Looking to embark on an exciting adventure in Florida? We’ve created the ultimate guide for an epic Orlando to Key West road trip!
Though Walt Disney World attracts many visitors to Florida, the state has so much more to offer than just its theme parks. With a mix of stops in vibrant cities, along white sand beaches, and at Florida’s most expansive national park, this road trip will help you go beyond the tourist attractions and uncover Florida’s true charm.
Buckle up and get ready to experience all of the Sunshine State’s fun and natural beauty- right from your camper van!
Best Route From Orlando to Key West
Starting from the Orlando Escape Campervans location, there are two main routes you can take to travel to Key West- the East Coast route and the West Coast route.
The East Coast route is a bit shorter. It follows scenic highways along the coastline and passes through many cozy coastal towns. We recommend the East Coast route if you’d like to maximize your time and hit a variety of sights.
The West Coast route is longer, with less picturesque views. However, there is generally less traffic this way. This route will also allow you to check out the Gulf Coast on your way to Key West.
While each route has its perks, we’ll focus on the East Coast route in this guide. This route mainly follows Interstate 95 (I-95) and US Route 1 (US-1) from Orlando to Key West and back.
During this road trip, you will:
Head from Orlando to the quaint beach town of Fort Pierce.
Check out Key Largo and Key West.
Explore Everglades National Park.
Enjoy a night in Miami before returning your camper van to Orlando.
Travel Time from Orlando to Key West
You might wonder, “How long is the drive from Orlando to Key West?” It takes about 13 hours without stops to complete this 788-mile round-trip drive. We recommend completing this road trip over six days.
This itinerary follows an 824-mile loop route that starts and ends at the Orlando Escape Campervans location. It takes 14 hours and 15 minutes to complete this drive without stops.
The Best Time of Year for an Orlando to Key West Road Trip
While Florida’s weather is sunny and warm almost all year, we recommend completing this trip between March and May.
During this time, Florida’s temperatures are warm yet comfortable, and there is little rainfall. Aside from a few busy weeks during schools’ spring break vacation times, the crowds are smaller at this time as well.
Winter is also a great time to visit Florida in terms of weather. However, Florida’s peak tourist season runs from December to February. If you’re traveling to Key West during the winter, expect larger crowds, more traffic, and higher rates. Since so many snowbirds head to Florida in their RVs each winter, it might be difficult to find available campsites.
Because of the intense summer heat, increased rainfall, and risk of hurricanes, it’s best to avoid travel in Florida from July to October.
Preparation for an Orlando to Key West Road Trip
A road trip from Orlando to Key West will surely be an unforgettable adventure. With proper preparation, your trip will go even more smoothly! Here are some helpful tips when preparing for an Orlando to Key West road trip.
As we mentioned before, the winter months in Florida are the peak tourist season, so reserving campsites early here is vital. State park campgrounds in Florida can be reserved up to 11 months in advance and tend to be booked early. Popular RV resorts also become fully booked months in advance. Plus, it’s important to note that many popular campgrounds charge $100-200 per night during winter.
Luckily, with a campervan from Escape Campervans, you don’t necessarily need to stay at an RV site. Many campgrounds, state parks, and national parks allow camper vans to park at tent sites, so always look into this before booking a spot. You can also look into dispersed camping options in Florida to save money and avoid crowded campgrounds.
Escape Campervans’ vehicles include a bed, kitchen sink, stove, and refrigerator, so you’re already off to a good start! Thanks to the well-equipped kitchen, you can plan meals and prepare food from your campervan. Make sure to stop at a grocery store and stock up on food before hitting the road.
Never worry about forgetting something important; you can rent extra items for your trip, such as a bedding set and kitchen kit. On top of the recommended supplies from our packing list, here are a few additional items that’ll help make your Florida road trip more comfortable:
Sun protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat are all necessities while driving through Florida.
Lots of water: Staying hydrated in Florida’s intense heat is essential for an enjoyable trip.
Layers: Despite the daytime heat and humidity, it cools off quickly at night, so pack a jacket!
Bug spray: Florida’s tropical climate makes it a hot spot for bugs, especially in wildlife areas. Bring lots of bug spray!
Important Navigational Tools
To access maps and other helpful information, a fully charged phone is one of the most valuable road trip tools. Bring portable chargers and a car charger! An AUX cable is also helpful for navigating and lets you jam out to your favorite road trip playlist.
It’s also a good idea to download the Google Maps route for offline viewing. And for a foolproof backup plan, pack a map. Cell phone coverage is usually good along this route, but it’s always nice to have a printed map just in case!
Escape Campervans Rental
Florida has numerous campgrounds and many convenient rest stops along its highways, making it an excellent place for a camper van road trip. However, a campervan will allow you to navigate Florida’s coastline and the Keys more easily and with greater flexibility than a traditional RV.
From the Orlando Escape Campervans hub, you can choose from the Mavericks or the Mesa campervans for your Orlando to Key West road trip. Both models are comfortable, convenient, and cost-efficient options for your Floridian adventure
Orlando to Key West Road Trip Stops
There are countless beautiful beaches and charming towns to explore on the eastern coast of Florida. Here are a few stops you shouldn’t miss on your Orlando to Key West road trip!
Day 1: Fort Pierce
Start your day by picking up your campervan from the Orlando Escape Campervans rental location. After packing up and getting acquainted with your new travel companion, hit the road towards Fort Pierce. Drive approximately 118 miles (about 1 hour and 45 minutes) from Orlando on I-95 S to Fort Pierce for your first stop!
Fort Pierce is a quaint fishing village that is the perfect place to relax after your first day of traveling. Whether you’re looking to chill out on the beach, participate in water activities, or chow down on seafood- this laid-back coastal town has something for you!
Places to Visit in Fort Pierce
Fort Pierce Inlet State Park– Hop out of your van and into nature at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park. With a vast range of activities, including bicycling, fishing, surfing, and snorkeling, you can make the most of your time in Fort Pierce at this state park.
Coastal Hammock Trail– A gentle hike with a view, the Coastal Hammock Trail is the perfect way to stretch your legs and enjoy the area’s wildlife and beaches.
Where to Eat in Fort Pierce
12A Buoy– Unwind on 12A Buoy’s relaxed outdoor patio while indulging in fresh seafood. A local favorite, this restaurant is a must-visit during a trip to Fort Pierce.
Fort Pierce West KOA– This campground provides everything you could need for your first night of van camping. This is one of Fort Pierce’s top campgrounds with full hookup sites, complimentary wifi, and a beautiful pool.
Fort Pierce Downtown KOA– The Fort Pierce Downtown KOA is another great option. Although it’s the smallest KOA in the US, its central location makes it an excellent place to stay in Fort Pierce.
Day 2: Key Largo
From Fort Pierce, drive approximately 189 miles (about 3 hours) on Florida’s Turnpike and US-1 S to Key Largo for your second stop.
As the largest island in the Florida Keys, Key Largo is full of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and impressive beaches. For nature enthusiasts and beachgoers alike, Key Largo is a beautiful place to explore on your way to Key West.
Places to Visit in Key Largo
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park– Explore the US’s first undersea park while snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, or even going on a glass-bottom boat tour. Packed with some of North America’s most vibrant coral reefs, this is the ultimate destination to enjoy Key Largo’s aquatic beauty.
Sundowners– Enjoy sunset views, a relaxed vibe, and fresh seafood at this seaside eatery. If you visit on the weekend, you’ll also get to enjoy live music and karaoke.
Key Largo Conch House– For seafood lovers looking to indulge in the local cuisine, a stop at the Key Largo Conch House is a must.
Campgrounds in Key Largo
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park– Located within the state park itself, this campground is one of the most convenient spots to stay in Key Largo. The 47 campsites are equipped with water and electricity, and they’re open for reservations 11 months in advance.
Key Largo Kampground & Marina– Just a 3-minute drive from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, this campground’s location and scenery can’t be beaten. Some sites are directly on the water so you can wake up to a view.
Sun Outdoors RV Resort– With a private sand beach and its own marina, this RV resort is another excellent option for those looking to stay on the water. This scenic resort offers 35 full-hookup sites starting at $95 per night.
Day 3: Key West
It’s time to island hop down to the southernmost Florida Key- Key West! Drive approximately 98 miles (about 2 hours) down US-1 S until you arrive in Key West.
On your scenic drive along the Overseas Highway, you can expect breathtaking views of crystal-clear water everywhere you look. You’ll pass through several other major Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West. Therefore, we recommend you give yourself some extra time for stops along the way to enjoy the journey fully!
When you arrive in Key West, you’ll find stunning beaches, an array of water activities, a lively town square, and a unique island culture. With five million annual visitors, Key West attracts both laid-back travelers and active adventurers.
Places to Visit in Key West
Smathers Beach– As the largest public beach in Key West, this sandy oasis draws quite a crowd. For those looking for an energetic beach experience, Smathers Beach is the perfect spot to sunbathe and socialize.
Fort Zachery Taylor Historic State Park– Another top Key West beach spot, this state park provides some of the island’s best snorkeling opportunities. You can also check out the park’s historic war fort, go birding, and hit the trails here.
Mallory Square– For a lively spot to watch the sunset from, Mallory Square can’t be missed! Right in the heart of Key West, there are tons of shops, museums, and restaurants to check out in this area.
Where to Eat in Key West
Blue Heaven– No trip to the Florida Keys is complete without a slice of key lime pie, and there’s no better place to enjoy this citrusy treat than at Blue Heaven. While their pie is the main attraction, they have delicious options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well.
Pepe’s Cafe– As the oldest eatery in Key West, Pepe’s is a beloved island spot, especially for breakfast.
Sloppy Joe’s– Known as a Key West staple, this iconic restaurant’s claim to fame is its Sloppy Joe sandwich. Centrally located on the bustling Duval Street, this restaurant is worth a visit.
Campgrounds in Key West
Boyd’s Key West Campground– Situated near the end of US-1 and just a few minutes away from downtown Key West, this campground is a popular spot for camper vans and RVS on the island. With full hookups, waterfront views, and various amenities, this campground books up quickly, so reserve a spot ahead of time.
Leo’s Campground & RV Park– Leo’s is another conveniently located campground near Key West’s Old Town. Its property features full hookup sites, comfortable amenities, and even a dog park!
Day 4: Everglades National Park
As hard as it is to say goodbye to the Florida Keys, we promise that your next stop is equally as exciting. It’s time for a wilderness adventure in Everglades National Park! Everglades National Park spans approximately 1.5 million acres and is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states. This expansive park is filled with mangrove swamps, sawgrass prairies, and diverse wildlife.
To get to Everglades National Park from Key West, take US-1 N and State Highway 9936 for approximately 134 miles (about 3 hours).
Note: There are several entrances to the park. This route will take you to the main entrance near the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. However, you should check which entrance is best for you based on your plans within the park.
Things to Do in Everglades National Park
As we mentioned, Everglades National Park is enormous. Since there’s so much to see and do here, you could easily spend several days in the park. If you only have a day or two here, you can still pack a lot in. Here are some of the best ways to experience the park:
Enjoy a scenic stroll on the Anhinga Trail– Follow the wooden boardwalks perched above the marsh for a chance to see alligators, turtles, and the Anhinga water bird.
Take a canoe or kayak ride along the Nine Mile Pond Trail– Paddle through shallow marsh and under mangrove tunnels on this 5.2-mile loop. Don’t be surprised if you see a gator or crocodile along the way!
Walk, bike, or take a tram around Shark Valley– Experience the park’s wildlife along this 15-mile loop road. You can head to the top of the observation tower along the path for a panoramic view of the marsh.
Campgrounds in Everglades National Park
Flamingo Campground– The first of two Everglades National Park frontcountry camping options, the Flamingo Campground has spots with electricity starting at $50 per night and non-electric spots starting at $33 per night.
Long Pine Key Campground– Located near the Ernest F. Coe Entrance, this campground is easily accessible from our route. The Long Pine Key Campground only has non-electric spots, and rates start at $33 per night.
Note: The Flamingo Campground is open all year, while the Long Pine Key Campground isn’t. The Long Pine Key Campground is closed from May until the end of October. Whichever campground you pick, campsites will fill up fast, so remember to reserve a spot as soon as you can!
Day 5: Miami
After a few days of enjoying Florida’s natural beauty, it’s time to make your way back to the city. Drive approximately 48 miles (about an hour) north to Miami for a fun-filled final stop.
Whether you’re hoping to spend your last day lounging on South Beach, exploring the local art scene, immersing yourself in Cuban culture in Little Havana, or eating your way through the city, you’ll have a good time in Miami! On your way back to Orlando, Miami is worth a stop, but it can be a bit harder to find affordable overnight parking here. As Miami tends to cater to luxury travelers, expect to pay more for a campsite in Miami.
If finding an affordable campsite spot in Miami is too difficult, remember that you are not restricted to parking in campgrounds because you rented a camper van. Consider parking at a local Walmart or truck stop. Our guide to free camping is a great place to start your research. Remember to check for signs to ensure that you can park there overnight.
Markham Park & Target Range– About 30 miles northwest of Miami, this park has 88 fully-equipped campsites for RVs and camper vans. Although it’s outside the city, you can’t beat its affordable rates, starting at $35 per night.
Day 6: Escape Campervans Orlando
Unfortunately, the time has come to return your adventure mobile to Orlando. Enjoy the final sunrise from your van, pack up your stuff, and begin the final drive in your camper van.
From Miami, drive approximately 238 miles (about 3.5 hours) on I-95 N to return your campervan to Escape Campervans in Orlando.