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  1. Default Orlando to Key West and back again

    I am driving down to Key West from Orlando the first week of October to have a R&R day in the Keys.

    My google map calc puts me at around 7/8 hours each way along the coasts.

    My goals:

    -ride along the coastal highways & enjoy some road eats/quaint little towns

    -stop for a couple hours in Miami to ogle the scene

    -be able to enjoy a few bars in Key West/sand in toes all day Saturday

    -scenic route during sunrise returning back to Orlando

    My challenges:

    -mainly I am unfamiliar outside of Orlando of all the roads & scenery. Need lots of advice and pointers about roadtrips in Florida!

    -I need suggestions for towns for brief stops on the East coast of Florida (3 will do it, but the downside is I don't eat seafood. Upside is I love southern home kitchen fare)

    -I have no idea how long and what to expect for traffic from Miami to Key West on a Friday evening (5-6pm). I want to pinpoint a good time to leave out of Orlando on Friday AM.

    -I have my flight out on Sunday at 6:30pm, I plan to get back to Orlando at least by 3pm. I am only planning on stopping once midway there for potentially an hour or two.

    -I need to avoid large traffic delays on the way back along the West coast of Florida and need shortcut route advice if necessary for backups.

    -I am planning on leaving the Keys Sunday at 5am to approach Orlando before 3pm. Am I anywhere target with this time?

    -What is to be expected for gas prices? Are there Costco gas stations?

    Other general advice for this roadtrip?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Unfortunately, that laid-back Key West attitude will apply to most of your trip and I don't think you're going to be able to make quite the leisurely 'drive along the beach' and 'stop in a few towns' kind of trip you have in mind. Despite what on-line mapping software tells you, I seriously doubt that you can make the drive from Orlando to Key West in 7-8 hours. Even if you were to stay mainly on the Interstates, after Miami US-1 is a busy highway through the Keys with much cross traffic and many bridges. It could take a half day to drive just the 'Overseas Highway', especially on a Friday evening and Sunday morning! The main problem, of course is that there are no other options, no back roads and no short cuts. Every single car headed into and out of Key West must use the same stretch of road that you'll want to yourself. Remember, October is really the start of high season on the Keys - fall and winter are starting to settle in the northeast and midwest, and hurricane season will be ending. I just don't think that such a drive would be relaxing, enjoyable, or perhaps even feasible at the time and within the timeframe you have to work with.


  3. Default another thought

    thanks for the well noted advice!

    I did a little more research and found that the access is quite a long wait just to cross the bridges out on the keys, considered for sure! I did have an alternate option:

    Now if I added a day and tried to return back on Monday -or-

    -leave Orlando Thursday afternoon (4pm) and stay in Miami

    -early AM day trip to the Keys and stayover Friday night

    -return back to a midway point to Orlando for an overnight stay on Saturday night (this is the big question-what town to stay?)

    -leave 8am to get back to Orlando

    .....input on plan B greatly appreciated!

  4. #4
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest


    Ditto on AZBucks advise.
    Our only surprise were the amount of Toll stations on the Florida highways.
    Seem to be everywhere all the time.
    So,, carry cash to make the toll fees.
    Fees ran from $2.00 US to $7.00 US.

  5. Default tolls

    I had the unpleasant surprise of tolls my first trip to Orlando, and thinking how awful that must be for someone who has to go back and forth all the time.

    and again, thanks for the good advice!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Surprisingly tiring as well

    Quote Originally Posted by rearview View Post
    I did a little more research
    Always a good thing! Driving the causeways is magical (the color of the water has to be seen in person to be believed) but I found the task of driving to be really fatiguing...and I am a roadtrip pro. There is something vaguely unsettling about driving over that much water (at least for me) and you would be wise to expect to spent most of a day going one-way. People do make one-day trips to Key West and back -- but I would never recommend that. You might find this article about Chad's trip to Key West helpful as well.


  7. Default how about plan B

    so does anyone have daily suggestions on how to do this? I'm determined to go and wondering how to make it possible?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Did you do the Northern California drive yet?

    I really like the lakes on the west side of Orlando. Here are a couple of threads with information that while not directly on point, still might be helpful to your trip planning:

    Southern states and some Florida ideas

    Ross & Alice's Cross country trip with some Florida notes

    Did you do the northern California trip yet?


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default No Everglades?

    Quote Originally Posted by rearview View Post
    -leave Orlando Thursday afternoon (4pm) and stay in Miami -early AM day trip to the Keys and stayover Friday night
    -return back to a midway point to Orlando for an overnight stay on Saturday night
    You are driving from Orlando to the Keys and not taking the time to see the Everglades?

    Your plan B will work -- it just seems like a lot of heavy driving. Which can be good -- there are hundreds of places to stay in between. I think you drive until you are too tired and then find a place....


  10. Default on the road again

    we did the Northern Cali trip and essentially we travelled:

    Friday from Seattle to Newport, OR took the longest because of many many many potty breaks for the kids. We even went to the sand dunes and back in time for a campfire dinner at 9pm.

    Saturday noon to Crescent City, CA and then headed on to Eureka, back to base at 11pm in the Redwoods.

    Left the Redwoods at noon onto 199 Grants Pass to just outside of Springfield, OR and then headed back up to Seattle around 8pm. Cinderella arrived home at the strike of midnight!

    Plenty of time to do & see things along the way and even changed the departure times to a surprising lack of traffic! That makes all the difference.

    Back to subject Key West, by many accounts the travel time is posted at 4 hours from Miami--I presume this to be correct? One lane highway with many travelers going 35mph (50mph the intensely guarded speed limit, correct?)

    How long from Orlando to Miami via the coastal roads?

    I'm going to look up those links too...

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