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The Florida Keys Mile Marker Guide: The Best Places To Stop On Your Road Trip

Updated: 1 day ago

With direct access from the Florida Turnpike to Key Largo and the overseas highway, making a road trip to the Keys is an easy and pleasant experience. Starting at just four hours from Orlando, these fantastic Florida Keys experiences are fun for the whole family.


From happy hours to State Parks and things to do, here's a few personal tips on where to stop along your road trip to the keys.


palm trees flank a tiki hut with a thatched roof alongside a beach

Organized by mile marker, all things lead to the Southernmost Point at Mile Marker 0 in Key West.


Mile Marker = MM; *Mile markers may be accurate within a half mile


Note: Always Pack Tissues represents many tried and tested travel sites as what is called an 'affiliate' partner. That means if you click on my ads I may get a commission from a resulting sale.


MM 108 - Gilbert's Resort and Tiki Bar


a thatched palapa roof with lots of plastic white chairs on a white sand beach

Our favorite stop to kick off the relaxing part of a road trip to the Keys, this little outcrop off the Overseas Highway is a great place to take a break after the white knuckle stress of Miami or Turnpike traffic.


With rugged land akin to the Everglades flanking the path of your vehicle, highway turns to scenic seaway, and you'll be enticed to turning on some Jimmy Buffet for the ride.


As calm cools your jets, the sign for food and lodging will creep up on you, so set your GPS just in case you are too chilled out to notice. If you miss it, you'll be several miles over the waterway before you can turn back!


At Gilbert's you'll find thatched palapa roofing covering a fan-cooled dining area. Along the edges of the large tiki hut you can also dine waterside by the boat dock or toes in sand at your own individual thatched palapa table.


Bar goers, resort guests, boaters and passerbys all convene here for fresh seafood (try their conch fritters, lobster wrap or hogfish sandwich!) and their tropical cocktails, like their coconut rum mojito.

a paper basket of conch fritters with lemon

If you are keen on calling it quits then and there (you may be after a bucket of their 5 for $25 beers), you can stay the night at the resort and take it easy before heading deeper into the keys.



MM 102 - The Fish House


key lime pie with a meringue topping

A great place to take the family, the Fish House restaurant offers up an abundance of wild and colorful atmosphere. With stiff drinks and great seafood, you're going to want to come early before the sunset crowd is done with their cocktails elsewhere because it does get busy. Expect large parties to spend some time in line, but the happy hour crowd should be good to get a table nice and early.



MM 96 - Baker's Cay Hilton Resort


shaded alcove on the waterfront with beach chairs

This incredible resort offers visitors everything they could want for a night or two in the Keys. Enjoy included beachside amenities like kayaking, paddleboarding and more while children play with community sand pails on the shore. Mom and dad can enjoy drinks at the tiki bar like the skinny pina colada (so basically, just lots of rum!), and the Dry Docks restaurant and bar serves up some seriously amazing and meaty lobster and shrimp nachos.


Prepare to spend time under the waterfall at the resort pool, tucked away from the beach for serenity, or try some table tennis or volleyball while you're there. A scavenger hunt through the secret shade of hammock trees reveals private beaches just for lovers and beach readers, and the prize for the scavenger hunt is quite nice - free drinks for mom and dad, and a toy for the kiddos!


Top your stellar stay off with balcony level views of the sunset over the gulf at the resort restaurant Calusa. Serving up mussels, whole fried fish, scallops, lobster pasta and cowboy steaks, just to name a few of their specialties, you'll feel like royalty in the tropics. At sunset, guests across the resort bar and dining areas are greeted with free champagne as a capper for the evening. Not too shabby.


a bottle of wine in front of a sunset view over the water

Use your Hilton points to stay and partake in their many Diamond Member level perks such as $250 resort credit and a daily $18 per person additional credit, or book on your own in the off season for the best deals.


If you are interested in sustainable travel, you'll find that Baker's Cay is also on board that train. All guests get refillable water bottles at check in - sparkling or still!


And don't leave without checking the program for their bubble parties for kids in the lawn, their s'mores by the fire on the beach nightly, or for movie nights and more.



MM 98 - Shell World Key Largo

The classic souvenir shopping experience, accessible from both sides of the road (north or south bound). Find jewelry, apparel, nautical themed gifts and more. This large store will keep you busy and browsing for awhile, so be sure to make time for a stop!



MM 87 - Rain Barrel Artisan's Village

A nice stop for browsing eclectic handicrafts in an outdoor setting.



MM 83 - History of Diving Museum

Chock full of artifacts from the first divers to the latest in diving tech, this fascinating museum is well worth the stop.



MM 82 - Islamorada Beer Company

If you are the type of traveler who likes to drink and shop locally when visiting a new place, then this is the stop for you. With flavors on tap and in cans like Sandbar Sunday and Channel Marker IPA, you've got just the right pairing for your tropical vibes. Try the No Wake Zone Coconut Key Lime Ale alongside your Key Lime pie or try the Nested Reel Sour Blonde ale. Mmm. With over a dozen inventive flavors to choose from, this is the right place to stock up or chill out.


MM 77 - Robbie's Marina Islamorada

Offering dining, outdoor shops, fishing, boat charters and an opportunity to feed the tarpon out on the docks, Robbie's is a popular place for tourists to stop in for a variety of activities.



MM 74 - Lobster Walk

Net your lobster from small pools at the dock and they'll cook it up for you!



MM 56 - Curry Hammock State Park


sunset over a sand beach with sea, sand and a picnic table

A charming and often fully booked option for camping in the Keys, Curry Hammock offers waterside campsites for RVs and tent campers along with several areas for beach strolls, kayak launching, a playground, grills and more.


Well located to all things in Marathon and just a short drive from the rest of the Keys, you'll find Curry Hammock to be convenient and affordable.


Kids and grown ups alike will delight in seeing blue crab hideouts all over the campground, along with many of the famous bright (and giant!) iguanas of the Keys.


Fires are only allowed at the community campfire ring on the beach, but it's a great way to meet other travelers.



MM 52 - Marathon Air Museum


a silver metal United States Air Force plane with star emblem on the side

A quaint museum full of historic artifacts and a few large planes to see. Donations are accepted, but admission is free. This museum is run by a local aviation chapter so spend some time talking to the director and volunteers. Plan for about a 20 minute visit.



MM 49 - Florida Keys Steak and Lobster House


a blue painted exterior to a restaurant with sailfish and tuna painted on it

If you're feeling fancy, you'll want to book a table at the Florida Keys Steak and Lobster House. But don't fret, with their incredible daily happy hour and early bird specials, this white tablecloth mainstay for upmarket seafood, steak and even sushi is extremely affordable for all.


Happy hour includes cheap well liquor at $4 a pop, a carafe (liter) of wine at $16, and nearly a dozen options for happy hour appetizers ranging from $6-8. Their early bird specials start with a lobster bisque or conch chowder (or a salad), your choice of amazing steak or seafood entrees like crab stuffed shrimp, and a big whopping piece of key lime pie for dessert.


With exceptional service and adorable decor, this place is an absolute must for dining in Marathon.


If you go: Happy hour is 11:30-6pm daily and early bird is 3:30-5:30pm.



MM 48 - Turtle Hospital Marathon


Boasting the largest turtle hospital in the nation, this colorful and educational facility is home to nearly 30 permanent resident turtles who can no longer be released to the wild (they have to have at least three working fins and one good eye), and they rehabilitate dozens of turtles annually.


a man scrubs the shell of a turtle in a pool

The tour runs adults $30 per person with the littlest kids (under 4) being free. Lasting about 90 minutes, visitors can be sure to walk away much more knowledgeable about turtles, the hazards found in their environments, and the rehabilitation efforts.


You'll visit the outdoor pools where they are kept, see medical activities underway (like cleaning and administering medicines), and you'll even get to feed the turtles!


A must-see for any visit to the Keys, you're probably going to want something from the gift shop on the way out, and to tell all your friends.


Side note: my friends stayed just across the street from the Turtle Hospital at this amazing rental property. With four bedrooms, a pool and plenty of dining spaces for family gatherings, it's a great pick if you want to stay in Marathon.



MM 47 - Sunset Grille and Raw Bar

Coming over the seven mile bridge northbound, heat stroked sundowners are going to want to stop at the sunset grille for the pool and tiki huts, which are visible from the road. People are drink in hand in the pool overlooking the water, while others dine at the bar for a sunset treat.



MM 47 - Seven Mile Bridge

Every bridge south you'll be thinking, "Is this the bridge? Is this the bridge?" You know the one. It's iconic. Flanked by its older, broken down predecessors, this bridge has made fame from aerial photos and of course, the True Lies scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis flailing about in a helicopter over the infamous throughway.


Enjoy beautiful scenery, because you've got seven miles of it. You may spot turquoise waters, discuss the frames of the older broken down parts of its parallel bridges, or drift off to more tropical vibes with your favorite jam band pumping through the car speakers. In any case, you'll want to make sure the kids are awake for crossing this bridge to check out the gorgeous views.



MM 37 - Bahia Honda State Park

With a lovely sand beach and stunning waterfront camp sites, this park is a great pick for overnight stays, if you can manage to reserve a spot. It's set a little far out from civilization in either direction, so plan ahead for meals and grocery store runs.



MM 31 - Big Pine Key/Key Deer Lookout

The moment you hit Big Pine Key you'll encounter signs to slow down. This is because of their famous pine key deer. Little skinny-legged things, they're common to encounter so be careful here. If you're lucky, you can see some frolicking along the sides of the road for your drive.


MM 23 - Venture Out Properties in Cudjoe Key

If you want to venture out (pun totally intended) from the Key West area without being too far, try staying at one of these amazing waterfront properties in Cudjoe Key at the Venture Out community. Some properties even allow you access to your own boat dock to bring the jet skis and toys!


MM 5 - Hogfish Bar and Grill

On Stock Island just before the madness of Key West, stop in for a "killer" hogfish sandwich and tropical palapa hut vibes. You'll feel relaxed at this locals dive, and like you have found a real hidden gem!



MM 0 - Key West!

Learn more about what to see and do in town with kids at my separate link.

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