IMHO it is not a good idea to drive after a long transatlantic flight, especially at night. We always stay at the Homewood Suites, Blue Lagoon drive the first night and arrange to collect our hire car the next morning. The hotel has a shuttle to/from the airport and is only a few minutes drive. You get breakfast included in the room rate and a Manger's Dinner with free food and drink Monday-Thursday evenings. There is an outdoor pool and a small shop for essentials and the suites are very nice. If you have already arranged to collect your car after you land, the hotel has a car park, which I think is free.
That depends on you. It is about an hour drive. I have made a 45-60 minute drive in Hawaii before with a six hour time change and 14 hours in transit, but it was during the day and on the same side of the road. If you are unsure, stay at the airport.
If you are more comfortable driving in the daylight, then definitely stay near the airport. It will give you some time to rest and adjust to the time difference, since it will feel like almost midnight to you.
I also would not suggest driving all the way to Key Largo late at night.
You will need to find a place that has a late check-in. And you'd more than likely be spending more than if you stopped at a chain hotel along the way. Why pay more for a room that you could have checked into at 3PM?
I'd never drive down at night, even if I wasn't tired, as it is a tricky highway, there's lots of places to stop along the way (Alabama Jack's) and I do believe there are a lot of night spots in Miami!
Key Largo isn’t a “long drive” in the even8ng from MIA, but Orion is correct from a monetary standpoint. Why pay $200+, when you could stay in Florida City (visit the Everglades in the morning) and save money. Then after the Everglades, stop by Robert Is Here fruit stand for a fresh fruit shake and head to the Keys, maybe stopping at Alabama Jacks.
I guess I’m in the minority, but I would stay in Key Largo. The OP is not arriving “very late at night” and It’s not that long of a drive. Most of the drive is on well marked highways until you get to Key Largo.
It will be more expensive to stay in Key Largo, but I would rather spend the first night of my vacation sitting out by the ocean enjoying the atmosphere, and waking up in a beautiful place, rather than at a cheap chain motel on a strip of cheap motels and fast food franchises in Florida City.
We love the Hilton blue lagoon at the airport. Somehow I prefer the idea of checking in, having a glass of wine and a meal and starting my vacation relaxed. In the morning you can pick up the car and head down early to catch brunch in key largo and not miss much of the day anyway. At least you’d be refreshed. Even at 6:30pm, get the car, drive the highway and then the stretch and you’re there. Also, fyi, , homestead has restaurants and quaint places to shop. Florida city, further south does not. Two completely different areas
I meant to say, landing at 6:30 will get you to key largo at 8:30, probably exhausted
The OP may well have been and gone already, but they'd be doing really well to land at 6.30 and be in Key Largo for 8.30 as an international visitor. The wait in line at immigration for non-U.S. citizens/residents can be well over an hour, closer to 2 hours on many occasions. They seem to keep changing how they do it, but generally the visitor lines at immigration are separate, slower moving and therefore longer. I have seen on 1 occasion that everyone joins the same line, but I only saw that once.
I picked someone from the U.K. up at MIA airport on Saturday. It took her 1hr45mins just to get thru immigration, and she's a US resident. She said the lines for non-residents were longer and that they looked pretty fed up. Could be it was the same flight, VS5 scheduled for 6.30pm arrival. Even though it arrived 1/2 hour early we still only got into Key Largo at 9.20, and I had my car parked right outside departures. Sometimes the lines are short and it's much quicker, but lately it seems consistently slow.
If you add in a little time to get to the car rental building, often wait in line there, get the car and be on the road and I think it could easily be 9.30 to 10pm arrival in Key Largo. I only point it out as arriving anywhere near 10pm in Key Largo you have significantly fewer options for eating than 8.30. Unless it's a Friday or Saturday night there isn't even that much still open by 10. I think it starts to become hardly worth spending the extra $ on a room and driving as far as Key Largo if you arrive just as it's closing up.
I agree it's worth considering other options closer to the airport or where things will still be open when you arrive.
Happy to suggest some late eating spots in KL too if that helps.
On the up side, it seems the transatlantic flights quite often land early, so you could gain back 1/2 hour or more there. Fingers crossed immigration isn't backed up.Edited: 14 November 2018, 20:59