acejones is straight up correct on lodging. Fantasy Fest starts with Goombay Festival this Friday night and will run through to Sunday October 28. If you don't have reservations, hotels or camping, you will most likely not find a place to stay. From Marathon down lodging will be at a premium.
It is 3 hours no matter how you shake it from the last light on the mainland to Key West. Sure, you can break every law on the road and do it in about 2.5, but I wouldn't advise that especially since its Fantasy Fest week. acejones is correct that will take you a good amount of time to get from Ocala to KW. It is mostly 2 lane and mostly 45 mph. Certain stretches go up to 55 and you can push it a bit, but be cautious and don't try to out run the flow of traffic, not worth it. Chances are after you pass 10 cars you might get 2 miles before you hit another chain of cars. Like I said, its FF week and the cops will be out!!!
Several state parks in the Keys to camp on the way down, but I would check on them for vacancy, cooling off down here a bit and people like to get out and camp this time of year, so all the parks fill up quickly. Not much available for camping in KW unless you have a military ID. Bahia Honda is really the closest.
Good places to eat on the way down Sundowners in Key Largo, Whale Harbor in Islamorada, Island Fish Company in Marathon, No Name Pub on No Name Key (right at stoplight at MM 30 and then immediate right onto side street. follow that until out in middle of nowhere and look closely on your left, if you get to the dead end in the Key Deer Reserve, turn around, it will be the first place pretty much on your right) Mangrove Mamas at about the 20 MM.
Robbies Marina at the 77 is a good place for a break and to feed the tarpon!! Big ass tarpon!!!
I would actually recommend you split the ride up down in the Keys. Its better if you are in the Homestead area and take off early in the morning to ride down. Remember we are pretty much in the tropics, latitude 25 is at about the 87 MM in the Keys, the Tropic of Cancer is 23'6", so you are there!! . Afternoons get very hot and its still pretty humid, traffic will be built up and it will be a frustrating ride. I love the ride up and down the Keys, its very neat, but it is slow going there is not much for turns or speed and you will want to stop at some of the pull outs and take pics. Doing that in the afternoon can be brutal even in late October. Suppose to be a cooling front coming, but it still won't affect the Keys too much this time of year.
FLARider1 screwed with this post 10-16-2012 at 07:49 AM