Hi there!

 

So you want to make it an epic Southern Florida road trip with a drive from Marco Island to Key West!

It’s a road trip from Marco Island to the Florida Keys!

I did a drive from Marco Island to Key West in April and May 2022.

It was a rather slow journey, as from the day I left Marco Island to the day I first arrived in Key West was 12 days!

No, it doesn’t have to take you 2 weeks to drive from Marco Island to Key West!

But if you want to take more than a few days to get to Key West, there are plenty of ways to spend your time depending on the overnight stops you might want to make!

 

 

How long is the drive from Marco Island to Key West?

Driving directly, it might take around 5 hours of driving time from Marco Island to Key West.

 

map of Marco Island to Key West driving route. marco island to key west road trip best route. florida travel blog
Explore the map.

 

So, as a 5 hour drive, it’s doable to drive from Marco Island to Key West in one day if you’re looking to just go straight there.

But you can also just as easily take a few days to get to Key West too!

Below will show some ideas of stops you can make as you make the drive from Marco Island to Key West!

 

Best Marco Island to Key West road trip stops. Marco Island to Key West drive: best stops between Marco Island and key west. florida keys road trip. florida travel blog

Best Marco Island to Key West road trip stops. Marco Island to Key West drive: best stops between Marco Island and key west. florida keys road trip. florida travel blog

Best Marco Island to Key West road trip stops. Marco Island to Key West drive: best stops between Marco Island and key west. florida keys road trip. florida travel blog

Best Marco Island to Key West road trip stops. Marco Island to Key West drive: best stops between Marco Island and key west. florida keys road trip. florida travel blog

Best Marco Island to Key West road trip stops. Marco Island to Key West drive: best stops between Marco Island and key west. florida keys road trip. florida travel blog

 

 

There is a ferry from Marco Island to Key West!

If Key West is your one and only goal and you will be happy with just a few hours in Key West, then you can even make it a day trip to Key West from Marco Island!

You don’t even need to drive!

There is the Key West Express ferry that will take you by boat from Marco Island to Key West!

Travel by ferry from Marco Island to Key West will be around 3.5 hours long.

You could also take the boat, stay a night or more in Key West, and then return back to Marco Island by boat the next day or days later!

Or, if you are in Florida without a car to return to on Marco Island, then from Key West, you could even take a bus from Key West to Miami if you want to continue onwards without returning to Marco Island!

 

Key West without a car

If you will be in Key West without a car (or you just want to not bother with your car in Key West!), there are ways to get around Key West:

 

See below for ideas on how to drive from Marco Island to Key West!

 

 

🌴

 
More photos/info below, but first...
Side note!
Here's some info on Florida Keys trip prep!


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!
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More for your time in the Florida Keys and beyond:




Are Florida state parks open after the hurricane? Check the Florida Park Service website for current closures. (There are many state parks that are closed.)
Are Florida national parks open after the hurricane? Check the National Park Service website for current closures (October 2 update: Most of the Miami side of Everglades National Park is open, except for camping)

There are a lot of videos below. If you can’t see them, it may be because you have an ad blocker.

 

 

What is there to see between Marco Island and Key West?

 

 

1. Marco Island

The 2 main public beaches on Marco Island are South Beach and Tigertail Beach.

You will probably have an easier time with parking at Tigertail Beach.

Tigertail Beach is known as the best shelling beach on Marco Island, although you can look for shells along any Marco Island beach.

 

 

It’s also known for the lagoon water crossing to get to the beach, although there is also an alternative walking route that is not so bad.

If you want to walk normally to the beach, you’ll want to park at the far end of the parking lot as far as you can drive, and then start walking from there.

Then, after a few minutes of walking, you see a wide expansive white sand beach of Marco Island!

It’s possible you might walk around 10 minutes from your parking spot to where you want to set up camp on the beach.

 

 

And if you will be staying an overnight on Marco Island, be sure to catch a Marco Island sunset!

 

 

See more about planning your drive from Marco Island to Key West: Marco Island beaches

 

Camping between Marco Island and Key West:

 

 

2. Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades National Park

The best way to experience the Ten Thousand Islands can be through a boat tour!

You can consider Everglades National Park to have the Marco Island side (Gulf side) and the Miami side (Atlantic side).

On the Marco Island side is where you will find the Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center.

You will not actually be within the Everglades National Park boundary by going to this visitor center.

Instead, the way to experience this gulf coast side of Everglades National Park is by water.

You can do the Ten Thousand Islands boat tour that starts from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.

You have a chance to see dolphins and manatees on an Everglades National Park boat tour in the Ten Thousand Islands.

You’ll want to book ahead as these boat tours can sell out. You can book through Everglades Florida Adventures.

If you’ll be staying on Marco Island for a few days, you may consider doing a Ten Thousand Islands boat tour as a day trip.

 

 

3. Big Cypress National Preserve

One of the best places to see alligators in Florida is along the Tamiami Trail between Marco Island and Miami!

 

 

And the Tamiami Trail is where you’ll find the Big Cypress National Preserve.

There are several stops along the Tamiami Trail that you can make for a chance to see alligators. (Alligators are wild and there’s never any guarantee to see them, though!)

 

 

If you are looking to make just ONE stop with the best chance to see alligators, you will want to stop at the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve!

The Oasis Visitor Center is one of the best places that I’ve seen tons of alligators in Florida.

The alligators are so close to the Tamiami Trail that you can actually see the cars driving along the Tamiami Trail as you are looking at the alligators!

So the alligators are pretty much laying right along the Tamiami Trail.

 

 

See more about planning your drive from Marco Island to Key West: Where are the alligators on Tamiami Trail?

 

Camping between Marco Island and Key West:

 

 

4. Everglades National Park

Now for the Miami side of the Everglades.

All land-based activities in Everglades National Park that you can drive to are on the Miami side. (aka the best things to do in Everglades National Park are on the Miami side!)

One of the best places to see alligators in Florida is in Everglades National Park.

Everglades National Park is known for alligators, wetlands, and airboats.

You can experience all 3 with just one day in Everglades National Park!

You might even be able to experience all 3 with just a few hours.

But again, there’s no guarantee to see alligators!

As you continue your drive from Marco Island to Key West along Tamiami Trail, you will come across a turn-off for Shark Valley.

Shark Valley is one of the best places to see alligators in Everglades National Park by tram, by bike, or even by foot!

 

 

Then if you continue driving along Tamiami Trail, you will pass several spots where you can do an Everglades airboat tour.

 

 

One of the best places to see crocodiles in Florida is also Everglades National Park!

That will require quite a bit of a detour from going directly to Key West, as the spot to (maybe!) see crocodiles in an area called Flamingo in the Everglades that’s located pretty far out of the way.

 

 

See more about planning your drive from Marco Island to Key West:

 

Camping between Marco Island and Key West:

 

 

5. Miami

After Everglades National Park, you can be on your way to the Florida Keys, with Key Largo being the first major key!

Or, you can make a detour to Miami.

Depending on where you’re going after the Florida Keys, you may save Miami for your return back up north. 

If you do decide to stop by Miami, then you likely won’t be disappointed by South Pointe!

 

 

See more about planning your drive from Marco Island to Key West: How to spend 2 hours at South Pointe in Miami Beach

 

Camping between Marco Island and Key West:

 

 

 

6. Florida Overseas Highway

Marco Island to Key West drive: florida overseas highway. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

And now you have made it to the Florida Keys!!!

The Florida Overseas Highway is the road that goes through the Florida Keys!

So by driving to Key West, you will be driving on the Florida Overseas Highway!

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!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: florida overseas highway. Marco Island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

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 in the Florida Keys, you will be driving a Florida Scenic Highway and All-American road!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: florida overseas highway. Marco Island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

Once you start driving in the Florida Keys, it will basically be a straight drive from Key Largo to Key West.

Driving from Key Largo to Key West might take you around 2.5 hours.

One of the major icons along the way is the Seven Mile Bridge.

This isn’t necessarily a stop to make on your drive from Marco Island 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.

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: seven mile bridge sunset, florida overseas highway sunset. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: seven mile bridge sunset, florida overseas highway sunset. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

See more about planning your drive from Marco Island to Key West: Key Largo to Key West

 

 

Camping near the Florida Overseas Highway

marco island to key west road trip. campgrounds between marco island and key west. camping in the florida keys. florida road trip travel blog

 

There are state parks in the Florida Keys that are located right off the Florida Overseas Highway that offer camping.

This includes tent camping and RV camping… and car camping, van camping, etc!

 

marco island to key west road trip. campgrounds between marco island and key west. camping in the florida keys. florida road trip travel blog

 

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 Marco Island 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.

 

Camping between Marco Island and Key West:

 

 

7. Bahia Honda State Park

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

Bahia Honda State Park is located off of the Florida Overseas Highway, but it gets a special mention!

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.

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

And you can also get amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

There are also beaches in Bahia Honda State Park for swimming.

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

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!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park snorkeling. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park snorkeling. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park snorkeling. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

Bahia Honda State Park also has picnic tables so it can make for perfect stop for a picnic with views!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park picnic area. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park picnic area. marco island to key west road trip. florida travel blog

 

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.

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. where to watch sunset between marco island and key west. florida keys road trip travel blog

 

 

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!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park campground. camping between marco island and key west. florida keys road trip travel blog
👆 Camping between Marco Island 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!)

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to bahia honda state park. cabins between marco island and key west. florida keys road trip travel blog

 

 

See more about planning your drive from Marco Island to Key West:

 

Camping between Marco Island and Key West:

 

 

 

8. 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!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to smathers beach. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to smathers beach. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to smathers beach. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to smathers beach. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

 

You’ll also pass by mile marker 1 with a drive along the coast on your way!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to mile marker 1. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to mile marker 1. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

 

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!

 

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to mile marker 0. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to mile marker 0. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

Marco Island to Key West drive: marco island to mile marker 0. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

 

You will also probably want to at least drive by the southernmost point of the continental United States.

 

marco island to Key West drive: marco island to southernmost point of continental usa. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

 

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.

 

marco island to Key West drive: marco island to southernmost point of continental usa. key west crowded. marco island to key west road trip travel blog

 

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.

For the visual on a map, look for the Southernmost Point Key West, and then locate South Street and Duval Street. (map)

Then after you go to the southernmost point, you can leave the car behind and take the free Duval loop bus to see more of Key West without a car!

 

Then, once you’ve spent all the time that you want in Key West, you can start making your way back up north!

 

Marco Island to Key West to Miami drive: Florida A1A north. best florida keys drive. south florida travel blog

 

You can make a stop north of Orlando at one of the Ocala National Forest springs in Central Florida!

 

HAPPY DRIVING TO THE FLORIDA KEYS FROM MARCO ISLAND!

 

 

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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 phone
You 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



Watch the videos to see Florida in action!

Find more amazing things to do Florida: Watch my Florida videos on youtube
If you see an activity you like, look in the description below the youtube video for the individual blog post about that specific activity!