PAID CONTENT
banner

The Ultimate
Florida Keys Culinary
Road Trip: Where to Find the Best
Coastal Eats

A road trip through the spectacular Florida Keys showcases the best that this otherworldly archipelago has to offer. We partnered with Florida Keys & Key West to map out your five-day itinerary.

With its 125-mile-long chain of islands, the Florida Keys beckon visitors to explore on land and sea, starting with Key Largo beginning just south of Miami and ending at Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. At every stop, travelers will discover that famous laid-back Keys vibe, where flip-flops and shorts replace heels and suits and watching spectacular sunsets is the only item on your to-do list. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find upscale elegance along the way, too—from five-star restaurants to fish shacks, the Florida Keys have culinary experiences to match every budget and taste.

To wit, we’ve put together this food-focused itinerary to help you navigate the islands and showcase their culinary delights. As you travel along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway and soak in awe-inspiring vistas, you’ll find fresh-from-the-sea gastronomic delights from east to Key West.

Known as the Dive Capital of the World, Key Largo beckons you to get in the water— or at least enjoy the stunning turquoise water views. With two state parks, one national park, and part of a national marine sanctuary—plus plenty of waterfront dining —you can explore this island paradise from dawn to dusk and still not see it all.

Baker’s Cay Resort
Baker’s Cay Resort

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Stay

Relax and unwind at Baker’s Cay Resort (97000 Overseas Highway), where you can wake up with beachfront yoga and wind down with romantic, watercolor sunsets.

Key Largo Conch House
Key Largo Conch House

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Eat

Breakfast: Jumpstart your day with a Caribbean-inspired breakfast at the family-owned Key Largo Conch House. With a focus on sustainable seafood, this charming restaurant puts a twist on traditional morning fare; try the award-winning Key lime macadamia pancakes, made with fresh-squeezed Key lime juice and coconut milk, sprinkled with chopped macadamia nuts, and served with handcrafted sweet coconut syrup. Soak in that Florida vibe by eating out on the covered porch surrounded by swaying palm trees and tropical plants.

Lunch: If you're craving a dock-to-table meal, head to The Fish House where the owners purchase fresh, locally caught seafood and fillet it onsite. While you can eat outside, you’ll miss that laid-back Keys décor inside—complete with starfish and pineapple lights twinkling on the fishnet-draped ceiling. Order a jalapeño margarita while you peruse the extensive menu, including signature chowders (like yellowtail snapper or mahi-mahi) and spicy tuna nachos, or keep it simple and go for the catch of the day.

Dinner: A mainstay since 1994, Snooks offers a sophisticated “South Beach” vibe and touches of the West Indies. With its sprawling waterfront patio flanked by tiki torches, you can enjoy stunning ocean views, listen to live music, and melt into the sunset. Grab a Blue Island Kokomo at the tiki bar and enjoy some mahi-mahi meuniere, sautéed in lemon butter, tomato, and capers.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

photo credit: @loremipsum

What to Do

Don some SCUBA gear, learn to snorkel, or hop on board a glass-bottom boat for a tour at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. America’s first underwater preserve, the park stretches 70 nautical square miles, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to explore colorful coral reefs, kayak through mangroves, and glimpse tropical fish and sea turtles.

The next stop on our trip is…

Islamorada consists of six islands nestled between Everglades National Park and the Straits of Florida. Known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World, this little slice of paradise invites you to discover its turquoise waters from every angle—above, below, and nearby.

Cheeca Lodge & Spa
Cheeca Lodge & Spa

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Stay

Set your sights on a romantic, tropical getaway at Cheeca Lodge & Spa (81801 Overseas Highway). With luxurious accommodations, this ocean-front resort offers everything from pampering and swimming to golfing and boating.

Green Turtle Inn
Green Turtle Inn

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Eat

Breakfast: An island landmark since 1947, the memorabilia-adorned Green Turtle Inn serves up hearty breakfast fare with true Southern hospitality. Tip: Get a few sticky cinnamon buns to nosh on later—but order first because they sell out early. Locals rave about the shrimp and grits: ample portions of shrimp, cheese grits, peppers, onions, andouille sausage, topped with a rich cream sauce.

Lunch: A nod to the Keys “mile markers,” Marker 88 offers beachfront dining (both indoor and out), live music every day, and an authentic, laid-back Keys vibe. Start with a craft beer (try Sandbar Sunday) brewed right on the island at Islamorada Brewing Company, then try the generously portioned Hogfish Grenobloise (fresh fillet, egg-washed and sauteed with capers, lemon slices, finished with Key lime beurre blanc).

Dinner: For elegant dining, make reservations at Pierre’s; set against the backdrop of a palmlined beach overlooking Florida Bay, this gorgeous mansion offers dining on both the first and second floors as well as out on the verandas. Featuring French Fusion cuisine, the entire menu bursts with local delicacies; try the Seafood Tower to sample Key West pink shrimp, king crab legs, and oysters.

History of Diving Museum
History of Diving Museum

photo credit: @loremipsum

What to do

Board an eco-tour boat and explore backcountry waters full of marine life like dolphins and manatees. Or immerse yourself in the world's largest collections of diving gear—helmets, suits, accessories, and more—in your quest to discover the underwater world at the History of Diving Museum.

The next stop on our trip is…

Marathon’s old-Keys lifestyle and fishing heritage lures travelers from around the world to this 10-mile-long island community midway down the island chain. Popular with boaters, anglers, families, and honeymooners, Marathon delivers on all fronts—fishing charters, museums, beaches, eco-adventures, marine-based educational programs, and sunset cruises.

Hawk’s Cay Resort
Hawk’s Cay Resort

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Stay

Drop anchor at Hawk’s Cay Resort (61 Hawks Cay Blvd., Duck Key), a sprawling 60-acre resort brimming with dozens of fun-in-the-sun activities—and intimate experiences that whisper “romance.”

Castaway
Castaway

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Eat

Breakfast: Locals scramble to Castaway, a casual waterfront eatery known for its Keys-inspired signature dishes. For breakfast, try The Queen’s Benny—two poached eggs over homemade queen conch fritter on a toasted English muffin topped with spicy Islandaise sauce.

Lunch: Out fishing in the morning? BYOF (bring your own fish) to the Keys Fisheries, where you can cook your catch! Just choose your prep method (Cajun fried, anyone?), then sit back, and let the kitchen staff do all the work! Otherwise, order what the locals do—meaty conch fritters, stone crab claws, and World Famous Lobster Reuben.

Dinner: One place you’ll definitely want to find yourself is Hideaway Café on Grassy Key. Nestled behind Rainbow Bend Resort, this intimate & romantic bistro serves European-inspired dishes underneath a crown of swaying palms. Don’t miss out on the whole roasted duck à la Hideaway, plated on a magnificent jus, or the hogfish francese in a lemon, butter, and white wine sauce. Snag a seat at sunset for the full experience—the colors in the sky cannot be beat.

Dolphin Research Center
Dolphin Research Center

photo credit: @loremipsum

What to Do

Love marine life? Learn more about your favorite finned friends at the Dolphin Research Center, or tour the unique Turtle Hospital, which rehabilitates endangered sea turtles and provides daily educational programming.

The next stop on our trip is…

This region’s natural beauty and environmental focus has earned it the nickname “the Natural Keys.” Home to Looe Key Reef (an amazing shallow-water dive site) and a submerged 210-foot island freighter Adolphus Busch Sr. (an artificial reef marine habitat), the Lower Keys provides incredible diving opportunities.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Stay

Indulge in a tropical escape, courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa (28500 Overseas Highway, Little Torch Key), which perfectly intertwines privacy and luxury in four lush acres of pristine paradise.

Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen + Bar
Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen + Bar

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Eat

Breakfast: Start your day off with the ultimate in comfort food at Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen + Bar, located in the Stock Island Marina (the largest deep-water marina in the Keys). Their brunch menu is always changing, but could include hearty coastal fare like the “Croque” Cubano or a crab eggs benedict with Old Bay hollandaise. Make it extra leisurely with the addition of a marina-side “docktail.”

Lunch: Locals flock to No Name Pub, an rustic bar plastered with autographed dollar bills. Its quirky charm and incredibly fresh seafood make this the perfect Big Pine Key lunch stop. Take a sampler approach by ordering the Seafood Combo Pub Basket—which includes grouper, shrimp, and clams—served with crispy silver dollar fries and coleslaw.

Dinner: The environmentally friendly Square Grouper, located in Cudjoe Key, makes the perfect ending to your Lower Keys visit. Start with House Smoked Fish Dip paired with a Rum Punch Hurricane. Then share the ample large portion of Seafood Stew—a meld of locally caught fish, scallops, shrimp, and calamari in a spicy, creamy red broth. And there’s no such thing as too much Key lime pie, so grab a slice for a mouth-cooling dessert.

Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park

photo credit: @loremipsum

What to Do

Whether you love birdwatching, swimming, kayaking, or hiking, you can do it all at the 524-acre Bahia Honda State Park and nearby National Key Deer Refuge. These tranquil natural areas of the Lower Keys offer eco-tours as well as self-guided exploration of subtropical flora (think silver palms and yellow satinwood trees) and fauna (such as Key deer, peregrine falcons, and marsh rabbits).

The next stop on our trip is…

Key West seamlessly blends quirky irreverence and historic charm with natural beauty and cultural diversity—all feeding into its romantic appeal and anything-goes ambience. Closer to Cuba than to Miami, Key West delights all the senses with colorful street performers, lively saloons, breathtaking vistas, warm ocean breezes, and fiery sunsets.

Ocean Key Resort & Spa
Ocean Key Resort & Spa

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Stay

Pamper yourself at Ocean Key Resort & Spa (0 Duval St.)—a tranquil, luxurious stay in historic Old Town Key West with unmatched panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Blue Heaven
Blue Heaven

photo credit: @loremipsum

Where to Eat

Breakfast: A Key West breakfast staple, Blue Heaven is aptly named, with its tree canopy and beautiful courtyard providing the perfect backdrop for outdoor dining. The eatery garners rave reviews for its Lobster BLT Eggs Benedict—topped with a divine lime hollandaise—and Bloody Marys. Add in live music and free-roaming roosters, you’ll be entertained throughout your meal.

Lunch: Dubbed “one part retro supper club, one part sassy corner bistro,” Flaming Buoy marks the perfect lunch spot with a fusion of locally caught seafood, tropical fruits, and Cuban flavors. Start with the stellar Grilled Marinated Key West Pink Shrimp, then prepare to be wowed by the Fresh Catch with Banana Salsa, served with grilled pineapple, ginger-glazed shredded snow peas, and a savory broccoli cake.

Dinner: End your road trip with dinner at Louie’s Backyard, an oceanfront Victorian home turned high-end restaurant serving Caribbean-American cuisine. The menu changes seasonally, but standouts include the delectable crispy marinated scallops with papaya coulis and avocado salsa. For an entrée, try fresh Swiss chard-wrapped king salmon with curried quinoa salad and mint raita. Tip: Head out to the bar deck to cap off the night with a glass of wine and fantastic views of the sunset celebration that erupts each night.

Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

photo credit: @loremipsum

What to Do

You might be tempted to pack in as much as you can on this last day. Fortunately, Key West offers an incredible buffet of activities! Highlights include Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park (accessible only by boat), Conch Tour Train, Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Butterfly Conservatory, and Key West Lighthouse Museum.

Ready to taste the best of the Keys? Book your culinary getaway today.