We covered the first 250 miles of the 545-mile Floridian stint of US 1 in Part 1: Down from the North. Riding southward from Georgia, we ended our journey in the city of Melbourne. Now, it’s time to cruise along the last 300 miles or so that will bring us to the southernmost point of the continental U.S.
The first 100 miles out of Melbourne offer much of the same as the 100 that bore us south from Daytona Beach. The road lacks any major curves, as Florida roads tend to do. The US 1 lies parallel to the shoreline, taking occasional detours inland. The ocean will be mostly blocked from view by vegetation and beachfront houses, but every now and then a gap will let you see the waves. To get better views of the ocean, you can easily pull off of US 1 for a while onto one of the residential roads that run between it and the beach.
Passing the town of Jupiter, 20 miles north of West Palm Beach, marks the beginning of the city section of the route. The cities and towns of the area have fused into one large metropolis. This of course means that traffic will increase exponentially. At the same time, though, you will never be more than a couple minutes away from gas stations and other amenities, so you can ride on with lightly-packed panniers. It’s Miami, after all, you will find what you need!
After the city, it’s time for nature. Edging the eastern border of the Southern Glades, US 1 finally reaches Key Largo and the Florida Keys. Expect sweltering heat, an ocean breeze, ruler-straight roads, droves of excellent seafood restaurants, and water, water everywhere. Animal lovers will enjoy taking a break at any of the Keys’ sea life preserves and aquariums. You also get to roll across the famous Seven Mile Bridge. Constructed in 1912, it was once considered too dangerous to cross, but its modern rebuild is perfectly safe and offers magnificent views over the water. And you can’t get to Key West without crossing it, anyway.
All good things must end eventually, and US 1 terminates on Key West, at the corner of First St and N Roosevelt Blvd. What better way to wrap up the trip and recharge for the long ride home than by watching a blazing sunset at Mallory Square.
Points of Interest
The North Fork Preserve is an excellent chance to take in some nature before starting the city stint of the route. Located just south of Fort Pierce, the preserve features abundant fauna, from manatees to turtles and alligators. Fishing is also an option, and several tour companies offer boat rides on the St. Lucie River.
Norton Museum of Art sits right on US 1 in West Palm Beach, so there’s no reason not to stop and marvel at some of the greatest artworks of our time. The exhibits feature American, Chinese, and French art, including impressionist paintings and Buddhist sculptures. Near the museum are also several great restaurants, making it an excellent choice to feed both the body and the spirit. Find it at 1450 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, FL, (561) 832-5196
Located in Downtown Miami, Vizcaya Museum encompasses 10 acres of historic estate land. At its heart sits a mansion, built circa 1914, which has been converted into the main museum building. Around it lie grottoes, sculpture gardens, and greenhouses that make Vizcaya a must-stop for anyone interested in the early 20th century history of Florida. Find it at 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL, (305) 250-9133
The Turtle Hospital is a non-profit organization that operates a veterinary hospital for injured and sick sea turtles in the Florida Keys. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about sea turtles, how they live, and the threats they face, this is your chance. Join a guided tour and you might even see one of the adorable aquatic creatures in person! With the surrounding restaurants, this makes for a great lunch or dinner spot. Find it at 2396 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL, (305) 743-2552
Once home to the world-famous author, the Hemingway Home and Museum sits in the heart of Key West. It maintains the rooms and garden of the Nobel Prize-winning writer in their original condition. As such, the building— constructed in 1851—gives not only a view into the life of Hemingway but to the architecture and interior decoration trends of his time. There are also more than 40 cats living on the estate. Find it at 907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL, (305) 294-1136