The Highway that Goes to Sea: Road Trip Planner for U.S. Highway 1 Scenic Drive
Road trips are always an adventure, but few routes boast the panoramic ocean views offered to travelers along the 127.5-mile stretch of highway carrying U.S. Route 1 through the Florida Keys. The Overseas Highway — the southernmost leg of U.S. 1 — follows a trail originally blazed in 1912 when Henry Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railroad from Miami to Key West.
The route is also referred to as the “Highway that Goes to Sea” and its construction was a remarkable feat in itself. A total of 113 miles of roadway and 42 overseas bridges of concrete and steel were constructed to allow cars the ability to traverse the Florida Keys.
Although the journey from Miami to Key West can be completed today in just four hours, we think it’s wise to take advantage of the breathtaking photo opportunities along the way. We’ve put together a road trip guide to help you navigate your next adventure along the southernmost leg of historic U.S. Highway 1.
Author’s Note: Locations along the Overseas Highway from Key West to Key Largo are commonly given as mile markers, so we’ve included them to help guide you along your way.
Mile 127.5: Florida City
Begin your road trip in Florida City, at the Junction between Florida’s Turnpike and U.S. 1. Florida City is in Miami-Dade County and is the southernmost municipality in the South Florida metropolitan area. Interestingly, the city is also located at the end of the only road running through the Everglades National Park, so we recommend adding on a visit there!
Mile 93.6: Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
Open from sunrise to sunset, this FREE wild bird center in Tavernier is worth a quick stop. According to its website, Florida Keys Wild Bird Center’s mission is to “rescue, rehabilitate, and release native and migratory wild birds that have been harmed or displaced… and to educate the public toward the importance of coexistence with all wild bird species.”
Mile 81.5: Lazy Days Restaurant
Visit Lazy Days with a strong appetite, because you will be sure to leave feeling stuffed. To give you an idea, the restaurant was awarded the certificate of excellence for its phenomenal reviews on TripAdvisor. After enjoying a day of fishing in the fabulous Florida Keys, bring your bounty to Chef Loupe. He will be happy to prepare your catch.
Mile 73.4: Anne’s Beach
If you’re ready to dip your toes in the water after walking seven miles, you’ll be sure to enjoy Anne’s Beach. A popular gathering spot for families and tourists, the free beach is lined with mangroves, a boardwalk and periodic picnic tables. With pristine white beaches and crystal clear water, you may find yourself not wanting to leave.
Mile 40.0 & 47.0: Seven Mile Bridge
Mile marker 47 marks the east end of the Seven Mile Bridge. The Seven Mile Bridge actually consists of two bridges in the same location, the older of the two dates back to 1909 and is now closed to vehicles. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the iconic bridge is accessible to both bikes and visitors on foot and is often used as a fishing pier.
Mile 30.2: National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge
There’s much to see and do on the wide island of Big Pine Key, but a stop at the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge should be high on your list. For starters, it’s the only place in the world where you’ll find the endangered Key Deer. Plus, it’s just a short drive away from the famous No Name Pub.
Mile 6.5: Boca Chica Key
Boca Chica Key is an island in the lower Florida Keys approximately three miles east of the island of Key West. Home of the Naval Air Station Key West, U.S. 1 crosses Boca Chica Key at approximately mile marker 6.5. While visiting Boca Chica Key, you are invited to take advantage of the public ramps from which you can launch your kayaks.
Mile 0: Key West
End your scenic road trip in Key West, home of the Hog’s Breath Saloon (400 Front St.) and the Ernest Hemingway home and museum. While living on historic Route 1, Hemingway wrote some of his best novels, including Death in the Afternoon and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Key West also marks the southernmost point of the continental United States and is home to the Port of Key West.
Are you ready to start planning your next journey? We hope you found this road trip planner helpful. If you’ve recently taken a journey along the Overseas Highway, we would love to hear about it! We invite you to share your photos with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.