I’ve already shared my tips on what to do in Key Largo and in Key West but there’s a lot to see and do if you decide to drive from the upper keys to the lower keys. This post covers some of my favorites along the way.
Once you pass Key Largo you will go through Tavernier and then Islamorada where you will see Big Betsy the lobster on the right hand side of the road. The Keys have a lobster hunting season twice a year: mini season and the main season. All you need is a fishing license, a tickle stick, gloves, snorkel gear and a boat. Lobster like to hang out under stuff. You can spot their antennae sticking out from the rock or whatever it is they are hiding under. You use the tickle stick to scare them out f and then grab them. We’ve only tried it once during mini season with our inflatable dinghy. We caught one? Two? Not many. It was fun just looking for them. Keepers do need to be a certain size.
Keep driving and you’ll hit one of my favorite restaurants: Island Grill located on the left side of the road at the base of the bridge just leaving Islamorada. We almost always stop here. I love that it’s on the water! You can arrive by car or by boat.
A little further down the road you’ll spot Theater of the Sea. Our family has never stopped here since it looked a little too touristy even for us, but my niece and nephew loved it! If you have young kids it may be worth a stop.
Keep going and you’ll see the lobster trap art store on the right. We stopped one year and bought 4 pieces: one for each kid and one for us. The frames are made out of old lobster traps. Pretty cool!
A few more miles down the road and you’ll hit Robbie’s on the right. We *always*’stop here. It’s a Keys tradition! Technically it’s a boat rental place and we *have* rented a boat here before and have ridden out to Indian Key State Historic Site. However, Robbie’s is famous for its tarpon feeding. For a few dollars you can buy a bucket of fish and go out on the dock and feed HUGE tarpon!! It’s quite an experience!
Once you explore the little shops and maybe buy a souvenir tee shirt, you’ll keep going and hit Marathon, one of the bigger keys. They have a Kmart where you can buy fishing gear, licenses, necessities and souvenirs. The Island Fish Company is another restaurant we’ve enjoyed. It’s conveniently located across the street from the Holiday Inn Express which has the Tarpon Creek Bar and Grill behind it.
After Marathon you’ll hit 7 mile bridge which offers some lovely views of the water of the gulf on the right and the Caribbean on your left. The bridge will dump you into Bahia Honda which is a state park with a nice swimming area.
After Bahia Honda you’ll hit Big Pine Key, home of the diminutive key deer. You’ll see signs posted to watch for the key deer. In all the years of going down to the Key West and driving through here, we had never spotted any. This last time we decided to explore the key a bit more. Bingo!! Apparently they just roam the streets. We saw several!
You are almost to Key West! Just a few more Keys! Next is Boca Chica where there’s a US Naval Air Station where my dad was stationed back in the 60s. Apparently if you have military connections you can stay here. We never have.
The last key before Key West is Stock Key, home of the Hogfish Bar and Grill! If you’ve never had hogfish and you like fish, try it here! I really liked it and I like very few fish (and NO seafood.)
Clearly this is not an exhaustive list and I’ve only listed a few of my favorite eating places. However, this list should at least get you started as you plan your driving trip down the Florida Keys!