Florida Keys Highway: A Magic Carpet to the Islands
By Dalia Colon
Length: 106 miles.
How to get around: Car or bicycle.
Best time to visit: September to observe bird migration season and avoid the winter crowds.
Fun fact: The highway is Florida’s only All-American Road, a distinction awarded by the Federal Highway Administration.
For more info: Check out scenichighwayflkeys.com.
You know those screensaver photos so blindingly gorgeous that they hardly look real? Those scenes really do exist along the Florida Keys Highway. This stretch of paradise, also known as the southernmost leg of U.S. 1, has been called a “magic carpet” as it connects one gem of an island after another.
“It’s so gorgeous,” said Gina Boilini, president of the Florida Keys Scenic Corridor Alliance. “It’s endless water as far as you can see.” The turquoise views are interrupted only by the occasional dolphin, osprey or pelican.
As you make your way south across multiple bridges, there are plenty of reasons to take things slowly. In Key Largo, experience marine life via a glass-bottom boat tour, the 30,000-gallon aquarium at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park or a full-on scuba or diving excursion. Then in Marathon, walk across the famous Seven Mile Bridge.
When it comes to dining options, Keys restaurants are as varied as the plant and animal life. Boilini recommends starting with breakfast at Doc’s Diner in Key Largo, a family-owned spot with homemade pancakes, waffles and filling breakfast skillets.
Along the way, nosh on roadside snacks, and by dinnertime you’ll be in Key West, where you can indulge in seafood with a sunset view.