10 Fun Stops to Make on an Overseas Highway Road Trip
Formerly known as the “Highway That Goes to Sea,” Florida’s Overseas Highway runs from Miami all the way down to the Florida Keys, ending in Key West. It’s the southernmost leg of Highway US 1, and it follows the route of the old Florida East Coast Railroad that operated between 1912 and 1935. It’s also one of the most popular road trip routes in Florida, whisking drivers over 40+ bridges, like the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon.
The 150-mile drive from Miami to Key West takes about three to four hours due to narrow, two-lane sections of the highway. But you should plan on a full-day trip for an exciting vacation activity that takes you to many points of interest along the way. The Overseas Highway is surrounded by bright blue water, wildlife preserves, and attractions you don’t want to miss.
Whether you’re driving to one of the Florida Keys or making the Overseas Highway your destination, you’re sure to enjoy this scenic drive. Get out and stretch your legs at these 10 points of interest along the Overseas Highway.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Set aside some time for a stop on Key Largo, the largest island in the Florida Keys. It’s known for a gorgeous coral reef state park that gives the island its reputation as the diving capital of the world. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first underwater park in the country, stretching 3 miles out into the ocean with amazing visibility of the vibrant reefs and marine life.
If you packed your snorkel or scuba diving gear, you won’t be able to resist taking a swim in this underwater paradise. For a more family-friendly activity, reserve a glass-bottom boat tour that takes you out over the reef.
Key Largo Chocolates
Heading further south? Stop to indulge your sweet tooth before you hit the road with a visit to Key Largo Chocolates, a must-visit pitstop with truffles, cakes, ice cream, and all the melt-in-your-mouth confections you could ever want. You’ve surely heard of Florida’s famed key lime pie. But have you ever tried key lime fudge or key lime ice cream? Get your sweet fix here.
Florida Keys Brewing Company
Whether you’re stopping in Islamorada for its world-renowned sportfishing or just passing through, you’ve got to set aside some time to grab a beer at the Florida Keys Brewing Company. Not only is it the original brewery in Islamorada, but it’s also the only one on the island to brew and can all of its beer on site.
You can purchase Florida Keys Brewing Co. beer throughout the Keys (and even in the Miami area!), but nothing compares to grabbing a fresh brew on tap. Stop by the taproom to sample the Spearfish Amber Ale, Sun Session IPA, or Queen of the South Vanilla Cream Ale. Don’t forget to fill a growler on your way out.
Long Key State Park
Long Key is right in between Islamorada and Marathon. It’s home to Long Key State Park, a nature preserve right off the Overseas Highway. Long Key is the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs. Go swimming, kayaking, or bird-watching as you enjoy the area’s natural beauty. You can explore two mellow hiking trails, lounge on the beach, or even camp for the night if you’re looking for an overnight pitstop on your way through the Keys.
Dolphin Research Center
Spend some time at the Dolphin Research Center, located on Grassy Key! Meet dolphins and sea lions, check out their seawater lagoon habitats, and learn about conservation and ocean species rescue.
No Name Pub
Despite its moniker, this Big Pine Key establishment has made quite the name for itself as one of the top attractions along the Overseas Highway. It might not appear to be anything special from the outside, but once in the bar, you’ll be blown away by the decor. Thousands of dollar bills hang from the ceilings and line the walls, all donated by patrons and adorned with signatures and doodles. Feel free to add your own to the collection! No one knows the exact value of this unique decor, but some estimates put the total around $90,000!
The pub got its start as a bait and tackle shop in 1936. Over the years, it’s been the home of a brothel, eatery, and now a bar. You can’t miss a visit to No Name Pub. Grab a drink and enjoy a tasty pizza or nachos platter before getting back on the road.
National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge
Spread across Big Pine Key and No Name Key, the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge is the top place to spot the endangered Key deer, an animal unique to the Florida Keys. Key deer evolved from white-tailed deer thousands of years ago. There are nature trails, observation platforms, and picnic areas to enjoy a mellow day in this beautiful natural habitat.
Southernmost Point Buoy
The Overseas Highway will eventually take you all the way down to Key West, the most popular Key to visit. There’s so much to do on the island, but one of the most photo-worthy spots is the Southernmost Point Buoy, a big red, black, and yellow buoy that marks the farthest point south in the continental U.S. Cuba is just 90 miles away from this point!
Key West Historic Seaport
Take in the hustle and bustle of this maritime city at the Key West Historic Seaport. Stroll the docks and check out the fishing ships and luxury yachts and sailboats. Grab a bite at one of the fine-dining establishments along the water, and visit the art galleries and other attractions that line the seaport.
Ernest Hemingway House
Ernest Hemingway’s former residence in Key West is now open to visitors daily. Tour the living space, visit the museum and gift shop, and learn about the life of Hemingway. Built in 1851, the house’s Spanish Colonial architecture will draw you in as you hear fun facts about the legendary author.
Whether you drive the entirety of the Overseas Highway or end your trip at one of the middle Keys, there’s so much to see just minutes off this famed road. Not up to the drive? Sit back and relax aboard an air-conditioned bus as you travel from island to island.