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Orlando to Key West - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Visiting Orlando every year we have often looked at the map of Florida and wondered what the Keys would be like. On a recent golfing holiday we managed a 4 day extension and decided to drive down and have a look around. With 3 people able to share the driving we set off with satellite navigation and a map in hand.

The first part of the journey was quite picturesque as we headed east on 528 to join up with the I95. We had decided to take the I95 to avoid the Turnpike tolls. We didn’t fancy the idea of stopping to throw coins into a hopper every few miles.

The drive down I95 was pretty uneventful but with the sun shining we soon passed Cocoa, Melbourne and Vero Beach. Traffic was quite heavy around Fort Pierce and continued to be so through West Palm Beach as we ran parallel to the turnpike which looked considerably less congested. Our only major hold up came in the run through Miami as a Coca Cola truck had decided to knock a hole in the concrete central reservation.

Through Miami we headed south on the US1 and soon became surrounded by water as we headed over man made bridges and roads. We had expected several lanes of traffic heading south and were surprised that the US1 for most of its length was two single lanes heading in each direction. It was a little chilling to see so many flowers and crosses on the side of the road along its length. This was a highway to respect and take great care on when overtaking.

As we drove through Key Largo we were a little disappointed. Everything seemed old and battered and things did not improve as we went through Islamorada. We were starting to wonder whether the long drive had been a complete waste of time. Speed limits were strictly observed and progress through the islands was quite slow.

We had travelled nearly 400 miles and now finally Key West was approaching. To our relief the houses, shops and restaurants were a big improvement on anything we had so far seen on our drive since we had left the mainland and picturesque harbour scenes and buildings were in abundance. We stopped at the Holiday Inn where the service was excellent and the staff very friendly.

Over the next two days we took in the sites of downtown Key West and had some excellent meals down by the harbour. The highlights were snorkelling out on the reef and the sunset cruise. We were very sad to leave and felt the whole trip had been very worthwhile.

After our hold ups on the way down we decided to take the Turnpike all the way home after we left the US1 and discovered that rather than dipping your hands in your small change all the way back after the first few toll booths you simply pick up a ticket and pay when you leave the Turnpike. The service areas on the Turnpike were well worth a visit and overall we would strongly recommend the Turnpike for this journey rather than the I95.

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