Drive the Overseas Highway
The Florida Keys are an amazing destination for travelers in the continental United States. One of the most amazing ways to discover all that the Keys have to offer is to road trip the Overseas Highway, also known as US Route 1. This journey covers over 100 miles and will take visitors to some of the most beautiful and exciting tropical spots in the country.
Travelers that are beginning to think about their winter vacation plans should consider a road trip through the Florida Keys. These islands are a fantastic winter vacation destination. Those travelers planning on visiting the Florida Keys this winter should be aware that the high season lasts from late December through April, and during this period travel plans should be made in advance. Another note about vacation planning for a trip to the Florida Keys is that hurricane season lasts from June through November, with the most storms during September. Although the fall is not the ideal time to visit the Keys, it is an excellent time to begin planning a winter vacation.
The Overseas Highway was completed in 1938, and follows the path of the Overseas Railroad, which was destroyed by a hurricane. Visitors will discover that this amazing highway connects the islands of the Florida Keys with 42 bridges. The Overseas Highway stretches from Key Largo in the north through Islamorada, Marathon, the Lower Keys and ends in Key West.
Drivers can start their journey in mainland Florida and travel south to Key Largo. One option is to drive Route 1 from Florida City to Key Largo. Another, perhaps more scenic option is to travel along the Card Sound Road to the north end of Key Largo. Here travelers have the opportunity to view some of the more natural aspects of the islands, including mangrove swamps, wild orchids, and some rare animals such as saltwater crocodiles, pelicans and much more.
As drivers travel along the route to Key Largo the will learn that Key Largo is the largest of the Florida Keys. One notable destination not to be missed in Key Largo is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This park was the first underwater preserve in the US and is the only coral reef in the continental United States. Visitors can take glass-bottomed boat tours, or go snorkeling, diving and more to enjoy the abundant sea life, including coral, sea turtles, many types of tropical fish and much more.
Beyond Key Largo travelers will encounter Islamorada, which is a strand of six islands, known as the Sports Fishing Capital of the World. Visitors to Islamorada can charter boats to fish for sailfish, bonefish, tarpon and more. Indian Key State Historic Park is another fascinating stop while visiting Islamorada. This island once had a prosperous business salvaging the cargo from shipwrecks. Today it is an excellent spot to swimming, hiking and exploring what remains of the island's business.
Kiteboarding enthusiasts should be sure to stop and spend some time at Anne's Beach after leaving Islamorada. Anne's Beach has amazingly beautiful water, with calm water for swimming, and a good tropical breeze, making it a popular spot to kiteboarding.
Continuing the road trip on the Overseas Highway travelers can stop to enjoy some relaxation and kayaking at Curry Hammock State Park. The group of islands has one of the largest populations of thatch palms and wetlands, supported by hardwood hammocks. Mangrove Creek is an excellent spot for kayaking as well as keeping an eye out for tropical wildlife.
Along the highway, Marathon is the next big stop. Here, the old-fashioned charm combined with the convenience of a modern community make it a great family destination. Nearby Crane Point Hammock has beautiful wetlands and exotic hardwoods for visitors to enjoy. In addition, the Museum of Natural History of the Florida Keys is an excellent destination to learn all about the Florida Keys.
Drivers heading south on the Overseas Highway after leaving Marathon will soon encounter the stunning Seven-Mile Bridge. This amazing stretch of the highway crosses a channel connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Travelers can enjoy the uninterrupted view of the ocean from this stretch of the highway, since the nearest land appears only as specks on the horizon.
After crossing the Seven-Mile Bridge road trippers should stop for a rest at Bahia Honda State Park on Bahia Honda Key. This park is home to several white sand beaches, which are great for swimming, snorkeling, beach-combing, sunbathing and more. Visitor to Bahia Honda State Park can also walk onto the historic railroad trestle and see the amazing views.
Travelers finish the road trip on Key West. This key is home to a wide variety of attractions, including recreation, historic sites and more. Visitors to Key West can stop at the John Audubon House, the Earnest Hemingway House and the Harry S Truman Little White House. Key West is also the site of the southernmost point in the continental United States. This point is marked with a large buoy-shaped monument. Another not-to-be-missed Key West attraction is the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, which is a historic landmark dating to the Civil War. Visitors to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park can also enjoy the beautiful beach, swimming, snorkeling, biking and much more.
The Florida Keys are an amazing vacation destination and taking a long road trip on the Overseas Highway is a fantastic way to enjoy all that the islands have to offer. Throughout the Keys visitors will find stunning vistas, beautiful beaches, bountiful recreation and so much more. Planning an Overseas Highway road trip is a must for all travelers that love warm, tropical destinations.