When you leave mainland Florida, the highway stretches for more than 100 miles through the entire Florida Keys island chain. On your left side, the Atlantic Ocean drifts to a far horizon; on your right lies Florida Bay and, farther south, the Gulf of Mexico.
Traveling the highway from the mainland to Key West you’ll cross an astonishing 42 bridges that leapfrog across the water from key to key in a series of giant arches of concrete and steel. From the top of some of the larger spans, particularly in the Upper Keys, the individual islands look tiny and fragile against the sea and sky.
Yet despite that, these islands support lively, picturesque communities. The highway winds past Upper Keys marinas housing sport-fishing fleets and sailing yachts, oceanfront villas surrounded by palms and flowering plants, enticing seafood restaurants and resorts ranging from upscale to funky. Passing miles are denoted by small green “mile marker” signs on the road’s shoulder or median.
Just southwest of Marathon, a family-friendly community known for its environmental attractions, lies the undisputed jewel of the Overseas Highway — the Seven Mile Bridge, which stretches a stunning 6.79 miles across open water.
Contemporary though the highway seems, it actually follows a trail blazed in 1912 when Standard Oil millionaire Henry Flagler completed the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad from mainland Florida to Key West.
But after 23 years of carrying freight and eager vacationers, much of the railroad was badly damaged in a 1935 hurricane. Three years later the Overseas Highway debuted, built on a foundation that incorporated some of the railway spans, marking the start of an incredible adventure for motorists.
In 1982, 37 original bridges including the Seven Mile Bridge were replaced with wider ones. Approximately a third of the old bridges were removed during the replacement project, while three of those remaining — the Long Key, Bahia Honda and Seven Mile bridges — are listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Driving down the Overseas Highway, you’ll see many of the old bridges alongside the
newer ones. Some have become popular fishing piers, inhabited by patient anglers awaiting action at the end of their lines.
Part of the Old Seven Mile Bridge, an iconic landmark that runs parallel to the new bridge, is being carefully restored. Nestled beneath the old bridge, whose center span was removed to allow boat traffic, lies the tiny island of Pigeon Key — once a base camp for workers constructing the original bridge and now a historic site with a beautifully curated railroad museum.
Past the bridge, the scenery becomes wilder and more deserted. This is Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys, a realm of small communities, ecotourism and wildlife refuges created to protect species including the miniature Key deer. Beautiful Bahia Honda State Park and the Old Bahia Honda Bridge beckon to the left of the road, inviting exploration.
Eventually the Lower Keys segue into Key West, where the highway ends amid 19th-century charm and modern-day attractions. The ambiance of continental America’s southernmost city — located closer to Cuba than Miami — is embedded in its narrow palm-shaded streets and century-old mansions decorated with the wooden scrollwork called gingerbread.
Today, you can leave the Florida mainland and travel the entire length of the Overseas Highway, through all the Florida Keys to Key West, in less than four hours. But instead, try driving at a more leisurely pace — stopping at tempting seafood restaurants and roadside galleries, following inviting side roads and taking pleasure in the ever-changing land- and seascapes to be viewed from the Highway that Goes to Sea.
This os one hell of journey so you may want to break it up a little by staying overnight in either Key Largo or Islamorada, our tip would be to grab an afternoon flight from the UK then book an airport hotel in Miami, have a great nights sleep brfore starting your journey fresh in the morning, we'd like to reccomend
If you have booked your tour with RouteTripUSA or EagleRider, your hotels would come included with you package, but if you have just rented the bike (or Car) and looking for some ideas of places to stay then here are our recomendations for places to stay between Miami and Key West.
Our choice of stop over would be in Islamorada at a fantastic place known as the Lime Tree Bay Resort, which is located in the heart of the Florida Keys between Islamorada and Marathon. A true island oasis that features a quarter-mile, white-sand sunning beach with tiki huts, hammocks, and barbecue grills; multiple heated swimming pools; a private fishing pier; and front-row seats to the most breathtaking sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.
Guests at Lime Tree may choose from a wide variety of freshly renovated and well-appointed accommodations, ranging from studios and guestrooms to spacious townhomes and suites.
Unmatched anywhere else in South Florida, our impressive list of complimentary amenities includes daily continental breakfast, in-room bottled water, parking, WiFi, unlimited use of kayaks, paddle boards, bicycles, tennis and dockage for boats up to 21 feet.
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Lounge around the heated & chilled freshwater pool, or visit nearby coral reefs, enjoy world-class backcountry or offshore fishing, shop, dine, or visit local attractions. Choose from one of 19 efficiencies, cottages or suites for up to four persons.
All vacation rentals and all guests have use of the waterfront tiki, barbecue, and private beach. Bring your boat – dock and boat ramp available for guests. Tavernier Key, 33070
free amenities included:
From The Lime Tree Bay or The Atlantic Bay Resort in Tavernier, get on your Motorcycle and head to Key West, where location varies depending on your budget, here in Key west we have 3 hotels that we'd like to reccomend to you, we'll start with the higher end of the budget and a stay at The Hyatt Centric Hotel and Spa.
It's pretty awesome and so close to the famous Mallory Square, nearly typed Mallory Park!
Ranked #6 in Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 15 Resorts in the Florida Keys: Readers’ Choice Awards 2021. Let this tranquil waterfront resort be your starting point for offbeat adventures in Key West. You can take a short stroll to the lively Duval Street and all the history and tropical charm of Old Town, or grab a charter boat from the hotel's dock. When you're ready to kick back, check out Jala Spa or laze on the beach.
If you have booked through EagleRider or RouteTripUSA you may have your Key West Hotel already booked and a favourite for EagleRider is The Blue Marlin Motel
A biker friendly Motel and perfect choice for a restful vacation with access to everything Key West has to offer. The location insures that you will enjoy all of the island from a convenient starting point. Thel rooms are cheap and clean, a pool is available and right next to the beach and many restaurants.Your Bike will be safe whilst you explore.
Another great choice for you and located accross the road from the Blue Marlin is the South WInds Motel again just a block away from Duval Street, which by the way has a fantastic Harley Store. Perfect for the solo traveler, couples, or friends planning a weekend excursion to Key West, within walking distance of the top attractions, beautiful beaches, the best restaurants and bars, shopping, and water sports and scooter rentals. Whether you're looking to spend your vacation in the water or on land, this wallet-friendly hotel offers you great value for money, with breakfast inclided, but do mnd the chickens.
After a long cruise down from Miami why not Relax poolside at one of the three pools or enjoy complimentary beach access complete with chairs and towels. Surf the web freely with complimentary Wi-Fi or disconnect and take in the tropical surroundings.
Enjoy your stay in the Florida Keys and enjoy the ride to your next destination, which if you have chosen the Florida Paradise tour is likely to be Naples. Where ever it is, we are sure you'll never forget your ride to the keys.