South Florida road trip tips - Tampa to Key West
July 3, 2022 9:42 AM   Subscribe

In July I am going to be flying into Tampa for a wedding and then treating myself to a road trip down to Miami (staying overnight) and Key West for a few days. What should I see or stop for along the drive?

I have never really been to any of these places before. I will be perusing Atlas Obscura and Roadside America for some ideas.

I love nature, hiking, bird watching, the ocean, kitschy roadside attractions, and good food. We are pretty covid safe so also looking for outdoor dining recs.
posted by forkisbetter to Travel & Transportation around Florida (7 answers total)
I highly recommend going to the Anhinga Trail and spending an hour or two gawking at the Everglades. The Everglades is an amazing place, but a little rough in July (as is a lot of South Florida), and that trail is a great way to get a taste of it without dying of heatstroke.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:52 AM on July 3, 2022

the turtle hospital in marathon is really interesting to visit, you'll need a reservation ahead of time for the tour, it's popular.

mission wild bird a neat bird sanctuary in tavernier (I think it was this one I went to.

Consider an airboat ride in the everglades, it's super cheesy touristy but really fun. I don't remember which one I took.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:59 AM on July 3, 2022

I love Robert Is Here fruit stand
posted by brilliantine at 10:47 AM on July 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

My first trip to Hong Kong didn't go so well, and I remember telling my father that after I arrived I wondered, "Why in the world did I ever want to come here?" and he said he felt the same way about Key West (a place I've never been).

But I've learned about how the original single-track rail line down there was converted into the Overseas Highway and now I'd like to see what I can of the original, like the Seven Mile and especially the Bahia Honda bridges.
posted by Rash at 12:47 PM on July 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Consider a trip to the Dry Tortugas to see unique birds!
posted by Threeve at 2:07 PM on July 3, 2022

Tampa-Miami is a long haul. You might consider Tamiami Trail and gawk at the ditch reptiles. Just be careful, motorcycles like to play chicken with oncoming traffic. I'd save my energy for the drive to Key West.

Stop at Keys Fisheries and get some Florida lobster or conch fritters or conch salad. Too bad it's not stone crab season or I'd also send you to The Mar Bar in Islamorada. Snapper's in Key Largo has some fairly large fish tacos too.

Stop at Robbie's Marina and feed the tarpon.

Seconding Bahia Honda -- it's the nicest beach on A1A, and there aren't many. Wear your swimsuits and take a dip and/or walk the bridge.
posted by credulous at 2:42 PM on July 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Key West:

First - realize that the drive from the mainland takes a long time, including one key with a low speed limit because of a refuge for Key deer. I think the last time I drove it, it was 3 hours or so.

Second - Rather than Mallory Square, which always gets super crowded for sunset viewing that now seems to get blocked a lot by cruise ships positioning for their passengers, go to the Crowne Plaza La Concha, and take the elevator to the roof top bar (if it still exists). Great view from up there and not too crowded.

Third - there are clothing-optional hotels and bars in Key West. The names have probably changed since I was last there circa 2004. We accidentally got a room in one of those hotel (longish story). We had no problems, even though we remained clothed, but if this is something that will bother you, it's worth asking the question if it isn't obvious which kind of establishment you are about to enter.
posted by TimHare at 8:52 PM on July 4, 2022

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