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Old 06-08-2013, 03:31 AM
 
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Our family is considering a vacation where we fly into Miami, drive to Naples for a 3 day visit and then explore the keys for the second half of the week. How is drive from Miami to Naples and then from Naples to the Keys? Too much to cram in 1 week?

We could fly into Ft Myers but cheaper flights can be had into Miami from the northeast.
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Old 06-08-2013, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
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Surprised that answers/opins haven't been posted...
It is doable time-wise, on a quick overview trip, if one isn't dillydallying too much.

I would reverse your intended process and land at MIA, grab the rental and head south down the Keys. Return 'up' the Keys, maybe seeing/visiting/stopping at spots you missed or are interested in, hook up with I-75 West/North and then boogie west across Alligator Alley/I-75 to Naples.

After Naples area visit, it is a straight return shot east, back to MIA: ~125 miles/2 hrs, not counting having to dump the rental and get back into airport, and then in the TSA Line.

All above is based on assumption that you have a full week, you are going all the way to Key West, and you are not visiting the half dozen cool stops along the Keys way: fishing, snorkeling, SCUBA, et al, and not knowing if you will stay long in Marathon or Islamorad or Key West...

The run from MIA down the Keys can be much more time consuming than it looks on the GOOG Map, eg that ~160 miles and '3 1/2 hours' is based on not stopping and no traffic jams.

And, is it you and spouse, or with teens or little kids or...?
My 50Cts based on your initial question post.
GL, mD

PS: our adult Kidz also live in SJ...daughter in CH, son in Magnolia.
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Old 06-08-2013, 12:04 PM
wjj
 
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Another option to consider is flying to RSW (despite it being slightly more expensive), do your Naples thing, and then take the Key West Express boat to Key West. It departs from Fort Myers beach year round and Marco Island seasonally. About a 3.5 hour trip on the boat but no traffic! I think that you are going to burn an awful lot of time driving that could be more enjoyably spent on vacation stuff. Or do it in reverse. In addition to the previous poster's warning about drive times down to Key West, keep in mind that the traffic around Miami airport can be really bad and there is a lot of construction right now between the airport and I 75. I went through there yesterday and ended up having to take a somewhat indirect route to the Alley when I missed one of the turn offs (and there are several) in the construction mess to make my way over to the Alley.

RSW is a very nice airport and a breeze to get into and out of. I fly a lot (6 figure miles every year) and find the Miami airport to be very unfriendly for ease of navigation and getting in and out - especially if you have a rental car. I always like to keep drama to a minimum on vacation - even if doing so costs a few more bucks. Life's too short!
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Old 06-08-2013, 01:31 PM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
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wjj's post is right on!
We have done the boat to Key West once...decent, if time consuming and a bit pricey.
Rez are rec'd for that leg.

If the OP does not want to 'drive down the keys' and simply wants to get to Key West, wjj's rec'd is a very good one, imo.
GL, mD
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Old 06-08-2013, 01:32 PM
 
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Great advice from both Motordavid and wjj.

I would avoid MIA like the plague. Just a nightmare of an airport experience compared to RSW. If I had to go to the east coast, FLL would easily be my first choice, or even PBI before dealing with MIA. FLL is an easy drive to/from Naples. I do the FLL drive frequently (I'm gonna do it in 2 weeks), and from the rental lots in FLL, I make it home to North Naples in well under 1:30 (my record is 1:15 late at night with zero traffic). If you have a lead foot, watch out for the troopers, they are all over the Alley nowadays!

MIA is a smidge under 2 hours from Naples, without traffic or getting lost. PBI is a little more than 2 hours, but generally a much easier drive than MIA.

I used to work out of and commute to MIA from Naples years ago, and it was a nightmare even then. It is FAR worse nowadays. I hadn't been to MIA airport in over 20 years until last month, when I had to drop my daughter off for an international flight. Holy cow is driving there a major PITA. As wjj said, they are doing construction on seemingly every road within a few miles of MIA. Add in a few thousand Miami drivers, and it is a nightmare. I ended taking surface streets (which is it's own version of hell in Miami) coming and going, but I am familiar with the area. I have to head over to pick her up next week, and I am already dreading the drive, but I can't wait to see her!

Key West Express ferry or Cape Air would be the way I'd go, at least one way. A big loop like wjj suggested makes the most sense, either way. This way you get to experience the Keys from Key Largo to Key West (or vice versa), which is neat if you've never done it, but don't have to do it twice.

As I said above, I'd go to FLL, then Naples/Ft. Myers, Key West Express to Key West (or Cape Air from RSW), then drive up the keys to FLL to go home, or vice versa.
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Old 06-08-2013, 01:40 PM
 
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We RV to the Keys every winter after a week in Naples. In the RV it's about a 4 hour drive to MM40 Big Pine Key. Another 40 miles to Key West. Have heard the boat to Key West is a bit pricey. AFA Miami, I would avoid it if at all possible, especially if you don't speak the language.
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Old 06-08-2013, 02:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellwood View Post
AFA Miami, I would avoid it if at all possible, especially if you don't speak the language.

LOL... I wasn't gonna mention that last little tidbit, but it's true!
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Old 06-08-2013, 06:02 PM
 
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Thanks guys, lots of good info in this thread. I found a flight from Atlantic City airport to RSW for 250 round trip. I'm thinking about booking that. My wife sounds like she is interested in driving through the Everglades and then through the keys to get to Key West.

Another option is just taking the ferry back and forth and only visiting Key West instead of all the keys. I definitely want a rental car while in Naples because I want to survey the area as a possible future retirement spot down the road. Oh and we will have a 7 year old child with us on this trip.
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Old 06-08-2013, 09:37 PM
 
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If you want to see the everglades, then take Tamiami Trail (41) instead of Alligator Alley (I75) to cross the state. Much more picturesque, but it is a 2 lane road (IE one lane in either direction), so it takes a bit longer. There are several airboat tours operations along there, as well as an Indian village.

I used to take 41 to get to the keys before Alligator Alley was 4 laned and made an interstate. It is a long ride (and a real thrill towing a boat) but much nicer scenery than the Alley, IMHO.
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:14 AM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJBOSCH View Post
Thanks guys, lots of good info in this thread. I found a flight from Atlantic City airport to RSW for 250 round trip. I'm thinking about booking that.
That's a very good price, imo...

My wife sounds like she is interested in driving through the Everglades and then through the keys to get to Key West.
Interesting ride down Tamiami Trail vs I-75, as TripPower noted...there are several spots to stop to get a feel/glimpse of the 'Glades. Bring serious Deep Woods Off or similar: the mosquitoes are severe in summer. The only down side is that it's ~ 5 hr trip from Naples to Key West, and any stops for sightseeing turn the drive into 'all day' pretty quickly. Some stops along other keys turn it into 2 days, fwiw.

Another option is just taking the ferry back and forth and only visiting Key West instead of all the keys. I definitely want a rental car while in Naples because I want to survey the area as a possible future retirement spot down the road.
Start saving hard now; Naples area is regaining its pricey-ness. May be breathtaking in another few years...

Oh and we will have a 7 year old child with us on this trip.
Everglades Nat Park...Everglades National Park official webpage - Everglades National Park
Airboat Rides: https://www.google.com/search?source....0.o307NmOGSoc

Things to Do in Naples:
Things to do in Naples: Check out 65 Naples Attractions - TripAdvisor

Imo, a couple hour walk through Corkscrew Swamp Sancturary, off Immokalee Rd, 'east' of North Naples area, will give one a sense of what the 'Glades is like, but save you the drive through the Glades.
Not the same, but damn close, imo, esp on a cursory view and short time experience trip. Corkscrew is listed in the TA list linked above.

With a 7 yr old, the Naples Zoo, the new Naples Children's Museum, the beaches, etc.

And, use the Search This Forum Tab to see other posts on WTD in Naples area...

My 50Cts.. GL, mD
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