It takes you approximately 3.5 hours from Miami to Key West. The distance however; is about 127 miles from Homestead, the last town before you leave the mainland and enter Key Largo, the very first island by way of U.S. Route 1.
Be prepare to soak up a super scenic drive with the ocean side on your left and the bayside on your right; translation, water everywhere.
Throughout the trip watch for the green Mile Markers, indicating miles left to arrive at Key West. Your final goal is to reach the 0-Mile Marker, the Southernmost Point located in Key West, which marks the end of USA at that location. After that is just the ocean.
The Keys are divided into 4 large keys; Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Key West, along with the Lower Keys, which I think covers over ten mini keys, all of them have their own unique island flavor.
I will try to go over each large Key briefly to give you an idea. However, you will have to make an effort to travel to the Keys and experience our own USA paradise:
This is the first key that you will cross right after leaving the mainland. As the name indicates, Largo in Spanish means long and without doubt this name hit the jackpot. It is looonnnggg! After you drive for miles, you will be on a two lane road surrounded with beautiful blue-green seas on the left and right. This Key is famous for diving but you can also enjoy sports-fishing, paddleboard, kayak and more. Tons of restaurants by the water as well.
This is a fishing Key where you can either charter a boat or go fishing on your own. It has four smaller keys to discover as well. There is a hodge-podge of restaurants, public beaches, parks, and the opportunity to kayak through a chain of lagoons. They also host a large number of events including arts, theater and music. Plenty of accommodations are available if you decide to explore the Key and spend the night before moving to the next Key.
Marathon and the Lower Keys
This Key is located half way to 0-Mile in Key West, your final destination. It is actually a family friendly Key with tons of activities for families and home-like restaurants. I was told that I could be sitting next to the fisherman who brought the meal that I was eaten, I said really? That’s how fresh the seafood is.
The Lower Keys are also the home of the Seven Mile Bridge. This is a 7-mile beauty, again, with the ocean side on your left and the bayside on your right; just spectacular! It took my breath away.
One of the Lower Keys; Big Pine Key is also the home of the endangered Key Deer in the wild. These guys are about 3’ tall and weigh between 60-90 pounds. These Keys are also home to an aquarium, a state park, snorkeling opportunities, lots of shopping and tons of activities to do.
Mile 0 – The Southernmost Point Continental USA. Also, only 90 miles to Cuba.
This is one of the primary reasons to go to Key West, to stand at the exact Southernmost Point, or Mile 0. You can’t drive any further, since it is the last tip in the south of the U.S.A.
ROOSTERS: Why did I see so many free range roosters, hens and chickens?
I was curious to see “Roosters” all over the place; strolling down most streets, restaurants, cafés, on porches, in trees, and moreover; holding busy traffic. These birds have been in Key West for hundreds of years. I was told by a local that in 1950, when Cubans fled the revolution and found refuge and employment in Key West, they also brought Roosters for eggs and meat. When the meat and eggs became abundant, the locals set the birds free to roam the streets. Incidentally, they kept reproducing out of control and the cycle continued to-date, except that they are kind of a tourist attraction and I think they know it. They also have a little attitude, smile.
Finally, the outcome of my research uncovered that there are approximately more than 2,000 birds roaming the streets today with only falcons, hawks and bobcats as predators. Are there real situations annoying Key West residents now? Yes, mainly Roosters who make a lot of noise, smile. They crow all day long, and loud, especially at 2:00 AM, :-).
Ernest Hemingway Home:
Located downtown, at walking distance from Duval Street. The fee to see it is reasonable and while inside you can experience how he lived in a place that he loved so much, I decided not to go in because the line was way too long and slow. It was also New Year’s Eve and I had other plans for fun before the year 2016 was gone! Maybe next time.
Duval Street: This is where most of the partying happens. I consider this street the New Orleans of the south. I felt exactly as if I was in Bourbon Street, no difference there. Even some of the properties are similar, with the Spanish architecture influence. Other than that Duval Street is a “party all day all night” kind of street with restaurants, shops, and people all over.
Historic Seaport: Quite nice, again, a place with such a rich New Orleans flavor, however, a bit better since it’s by the ocean.
Architecture: You can experience lots of styles, Bohemian, the Key Conch, Bungalow and my favorite, the Florida Cottage.
Conch Tour Train: Good idea to see the Key’ touristic sites that you would otherwise miss by doing a self-tour.
The Pier: Mostly for restaurants and to enjoy nice water views and spectacular sunsets.
Other Things to Do:
Parasailing, galleries, boutiques, restaurants, Tikki Bars, jet skiing, kayaking, sailing. Take a stroll down the Historic Seaport, where the Pier is located as well. Key West is all you want to see, experience and do while on vacation, never to be bored! Is all about fun.
My Travels: Post #3: South Beach-Ocean Drive and the Art Deco District, Second to None! (Next Week, Post #4: The Florida Keys.)
South Beach is a neighborhood like no other located in Miami Beach, FL. This is where the beautiful people, the jet set and the rich and famous go for fun, (like me, right, ha,ha). I compare it to Hollywood, CA, since it’s not much different than Rodeo Drive, Wilshire Blvd., or Beverly Hills combined.
Eventhough I love Hollywood, I prefer South Beach, since it has a more walking distance beach-coastal flavor. Well, sort of, since the architecture style of most structures is art deco. Although I will focus mostly on the richness of the art deco architecture in this post; along my slide presentation you will also be able to see some of the flashy and fun night life.
South Beach is jam-packed with fancy cars. Ferraris and the like roams the streets. There is a plethora of gigantic yacht’s and cruise ships at the dock on your drive there. You must see and enjoy the fabulous white sand beach; the live music; the gourmet-celebrity to beach-casual restaurants; a significant number of quaint as well as expensive hotels, including Gianni Versace’s home turned into a hotel years after he was murdered there, except that now is called “The Villa Casa Casuarina”. The pool was designed by Versace himself and it is lined completely in 24 karat gold. Seriously?
If you have time left, go to the art deco museum and the botanical garden, packed with tons of Florida native plants, well, you have to go. This wasn’t my first time in South beach and trust me, it won’t be my last.
Welcome to Miami’s South Beach!
My Travels: Post #2: Deep South Florida Series: Little Havana, Calle 8. (Next Week, Post #3: South Beach.)
When you drive south from west Florida and cross the state from west to east by taking U.S 41 east, that road will become 8th Street, SW or “Calle Ocho” when you enter Miami, a state historic highway. Further south on that highway though, you will enter the charming Little Havana neighborhood.
Little Havana is nothing like your traditional neighborhood street. Is a multicultural population of Central and South American immigrants, however, with a large Cuban-American community. There are fruit stands, art galleries, bars, shops and of course the people who are super friendly. You see some old-folks wearing their “Guayaberas” (traditional Cuban shirt) with big cigars in hand, and finally, the restaurants, you’ve got to try THE FOOD. (Yes, if you are on a diet, avoid Little Havana:-).
However, you should skip the diet for a moment and just indulge for a day. Try the “Cuban Sandwich” or the “Media Noche” for lunch or the Roasted Pork, Congri, or fritters and don’t skip desserts; flaky pastries with Caribbean flavors like guava and of course, order an espresso to wash it down.
Another interesting thing to watch is the serious competitive matches happening at the Domino Club, a place where regulars; men and women, gather to play Domino. Domino is more than a table game, it’s an important cultural activity that the locals have kept alive indefinitely and therefore, will never die.
Cuban -American culture is alive all over Little Havana. Plan your next visit to Miami now and don’t forget to stop by Calle 8, you will love it.
Next Week, Post #3: SOUTH BEACH
ABOUT THE Author
I am a blogger, a photographer, a jewelry designer, a gourmet cook, and a recipe book writer. I am also a flea market flipper, an avid gardener, an interior/ outdoors designer, an avid golfer and traveler.