Road Trip the USA
I have often written about road trips around the “good old USA” and have enjoyed plenty of days on its highways. But one of my most enjoyable road trips is the road trip down the Florida archipelago to the Florida Keys. I was so excited when Expedia.com asked me to put together this article about one of America’s favorite past times: Road-tripping! And Florida is the perfect example of a Classic American Road Trip, especially when there is sunshine, key lime pie, bicycle rides, six-toed cats, and a whole lot of fun! Read on for more about this super fun trip for everyone.
Classic American Road Trip to the Florida Keys
On the ride down to The Keys, you can stop at entertaining spots along the way until you make it to Key West. From catching tarpons with your hands, turtle hospitals, biking Old Seven Mile Bridge, to kitschy gift shops, seashell necklaces, and then finding the best key lime pie, lobster, and sunset dinners in Key West, you are going to fall in love with the Florida Keys. It’s their laid-back charms that get you every time. Here, they call it the “Keys Disease”! So be careful not to catch it!
Don’t catch the Key’s Disease!
Read this article about East Coast roadtrips for when you only have one week!
Highway 1 Florida
We started the approximately 150-mile drive on the long skinny road called Highway 1 from mainland Florida to Key West crossing some 42 bridges! This overseas highway is an engineering marvel and stretches across some amazing waterways to get you there. The major attractions along the way are sited by mile markers, from mile marker 107 in Key Largo to mile marker 0 in Key West! We started our trek of this classic American road trip by doing a one-week fly/drive through Florida’s Coast. And we enjoyed every minute of it.
So let’s get started on all the stops you will make!
First Stop: Cheeca Lodge & Spa
Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada – Get to the hotel, hang out by the pool or the beach, order a drink and relax. I love the idea of relaxing at the beginning of a vacation since sometimes that is what is needed most. Order up an amazing seafood platter and watch the sunset on the beach.
2nd Stop: Old Seven Mile Bridge
Just a bit before the bridge you will see a series of bike shops, where you can rent a bicycle. Go in and rent one, as this fun! You can bike your way a few blocks down to the bridge. I loved starting my day with the wind blowing in my hair, although the 7-mile name was a bit intimidating! Later I learned that you can only ride about two miles until you reach a section where it dead-ends into the ocean! It was built more than a century ago and closed to automobiles in 1982. It is now a walking, biking, and fishing pier.
3rd Stop: Turtle Hospital in Marathon
For this stop, you get to see all the rescued turtles! And who doesn’t love that? This non-profit rescue hospital started rescuing injured turtles in 1986. You can visit them in different stages of recovery. When possible, they release them back into the wild. However, many are permanently injured residents that live here full-time.
After all that I was ready to eat, but first…
4th Stop: Feed the Wild Tarpons at Robbie’s Marina
You can feed the wild tarpons at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada! You can order a fantastic lunch first, and while you are waiting, go out on the pier, buy a bucket of bait for $3, pick up the bait with your hand, lay on the pier, holding the bait over the water, and wait. But you won’t have to wait too long as they jump out of the water. They not only take the bait but may get your arm with it, so be careful! So much fun to watch people do this, even if you don’t participate.
Interested in Taking More Road Trips?
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Day 2: Florida Keys
The next day… finish the drive down to Key West. Here are a few things you can do to plan your day.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Find yourself some 6-toes cats! Ok, Ok, that is not exactly what brings people here, but that is one of the best parts! These cats are the kinfolk of Hemingway’s six-toed cats! You know the famous Hemingway writer, right? Well, during the late 1920’s he lived here and finished the writing of “A Farewell To Arms”…
You will also get a chance to tour Ernest Hemingway’s home and his studio outback. This place is fascinating, as he lived here for over 10 years. This was where he found solace and it gives you a chance to look back in time. You will see his own personal typewriter that he typed on! Oh, and did I mention that there are tour guides to show you around and tell stories? Plus, over 40 six-toed cats still live here today! That alone is worth the visit!
Eat the Best Key Lime Pie and Lobster
There may be some controversy as to where to get the best key lime pie in the Keys, but the main thing that makes it tastes so good is the fact that they use those tiny key limes found growing here in the Keys, instead of regular limes. My favorite was the kitschy, yet fun atmosphere of Blue Heaven in Key West. And I also loved that they put lobster on everything at Blue Heaven, even for breakfast! The lobster Reuben sandwich was also an amazing choice at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen in Key Largo, so catch that one on the way back to the airport!
Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortuga Islands
Honestly, there is nothing much more fun than taking a seaplane to Fort Jefferson (there is also a ferry that goes out there daily). The seaplane is by far a highlight of any trip to The Keys though! The water is light turquoise blue and just about as perfect as it gets!
Have a Romantic Dinner on Sunset Key
Take the ferry over from Key West to Sunset Key and enjoy the stunning sunset, fantastic seafood, and a romantic evening on this unique resort island at Latitudes.
Visit the Southernmost Point of the USA
Ok, I think it is a bit kitschy, and I would love it too if the lines weren’t miles long (ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit) but this is the most southern point you can go in the USA and on a golden and clear night, you can even see a glimpse of Cuba!
Go Shopping in the Curio Shops!
There are SO many places to shop, you can get your shop on just about anywhere down here in Key West! From seashell necklaces, t-shirts to souvenirs of every variety, there are so many cool things to see and buy! You will have a blast shopping in Key West!
There you have it, the Classic American Road Trip!
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Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, I was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purposes of review by Expedia. While it has not influenced my review, I believe in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.