As you drive down the Overseas Highway, your traveling companions are tropical breezes, lush mangroves, and horizons of blue-green water. You might feel like it’s a moment straight from a movie—and you could be correct. Wherever you are on the 127 miles of U.S. Highway 1, which connects mainland Florida to Key West, there’s a decent chance something was filmed nearby. From Bogart to Bond, Hollywood has long intertwined itself with the Keys, finding excuses to spend time here in the name of “work.”
Here are a few highlights of Keys locations used in movies and TV shows.
1. Caribbean Club, Mile Marker 104
When John Huston directed his 1948 film Key Largo, he set his story in the Keys, though it would be 4 years before a town called “Key Largo” actually existed. After the success of the film, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, local businesses in Rock Harbor, Florida, lobbied the post office to change its name to Key Largo in 1952, unleashing a new and lasting wave of tourism. Though most of the movie was shot on a Hollywood sound stage, a few establishing shots were taken here, including those of the Overseas Highway and the exterior of the Caribbean Club.
Today the Caribbean Club draws a crowd with live music, happy hours, waterfront sunsets, and plenty of movie memorabilia—just as it has since 1938. If you visit, make sure to quote the movie on your drive: “Hold your course. You’re headed straight for Key Largo.”
The African Queen wasn’t filmed in Key Largo either, but the town is home to the boat used in the 1951 film. Also directed by John Huston, the movie starred Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, and the steamboat African Queen. The boat itself is more than 100 years old and meticulously restored. Fans of the movie and old boats can book a daily cruise, which is a lovely and intimate affair with six or fewer passengers. Otherwise, see it moored off of Caribbean Drive or hang out at Skipper’s Dockside tiki bar for a chance to watch it steam by.
2. Moorings Village, Mile Marker 81.5
Islamorada is not just the backdrop to, but a central character of, Netflix’s Bloodline television series (2015-2017), and nearly all filming was done on location in the Keys. One of the main sets, the Rayburn family home, is actually the Blue Charlotte House in The Moorings Village, and can be rented as a vacation home for $6,000 a night. Other filming locations include Alabama Jack’s, the Caribbean Club, the Oceanview Inn & Sports Pub, and Anne’s Beach.
In Brett Ratnor’s Red Dragon (2002), the scenes where FBI Agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) escapes from Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to a secret hideaway in the Keys were filmed at a private residence next to the Islander Resort. The property isn’t open to the public, but you can get a good feel for it—hopefully sans cannibals—at the waterfront resort.
3. Seven Mile Bridge, Mile Markers 40-47
The Overseas Highway’s longest bridge was ingrained into the psyches of movie buffs thanks to James Cameron’s action blockbuster True Lies (1994). In the scene, Arnold Schwarzenegger climbs onto the rails of a speeding helicopter to rescue Jamie Lee Curtis from a limousine before she plunges off the blown-up roadway. Another high-speed car chase broke out on the bridge in 2002, during 2 Fast 2 Furious.
4. Sugar Loaf Shores Airport, Mile Marker 17
Many scenes from the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill were filmed in the Keys, including the opening aerial sequence, which took place above the Sugar Loaf Shores Airport. Today you can relive it in person with a tandem skydiving adventure that launches from the airport. Parts of 1994’s Drop Zone, starring Wesley Snipes, were also filmed there.
For literary fans, mile marker 17 is also home to Sugarloaf Lodge, a favorite haunt of gonzo journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson. In 1986, a filmmaker made a television pilot centered around the quirky character; Breakfast With Hunter never got picked up, but snippets of it, some of which took place at Sugarloaf Lodge, can be found around the internet.
5. MTV’s The Real World House, Mile Marker 5
The colorful 2006 Real World house still stands in the Key Haven neighborhood just outside of Key West. The 6,000-square-foot, 10-bedroom palace can be rented as a vacation home for $3,000 a night. MTV took the cameras with them, however, so your vacation there will probably not turn into an international spectacle.
6. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Mile Marker 0.4
Famous in its own right, Ernest Hemingway’s former home has been a filming location for a number of films, including The Leisure Seeker (2017); it’s where Donald Sutherland’s character enjoys his last dance. It’s also just a few blocks from the southernmost terminus (Mile Marker 0) of the 2,370-mile U.S. Highway 1, and the Southernmost Point Buoy.
7. Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea, Mile Marker 0.8
Another set from License to Kill, Timothy Dalton’s Bond parachuted onto the roof of this church. Some of the film’s other Key West locations include Garrison Bight Marina, Mallory Square, the Key West International Airport, and Thai Island, which was named the Barrelhead Bar in the film.
8. Sunset Key, Mile Marker -1
Just past the end of the road, you have to take a ferry ride to get to the swanky Sunset Key Cottages, a location for one of the final scenes in the cult comedy Office Space (1999). It’s Milton’s (Stephen Root) escape in the tropics, where the waiter brings him a piña colada, instead of the mai tai he ordered. A nice place to sip a cocktail and watch the sun set, before heading back north.