 1912 due to the work and money of Henry Flagler. In 1935 many bridges were destroyed by hurricane, so the State of Florida bough the railroad and made it an automobile road. This new road was opened in 1938 and had had areas with tolls until 1954.

Ewingjr98's Profile Photo
Jun 20, 2010

Seven Mile Bridge

Seven Mile Bridge connects connecting Knight's Key to Little Duck Key on US Highway 1.

The original bridge was constructed by Henry Flagler from 1909-1912 as part of the Florida East Coast Railway. The original railroad bridge was badly damaged in a 1935 hurricane, and refurbished as an automobile bridge. This bridge also provides access to Pigeon Key, once a camp for the bridge workers, is now a small historic district.

The modern Seven Mile Bridge was built from 1978 to 1982 and stretches 6.79 miles. It includes a 65-foot high clearance for boats, eliminating the need for a drawbridge. The bridge was constructed of 440 prefabricated concrete spans laid across some 439 concrete piers.

Ewingjr98's Profile Photo
Jun 20, 2010

US-1 + Convertible = Experience of a Lifetime!

It has been a fantasy of mine from a young age to drive a convertible across the overseas highway to Key West. In April of 2009 I was able to live this fantasy. I recently purchased a new BMW 3 Series Convertible and drove from Michigan to Fort Myers, FL. I decided to drive to Key West for a night and live out my dream. When first getting onto US-1 in Key Largo I expected to see much more water...instead it seemed as if I never left the mainland. Key Largo is a long key and not until after leaving Key Largo will you truly get to experience what the overseas is all about. Once you start Key hopping with the top down and the sun turns into a dream! Being from a large city in Michigan I am used to the hustle and bustle...but the further you get down the Keys, you feel the need to be in a hurry melt away, the person in front of you can be going 20mph and you just don't care. 7 Mile Bridge is awesome! Be sure to keep an eye for the little island attatched to the old bridge...this is where workers who built it lived during construction! The count down to Mile 0 is great...once you arrive in Key West you will be glad you took the 3 hours to let all the worries and cares of the world melt away over every bridge and only then will you be in the true Key West state of mind when you arrive. Driving is truly a thing everyone must experience at least once in their lifetime! Conch Republic or Bust!

BMWCubsMan's Profile Photo
Oct 24, 2009

Fill up on gas elsewhere

If you are driving I recomend filling up on gas before you leave the mainland. Florida gas prices are some of the most expensive in the south east and it can be really hard to find a bargain in this region because the prices are jacked up in the Miami Ft Lauderdale area, along the turnpikes, and in Key West. I did see some deals though in the area around Key Largo and in Marathon at the smaller mom and pop style gas stations along the road. If you fill up here you might be able to avoid doing so in Key Largo where you will generally pay 20-40 cents more per gallon.

ericdharma's Profile Photo
Nov 30, 2008
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Enjoy the drive to Key West

The drive from Miami should not be missed. It is BEAUTIFUL. There are also planes and boats that take you to Key West but driving is definitely my favorite and the best way to slowly integrate the Key West relaxed lifestyle. Don't be in a hurry though cause driving fast is quite impossible given the one only lane. Enjoy the surrounding instead.

vanessadb's Profile Photo
Oct 19, 2005

Mile Markers

Reference points are not the little towns that dot the Florida Keys, but instead the mile markers which line the highway. Without them, finding the proper places to stop would be virtually impossible. Mile markers are designed as MM, such as MM88.

Dutchnatasja's Profile Photo
Jun 15, 2005

The overseas highway

I began my trip to Key West in Ft.Lauderdale where I was staying with family. I took the Florida Turnpike, which was a very smooth ride because we around 11:00 in the morning. Bring plenty of change because there are 4 toll boothes before you get to U.S. 1 at .75 cents a peice.

Once you pick up U.S. 1 in Key Largo you'll probably pick up alot of traffic during the winter because U.S. 1 is only 1 lane each direction in most places. The speed limit is from 35-50 MPH and the Monroe County Sheriff and Florida Highway Patrol are always taking radar.

Once we left Key Largo we were treated with the elevated highway. There is water on either side of you and it's a really cool drive.

Cruefan's Profile Photo
Mar 10, 2004

Fly into Miami and Drive Down the Keys!!

One of the highlights to a trip to Key West is the drive down from Miami. Driving through the keys is quite an experience, at times there is nothing but blue water on either side of you for miles. Even for the bridge-a-phobic like me, the drive was relaxing and quite serene. Be careful not to speed though- some keys are designated wildlife sanctuaries and are heavily policed!

Nov 25, 2003

Top 5 Key West Writers

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"The Parents of a "
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"key west florida"
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"Key West, Florida"
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"Key West Driving Trip May 3-12, 2003"
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"Key West one of my favorite spots in North America"
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Overseas Highway

One of the most charming qualities of Key West (and the Keys in general) is the road that leads to them. Riding US Highway 1 from Miami to Key West on a sunny day is a memorable experience… especially if you drive a cabrio. ;-)

agarcia's Profile Photo
Jan 15, 2003

Take Route 1 all the way till...

Take Route 1 all the way till it ends in Key West. All the way of course are the many Florida Keys you drive on. Route 1 is a beautiful drive through the water. As you are on the bridge, you notice the water turning that tropical greenish blue. Being from New England and Western New York, we just see COLD blue!
You get around Key West by car, taxi, trolly, or bicycle.

nuker's Profile Photo
Sep 07, 2002

The best way to get to Key...

The best way to get to Key West is by car.
If you prefer to drive to Old Town and park, another option is park your car at the city's Park 'n'Ride garage on Caroline and Grinnell Streets and take the shuttle or walk downtown.
Because parking can be expensive and hard to find,
check out the island's public and private transit system that will take you from New Town to Old Town.
For only $4 you can use the Bone Island Shuttle to get from several hotels in New Town to the excitement of Old Town as ofter you like during the day.

cobrioc's Profile Photo
Sep 03, 2002

The best way (and I've done it...

The best way (and I've done it numerous times) is to rent a convertible in either Ft. Lauderdale or Miami (hang out here for a couple days) then head down route 1 through ALL the keys and make stops on the's fantastic. The bridges between each key especially 7 mile bridge, it's so breathtaking! Key Largo, Islandmarada (go to the Cocomo) and Key Byscaine are must stops!!!

rossandkelli's Profile Photo
Aug 26, 2002

Things To Do Near Key West

Things to Do

Duval Street

Galleries, shops, bars and big beautiful homes with huge porches. Key West is a small island city with a very diverse population. It's a wealthy community, with plenty of regulars just trying to make...
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Things to Do

West Martello Tower

When we lived in Key West there in the late 60s, they hosted a flower show in the winter. If you go at the time of the flower show they have some amazing flowers that you can see in addition to the...
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Things to Do

St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church

Saint Mary Star of the Sea was established in 1851, making it the oldest Catholic parish in Key West and the fifth oldest in the state. The present church was completed in 1905 (the first church was...
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Things to Do


On the grounds of Hemingway House is a unique cemetery for the six toed cats that live there. Hemingway named his cats after famous people, and that tradition has continued - as can be seen by reading...
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Things to Do

Butterfly Conservatory

Before we cruised to Key West, I had done a lot of research about what to see. I fell in love online with the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. It was our first stop in Key West (CityView Trolley...
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Things to Do

Southernmost Point

It's free and easy to find .. and a must do if your there. . We have only been there twice and don't know that we will return but it was a lot of fun. a party place year round. After that you have to...
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Getting to Key West


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