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One Perfect Summer Day: The Florida Keys

There are two schools of thought on the drive from Miami to Key West:

1. Get there as fast as possible.

2. Experience the amazing landscape and interesting communities along the way.

We'll be taking option #2. Want to up your game a level? Add a convertible, apply some sunscreen and settle in to this four-hour-experience... Off we go!

Your first fork in the road at Cardsound Toll Road to Key Largo will get you to Alabama Jack's, a classic old Florida dive set atop two floating barges 13 miles south of Homestead. Order up a pile of seafood or the crab cakes (made with local blue crabs!) to sustain you for the road trip and take in the view, the wildlife (see if you can spot a croc in the canal!) and the fellow mix of locals, bikers and people-in-the-know that found their way here. If you were to stay longer, you might catch a live band on the weekends, but the joint closes around 7 when the skeeters roll in (yes, I do mean the bugs):

For the next 15-20 miles, there's not a ton to see, but once you break through, you'll be rewarded with miles and miles of this view:

Note the mile markers on the side of the road that are counting down to zero (Key West and the end of the road). Things on the way to Key West are rarely marked by address, their location is designated by mile marker. Here are some notable mile markers along the way:

  • 85: You'll be crossing Snake Creek and for the first time can see both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. This is where it all comes together, folks. Your brain shifts in to island time here (if it didn't already at Alabama Jack's).
  • 82: Hungry again? Pop by Mangrove Mike's Cafe in Islamorada.
  • 58.9: Dolphin Research Center
  • 47: Begin the "Seven Mile Bridge"

By the time you've reached mile marker zero, you'll have crossed 42 bridges and passed 1700 islands along the way. Take a load off by settling into your accommodations, but make sure to get to Mallory Square (1 Whitehead Street) to take in the nightly sunset celebration. Order up a drink and some fried conch fritters and take in the performers... just don't forget, the real show is provided by Mother Nature!

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