Best (And Worst) Times To Drive To Key West From Miami

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Planning a vacation can be filled with excitement and questions. For example, do you want to drive to Key West from Miami but have no idea which times are best for traffic? How long does it take to reach Key West from Miami?

Luckily, we've done plenty of searching and have the answers below!

Generally, the best times to drive from Miami to Key West, Florida, are late at night (after 8 pm), early in the morning (before 8 am), or on a weekday. That's because traffic will be lighter during these periods, which can help cut back on your time in the car.

For the worst times to head to Key West from Miami, you want to avoid driving during morning/evening rush hours and weekends. Additionally, weekday rushes happen after 8 am, leading into the early afternoon, and then again at 5-6 pm.

As we start this article, we will cover all things driving from Miami to Key West and discuss the best (and worst) times for this. Whether you're new to South Florida, want to plan a fun road trip, or have other questions, we're here to help. Let's dive in!

What Are The Best Times To Drive To Key West From Miami?

Key West arrow with beach background

For those wanting to drive to Key West from Miami, Florida, you want to try and beat the crowds. Since Miami is a tourist destination, it can become pretty crowded on weekends and even during weekday rush hours.

For example, if those who live in Miami are all commuting to work or school around 8 am, you want to try and start your drive at 6 or 7 am. Doing this ensures you can get past the city before everyone is up and driving around.

Additionally, driving later at night from Miami to Key West may be another idea. Most people notice less traffic after 8 pm between the two south Florida cities, so that's something to consider.

Although lighter than on the weekend, weekday traffic can still be a nuisance. Even though Miami and Key West are vacation spots, that doesn't mean normal people aren't commuting daily to and from home and work.

Therefore, try and think of regular business hours (9 am to 5 pm), and avoid those times if possible. Even if the traffic outside of Miami is light during weekday commutes, that doesn't mean you won't still spend an hour in the city before getting onto the open road.

What Is The Worst Time To Drive From Miami To Key West?

The worst time to try driving from Miami to Key West is during the weekend or between weekday rush hours. As we said above, Miami and Key West experience peaks in traffic during "regular" commuting hours.

However, the worst days of the week to drive between these cities are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The roads will be most congested during this timeframe, filled with tourists, locals, and accidents.

According to travelers, getting out of Miami is often the hardest part of your drive. Specifically, you can expect the first hour of the drive (going south out of Miami) to be the most grueling.

This is where the greatest chunk of traffic will be located, with weekend or weekday rushes adding even more time to the car ride. Therefore, the drive will be more pleasant if you can try and wake up early or stay up late.

If you plan accordingly, this road trip commute shouldn't be too intense, although Miami and Key West can sometimes be hard to predict.

One time we recommend avoiding these two cities would be between February and March, as this is prime time for the spring break season. Your road trip, which should take a few hours, could quickly turn into an eight-hour nightmare drive.

So, if possible, stay off the road during peak times and seasons for the best experience.

How Long Does It Take To Drive From Miami To Key West?

Aerial view of Bridge connecting Keys, Florida.

It should take you roughly four hours to reach Key West from Miami. Of course, this can greatly vary depending on when you leave Miami and the day of the week.

Additionally, if there are road closures, accidents, or it's spring break, this drive can easily be six to eight hours. According to the Miami Tour Company, the distance between Miami and Key West is 159 miles.

This drive also allows road trippers to see unparalleled views of the surrounding water and ecosystems, which have put Florida on the map as a top destination.

You'll be taking the Overseas Highway to get between these two world-class cities, so expect plenty of above-water driving and scenery. That can be scary for some, so if anyone in your group gets car sick, you might want them to close their eyes during those portions of the drive.

This road is also known as Highway 1 (US-1 S), so keep an eye peeled for that on the map when navigating between the two places. Luckily, the drive from Miami to Key West is a straight shot, meaning you won't need to get on and off many roadways.

How Many Bridges Are Between Miami And Key West?

When it comes to the bridges between Miami and Key West, this list is extensive. Between the two cities, drivers can expect to see 42 bridges, with one of them being seven miles long.

Because Key West is the southernmost tip of Florida, it's taken decades to create the now-seamless drive between it and the rest of the state.

Many past drivers between Miami and Key West have mentioned that the infamous 'Seven-Mile Bridge' is intimidating for those navigating it. One reason for this is that the bridge has two lanes.

Therefore, if there is an issue or accident, everyone is at the mercy of the nearest police, fire, and ambulance station. So, drive as carefully as possible, avoiding speeding and distracted driving.

The last thing anyone wants to do is delay their or someone else's Key West weekend vacation.

What Towns Are Between Miami And Key West, Florida?

Sunset in Islamorada, Florida. Bridge over the sea, aerial view

For those taking a road trip between Miami and Key West, Florida, there are plenty of fun beachfront towns to explore on the way.

During your drive, you can expect to places like:

  • Key Largo
  • Islamorada
  • Marathon
  • Big Pine Key

Each place will offer food, culture, and things to see and do between Miami and Key West, which could be worth adding to the itinerary.

Because you're driving nearly 160 miles to Key West from Miami, there will be plenty to experience during a road trip. Additionally, if the traffic is bad, you might want to take a few breaks between driving to stretch your legs and grab a snack.

Islamorada is located halfway between Miami and Key West, so consider that a good stopping point to use the bathroom and even fill your tank with gas.

This area is also visually stunning, so it doesn't need to only be a stop at the gas station—take in the beautiful sights!

One of the many perks of south Florida is the delicious seafood, which will be endless throughout the Florida Keys and leading up to Miami.

Is It Worth Driving To Key West From Miami?

Yes! If you don't mind about a four-hour drive and a long stretch of bridges, driving between Key West and Miami is an excellent idea for a road trip. As we said, this route is a straight shot, meaning you don't have to worry about connecting roads and confusing directions.

Luckily, Florida has prioritized making this connection easy for visitors and locals. You also want to remember this drive is only 159 miles.

Therefore, you won't be in the car for days on end; instead, you could leave around 7 am and be on the beach by noon. Many people regularly take overnight trips from Miami to Key West, so this is a standard route for drivers.

However, booking a few nights in Key West might be wise because the drive is four hours long. After all, this island is filled with history, food, white sand beaches, and something for any visitor.

On top of that, the seven-mile bridge between Miami and Key West is rated as one of the best scenic drives in Florida, so it's perfect for vlogging and pictures.

Which Place Is Better To Vacation: Miami Or Key West?

Miami Beach, wonderful aerial view of buildings, river and vegetation.

Although opinions will vary, Miami and Key West are equally fun to travel to in southern Florida. First, Miami offers some of the most expensive dining, hotels, and experiences in the United States—all things Key West is not traditionally known for.

In contrast, Key West has a laid-back vibe, which might be better for certain trips and travelers. However, this comparison is difficult because the two cities are so different.

A standout for Key West is its island experience and quirky museums and dining, while Miami is known for fine dining, world-class entertainment, luxury hotels, and celebrity sightseeing.

Comparing the two is like night and day. Both cities are wonderful; Miami is more lively and extravagant, while Key West is more classic Florida.

To Wrap It Up

Whether you want to drive to Key West from Miami for a vacation or need ideas for your next work trip, it's always good to understand the traffic logistics.

We found that the best times to drive to Key West from Miami are early morning (before 8 am), later evening (after 8 pm), or on weekdays outside of rush hour traffic.

Generally, this commute will take four hours, as you're only driving 159 miles. However, your trip could be longer with roadwork, accidents, traffic, or spring breakers.

We also have these travel articles you may want to read:

The Open Road Awaits: A Guide to the Best Road Trips in South Florida

We’ve Found The Best Key Lime Pie In The Florida Keys!

Best (And Worst) Times To Drive To Key West From Miami

Aerial view of Bridge connecting Keys, Florida.
, Best (And Worst) Times To Drive To Key West From Miami

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  1. We love going to Key West, the express boat from Marco Island is the way to go! 3.5 hours and your there, then rent a golf cart for your stay! Highly recommend.

  2. I want to drive my corvette down to key west and want to know is it safe to leave the car at the hotel or the airport. I mean I won’t be driving it around just letting it set

  3. I loved it in Key West. Traveled there via Greyhound bus, a night mare of a trip with rude and grumpy staff. Key West is prime for a rapide train sevice, hope that is on the plans. If I do return to Key west in the near future, I will try the Hydrofoil from Fort Myers

  4. I live in France and definitjy will drive again to the keys, my personnal opinion, is just to start early morning its a good 5hr drive, all the way from Miami Beach to Key West, if tou want to enjoy and have a few stop along your way, its really one of the kind, it’s a 2 lane road maximum 50 mph all the way, not alowed to overtake, only when you pass an island and there are plainty passing by, you can stop, swim, visit, have a snack, key largo, Marathon ect… and many others all along, that’s why it’s a long drive but how beautiful, must do once in your life, I will definitly do it again, and personnly only day time, other wise you wont see the beauty of this unique one of the kind road way, thats whats make me go to the keys, such a beautyful drive, night as no interest at all, its so much to please your eyes, enjoy slow trip for once, we have engouh trafics year long.

  5. One thing not mentioned in this aritle is, cruise ships. Try to find out when cruise ships are in port. There can be up to 700 people dumped off which will take time standing in lines for dinner or bars. Plan your trip around the cruise ships.

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