Labor Day Road Trips Within 100 Miles of Miami

Miami is a destination in itself, but if you currently live there, you probably also like to trek outside this exotic South Florida city. Why not take advantage of this coming Labor Day to take a road trip to Key West? It's only 3 and a half hours via Route 1 down the coast, and it's a drive full of interesting stops along the way.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The first island you'll come to is Key Largo, made famous by the 1948 Bogey and Bacall movie of the same name. Look for the signs to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on your left-hand side at mile marker 102.5. There'll be a parking fee of $8 per vehicle which you can pay by cash or card.

The park offers an array of activities to jump start your Labor Day adventure. If you have time, you can go out on a boat and take a snorkeling tour. Or, you can snorkel from shore where you'll still see some interesting marine life. Veteran visitors report that the boat snorkeling trip is well worth it, however, and you'll see much more diversity in the crystal clear waters further out.

If snorkeling's not your thing, opt for a glass bottom boat tour, or scuba tour. Kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent, too.

There's a dive shop along the short boardwalk near the beach that's worth stopping in even if you don't plan to dive. They have lots of fun souvenirs, as well as an array of swimsuits, sandals and sunglasses.

Keep driving south on the Overseas highway until you reach...

Islamorada, FL

Islamorada is a cute little roadside walking village, so it's worth it to get out, stretch your legs and dry out in the sun from all those water activities you just enjoyed. Wild Lily Boutique at mile marker 82, is just one of the interesting stores you'll find selling one of a kind used and new clothing and merchandise.

Marathon, FL

Just about 30 miles south of Islamorada lies the delightful town of Marathon, Florida. Stop for lunch at the 7 Mile Grill for a bite to eat. You can dine indoors or on the deck seven days a week. They offer a menu of fresh seafood, but if you have your own catch, you can actually ask them to cook it up for you!

Southernmost Hotel - Key West, FL

Now that your appetite is satisfied, continue on down to Key West, and check in to the Southernmost Hotel and Beach Resort. You'll have a selection of cozy and comfortable rooms to choose from. A free and convenient parking lot is at the back. Your reception will be warm and inviting, and guests can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine while they check in. This hotel boasts a relaxing swimming pool surrounded by lush tropical plants.

The Southernmost Hotel is just across the street from the Southernmost Point Buoy, where you can take pictures while you pose at the most southern point in the contiguous United States. From that buoy, you'll be standing just 90 miles from Cuba.

After you check in and unpack, put on your walking shoes for this next stop on your Labor Day road trip....

Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum - Key West, FL

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum location was home to the literary giant himself from 1931 to 1939. His wife at the time had a beautiful in-ground swimming pool installed while he was traveling, and it's still maintained today. Even if you dislike guided tours, make an exception for this 30-minute tour. You'll learn lots of fascinating details about his life, and get to see the studio where he wrote. Stop in at the museum on site to pick up souvenirs, including copies of his many works. Entry fees are cash only, and you don't need a reservation.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach - Key West, FL

Finish off your Labor Day road trip with a visit to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach in Key West, Florida. Bring a picnic supper, because you won't find commercial vendors here. This is a pristine, protected environment where you can sunbathe, snorkel or just watch the sunset. The park puts on a gorgeous fireworks show, and you'll have the best views from the beach. Be sure to bring a chair, since portions of the beach can be rough and rocky.

Kate Supino is a frequent visitor to the Florida Keys. Key West is definitely a favorite because of its beauty and charm, as well as its connection to Ernest Hemingway.