Key West Road Trip:
Hidden Spots To See On The Way
If you’ve ever cruised down the single, narrow road that paves the way to Key West, you’ve probably felt the inexplicable impulse to pull over whenever the shoulder allows it. To venture out to what seems has to be secret hideaways beyond the walls of mangroves, seagrass, and Australian pines. To find those tucked-away places even Jimmy Buffet hasn’t seen. After spending a week with Summerland Key locals Mote Marine Lab for our May catalog shoot, we got to know just those kinds of places. Here, the best stops to make on your journey down this legendary stretch of Route 1.
Brunch Under $10 at Galley Grill
This is it. That unassuming epic breakfast spot that will keep you full and happy until well into the afternoon for well under $10. Think hearty egg and cheese sandwiches, grits, and heaping portions of golden breakfast potatoes. Post up on the Galley’s inviting porch with a cup of hot coffee and wile away a few hours. You’ll feel like a regular in no time.
Cannonballing at Sugarloaf
Quite possibly the best place to plunge into the Keys’ crystal blue waters (see our May catalog cover for evidence). To access this well-hidden gem, you’ll have to drive to the very end of Sugarloaf Boulevard, park in the dusty gravel, then duck under the tangle of trees that shroud the half-mile path to the bridge. If leaping into the canal isn’t quite your thing, we suggest perching on the riverbank with some brews. The shoreline is the perfect place to spot wildlife or ancient coral skeletons embedded in the banks.
Classic Key Fare at Mangrove Mama’s
Founded in 1979 and fondly named for the boat that was perpetually parked in front of it, Mangrove Mama’s is the tropical hole in the wall you’ll want to retire to immediately. The Route 1 outpost serves everything from burgers to pizza to mahi mahi in a groovy little tiki shack (think wood paneling and a canoe nailed to the ceiling). We chowed on pancakes on the patio but feel slight FOMO for forgoing “Mama’s Famous Benedicts.”
Key Deer Watching at Bahia Honda State Park
One of the few free beach access points north of Key West, Bahia Honda State Park is also one of the rare spots where you can catch a glimpse of endangered Key deer. Pack a lunch and picnic on the shoreline, which boasts epic views of the partially dismantled Bahia Honda Bridge, a literal bridge to nowhere. Also a very appropriate place to take in the sunset and quietly play “Margaritaville” on your phone.
Key Lime Pie at Hobo’s Cafe
To be honest, we may have consumed a slice of the region’s famous pie after just about every meal on our trip (because, research) and Hobo’s reigned supreme. An other-worldly balance of sweet and tart, the custard-based dessert is served in a seriously down-to-earth atmosphere. After a long flight and hour-plus drive, a slice of pie (plus a massive ahi tuna salad, pictured below) was the perfect way to recharge before tackling the rest of our voyage down Route 1.