Key west - Driving Experience

Old May 8th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Key west - Driving Experience

I will be driving to Key west from Miami on Feb 16th with my wife and 14 month old.
a) What time is the best time to start the drive to avoid stop and go traffic?
b) what is the most scenic route to take?
c) Good places to stop by on the way(or side trips) to get some nice pictures?
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Old May 8th, 2006, 03:18 PM
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That Friday is President's Week and the Miami International Boat Show so expect heavy traffic.

Leave as early as you can. If you leave any later than 7AM, add a couple of hours on to your trip. 5AM would not be too early.

I think Card Sound Road is the prettiest way to get to Key Largo. After that, it is US1 all the way to Key West. It is the only road.

Bahia Honda is a nice place to stop. It is the only real beach in the keys. I also like to stop at Mangrove Mamas for lunch.

 
Old May 8th, 2006, 03:59 PM
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On your way down, several of the bridges have places to pull off, snoop and take pictures.

As GoT points out, Bahia Honda is almost a mandatory stop when driving down, and has several places for good photo opportunities.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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Don't know if you have your own car, but those two events GoT mentioned also mean the rental cars go quickly, so keep that in mind in your planning if you are renting a car.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 07:36 PM
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If you are renting a car, be sure to get one without a drop off fee if you are dropping it off in Key West. We have found that rates can really vary from company to company.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 10:28 PM
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Thanks! I have a weekly rental for $190 through hotwire from miami.
Look like -
a) Start my drive as early as 5:00 am
b) I should be taking 'Card Sound Road' till key largo and then switch to US1.
c) Lunch @ Mangrove Mamas for lunch

I am wondering if I should do the stop over @ Bahia Honda on my way back from Key west or when going there. Does it make a difference? I am planning to drive back to miami couple days later in the evening.

Any other specific side trips that I should not miss?
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Old May 9th, 2006, 05:32 AM
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sarov
I would stop at Bahia Honda on the way down when it is daylight. It is a beautiful park and you could walk the beach with your little one. We took a picnic lunch and had a picnic there. They have tables next to the water.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 05:33 AM
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Plan a trip to Big Pine Key and the Key Deer Refuge. It is plainly marked. The Key Deer are an endangered species. Key deer are very small. Do NOT speed on Big Pine!
Enjoy Key West. Take a Conch Train tour early in the trip to learn the history of the island and to get an idea of what is there.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 05:34 AM
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Card Sound Road ends in Key Largo so you won't have a choice about switching to US1. I also think that, unless you really take your time driving down, you will arrive too early at Mangroves Mama's for lunch.
We stopped at Robbies Marina a few years back to feed the tarpon but I forget what mile marker it is located at. Maybe somebody out there will know.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 05:42 AM
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I just looked at Bahia Honda's website and it says they do not open till 8 am so keep that in mind while you are planning your trip.
http://www.bahiahondapark.com/
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Old May 9th, 2006, 05:45 AM
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Usually you can drive between 45 and 55 miles per hour the entire time, but if there is a bad accident, you could be backed up for 8 hours.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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We loved the tarpon feeding at Robbie's - if I remember correctly it is in Islamorada not far from Cheeca Lodge, but I am not good at all on remembering mile markers....maybe you can google it but it is a sight to see!
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Old May 9th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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I would respectfully disagree about leaving as early as 5:00am....the morning rush in Miami starts as early as that, and to be honest, at that time of year, the sun doesn't rise until about 7:00 am....which would put you driving from Florida City to Key Largo in darkness...especially on Card Sound Road, that would not be my first choice because of the remoteness of the area.

I'd suggest leaving AFTER the morning rush....10:00 or so, and enjoy the ride down with more options for lunch, breaks for sightseeing/shopping, etc. The long weekend traffic will not pick up until later in the afternoon...very few people will be taking all of Friday off, and heading down to the Keys that early.

That being said, ANY accident on ANY day of the week, or month of the year, will create some traffic tie ups.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 12:21 PM
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I couldn't agree more with Milemarker0. No sense in taking "scenic" Card Sound Road if it's going to be dark, right? 10 am sounds like a very good time to leave from Miami. Also, pardon me if I am making an assumption, but from from your last post you say "I take Card Sound Road until Key Largo". Realize that Card Sound Road doesn't begin in Miami; it begins in Florida City. So depending on WHERE you are starting from in Miami you would most likely want to take the Florida Turnpike south to its end, then get on US1 south for a very short bit until you get to the left hand turn off for Card Sound Road.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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Thankyou milmarker0 and Larry1!
I will take your advice. I will plan on leaving around 10 am on friday.

I will be driving from Coral Gables downtown. Here is the high level driving directions that was suggested by mappoint s/w. Please let me know if this is the route i should be taking:

Bear RIGHT (South-West) onto US-1 [S Dixie Hwy] 3.3 mi
Take Ramp (RIGHT) onto SR-878 [Snapper Creek Expy] 2.4 mi SR-878 / SR-874 / Florida's Turnpike South
Take Ramp (LEFT) onto SR-874 [Don Shula Expy] 1.6 mi SR-874
*Toll road* Stay on SR-874 [Don Shula Expy] (South-West) 2.6 mi
*Toll road* Merge onto SR-821 [Florida's Tpke] 16.9 mi
Take Ramp onto US-1 [NE 1st Ave] 1.5 mi
Turn LEFT (East) onto Card Sound Rd 11.5 mi
stay on CR-905 (South) 9.2 mi
Turn LEFT (South) onto US-1 [SR-5] 102.3 mi
Arrive Key West

Of course after this i will make some stops on the way to key west. Robbies for sure to feed tarpon.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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That's it.....very easy from the Gables.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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With all due respect, Go Travel does have a good point but leaving @ 5am is too early but on the other hand, because of all of the other traffic on the road, 10 am might be a bit late.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 04:18 PM
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From Coral Gables, I would take Bird Road west to 874. That then feeds into the turnpike. I would not take Card Sound Road - it is 8 miles longer and since you've never seen anything, not much more scenic than US 1. But write again closer to time as there is a construction project going on that may change my advice on that. Robbie's is at MM 77 Bayside and is lots of fun. Your child would love the Jacobs Aquatic Center in Key Largo - they have an zero grade pool with a pirate ship playground.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 06:48 AM
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10AM is too late. You'll be stuck sitting in traffic.

Keep in mind a lot of people in town for the boat show stay in the keys. Particularly the upper keys.

If 5AM is too early, don't leave later than 7AM.
 
Old May 10th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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I stand behind my original statement of 10:00 am...the Boat Show will cause headaches for parking out on the beach and Downtown Miami and Miami Beach...but other than that does not have anymore impact on the traffic than the Coconut Grove Arts Festival going on the same weekend.

I know of very few people who stay in the Upper Keys to go to the Boat show, other than locals going for the day (Saturday or Sunday)...even if they WERE they would all be going the other way....just my experience in Miami and the Keys over that weekend over the years...best of luck whatever you choose to do...you'll have fun!
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