A Mini-Trip to Key West, Florida: Part 1- Introduction & Driving to Key West

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Emily:  Daraius and I went to Key West for 3 days in October for a mini-vacation.

We drove from Fort Lauderdale to Key West on the Overseas Highway, which was a beautiful drive.  Thanks to Daraius, the car rental cost us more than it should have. 🙂

We stayed at the Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, and had a relaxing break in Key West.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Emily On The Bahia Honda Bridge On The Way To Key West

A Quick Trip To Key West, Florida Index

We only had 3 days in Key West, so we couldn’t do everything which we wanted to do.

Ideally, I wanted to spend more time seeing the many sites along the Overseas Highway which connects Miami to the Florida Keys –  including the John Pennekamp State Park near Key Largo, the Turtle Hospital, and a few other sites.

But we didn’t have much time for this trip, so we stopped only at the important sites – CVS and the Bahia Honda Park.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Daraius Does’t Like Standing Still for Pictures!

Planning

Daraius used Southwest points and our Southwest Companion Pass to fly from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale using Southwest points.  He was speaking at Frequent Traveler University in Tampa and decided to take a few days to visit Key West!

Daraius was going to use 22,000 Hyatt points for each night at the Hyatt in Key West, but then found a great rate for ~$190 including taxes!  We don’t have an unlimited supply of Hyatt points, and preferred saving those 22,000 Hyatt points to stay in Hyatt hotels which cost $600+ a night.

Hyatt Regency Key West

At The Hyatt in Key West

Once in a while, we can pay $190 for a splurge hotel room.  But we wouldn’t pay $600 a night!  That’s why we collect miles and points!

We rented a car from Fort Lauderdale and drove to Key West, which cost $90.

However, when we got to the airport in Key West, Daraius realized that we (Daraius) had made a mistake and that Alamo was expecting the car in Fort Lauderdale and not in Key West!

So, we had to pay extra for the rental and scramble to get the car to its off-airport lot.  On the other hand, Daraius doesn’t mess-up often, so I’ll give him a pass this time!

We flew on Southwest from Key West back to Austin and again made good use of our Southwest Companion Pass.

Overseas Highway

We left Fort Lauderdale around noon, and then drove through the Florida Keys.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Driving On The Overseas Highway

Thankfully, there was no traffic on the highway.  We went in late September which is low season, and also drove down on a Monday.  We’ve heard horror stories about bumper-to-bumper traffic during summer weekends!

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

We Lucked Out And Avoided Traffic On The Overseas Highway

Along the way, we stopped at a restaurant in Islamorada called Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen for a key lime freeze.  It was yummy!

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Emily Enjoying A Key Lime Freeze At Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen

We also stopped at a few CVS pharmacies along the way to stock up on Vanilla Reloads.  And each store had lots of Vanilla Reloads!

There is a lot to do along the drive to Key West, from visiting one of the many state parks to the Turtle Hospital.  We didn’t have time to stop-over at many sites during the drive, but vowed to return one day.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Emily Enjoying The Serenity Along the Way to Key West

We made a brief stop for a couple of photos.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Emily by The Overseas Highway

Bahia Honda State Park

We did make time to stop at Bahia Honda State Park.  We had to pay $8 for our car to enter the park.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Bahia Honda State Park

There were a lot of things to do, including camping, swimming, and snorkeling.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

There Were Lots of Activities At Bahia Honda State Park

We went for a quick swim and snorkeling.  The snorkeling and swimming was okay.  There was a lot of seaweed strewn throughout the water and on the shore, but the water was very shallow, clear, and warm.  There may be better swimming beaches somewhere else in the park.

The soft white sand felt good beneath my toes!

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Emily Enjoying The Sand Between Her Toes At Bahia Honda State Park

We then went to walk on the Old Bahia Honda bridge which was built above the railroad tracks.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

We Walked On The Old Bahia Honda Bridge

There were some beautiful views as we approached the bridge.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

The Views From The Bridge Were Gorgeous

Under the bridge was the railroad that once connected the Florida Keys, which was replaced with the Overseas Highway, or US 1.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

The Overseas Highway Was Built Above The Railroad That Originally Connected The Keys

Two sections of the Bahia Honda Bridge were removed so boats could pass through.

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

The No Longer Used Old Bahia Honda Bridge Has 2 Sections Removed For Boat Passage

We hung out for a bit on the bridge and then drove to Key West!

Using Miles And Points To Get To Key West

Daraius Enjoying The Views (& Squinting From the Sun!) on The Old Bahia Honda Bridge

Bottom Line

We wish we had more time to explore the different Florida Keys on our way to Key West.

But we still had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back!

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17 responses to “A Mini-Trip to Key West, Florida: Part 1- Introduction & Driving to Key West

  1. I live in Key West. I wish I knew you were coming down. Why didn’t you just fly Southwest, Tampa to Key West?

  2. Rhonda McPherson

    Thank you for the details. I’m planning a trip to the Keys this december so this will be helpful!

  3. I was down there for 4 days last week. Stayed at the same Hyatt too. I also flew with the SW CP, but I agree with Alan, why not fly direct?

  4. Wife and I flew directly into Key West Int’l, courtesy of Southwest Airlines points and a companion pass. Missed you guys by just a couple weeks. Flights come in from Tampa and New Orleans on Southwest now, so you have some options. We didn’t use a car, and we stayed at a B&B for free, thanks to UR points from Chase. I recommend NOT getting a car in Key West. Rent a bike instead!

  5. love MRS MACS I stop everytime for breakfast – cool little joint

  6. I only had 2 days the last time I visited. I drove from Ft. Lauderdale and used points to stay at the Crowne Plaza on Duval St, the best downtown location for restaurants and bars. http://www.laconchakeywest.com/

    I visited the Hemingway house/museum and the Little White House.

    It was a great trip but way too brief.

  7. You don’t even need bumper to bumper traffic to make that drive slow. All you need is one slow car in front of you and you’re stuck!

  8. Went to Key West in September and I was disappointed with the beaches there. How about that tiny runway they have at the airport? A little different experience… The gf and I rented bikes because it’s so easy to navigate there and the couple we were with rented a car so we could drive the highway from key to key. Did you make it to Duval street?

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  10. @cj- The freeze was great! Next time we will go for breakfast.

    @Matt S- Thanks for the tip! Looks like a great hotel.

    @scott- Ha! That’s when you find a CVS to stop at. 🙂

    @Steve M- The beaches were not that great in Key West, but there are some beautiful ones nearby, such as the beaches in the Dry Tortugas State Park. We also rented bikes, which was a lot of fun. Duval Street had some great people watching. We will cover these activities in a future post so stay tuned!

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  15. We’re considering, at this late date, driving down (from New Jersey……) to the Florida Keys over Christmas – 2 adults and 2 teens. I have ~ 140,000 Chase points that I could transfer for a hotel stay.
    Any suggestions of the best use of Chase points for a hotel in that area? Maybe Marathon would be cheaper…….? We’ve never been, so any advice would be appreciated. I’ve successfully transferred Chase points for hotel stays at Hyatt’s but haven’t tried any of the other hotel partners……..a hotel with suites so we have extra space would be preferable…..but maybe everything’s all booked up by now………

  16. been there 15 times now from baltimore. it is not a kid place or beach place. all about restaurants,bars, partying site seeing. much better latitude n attitude. bikes are better. merlin guest house good, absolute BLUE HEAVEN breakfast Schooner Wharf at harbor.