The Florida Keys do not run north to south, but actually go in a southwesterly direction along this single road called US Highway 1 or as it is otherwise known, the Overseas Highway. It is very scenic and is a fantastic drive for families with children.
The road is an engineering marvel. It was built by Henry Flagler in the 1930's to replace railway lines destroyed by a hurricane in 1935. It is 113 miles long and has 43 bridges, including Marathon's famous 7 Mile Bridge. At sunrise and sunset, the views along the road are beautiful, but at any time of the day it is an extraordinary drive.
It is amazing to think that underneath the road is the sea and a coral reef. The views are wonderful - different shades of blue, the water sparkling in the sunshine with th Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay on the other. The tropical marine life bubbles around the reef.
You would have to try very hard to get lost on the Overseas Highway. There are only 2 directions - east or west, and all addresses are located by reference to just over 100 numbered posts known as Mile Markers which measure your progress. Our son loved watching out for these and letting us know how far down the Keys we had travelled.
While you drive look out for pelicans sitting on the railings and ospreys perched on telephone posts. Also watch out for the tethered US spy blimp known as Fat Albert. It is crammed with electronic spy equipment and keeps a close eye on Castro's Cuba.
Other things to watch out for along the road are:
Shell World at MM110-89 (Key Largo) - look out for the huge pink seashell - inside this shop they have every manner of shell souvenirs;
Theater of the Sea, Islamorada Seafood Company and Robbies Marina - MM88-66 (Islamorada) - Theater of the Sea is a mammal / aquarium, the Seafood Company is a fabulous restaurant with fresh, local seafood in a beautiful outdoor setting on the water, and Robbie's Marina is where you can feed the hungry tarpon;
Crane Point and 7 Mile Bridge - MM65-40 (Marathon) - the bridge spans Marathon to Big Pine Key, runs a little under 7 miles and rises to a 65 foot arc. It has had cameo roles in several Hollywood films, including License to Kill;
Lovely beaches at MM39 (Bahai-Honda-Key);
Key deer along the roadside at MM39-28 (Big Pine Key);
And last but definitely not least at the end of the road is the wonderful, different and fantastic island of Key West.
Treat the drive along the road as an experience and part of your holiday, not just another car journey. It is a very special drive and a highlight of a trip to the Florida Keys in itself.