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Key West to New Orleans

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1. Posted by stevehem (Budding Member 39 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

We are wondering what is the quickest way to get from Key West to New Orleans with a car? I know its about 16 hrs to drive but is there a ferry that we can catch anywhere to shorten the trip?

2. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Sorry, no ferries to shorten the trip. (Traveling directly by water would actually take longer than 16 hours unless you had one of the America's Cup yachts.)

The shortest travel route is as follows:

Get on US Hwy 1 in Key West and head north for 125 miles across the Florida Keys (islands).

Get on the Homestead Extention of the Florida Turnpike (state road 821).

Go 46 miles, then get on the main portion of the Florida Turnpike (Hwy 91N). Stay on this for 262 miles (where the turnpike ends) and then get on Interstate Hwy 75 heading north.

Stay on I-75 for 107 miles, then exit onto Interstate Hwy 10 heading west.

Stay on I-10 for 480 miles and you will be in New Orleans.

Note: There is a $25 toll for taking the Florida turnpike (the highways called 821 and 91N). If you don't want to pay the tolls, then you will have to continue on US 1 North to Interstate 95 north until you get to Jacksonville (or take my preferred cheap route--see my PS below). In Jacksonville, you get on Interstate 10 West to New Orleans. This way won't cost you any tolls, but it is almost exactly a 4 hour longer drive (the short way is 16 hours, the long way 20 hours). I suggest paying the toll and saving the 4 hours.

P.S. One other option to save some money (and the route I would recommend) is to take US Hwy 1 to Interstate 95 and then take this as far north as Cocoa Beach, then head west on state highway 482, get on the Beeline Expressway, then get on the Florida turnpike. This is only a half-hour longer than the shortest route (16 1/2 hours total drive), but will cost you only $5 in tolls--and it (like the original route) will also take you almost right past the Walt Disney resort if you wish to stop off there and see one or more of the parks (definitely worth the visit, if you have the extra time). Also, this route I'm recommending (the Cocoa Beach one) takes you close to the Space Launch center as well if you want to see it. Continuing on the route through Jacksonville will take you out of the way of Walt Disney World--although you can take only a short detour if you want to see the space center. The only thing of interest on that route is Daytona Beach--where they hold the famous Nascar Dayton 500 race--and where they have a wild spring break in the month of May.

Enjoy your trip--and the drive.

3. Posted by stevehem (Budding Member 39 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hey thanks for your help... we have been told about a boat from fort myers to key west, would you know anything about that?

our plans are miami, key west, tampa, new orleans...would it be worth while driving to and parking in fort myers from miami to catch the ferry to key west, or just drive it all?

4. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5634 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

That's the Key West Express, but it's $86 dollar one way for an adult and you miss a beautiful route anyway! And not sure about cars allowed on board..;)

There is another possibility by the way, taking about 1 hour more (50-60 miles) and that's taking the Highway 90/41 (Tamiami Trail) or the I-75 (less scenic) through the Everglades and then follow the westcoast along Naples, Fort Myers and Tampa, if you prefer that area for a visit or stopover.


5. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

One last thing I should mention for fishermen/women on the site:

If you are in the keys during the May to July period, the fishing for tarpon (giant fish that average around 75-100 pounds each) is fantastic. Go to either Long Key or Duck Key (about halfway down the island chain) and fish on a boat right near one of the bridges). (Sail out from the Hawks Cay Marina).

Tarpon are a great tasting fish. They taste a lot like halibut. Not sure how many of you there are in your group (so eating a 100 pound fish may not be in the plan), but you can also do a "catch and release" just for the fun of the fishing. This is a popular option for those who go to the Keys;--especially for those who are there mostly to find their "Margaritaville" (listen to the song by Jimmy Buffet) or "Kokomo" (listen to the song by the Beach Boys).