Florida Keys Guide: What You Need to Know Before Taking A Day Trip

The convenience of Coral Gables and Miami makes day trips to the Florida Keys a must. Discover essential tips and highlights for exploring these tropical islands on your next adventure.

While chances are you’ll never run out of things to do in Coral Gables and Miami, one of the best things about staying in this part of the state is how convenient so many great Florida day trips are. One of the most popular? Visiting the Florida Keys. We’ve pulled together some of the basics you’ll need to know before making your way from Miami to these tropical islands.

Florida Keys 101

Most people have heard of Key West before, but the Florida Keys are actually a series of tropical islands that stretch over 120 miles. The islands are all made of coral, which limits the number of swimmable beaches but allows guests to see the only living coral reef in the country up close – a pretty good tradeoff in our opinion.

Each island offers unique experiences, so plan to leave Miami early enough to have time to explore as much as possible. While it takes between 3 and 4 hours to get from Miami to Key West, you can reach Key Largo (the first and longest key) in around an hour. An unexpected bonus to your early start? The chance to see an incredible Florida sunrise over the water.

Getting From Miami to the Florida Keys

Half the fun of exploring the Florida Keys is getting there! The drive from Miami to Key West takes you along the Florida Keys Scenic Highway. This is truly one of the country’s greatest road trips, crossing 42 bridges – including the famous Seven Mile Bridge – and full of turquoise waters and stunning vistas. When it gets too hard to keep your eyes on the road, pull over and explore!

While we recommend driving the route yourself to explore at your own pace, multiple bus tours leave for the Keys every day from Miami. Really in a rush? You can even fly to Key West directly from the Miami International Airport in under an hour.

Things to Do in The Florida Keys

There’s so much to do in the Florida Keys, we could fill up pages covering it all! Here are some of our suggestions, however, for must-do attractions on your Florida day trip.

  • John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park: Perfect for snorkelers and scuba divers, this underwater park covers over 70 nautical square miles.
  • Robbie’s Restaurant: Watch tarpon jump out of the water to grab fish from your hands at this restaurant loved by locals and tourists alike.
  • Turtle Hospital: Meet some of the Florida Keys’ favorite sea creatures as they’re rehabilitated for release back into the ocean.
  • Southernmost Point Buoy: Take your version of the famous photo at this concrete buoy marking the southernmost tip of the continental US.
  • Duval Street: Key West’s most famous street! Check out funky shops, unique restaurants, and historic haunts on this famous downtown stretch.

Looking for something to do after your road trip? Check out all the exciting Miami events happening every day at THesis.