So you want to do an epic Florida Keys road trip by driving from Key Largo to Key West!
How long is the drive from Key Largo to Key West?
Driving directly, it might take around 2.5 hours of driving time from Key Largo to Key West.
Explore the map.
So it’s obviously doable to drive from Key Largo to Key West in one day.
But, should you make it a day trip to Key West from Key Largo?!
Making it a Key Largo day trip to Key West means that you’ll likely have at least 5 hours of driving time.
So then, should you stop over along the way… or even stop overnight in Key West?!
You can take a look at the list below to see if you think you will be happy with a day trip from Key Largo, or if you want an extra day (or more!) to explore the Florida Keys between Key Largo and Key West!
Of course, there are many different ways you can do this drive depending on your time and interests!
Below will show some ideas of stops you can make as you make the drive from Key Largo to Key West… that includes some of the prettiest stops in the Florida Keys that I made!
Florida state parks between Key Largo and Key West
There are a few Florida state parks between Key Largo and Key West.
The Florida Park Service says that you can see the “real Florida” when you go to state parks.
In general, Florida state parks have an entry fee.
This ranges from around $3 to $8 per car for the state parks on the list below.
If you plan on making this the year of visiting many Florida state parks, then there is also an annual Florida state park pass that you can buy when you arrive at any Florida state park that is staffed.
Even with the Florida state park pass, you may or may not be charged an extra 50 cents for the county tourism fee for any of the state parks in the Florida Keys.
Florida state parks also have picnic tables so they can also make for a perfect stop for a picnic.
So stop by a Publix grocery store for prepared food or picnic food and eat your meal outdoors with views!
You can find a Publix in Key Largo and Key West, as well as in Islamorada and Marathon which you will pass along the way.
Also, there are state parks in the Florida Keys that are located between Key Largo and Key West that offer kayaking, including kayak rentals.
So if kayaking in the Florida Keys interests you, be sure to look further into that!
Florida Keys state park camping between Key Largo and Key West
There are state parks in the Florida Keys that are located between Key Largo and Key West that offer camping.
This includes tent camping and RV camping… and car camping, van camping, etc!
Finding open campsite availability at state park campgrounds in the Florida Keys is known to be (very) difficult.
State park campgrounds in the Florida Keys are often fully booked 11 months in advance when campsites open up for booking!
But don’t worry, not all hope is lost if you aren’t capable of planning that far in advance. (And even if you were, it’s also known to be difficult. Reports indicate campsites can get snatched up within the first 5 minutes… or less!)
If your Key Largo to Key West road trip is just a few months, weeks, or even days away, cancellations do happen. You just have to get lucky and search for campgrounds immediately after someone cancels.
Your “luck” will increase the more you search, and the closer you are to your travel date.
Searching over and over (and over 😜) does really work. I spent 2 weeks camping in the Florida Keys in Florida state parks!
In case you are not able to find availability and/or you just want to get something booked, a good back-up campground near the Florida Keys can be Long Pine Key campground in Everglades National Park. This is just outside Homestead FL. I camped there for one night and the campground was practically empty when campgrounds in the Florida Keys were full.
I have found camping availability open up weeks away, days away, and even the day before. There was one day that I was looking for a campsite for the next night and ALL state park campgrounds in the Florida Keys had availability!!! (Decisions! Which to stay at?!)
So, while it’s not something to depend on, it’s something you can look for.
1 night stays will generally be easier to find than multi-night stays.
You will find the greatest difficulty in finding open campgrounds for Saturday nights.
More below for ideas on places to stop driving from Key Largo to Key West!
Here's some info on Florida Keys trip prep!
- Florida Keys snorkeling tour to North America's only living coral reef
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in the Florida Keys
- Do you need water shoes for the Florida Keys?
- Cheapo waterproof phone case for snorkeling
- Personal swim buoy float is perfect for snorkeling and swimming in the ocean
I have a lot of 30-90 second Florida outdoor travel videos. A few of them might be on this page. If you can't see the video directly below, it might be because you have an ad blocker. Save the Florida Keys video playlist to watch on youtube later!
There are affiliate links on this page.
More for your time in the Florida Keys and beyond:
- Camping in Bahia Honda State Park
- Snorkeling in Bahia Honda State Park
- Beach snorkeling in Key West
- Things to do in the Florida Keys
- Camping in the Florida Keys
- One day in Key West
- Miami to Key West road trip
- Tampa to Key West road trip
What are the prettiest views to be seen on a Florida Keys drive from Key Largo to Key West?
👆 You will be driving the road called the Overseas Highway as you drive from Key Largo to Key West! And yes, parts of the Overseas Highway are “overseas”! You will be driving over many bridges that connect a bunch of the little islands (“keys”) in the Florida Keys!
👆 The Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys is a Florida Scenic Highway and an All-American road as one of America’s byways! So by driving from Key Largo to Key West, you will be driving a Florida Scenic Highway and All-American road with lots of pretty views along the way!
👆 Don’t speed as you are driving in the Florida Keys on the Overseas Highway! The police department of the Florida Keys (aka Monroe County police department) are quite serious about getting you to go the speed limit. You will likely see many police cars along the side of the road as you’re driving to give you a scare into slowing down if you are speeding!
The speed limit on the main road through the Florida Keys (the Overseas Highway) is mostly 55mph, but it’s possible that could be reduced to driving at 45mph even with the higher speed limit.
The vast majority of the Overseas Highway has no passing lane, so you can only go as fast as the car in front of you… which is sometimes 45mph in a 55 mph zone.
Explore the map.
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of the most popular state parks in the Florida Keys.
And yes, there is coral reef at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park!
This state park in the Florida Keys is considered mostly to be an underwater park.
This means that in order to see the coral reef that John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is known for, you need to take a boat ride out to the reef!
This means that a John Pennekamp tour includes an epic boat ride in the Florida Keys to see amazing water color!
You can see the underwater life by getting in the water or by staying dry.
You have the option to take a snorkeling tour or a glass bottom boat tour.
And yes, both are worth it so you can get that boat ride in the Florida Keys and take a ride out on the ocean!
If you will be driving to Key West though, you will pass by one of the best snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys, so you may want to wait until you start driving south to do a snorkeling tour! That’s coming up later on the list!
And then, if you are interested in seeing a small shipwreck, you can do snorkeling from shore at John Pennekamp State Park… and then maybe you will see some underwater life while you are at it!
See more about planning your drive from Key Largo to Key West: Snorkeling in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Camping between Key Largo and Key West:
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park campground (tent camping, RV camping)
- How to make John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park camping reservations
2. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Windley Key
For a look at fossilized coral reef, you can make a stop at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological Park.
You can take a walk to see the ancient coral reef in its original location.
Windley Key Fossil Reef State Park has a state park entry fee. This is around $2.50 per person. See current fees.
If you will be staying in Key Largo, then Windley Key is an easy going spot you can visit as a trip from Key Largo.
3. Lazy Days restaurant, Islamorada FL
Lazy Days can be a stop for food with a waterfront view!
If you will be staying in Key Largo, then Lazy Days in Islamorada is a waterfront restaurant you can go to as a trip from Key Largo.
4. Long Key State Park, Long Key
Long Key State Park can be a perfect picnic stop!
There are picnic tables that are right along the water so you can eat with views!
Or just sit and enjoy the views from Long Key!
There are kayak rentals at Long Key State Park.
Long Key State Park has a state park entry fee. This is around $5 per person. See current fees.
Camping between Key Largo and Key West:
- Long Key State Park campground (currently walk-in tent camping only)
- Curry Hammock State Park campground (tent camping, RV camping)
- How to make Florida state park camping reservations
5. Sombrero Beach, Marathon FL
Sombrero Beach is the best beach in Marathon FL, and it’s also known as one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys.
6. Seven Mile Bridge, Overseas Highway
Basically your entire drive in the Florida Keys along the main road is the road called Overseas Highway.
But it’s Seven Mile Bridge that will really have you understanding why it’s the Overseas Highway! (Although you will be driving “overseas” on many smaller bridges up until this point!)
This isn’t necessarily a stop to make on your drive from Key Largo to Key West, but it’s an icon of a Florida Keys drive!
If you are still not sure about driving all the way to Key West and you’re wondering how far south you should drive otherwise… your answer is a drive across the Seven Mile Bridge!
If you’ll be getting to the Seven Mile Bridge around sunset time, then Seven Mile Bridge can make for an epic Florida Keys sunset too!
You can find parking areas on either side of the bridge.
So you now know that you need to drive as far as Seven Mile Bridge.
And since you have made it to Seven Mile Bridge, you can make Bahia Honda State Park your turnaround point if you decide you don’t want to go all the way to Key West!
It will be just a few minutes further.
Bahia Honda State Park is one of the most popular state parks in the Florida Keys.
This is where you will find another icon of the Florida Keys, the Old Bahia Honda railway bridge. You can actually see the old bridge if you do continue your drive without stopping at Bahia Honda State Park.
You’ll see it as you continue your drive to Key West.
But if you do stop at Bahia Honda State Park, you can get a classic view of the old bridge.
And you can also get amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean!
There are also beaches in Bahia Honda State Park for swimming.
You can also try snorkeling in Bahia Honda State Park for a chance to see some underwater life.
Emphasis on CHANCE!
The fish are wild and they do what they want when they want!
That said, I did have some fun snorkeling experiences in Bahia Honda State Park!
It’s considered one of the best beach snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys.
Bahia Honda State Park also has picnic tables so it can make for perfect stop for a picnic with views!
There are kayak rentals at Bahia Honda State Park.
If you will be at Bahia Honda State Park for sunset, then this can also make for a sunset spot in the Florida Keys.
Bahia Honda State Park has a state park entry fee. This is around $8 per car. See current fees.
Bahia Honda State Park has 3 campgrounds.
Buttonwood Campground and the newly opened back up Sandspur Campground (previously closed due to hurricane damage) are for tent camping and RV camping.
Bayside Campground is for tent camping only.
All campgrounds have waterfront campsites… although not all campsites are waterfront!
👆 Florida Keys camping between Key Largo and Key West: Buttonwood Campground in Bahia Honda State Park.
There are also waterfront cabins in Bahia Honda State Park. (Again, good luck getting a reservation!)
See more about planning your drive from Key Largo to Key West:
Camping between Key Largo and Key West:
- Bahia Honda State Park campgrounds (tent camping, RV camping)
- How to make Bahia Honda State Park camping reservations
Looe Key is more than just a simple stop as it’s all about snorkeling at the Looe Key reef!
And, it requires a boat ride to get out to Looe Key! (Which is not actually an island, but just a location of the reef!)
Looe Key is considered among the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys.
This means that Looe Key can make for the best snorkeling between Key Largo and Key West!
So if you are going to do just one snorkeling tour in the Florida Keys, you likely won’t be disappointed if you make it a Looe Key snorkeling tour!
Here are the top ways to get a Looe Key snorkeling tour:
- Bahia Honda State Park Looe Key snorkeling tour
- Captain Hook’s, Big Pine Key
- Looe Key Reef Resort, Ramrod Key
So if you’re staying in Key Largo and depending on your plans, you may opt to make it a separate day trip to Looe Key from Key Largo, instead of something to do on your way to Key West.
It might take about 1.5 hours to drive one way from Key Largo to do a Looe Key snorkeling tour.
Key Largo or Looe Key for snorkeling tour?
On both of the snorkeling tours, it was a boat ride out to a reef.
If you will in fact be heading further down south in the Florida Keys to Key West, then you may want to see about choosing the Looe Key snorkeling tour.
I thought my experience of the Looe Key snorkeling was amazing!
Personally, I thought my Key Largo snorkeling tour was okay.
And I need to add the disclaimer, your experience may vary, and you may see more than I did while snorkeling in Key Largo!
When you sign up for a Key Largo snorkeling tour, you might go to any number of snorkeling spots along the coral reef. You might go to a better spot.
Apparently, the snorkeling spot that I ended up at as part of my Key Largo snorkeling tour seems like it’s a spot when snorkeling conditions at the best snorkeling spots near Key Largo are no good.
So it seems like I snorkeled at more of a second-tier snorkeling spot.
And well, I must say I did end my Key Largo snorkeling tour feeling a little disappointed that I didn’t see more underwater life.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t seen anything or that it’s not worth it if the coral reef destination of your Key Largo snorkeling tour is just an “okay” snorkeling spot.
I did see some underwater marine life.
And if Key Largo is your only chance at reef snorkeling in the Florida Keys, then I would say it’s very possible that you’ll be happy with what you see and that a Key Largo snorkeling tour can be worth it.
I wouldn’t say it was a wasted trip at all.
Plus, a Key Largo snorkeling tour comes with an amazing boat ride in the Florida Keys out to the reef!
The Key Largo snorkeling tour was the first snorkeling I did in the Florida Keys, and I wasn’t sure if it was just that my expectations were too high.
Well, it turns out, I did later go to other snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys where I did have happy snorkeling experiences… like at Looe Key!
So again, it really depends on snorkeling conditions, but it seems like if you have the option, Looe Key really is where you’ll have a higher chance of better snorkeling in the Florida Keys.
I saw a shark 5 times in Looe Key! I didn’t see any sharks snorkeling near Key Largo.
No matter which snorkeling tour you choose, it’s important to know that sometimes snorkeling tours get cancelled.
It could be for reasons like visibility and snorkeling conditions, or it could be for other reasons.
Snorkeling tours can also sell out.
So it could be best to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
See more about planning your drive from Key Largo to Key West:
9. Blue Hole, Big Pine Key
If you don’t mind making a 30 minute detour for a chance to see alligators in the Florida Keys, then you can head to Blue Hole on Big Pine Key.
And, emphasis on CHANCE!
Alligators are wild so they do what they want when they want!
That said, there are alligators that like to hang out at Blue Hole, so it can be one of your best chances to see alligators in the Florida Keys.
I actually went out to Blue Hole 3 times… because I didn’t see alligators the first 2 times!
But finally I did see an alligator at Blue Hole!
10. Key West
And you’ve made it to Key West!!!
There are many different ways to see Key West.
To get you started, you can make Smathers Beach your first destination in Key West.
Smathers Beach is one of the best beaches in Key West, and it will give you the tropical vibes you’ve imagined!
You’ll also pass by mile marker 1 with a drive along the coast on your way!
Right in front of Smathers Beach is paid parking for $5 per hour. ($2.50 if you think you’ll be in and out in 30 minutes!)
Or if you don’t mind walking an extra 5 to 10 minutes, then further east (or “north”) you can find free parking. This is in the area of the mile marker 1.
Just be mindful of the parking signs!
If you don’t see any “no parking” or “paid parking” signs, you can probably feel safe about parking there!
And then, you can continue the drive to mile marker 0!
You will also probably want to at least drive by the southernmost point of the continental United States.
If you want to park and take pictures here, then expect to wait in a line to take a picture with one of Key West’s most famous icons.
The Southernmost Point is a very touristy spot so you can expect crowds here in Key West.
Once again, there’s paid parking directly around the southernmost point. And once again, the paid parking near the southernmost point is $5 per hour.
Or if you don’t mind walking an extra 10 minutes, you might be able to find free parking if you’re lucky and/or it’s not too busy of a day!
To get you started on where you look for free parking, you can look on South Street beyond Duval Street in the direction that’s further away from the southernmost point.
And then if you want to park and leave your car behind, you can get on the free Duval Loop bus to further explore Key West!
Or, you can get back in the car to drive to one of the best snorkeling spots in Key West!
Then, once you’ve spent all the time that you want in Key West, you can start making your way back up north to Key Largo!
Key Largo to Miami
And then if you’re headed to Miami after Key Largo, where to go if you want to make a quick stop with epic views?!
Make a stop at South Pointe Park of Miami Beach!
And then if you’re headed further north, you can make a stop north of Orlando at one of the Ocala National Forest springs in Central Florida!
HAPPY DRIVING IN THE FLORIDA KEYS FROM KEY LARGO TO KEY WEST!
Things to pack for your Florida vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're swimming.
More for your Florida packing list
- How a cheapo waterproof phone case works
- Why wear water shoes for the beach
- Why a personal swim buoy is an essential for ocean swimming
- What to pack for Florida beaches
- What to pack for Florida springs
- What to pack for shelling in Florida
- What to pack for snorkeling in Florida