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Florida Trippers

Learn how to easily plan your dream trip to Florida!

A GPS sits on the dashboard of a car overlooking the beach, ready for a Florida road trip.

15 Best Florida Road Trips And Scenic Drives

May 15, 2023 //  by  Florida Trippers

Planning the best Florida road trip can be a daunting task, even if you’re a native. Florida is one of the few states where you could drive eight hours and still be in the same state!

Millions of tourists make Florida a hot destination because of the variety of activities. There are just so many things to do in Florida !

Roller-coaster enthusiasts will love the theme parks. Birders and nature junkies will love the best Florida hiking trails . Overworked vacationers will love the beaches in Florida .

Whether you’re a beach bunny, have an adventurous spirit, or want some rest and relaxation, there is something for everyone in Florida.

With that being said, because the state is so large, it’s hard to know where to go first! There’s so much ground to cover. Luckily, we’re here to help.

We’ve mapped out our best Florida road trip ideas to make your vacation memorable!

We’ll take you through the top destinations in the state so you won’t have any problem finding fun and interesting things to do in the Sunshine State.

Let’s go on the best road trip around Florida!

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Aerial view of the road leading through the Florida Keys with islands surrounded by bright, clear water.

Miami to Key West

  • Downtown Miami
  • Coral Castle
  • Everglades National Park
  • Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Seven Mile Bridge

The journey from Miami to Key West is one of the most scenic drives in Florida! The drive is lined with greens and blues from the beaches and palm trees.

This is a great Florida road trip with kids!

It will take you through some of the most beautiful attractions the Sunshine State has to offer. It has something for everyone, no matter your interests. It’s easy to pick and choose to tailor the perfect Florida itinerary for you!

Starting in the iconic city of Miami , you’ll breathe in the South Florida culture before heading to some scenic attractions for outdoor enthusiasts.

Paddlers especially will want to make a stop at some of the best kayaking trails in Florida in the Everglades.

You can even see a real castle! Look out for Coral Castle, made completely of stone. As you head further south, you’ll start to breathe in the salty air of the Atlantic as you visit coral reefs and beaches.

When you finally land in Key West, you’ll have access to some of the most beautiful Florida beaches as well as some incredible historical sites. Don’t forget to have a piece of Key lime pie while you’re there!

There really are so many things to do in Key West !

View looking down at a woman on a dock overlooking the ocean on a Florida road trip.

Central Florida Road Trip

  • Circle B Bar Reserve
  • Celebration
  • Rock Springs/Kelly Park

The drive from Tampa to Cocoa Beach will take you directly across the state, allowing you to see the best of Central Florida !

You get nature, theme parks, and even a quaint town owned by Disney! These are some of the best places to stop in Florida!

Starting in Tampa allows you to soak up the emerging city’s culture, restaurants , and nightlife before moving on to more scenic pursuits.

As you approach Lakeland , you’ll be able to walk through the Circle B Bar Reserve and see a lot of wildlife.

Along the drive, you can stop by Bok Tower, a Carillion tower that rings as it’s played like an instrument before you approach Disney World or Universal. Spend a couple of days at the parks while staying at a cozy Airbnb!

Before you approach Cocoa Beach, make a stop at Rock Springs/Kelly Park where you can take a dip or even tube down one of Florida’s prettiest springs near Orlando .

When you make it to your destination of Cocoa Beach, you’ll enjoy the shorelines of one of the best family beaches in Florida !

If you are planning a road trip to Florida, you need to check out these highlights!

Woman in a red swimsuit standing on the edge of the blue water of Rock Springs.

Florida East Coast

  • Amelia Island
  • St. Augustine
  • Daytona Beach
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • McKee Botanical Gardens

Driving the East Coast is the Florida equivalent of driving the Pacific Coast Highway. Start with the best things to do in Amelia Island before moving down to Miami.

You’ll experience a smorgasbord of different Florida attractions!

Amelia Island might just be the prettiest island in Florida , but don’t spend too long there!

St. Augustine just to the south has incredible historic sites and castles. It is also the oldest city in the United States.

If you plan your best Florida road trip just right, you can attend one of the many festivals held in Daytona Beach like Biketoberfest.

After you’ve enjoyed the beach, head down to Merritt Island to visit the Kennedy Space Center!

If you stop in Vero Beach , you must pay a visit to the McKee Botanical Gardens which showcases the best of Florida flora.

Then as you arrive in Miami, relax on South Beach, one of the best beaches in Miami , and soak up the sun as a reward for your journey!

This is a great Florida East Coast road trip the whole family will love!

The different modules of a spaceship displayed in the interior of the Kennedy Space Center, one of the best places to visit on your Florida road trip.

Haunted Florida Road Trip

  • Spanish Military Hospital Museum
  • St. Augustine Old Jail
  • Cassadaga Hotel
  • Tampa Theatre

This road trip is perfect to welcome fall in Florida which is when things start to get spooky! There are over 570 documented haunted sites in Florida.

This Florida road trip for adults and kids alike starts off in Tampa , where the old historic theaters are haunted! Try the Tampa Theatre downtown or the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater.

Ybor City also offers walking ghost tours that take you through the historic buildings.

From there, head to Orlando and visit Lake Eola. It is said a small brown terrier runs along the lake’s east shore before vanishing into thin air.

Afterward, Cassadaga is waiting for you! This is one of the most haunted places in Florida !

A spooky forgotten town full of psychics, check out the Helen Cassadaga Cemetery or the Cassadaga Hotel.

Then head to Daytona Beach to tour the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse! One of the best lighthouses in Florida , it is also haunted!

Finally, head to St. Augustine, the motherlode of haunted cities in Florida.

There are so many St. Augustine ghost tours to take that will leave you feeling spooky like the Old Jail and the Spanish Military Hospital Museum.

Statues of former jailers work on a chain gang outside of the Old Jail in St. Augustine.

Florida Springs Road Trip

  • Ginnie Springs
  • Devil’s Den
  • Rainbow Springs
  • Ichetucknee Springs

A road trip to Florida’s natural springs can be perfect for summer or fall! They are the most scenic places in Florida!

The 72-degree waters will cool you down during the hottest summer day. During the winter, manatees migrate to the springs to keep warm.

Start your tour in Weeki Wachee to watch mermaids swim in the spring waters before heading north on US 19 to Crystal River, a spring near Tampa . If you time it right, you can attend their Manatee Festival!

Take US-41 to get to Rainbow Springs State Park , which actually has six waterfalls! Then hop back on US-41 to head north to Devil’s Den, a diver’s haven!

Get back on, you guessed it, US-41, and keep going north and you’ll hit three springs grouped very close together! Take your pick between Gilchrist Blue Springs , Ginnie Springs , or Ichetucknee Springs . Or visit them all!

End your journey by driving north for just another hour and you’ll reach Madison Blue Springs, where you can swim and relax as your final reward!

If you are planning a road trip in Florida, you definitely need to check out some springs!

Woman floating in the cool waters of Ginnie Springs, perfect for a Florida road trip.

Tampa to Naples Roadtrip

  • Ca D’Zan
  • Florida Domes
  • Edison & Ford Winter Estates
  • Ringling Museum

For a relatively short day trip, make the drive from Tampa to Naples! Along the way, you’ll hit some major Gulf Coast cities, each with its own architectural gems.

This is the best Florida West Coast road trip!

In Tampa, you can take advantage of some of the best museums in Florida , Tampa restaurants , and even the lovely Curtis Hixon Park. If you decide to spend an evening there, there’s even a speakeasy !

When you head south to Sarasota , a treasure trove of attractions awaits you! Skip the traditional beaches and head out to Beer Can Island , a truly secluded spot.

Or check out architectural masterpieces like the Ringling Museum and the Ca D’Zan!

Next up in Fort Myers , you can tour the Edison and Ford Winter Estates! Yes, the Thomas Edison of the lightbulb and the Henry Ford of Ford Motors. You can see their homes, their vintage Ford vehicles, and even their laboratory!

As you pass through Cape Coral , you’ll get to drive through Matlacha, a charming village. The homes are painted with bright neon and pastel colors. It actually feels more like Key West than Cape Coral!

When you land in Naples , you can take advantage of the fabulous Naples beaches , especially on Marco Island .

If you charter a boat, you can make your way to the Florida Domes, the sunken remains of a millionaire’s former home, now a haven for Florida wildlife.

Anyone interested in history will agree this is one of the best driving trips in Florida!

Woman in a blue dress leans against a pink pillar at the Ringling Museum.

Everglades Road Trip

  • Anhinga Trail
  • Nine Mile Pond
  • Mahogany Hammock Trail
  • Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook

The Everglades National Park is a gigantic place to explore. It’s hard to know where to start! Luckily, this road trip through the park will allow you to experience a little bit of everything the park has to offer.

Enter the park from the southernmost entrance off the Ingraham Highway. Here you’ll start your journey at the Coe Visitor Center.

As you start driving, right off the bat, you’ll have your pick between the Anhinga Trail or the Gumbo Limbo Trail, some of the best hikes in Florida.

The road continues through the Pinelands and into the Dwarf Cypress Forest whose leaves actually change during fall in Florida!

After passing Rock Reef Pass, stop at Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook. You’ll have the best views of the enormous sawgrass prairies from the elevated platform.

After another 20 miles, you can see the nation’s largest mahogany tree on Mahogany Hammock Trail!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for a great photo op. The tree is 90 feet tall and the shorter trees shroud the mahogany’s height.

Keep on to Nine Mile Pond for canoeing and kayaking!

If you’re driving towards the end of March to early April, stop at Mrazek Pond. During this time, and only this time, it becomes one of the best birding spots in the country.

After passing several optional hiking trails, you’ll arrive at the Flamingo Visitor Center, your final destination. Here, you can book an airboat tour to see the nooks and crannies of the park not visible from the road.

It is clear the Everglades is one of the top places to go on a road trip in Florida!

An aerial shot of the Everglades, a perfect stop on your Florida road trip.

Waterfall Road Trip

  • Falling Waters State Park
  • Big Shoals State Park
  • Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

There are amazing waterfalls in Florida ! On this Florida road trip, you’ll discover the best sound is a waterfall crashing down in front of you!

Start in Chipley in the Panhandle with a bang. Falling Waters State Park is home to the largest of Florida’s waterfalls at 73 feet high!

From there, head to Bristol to get to Torreya State Park. Consider skipping this waterfall if you’re not a strong hiker.

Afterward, the following three waterfalls are thankfully close together. First, see the “Disappearing” Waterfall at Camp Branch Conservation Area.

Then head to Big Shoals State Park, which also offers river rafting! Just to the south is Falling Creek Falls.

As you head south to Gainesville , you’ll reach Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park. Here the waterfall was created by a series of sinkholes. You can even stand inside the sinkhole right next to the waterfall!

Finally, you’ll end your journey with a refreshing reward at Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon just outside of Ocala .

Here, you’ll get not one, but six waterfalls! You can also enjoy swimming, tubing, kayaking, snorkeling, and more.

Aerial view of the bright blue Rainbow River.

UFO Sighting Tour

  • Gulf Breeze
  • Fort Walton Beach
  • Panama City
  • Unidentified Flying Objects?

Did you know that next to California, Florida has the most UFO sightings of any other state? On average over 30 sightings are reported each month in Florida!

If you’re skeptical about whether or not life is out there, it doesn’t matter. This Florida road trip will take you through the best places in the panhandle.

Start in Panama City , where two bright orbs were seen zig-zagging over Tyndall Air Force Base. As you head west, ride the shoreline, as this has been a popular sighting place.

As you approach Fort Walton Beach, look out for a white diamond-shaped craft with a vapor trail as well as saucer disks.

Even if you don’t see anything, you’ll have an enjoyable night walking the beach and looking at the stars through binoculars.

You’ll eventually land in Pensacola where the most sightings have been recorded. Head to the Gulf Breeze neighborhood especially! Keep your eyes peeled!

Metal UFO flying out of a cloud in a dark sky.

North Florida Road Trip

  • Wakulla Springs State Park
  • Castillo de San Marcos
  • Big Talbot Island State Park

Begin your journey across the top of the state in the panhandle at Falling Waters State Park, the tallest natural waterfall in Florida!

Then head to Marianna, the only open-air-filled caves in Florida. Outside of the Florida Caverns, you can also hike, bike, or camp on the Chipola River.

Then you’ll head to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, beautiful and perfect for swimming and snorkeling. It’s also one of the best springs for camping in Florida .

Next, get a taste of the prehistoric as you travel to Devil’s Den . A natural spring, Devil’s Den is actually a karst window, which means it’s a huge open cave over a river. Divers will love descending the depths!

Next, it’s time for St. Augustine. History buffs will love exploring the oldest city in the United States! Stop at the Castillo de San Marcos to see a real Florida castle!

You’ll end your North Florida Road Trip at Big Talbot Island, one of the best things to do in Jacksonville ! The beaches here are covered with driftwood and dried tree branches, creating the illustrious Boneyard Beach!

The sun sets, casting shadows over the sun-bleached trees on the shores of Big Talbot Island.

Florida Castles Road Trip

  • Solomon’s Castle

Did you know that there are real castles in Florida ? Europe has nothing on the Sunshine State!

This Florida road trip takes you from St. Augustine all the way down to the West Palm Beach area to see the best castles in Florida!

When you start in St. Augustine, you’re practically in the castle capital of the state! Here you have Castle Warden which eventually was turned into the first Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

You also can see Villa Zorayada which is a replica of the Alhambra Palace. Don’t forget the historic Castillo de San Marcos, once a Spanish fortress of war. Castle Otttis is also here, but because it’s privately owned, tours are rarely available.

From there, head to St. Pete to see the Don Cesar. Built originally to be a “pink castle,” today it functions as a high-end resort and spa ! You can even take ghost tours of the grounds.

Next up is Solomon’s Castle. The home and art studio of Howard Solomon, the castle is made entirely of aluminum. You can even have lunch at the Boat on the Moat!

Finally, you’ll head down to the mysterious Coral Castle. Made of 1,000 tons of coral rock, the structures have been arranged into elaborate gardens complete with bougainvillea.

The pink Don Cesar Hotel in St. Pete.

Surfing Road Trip

  • St. Augustine Beach
  • Cocoa Beach
  • Boynton Beach

Similar to the East Coast Road Trip, this Florida road trip will take you along the Atlantic coast. This is where all the best waves are!

So if you’re a surfer, load up the car for these can’t-miss surfing spot s in Florida !

Start north at Jacksonville Beach before hitting St. Augustine. From there you can hit Flagler Beach before heading to Daytona Beach.

If you visit Daytona on Christmas Eve, you can even see Santa surfing! This is a great winter in Florida activity.

Then you can hit the waves at New Smyrna Beach before heading down to Cocoa Beach. Don’t forget the Sebastian Inlet, just to the south of Melbourne.

The last leg of your trip will take you to the beautiful beaches of Jupiter, where you can take a break to see the limestone formations!

From there, hit West Palm Beach before concluding your trip to Boynton Beach.

A man surfing in a wave.

Scenic Hiking Road Trip

  • Blowing Rocks
  • Big Talbot Island
  • Ocala National Forest

This Florida road trip from Jacksonville to Jupiter is designed to take you on some of the most unique hiking trails the state has to offer. You won’t see sights like these anywhere else.

First, start at Big Talbot Island in Jacksonville, where the Black Rock Trail will take you to the beach. You’ll see dried, sun-bleached trees creating Boneyard Beach!

Next in Gainesville, you’ll find the Prairie Paynes Loop Trail. Here bison and wild horses roam free. Hop down to Dade City to attempt the four-day, 39-mile Citrus Hiking Trail!

Head down to Bok Tower outside of Lakeland next. The tower is actually a Carillon bell that can be played like an instrument!

You’ll finish your tour at Blowing Rocks in Jupiter, where waves crash up against limestone as you walk along the beach.

Overall, this is one of the best road trips in Florida for nature lovers!

Boardwalk trail leading through the lush jungle of Ocala National Forest on a Florida road trip.

Brewery Road Trip

  • Cigar City Brewing
  • 7venth Sun Brewing Company
  • Hourglass Brewing
  • Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co.

Craft beer is having a revival, not only in Florida but across the country! To taste the best that local breweries have to offer, take the Brewery Road Trip!

Start in the Tampa Bay area where you can hit up the highest-rated brewery in Florida, Cigar City Brewing. There are plenty of other breweries in Tampa to check out too.

Likewise, you can visit Cycle Brewing in St. Pete and 7venth Sun Brewing Company in Dunedin.

Next, head to some Orlando breweries ! Grab a Grove IPA or Side Chick Blonde at Deadly Sins Brewing. Try out Hourglass Brewing or Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. as well!

Finally, head to Jacksonville and grab a pint at Green Room Brewing. You can even bring your own food or order from a binder of restaurants that deliver right to the bar!

This is one of the best weekend road trips in Florida for adults!

Exterior of the Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. housed in a old building.

Florida Keys State Park Road Trip

  • Bahia Honda State Park
  • Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
  • Curry Hammock State Park
  • Oleta River State Park

There are beautiful state parks in Florida , rivaling those across the country.

This South Florida road trip will take you from Jupiter all the way to the end of the Florida Keys to enjoy some tropical state parks!

Start to the north of Jupiter at Jonathan Dickinson State Park to walk through pine scrub flatwoods and mangrove forests.

Then head to Fort Lauderdale to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park to see native Florida wildlife like butterflies, turtles, and of course, alligators .

Right on Biscayne Bay in North Miami Beach, you’ll head to Oleta River State Park next. Here you can find the greatest concentration of Australian pine trees!

Now you’ll be crossing the bridge to the Keys and traveling west. In Key Largo, stop at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. You’ll love snorkeling among the reefs and seeing the tropical fish!

Next up at the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park , you can see fossils frozen in time in the Key Largo limestone.

Then head to Curry Hammock State Park, housing one of the best beaches for shelling .

Finally, at scenic Bahia Honda State Park , you can walk up to the gorgeous, dilapidated bridge.

Since you’re at the end of your journey, sit and relax on the beach and stay for one of the most beautiful sunsets in the state.

View looking down at a woman wading at the beach of Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys.

Hopefully, this Florida road trip planner helped you plan an epic vacation!

walking down into one of the prettiest springs in Florida

florida road trip

Florida Road Trip: 31 Amazing Places You Won’t Want To Miss

Florida is the perfect family road trip destination and a great family vacation idea with relaxation , art and culture , plus family-friendly activities ! We have road tripped the state 4 times and can’t wait to share with you all about the beautiful beaches , theme parks , natural wonders and historic sites .

florida road trip

The state is huge and has so much to offer from white sandy beaches to Disney World to Universal Studios to natural springs . Our Ultimate Florida Road Trip will take you from one end of the state down to island hopping in the Florida Keys and back up to the Florida panhandle.

High level List Of Top Activities To Do

  • Orlando CityPass
  • The Fury Ultimate Water Adventure
  • Little Havana Tour
  • Visit the Dry Tortugas

Have you thought about renting an RV for your trip? We highly recommend it!

*Be sure to check out our FREE Ultimate Florida Road Trip With Your Family eBook below!

Table of Contents

The Ultimate Florida Road Trip Map

Florida Road Trip Map

St. Augustine

Feed the gators in St. Augustine

There are so many things to do in St Augustine Florida , it’s an amazing way to start your ultimate Florida road trip. We recommend 2 nights, but really you could stay a week. If you are staying 2 days visit:

St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Hold a baby gator in St. Augustine

You can spend hours here exploring all the different alligators, feeding them, and watching the shows. Plus for only $5 you can take your picture with a baby alligator!

Fountain of Youth

Feel young again at the Fountain Of Youth in St. Augustine

It seemed like such a tourist trap to us, but really there is more to it than just the fountain. The grounds are beautiful and filled with multiple history lessons – including the Timucuan Village and seeing them fire a cannon! The road to get to the Fountain of Youth is also amazing with a canopy of old oaks covering the street. Needless to say it is worth it to go.

St. George Street

Hit St. George Street in St. Augustine

You can end your day by visiting St. George Street. It is filled with restaurants and one of our favorite stops: Hyppo for homemade popsicles! They even had a champagne flavored one.

And yes, those are our dogs. St. Augustine is super dog friendly!

We also recommend checking out Historic Tours of America , they offer great packages and other ideas of things to do in the area. The trolley was an amazing way to get around town and really learn a lot about St. Augustine. It also meant we didn’t have to drive and find parking everywhere we went.

Or you could check out this trolley tour that takes you to three of St. Augustine’s museums: The Old Jail, St. Augustine History Museum and The Oldest Store Museum!

For even more history, consider visiting the Castillo de San Marcos Monument, booking the Old Jail Tour, or visiting the Oldest Store Museum!

Check out more fun activities in St. Augustine! Where to Stay:

Compass RV Resort offers another good location in St. Augustine with only a 15-20 minute drive to get downtown. This campground also has two dog parks!

Another option is Ocean Grove RV Resort that is about 7 miles from the historic district. This campground includes a boat launch, restaurant, golf cart rental, and more!

If you want to rent an RV check out our post on How To Rent An RV and How To Plan An RV Trip .

Hotel:  Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront

We did not stay in a hotel when we were there but given where this hotel is located we think it would be a great place to stay. If you stay here you could walk to a lot of the downtown attractions or easily get on the trolley.

Tubing at Kelly Rock Springs

You can’t come to Florida and not go to Orlando. Plan on at least 3 days for all of these things to do in Orlando, Florida :

Magic Kingdom

Visit Magic Kingdom

Visit Magic Kingdom for 1 day. We have done it multiple times and really feel you can see the majority of the park in 1 day. Here is a post we wrote about our tips for visiting in 1 day here: 11 Tips For Visiting Magic Kingdom In 1 Day

Here are some tips from Global Munchkins:  Disney World Tips & Tricks and also The Best Disney Family Shirts for your trip!

Plan on heading to Animal Kingdom? Our friends at We3Travel share what the best ride is in Animal Kingdom and all of Disney!

Universal Studios

We had put off going to Universal Studios until our kids were a little older. When our youngest turned 6 we figured it was a good time to go! We had an absolute blast and loved every minute of it. There was plenty to do with younger kids and the older ones could go on almost all of the rides.

We also had a great time going to Volcano Bay and highly recommend if you are going to Universal plan a day at Volcano Bay!

Ideally we would recommend 3 days to explore Universal. 1 day for each park and 1 day for Volcano Bay. There are 2 parks in Universal – Universal Studios VS Islands of Adventure we recommend visiting both and have done both in one day if you are short on time. Great tips from Global Munchkins on visiting Universal: The Best Universal Orlando Tips From A Pro Have teens? Merlot Mommy shares: The Best Rides for Teens at Universal Orlando Resort

Visiting during Halloween? Be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

Tubing at Kelly Rock Springs

Go tubing at Kelly Rock Springs and visit Downtown Disney. This has been one of our favorite things. The water is crystal clear and with all the beautiful greenery and perfect water it is a can’t miss destination!

You start from the top of the spring on an inner tube and float all the way down to the beach. AMAZING!

You can learn more about it in our post: Tubing By Orlando The Best Non Disney Experience and for more springs check out: Best Springs In Florida

Visiting Legoland

If your kids are 12 or younger we recommend also making a stop at LEGOLAND Florida for a day. The size of the park is so much easier to manage then Disney World and in a day you can pretty much do every ride and see the shows.

If you are interested in visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando or LEGOLAND Florida, you may want to consider using the Orlando CityPass ! CityPass will allow you to order tickets to any of these locations on one convenient website and give you a great discounted price!

Escape Game

If you haven’t checked out the Escape Game yet, you are missing out! At Escape Game Orlando you can test your teamwork and sleuthing skills by trying to escape from one of eight themed rooms with your team or family in under an hour. It is a ton of fun for the whole family and a great teamwork exercise as well!

You can check out our post about our experience at The Escape Game here!

Orlando Museum of Art

If you are looking to take in some culture or expand your horizons a bit while in Orlando, check out the Museum of Art! Take a look at the museum’s calendar of events and see if there is something exciting happening in the art gallery, or just stop in anytime and take a tour!

You could also plan a trip over to the Kennedy Space Center and maybe catch a launch, or Swim or Snorkel with the Manatees!

Get tickets here for the Kennedy Space Center!

Have older kids? Check out this post on things to do with teens in Orlando .

Where to stay:

Luxury Villa :  If you are looking to kick back with a big group or want to experience a luxury vacation home check out the Luxury Villas! We stayed here for a week with friends and it was AMAZING!!

Orlando RV Resort With our RV we always stay at the Thousand Trails Orlando. Its proximity to all of the things we listed above is great and you are a little ways away from the hustle and bustle of Orlando. If you want a more glamorous place to stay than Disney’s Fort Wilderness is for you. We spent a day there and it was pretty awesome and we know other RVers who call it their FAVORITE place to stay in the whole US.

Camp Margaritaville – For a fun vacation style RV resort stay here!

If you want to stay outside Orlando, Mill Creek RV Resort is in Kissimmee – only about 30 minutes from the Orlando theme parks. Also, all of these sites are on concrete patios!

Another option outside Orlando is in Davenport. Only 25-30 minutes from the Orlando theme parks, Mouse Mountain RV Resort offers a selection of standard and premium sites.

If you want to splurge stay at the Fort Wilderness Resort ! We haven’t stayed here but went and visited once and it was amazing.

Embassy Suites on International Drive If you are looking for a hotel and want to give your kids a special treat then stay at the Legoland Hotel . They have gifts for your kids once they complete a scavenger hunt in your room, all the legos you want to play with in the lobby and some amazing shows.

Then of course there are all the Disney properties. To be honest we always look for ways to cut costs so we can take more trips and do more things. In that mindset we stayed at an Embassy Suites that provide breakfast was close to Disney – so that is always an option too.

Here is a great list of the Best Hotels For Families In Orlando .

If you are a waterpark family check out: Best Water Parks In Orlando. 

From here you could head to our next stop Miami or make a stop in Jupiter. There are a lot of great things to do in Jupiter, Florida and it is a more under the radar location!

Visit South Beach in Miami

Welcome to Miami! Miami has a very cool vibe to it. We recommend doing the following:

Little Havana

Jam in Little Havana in Miami on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Miami has an amazing Cuban presence and vibe to it. Head into Little Havana and grab some ice cream at Azucar and then walk down the street to see if you can hear any cuban music coming from the bar/restaurants and do a little dance in the street.

Wynwood Art District in Miami on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Next head into Wynwood and check out the amazing artwork on the sides of the building. This is an up and coming area in Miami and has an awesome vibe to it! You can also park and get out and walk around Wynwood Walls to check out the artwork and restaurants in the area.

South Beach

Go to South Beach and see what South Beach is really like! We didn’t get a chance to get out of our car due to how busy it was. But it was cool to drive down A1A and take in everything South Beach has to offer.

Miami Seaquarium

We had a great time exploring the Miami Seaquarium and all the exhibits. Grab your Seaquarium tickets here ! Don’t forget to check out Miami Beach while you are there!

If wildlife is more your thing check out Tropical Botanical Garden & Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary at Flamingo Gardens

Check out our post on: 7 Things To Do with Kids in Miami

Check out these other great activities in Miami!

RV Park: Miami Everglades RV Park 

We stayed at the Encore RV park. We had to drive a ways to get into downtown Miami – but it was still worth it since the RV park was so nice and quiet. Plus they had a great pool, hot tub and mini golf course!

Hotel:  Check out this highly rated family friendly hotel:  InterContinental Miami

VRBO: Check out this Mediterranean-style cottage with private swimming pool!

Luxury Villa : If you are looking to house up to 12 guests in style with an infinity pool, fitness room and home theater, consider this Luxury Villa !

Another idea is to take a cruise when you are in Miami! The Carnival Vista looks amazing!

Florida Keys and Key West

John Pennekamp Beach on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Ever wonder the distance from Miami to Key West ? Well, it’s about 160 miles. Crazy, right?! That 3 hour drive could be a road trip in itself! Well, now you know the distance from Miami to Key West , on your Florida Keys Road Trip , check these amazing stops:

Feed the Tarpons

keys-robbies-tarpons

Stop at Robbie’s and feed the Tarpons. It is a really cool experience. For just a few bucks, you get a bucket of fish that you then feed to the large tarpon that hang out by the pier.

So fun! Just look out for the Pelicans, they’re savage!

Grab lunch at Sunset Grille

This is a cool restaurant on the water that has a pool! It is a great place to stop, eat lunch and take a swim before heading on. Make sure to check out their Key Lime Pie! Once you are done swimming walk up the stairs that go under the bridge and walk out on the famous 7 Mile Bridge.

7 Mile Bridge

Checking out the 7 Mile Bridge

You can’t avoid it on your way down to Key West, but I wanted to add it so you can be sure you have your camera ready. I love this bridge and the idea of the water surrounding you on all sides!

While you are on the way to Key West, you might want to check out Long Key State Park! Here is a video of our time there:

Key West – Fort Zachary Taylor

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach in Key West on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Explore the fort and spend time at the beach enjoying the Atlantic Ocean! The beach doesn’t have soft white sand beaches, most in the Keys don’t due to the reef but that’s OK. The color of the water and the ability to snorkel right off the beach make up for it! There is also a small restaurant here where you can grab lunch and a beer.

Key West – Mallory Square

Mallory Square street performers on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Then head to Mallory Square for the Sunset Celebration. There are a variety of fun shows for the whole family. Yes, some of the comments can be a little crude (they do try really hard to make it family friendly) – but normally will go right over your kids head. We were able to drink from a coconut and enjoy some great food too.

Key West – Fury Ultimate Adventure

Fury Water Adventures

The Fury Ultimate Adventure is one of our favorite things we have done! Spend 6 hours on a large catamaran where they feed you all day and provide all you can drink soda plus beer and wine at the end the end of the trip. While you snorkel, parasail, jet ski and play on huge inflatables in the middle of the ocean. Such an amazing time!!

You can learn more at our post: The 4 Best Water Activities With Kids In Key West.

Key West – Dry Tortugas

peninsula

If you can fit it in, take the boat tour out to the Dry Tortugas. It is an amazing and magical place. Seriously, it is an island 70 miles off of Key West with the bluest water you have ever seen and a beach filled with conch shells. And the fort offers the best photo opportunities.

Get Dramamine and be prepared for the long and bumpy boat ride.

fort-wall

Here is our post on it: Dry Tortugas – One For The Bucket List Or if you have enough time, plan on camping on the Dry Tortugas! We didn’t get a chance to do it but it is on our list to go back and stay for a few nights. Here is a post from a family of 5, Currently Wandering, who spent a few days on the Tortugas (lucky!): Family Camping In Dry Tortugas National Park You can check out: https://www.historictours.com/keywest/index.php for more ideas and discounted packages on things to do in Key West. We really enjoyed the aquarium and the kids loved being able to feed the sharks!

More On The Florida Keys

We spent 2 1/2 months in the Florida Keys. You can check out all of our posts on our time there on our: Florida Keys page .

Check out these post from We3Travel: Family Fun In The Florida Keys and Florida Keys Roadtrip to learn more as well!

You can check out even more activities in Key West here! Check out all the great kayaking options in Florida parks here !

Where To Stay:

RV Park: Boyds Campground We haven’t stayed here but we have heard if you want to be close to Key West this is a great place to stay with your RV.

Another option located a little over an hour from Key West is Pelican RV Resort in Marathon.

If you are looking for a less expensive option and somewhere that is in a quieter location, we recommend Sunshine Key – which is where we stayed. It is a good 90 minute drive into Key West so be prepared for that. Or, if you can get in, the Bahia Honda State Park is amazing – especially if you get right on the water.

Hotel: Casa Marina Resort , in Key West. The property is beautiful and not right in the middle of downtown Key West – which we think is a great fit for being with a family in Key West.

If you can stay in the Keys for longer we also recommend Hawks Cay! The only problem with staying here is you won’t want to leave but will instead want to stay at the hotel and enjoy all the amenities.

For a road trip it would be great for a couple day break but we really recommend it if you are looking for a week long stay in one place.

Everglades National Park

Shark Valley in the Everglades on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Shark Valley

Make a stop at the Shark Valley Visitor Center in the northern end of the Everglades and take a tram ride (may have to buy tickets well ahead of time for this) or if you have your bikes or want to rent them you can take the 15 mile bike ride into Shark Valley – which we recommend! You don’t need tickets to do the biking.

You can learn more about the tram and about renting bicycles here: Shark Valley Tram Tours

Biking through Shark Valley in the Everglades on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

It is one amazing and wild ride as you pedal right past gigantic alligators!!! And depending on the weather you may even be riding through rain puddles with alligators sitting right in them. Once you reach the lookout you can climb to the top and have an amazing view of the Everglades.

At 15 miles round trip it is a long ride, but the path is paved and flat – but like in our case – if it is windy, it can be challenging.

Be prepared when you get to Shark Valley Visitor Center that there may be a line to get into the parking lot. They have a small parking lot and they only let so many people in.

We just sat in our car and waited our turn. It took about 20 minutes or so. A few other people parked on the road outside the entrance.

If you have your bikes I recommend waiting for a spot in the lot since you will be there a while.

You can also tour Everglades National Park by Airboat!

Check out even more things to do in The Everglades here!

Check out our post on Shark Valley here: 7 Things To Do With Kids in Miami .

Where to Stay:

RV Park:  If you are up for National Park Camping we recommend Midway Campground. It is a 21 minute drive from there to Shark Valley. If you don’t mind a 45-minute drive, Riptide RV Resort in Key Largo is another good option.

Hotel:   Best Western Plus Kendall Hotel & Suites We did not stay here but do to its location it would be great for visiting Shark Valley. It is about a 38 minute drive to Shark Valley Visitor Center.

Highlands Hammock State Park

Highlands Hammock State Park is a great place to visit on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Looking for things to do in central Florida other than Orlando? Stop at the Highland Hammock State Park. It is a beautiful park and we recommend taking at least 1 of the hikes before heading out.

The Cyprus Swamp – Highland Hammock Trail is one of our favorite hikes. A couple of our kids were a little freaked out about it but when it was said and done everyone had fun!

RV Park: Highland Hammock State Park campground. We stayed here and it was great! Lake Josephine RV Park and Buttonwood Bay RV Resort , located in Sebring, are two other great options since they’re only about 20 minutes from the State Park.

Hotel:   The Inn On The Lakes   We did not stay here but due to its location we would recommend it.

Clearwater Beach is a great place to stop on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Clearwater Beach

Voted one of the best beaches in Florida. Clearwater is a beautiful beach with white sand and aquamarine water and beautiful beach resorts . Just be prepared that it can be very busy.

If you can spend a day hanging out at the beach and then head to the main street to check out the shops and restaurants and grab some food and drinks.

Bring Florida home with you with this awesome hurricane drink recipe!

Dolphin Tale

Visit Hope from the movie Dolphin Tale 2 at the Clearwater Aquarium and be sure to take the free boat ride over to the museum that is dedicated to the movie. And be on the look out for dolphins in the ocean on the ride!

If you are looking for something different to try while in Clearwater, why not try a customizable helicopter tour? Check it out here!

Check out more great activities to do in Clearwater! Plus things to do in Tampa Bay with families ! Or maybe take a road trip to Siesta Key .

RV Park: It is a bit of a drive, but we stayed at Lazy Days and made the 1 hour drive into Clearwater Beach. The Dunedin RV Resort , a closer option, is only a few miles from Clearwater.

Hotel: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort would be a great place to stay due to its proximity to the beach! Check out these three spacious Clearwater Beach resorts perfect for families too.

VRBO: Check out the Clearwater Beach Vacation Rentals .

Luxury Villa: Check out these villas .

Port St Joe Florida in Gulf County

Kayaking

We recently spent a week in Port St Joe, Florida and were so pleasantly surprised with how awesome the forgotten coast is! If you are looking to visit a new place in Florida this is it. 

You can kayak and snorkel in the bay. Take a boat out to look for dolphins. Have a campfire on the beach and find some of the best shells we have ever found! 

Gulf County, Florida is beautiful! The beaches are huge and you can walk for miles up and down them. I am so glad we found this hidden gem in Florida! 

You can learn more about it here: 21 Fun Things To Do In Port St Joe Florida

Destin has some of the best beaches to visit on The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Finish your trip by stopping in Destin for a day of relaxation. If the weather is going to be warm enough when you go then get a hotel room on the beach and plan on just kicking back and relaxing for your last few days.

Destin Sailing

If you aren’t ready to relax Destin also offers an amazing pirate boat adventure for the kids, private catamaran tours with Smile N Wave and a dolphin cruise . Plus there is under the sea bowling and a lot of yummy restaurants in the area. We also loved The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park  just outside Destin!

Destin also has amazing sunsets to view during The Ultimate Florida Road Trip

The sunsets are amazing so be sure to catch it each night you are there! And you will want to try the Crab at the Crab Trap !

Here is our post on Destin (we have visited multiple times and we totally miss it when we leave!).

Check out more activities to do while you are in Destin!

RV Park : Camp Gulf on the beach! It is by far one of our favorite RV parks and we highly recommend paying the extra to stay on the beach.

About half an hour from Destin is The Hideaway Retreat in Navarre, FL. With large, beautiful oak and magnolia trees surrounding the sites, this campground on the Santa Rosa Sound offers lots of shade and a true outdoor atmosphere.

About an hour the other direction is Emerald Coast RV Resort in Panama City Beach. With two heated pools, a hot tub, fitness center, and more, this campground offers plenty to do when you aren’t visiting Destin.

Hotel: Hilton Sandestin The hotel is actually pretty close to the RV park. You can walk on the beach to the hotel from the RV park and get a drink at their bar/restaurant. A great way to watch the sunset!

VRBO: Check out this awesome house with a pool and hot tub and only a few blocks from the beach!

Recommended Itinerary for 14 nights

You could replace Clearwater with Port St Joe if you wanted to spend more time on the Panhandle of Florida. 

Florida Itinerary

And if you want to get our free eBook on the Ultimate Florida Road Trip With Your Family click here!

The ebook documents everything in this post, along with an area for notes under each city. You can easily print it and use it for your planning and when you go on your trip.

You’ll see the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast on your trip and enjoy one of the best road trips for families in the United States!

More Florida Travel Ideas

Florida has so much to offer. If you can, we recommend staying for months – we stayed for 6. But if that isn’t an option this road trip could take approximately 2 weeks.

It could be longer or shorter depending on how much time you spend at each location. You will be covering a lot of miles but it is worth it to see all of these amazing places.

There are so many amazing places to visit in Florida, from small towns to big cities. It is impossible to list them all! Here are a few more awesome stops that our blogger friends have written about:

Things To Do In Naples Florida

20+ Things To Do In Florida On The Ultimate Sunshine State Road Trip

Florida Beaches: 25 Best Family Vacation Destinations

Places To Visit In Florida

29 Things to Do in Amelia Island

17 Best Florida Beaches

Things to Do in Tampa Bay in a Day . Don’t forget to check out St. Petes Beach in St. Petersburg while you’re there! You can also visit Cocoa Beach, Blue Springs, Crystal River, Vero Beach and so many more amazing places!

A trip to Florida can be spent doing day trips all over the state. Or you can pick one place to stay for your whole trip. 

You may also want to check out some of the great things to do in Fort Lauderdale. See JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. Or check out the Barrier Islands in the Gulf of Mexico.

There are some great scenic drives in Florida to check out too and some awesome Florida Small Towns !

Anna Marie Island is another great place to check out!

More Posts To Check Out

Looking for another Road Trip? Check out these great East Cost Family Vacation Spots !

How about other fun things to do around Florida?! Check out:

Where to see Manatees in Florida

9 Delicious Port St Joe Restaurants You Will Want to Try

25 Exciting and Fun Things To Do In Myrtle Beach, SC

9 Outstanding Places to Visit with Kids in Atlanta, Georgia

7 Amazing Things To Do In Asheville With Kids

29 Brilliant Things To Do In Gulf Shores, Alabama

National Park Road Trip

14 Amazing RV Parks in Destin Florida

East Coast Road Trip 25+ Spots You Don’t Want to Miss!

The Ultimate Guide to The Harry Potter World Rides

8 Things to do in Jupiter Florida

6 Best Springs in Florida

Pin this for later:

Florida Road Trip. From history to beaches to crystal clear springs this is the ultimate Florida road trip to take with your kids! Places to visit, sites to see, campgrounds and hotels to stay at. Family Travel at its best!

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42 thoughts on “Florida Road Trip: 31 Amazing Places You Won’t Want To Miss”

This seriously has me questioning renting an RV and heading off on a road trip adventure. I never thought of laying out a 14 day itinerary like that. It sounds amazing!!! What a fantastic post!

Finally going to take a few days off this weekend to be with family. Thanks for the list of florida road trip ideas. Really great photos too, especially of Dry Tortugas, wish I could jump right into the photo. Can you tell I really need a break? haha

Thanks! Dry Tortugas is amazing – we can’t wait to get back!!

Good site for those who want to travel here in Florida, one trip I would suggest is instead of heading towards Orlando on route 4, go over to Route 1 after Daytona and take the turn in to the Cape Canaveral Seashore. It has hiking trails, bike trails and you can also go to the beach. For the children continue on to the Space Center and take the tour, we had our grandson and he had a wonderful time there. After that yes on to Disney. Good blog.

Great suggestion! Hoping to visit this area on our next time in the state!

Hi, great itinerary. Any chance of a link to the original google map please?

Unfortunately, no. We plotted the map just to grab the picture of it. Next time, we’ll try to save them. Thanks for the idea!

HI could you confirm the period of year in which you did the trip?

We did this mainly in the fall/winter months, but it could be done pretty much at any time. Parts of Florida can get uncomfortably hot during the summer months, but the coastal areas can still be nice.

What were some of the most Dog friendly places you visited. The reason I ask is I am wanting to do a spontaneous road trip and wanted to make sure my four legged friend could come with me as I will not have anywhere else to put him while I am on the road. Or visiting certain places.

To be honest, there are tons of dog friendly places we’ve visited. It seems more and more businesses are being accommodating to pets. But off the top of my head, St. Augustine, Asheville, San Diego and Denver were all very dog friendly cities. Pretty much all of those cities had water bowls on the side walk, we went to a dog night at a brewery in Asheville (including a special dog-safe brew) and other events that dogs were welcome. Hope that helps!

Hello! We are going on our first ever RV holiday next month – March 2018 – around Florida. We are heading to Destin from Clearwater. Where should stop on that last leg? It’s a bit far for our 2, 7 & 8 yr olds. We managed to get the last beach front spot at Camp Gulf! Thanks, Isabel

We’ve heard great things about Apalachicola National Forest, although we’ve never been there. That may be somewhere to consider.

Certainly you found a bunch of Florida road trips spots. Amelia Island, 30A, and Anna Maria Island are among my Florida favorites.

Thanks! We need to explore Amelia Island and Anna Maria Island!

Sorry you forgot the Space Coast! There are so many fun & interesting things to do, including the Kennedy Space Center which is totally geared for the entire family (and maybe a rocket launch!), wonderful beaches, cruise ships, surfing and fishing possibilities, air boating, eco river tours, Brevard Zoo. Our state has so much to offer. Hope you’ll come again and check out our Space Coast fun!

We’ll definitely be back that way at some point. I didn’t really think of Florida as a big state, but it’s huge! So many places to see, we just ran out of time.

I ytuly enjoyed your honesty and thoughts about this. We are taking a road trip there soon amd have seen much, but not the keys!!! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

The Keys are an amazing destination, one of our favorites. Hopefully you can get down there.

If someone asks me about great post for weekend, which probably create a wonderful mood, definitely it would be yours!

What a beautiful post, I am preparing to move to Fl and I am looking forward to it and freaked out at the same time! I will have to take some time and explore the keys for sure. Thank you.

You’re welcome! The Keys are amazing!

Hi, We are coming over from England with our 5 & 7 yr olds and want to do an RV trip but have a couple of concerns; 1) Are RV parks very expensive 2) Are they isolated ie: do you need a car to get to all the places or can you drive your RV to them. Such as staying at Orlando for 3 nights how do you get to all the parks?

Great blog has given us a great guide on what to do thanks.

Thanks, The Jefferson family

Some RV parks can be expensive. If you stick to state parks, it ranges around $40 USD per night. RV parks are usually a bit away from attractions. If you rent a relatively small RV (something like 30′ or less) you can drive that around town to grocery stores, restaurants, etc. and find parking for it. If you plan to visit attractions like Disney, they do have oversize and RV parking. Worst case scenario, in places like Orlando, you can always get an Uber. Best of luck, have a great trip!

You should really add Naples and if you can. It has great beaches and other things like zoos

Thanks for the suggestion! We’ll add that to our list for next time!

South Florida- our old stompin’ grounds! Our first stop when we hit the road was the Keys. We love it so much down there. The camping has really gone crazy in price since then. But we hope to get back down there soon. Key West has so many awesome places to explore and fine- the back streets off Duval are so much fun to explore. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

Frank and Grainne The Roving Foleys

The Keys are amazing, and yes, a bit pricier than other places! We hope to get back down there again soon too!

Thank you for your suggestions. You hit the tourists spots, do you have a blog that maybe hits the places in between that are more off the path and less tourist oriented?

We don’t at the moment, but pass along some good spots if you find them.

I think If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best , you will always find home!) No matter what!

Great advice!

I’ve enjoyed exploring your blog. So many great places – so little time : ). We just got back from camping in Florida over Christmas break and enjoyed St Augustine, too. We spent two nights but could easily have spent more, but Sanibel used up most of our time. If you get a chance, try kayaking at Blue Spring State Park – the manatees swam right under us! Perhaps next winter we can make it to the Everglades and Keys and try out some of your ideas. Best, Gwen

We definitely want to check out Blue Spring State Park. We’ve heard great things about it! Glad you had a fun trip!

I have lived in Florida for 49 yrs and have never taken a road trip here to see what all I have been missing. The keys is our first stop. We live in High Springs Florida right across the road from Ginnie Springs, Poe Springs and Blue Springs. We will start in Pensacola and travel the beaches down to Naples and cut over to Miami and head down to the keys, back up and hug the coast all the way up to St Augustine. Our next trip will be inland and discover all the things we have missed.

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This is a great list. Florida has so many fun things to do.

Thanks! Yes it does!

Thanks “Bryanna” for sharing a great recommended list. I really love Florida and make a vacation with road trip. I’ve been visited Maximum’s places on your list. I mostly like Shark Valley, Clearwater Beach, Mallory Square, 7 Mile Bridge. But you can also add Disney world to your list.

We tried to give some options other than the usual things people do in Florida.

Comments are closed.

7 best road trips in Florida

Jesse Scott

Apr 10, 2024 • 6 min read

florida road trip

Florida is well-suited for road-tripping © Philip Lange / Shutterstock

There's no denying Florida's appeal. This narrow peninsula packs in an abundance of hedonistic pleasures, from white-sand beaches to fantasy-fueled amusement parks.

And with historical monuments, natural wonders and roadside attractions sprinkled liberally across the state, Florida is particularly well suited for road-tripping. Here's our pick of the best road trips in the Sunshine State. 

1. North Florida's backwaters and byways 

Best road trip for springs, manatees and mermaids Pensacola–Weeki Wachee; 510 miles; 5–7 days

Kick off your trip in Pensacola and delve into the city's past at Historic Pensacola Village . Then cruise towards the alluring white-sand beaches of the Gulf Coast, meandering back roads and byways to discover northern Florida's hidden treasures along the way.

Experience crystal-clear springs, including the Spanish-moss-lined Wakulla Springs , where you can take a tour in a glass-bottomed boat, and Ichetucknee Springs , which you can enjoy from the relaxed comfort of an inner tube. See manatees (between November and March) from the viewing platforms at Blue Spring State Park , then round off your trip with a classic roadside attraction starring the performing "mermaids" of Weeki Wachee .

Planning tip:  Florida's springs are significantly colder than its oceans. Consider packing or renting a wetsuit, particularly during visits in the winter months.

Boardwalk trails cross a tidal outlet to Grand Lagoon in Big Lagoon State Park

2. The Florida Panhandle

Best road trip for a taste of Florida's western edge Perdido Key–Tallahassee; 254 miles; 3–4 days

The Florida Panhandle on the Gulf Coast is blessed with beach bliss and southern charm. Start your eastward journey near the Alabama border in Perdido Key , a barrier island with turquoise waters and expansive wetlands.

Eastward, make sure to hop on Scenic Highway 30A in South Walton County. Stops include Rosemary Beach, where  La Crema Tapas & Chocolate  serves up a decadent chocolate fondue; the Alys Beach Nature Trail , which has elevated boardwalks to navigate the 20-acre preserve of coastal forest; and Seaside , which is dotted with pastel-painted houses with picket fences. Fun fact: Seaside is where  The Truman Show  was filmed. End your trip with a visit to Tallahassee, the capital of Florida and home to the  Museum of Florida History .

Art deco styled hotels and businesses along Ocean Drive in South Beach, a famous art deco neighborhood in Miami Beach, Florida.

3. Highway 1 

Best road trip for tracing the Atlantic Coast Amelia Island–Miami Beach; 475 miles; 6 days

Drive the length of Florida all the way down the coast, and you'll get a sampling of all the highlights of the Sunshine State. You'll find historic towns, family-friendly attractions, the Latin flavor of Miami and miles and miles of beaches right beside you, inviting you to stop as often as you want.

Start your trip on Amelia Island, a glorious barrier island with the moss-draped charm of the Deep South, and continue on down to see-and-be-seen  Miami Beach . Detours worth making include St Augustine , the oldest permanent European settlement in the US; the undeveloped, pristine beaches of  Canaveral National Seashore and the Space Coast  where, if you time it right, you can see a rocket shoot into space.

Planning tip: November through March is peak "snowbird season" in Florida, making driving along Highway 1 – and other major coastal routes – a bit more of a crawl as US holidaymakers travel south for some winter sunshine.

Want to linger in Miami for a few days?  We have the itinerary for you

4. North Florida

Best road trip for exploring the central heart of Florida Jacksonville–Ocala; 112 miles; 3–4 days

With nearly one million residents, Jacksonville is Florida's largest city (nearly double the population of Miami). After gawking at giraffes at Jacksonville Zoological Gardens  and being inspired at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville , head southwest to Gainesville, the home of the University of Florida. Very much loaded with students when school is in session, the town is also home to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the stunningly blue Ginnie Springs  nearby.

Cap off your trip with a stop in Ocala, with outdoor adventures aplenty, including the woodsy, lake-loaded Ocala National Forest and, for gear heads, the Don Garlist Museum of Drag Racing , which houses nearly 100 race-tested vehicles.

Space Shuttle Atlantis at the visitor complex of Kennedy Space Center, United States

5. Walt Disney World and beyond

Best road trip for the whole family Kennedy Space Center–Sanibel & Captiva Islands; 288 miles; 6–10 days

This trip links up most of Florida's best family-friendly attractions , including sprawling white-sand beaches and all the sights you can squeeze into your vacation and more.

Begin at NASA's Kennedy Space Center  to wonder at the science and ambition behind 20th- and 21st-century space exploration (and buy some astronaut ice cream, naturally). From there, hop on I-4 westbound toward Central Florida and its more imaginative delights. Let your inner child loose in the  Magic Kingdom  at Walt Disney World ®  but don't stop there; you'll find plenty more to entertain you in dizzying Orlando , including Universal Studios and  Harry P Leu Gardens , for when you crave a short respite from the frenetic pace.

Next, cross the state toward Tampa , turning south when you arrive near the coast. Be sure to check out the historic buildings and wrought-iron balconies of Ybor City and the lovely beaches in Sarasota  before winding up on the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Can't get enough of Florida's theme parks? These are the best ones to visit

The outline of an alligator in the marshy waters in the Everglades in Florida

6. The Everglades 

Best road trip for seeing wildlife Homestead–Everglades City; 170 miles; 2–3 days

The enticing Everglades  make  South Florida truly unique. This ecological wonderland is the USA's largest subtropical wilderness, flush with endangered and rare species, including its star attraction, the alligator – and there are lots of them. It's not just a wetland, swamp, prairie or grassland – it's all of the above, twisted into a series of soft horizons, long vistas and sunsets that stretch across your entire field of vision.

From the town of Homestead , head for the park's southeastern entrance and get ready to immerse yourself in nature. Be sure to plan pitstops to  kayak in Flamingo , take a tram tour in Shark Valley and search for Bigfoot in Ochopee  before heading on to Everglades City to uncover the region's history at the volunteer-run  Museum of the Everglades .

Detour:  Work in a bonus national park by visiting Biscayne National Park , a boater's paradise 20 minutes east of Homestead.

Add  these experiences  to your Everglades itinerary

Cyclists riding past the colorful shopfronts on Duval Street in Key West

7. Overseas Highway to Key West 

Best road trip for island hopping John Pennekamp State Park–Key West; 102 miles; 3–5 days

Short of hopping on a plane, there's no better way to enjoy such an utter feeling of escape from the mainland than driving through the Florida Keys . The motto here seems to be "do whatever the hell you want." 

Pull off the highway for biker bars, seafood grills and blissful beaches wherever and whenever the crazy spirit of these islands moves you. Highlights on this 102-mile route include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park , the USA's first underwater park; historic Indian Key and forested  Lignumvitae Key ; and the marvel of engineering that is the overwater Seven Mile Bridge. 

Planning tip:  Embark on your Overseas Highway adventure as early in the day as possible, as some stretches tend to be congested after 11am, particularly on weekends.

Keep planning your trip to Florida:

Looking for more great experiences? Here are our top picks in Florida Have a smooth trip with these things to know before you go Check out our budget-friendly tips before you book Get in some towel time at  our favorite beaches in Florida

This article was first published November 2020 and updated April 2024

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Ultimate Florida Road Trip Itinerary

With year-round sunshine, thousands of miles of stunning coast and the unique landscapes of the Everglades and the Keys, a visit to Florida can take you to a whole host of unforgettable locations. So why not join them together on a road trip to create a week-long adventure that you'll remember for a lifetime?

This 7-day road trip around Florida covers 800 miles and has a drive time of 32 hours. It takes you to the Orlando theme parks and then carries on around the state to Miami, Key West, the Everglades, Fort Myers, Tampa, Destin and Tallahassee.

Florida has so much on offer that at nearly every stop you'll have the chance to combine your choice of leisure, cultural and outdoor activities. And of course, there's the chance to visit at least one of Orlando's world-famous theme parks too.

The ultimate road trip itinerary in Florida

What is the ultimate florida road trip itinerary.

Our ultimate Florida road trip itinerary starts off in Jacksonville in the northeastern corner of Florida. After a trip inland to Orlando, where you can visit your theme park of choice, it follows the Atlantic coastline all the way to Key West, the southernmost point of the contiguous United States.

Turning north again, the route crosses the tip of Florida so you can spend some time exploring the Everglades before starting to head back toward Jacksonville around the Gulf of Mexico.

After visiting Fort Myers, Tampa and Destin the road will take you to Pensacola, close to the Alabama border, before heading east to complete the route back where you started in Jacksonville.

On this 1,800 mile route you'll spend an average of 4 hours 30 minutes on the road each day, although as you'd expect with a road trip there will be some longer and shorter drives along the way.

That gives plenty of time to stop and enjoy the sparkling sea views, white sand beaches, and stunning waterways that Florida is so famous for.

For an easy-to-compare view of rental options for your ultimate road trip around Florida, take a look at our partner site, RentalCars.com .

Sunset at Naples Beach Florida

Day 1: Driving from Jacksonville to Orlando

The first day of your ultimate Florida road trip keeps the drive time to just 2 hours 30 minutes. Whether you want to hit the road early to see all the sights along the way, or have a more leisurely start after brunch in the sunshine, this 145-mile drive is the ideal start to any itinerary.

Road trip route from Jacksonville to Orlando

To get your road trip started, head to I-95 from your starting point in Jacksonville and follow it south out of the city. Turn off towards St Augustine to make your first stop at this wonderful coastal city.

From here you can return directly to the interstate via US-1. Alternatively, if you'd like to immerse yourself in ocean views for a little longer, you can follow Route A1A as far as Daytona Beach.

This means taking the drive at a slower pace so it will add a little time to your journey, especially if you stop to dip your toes in the Atlantic.

Whichever route you take, merge onto I-4 which begins inland from Daytona Beach. This takes you past Lake Monroe and on to Orlando.

Things to explore on the way to Orlando

The first Spanish settlement in what's now St Augustine was founded all the way back in 1565, and today the city is packed full of historic and cultural gems. Walking through the cobbled streets will be a real contrast to Jacksonville and Orlando, the other cities you'll spend time in on the first day of the trip.

Looking out over Matanzas Bay is the fortress of Castillo de San Marcos which dates from the time that Florida belonged to Spain. You can also visit the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park to find out more about the city's history.

St. Augustine, Florida, USA town square.

You can also enjoy time on the beautiful beaches in St Augustine and the surrounding area, with plenty of watersports on offer, before heading south to continue your trip.

Signs in the city announce that Daytona Beach is the “World's Most Famous Beach” so you can't visit without spending some time by the water. As well as relaxing on the golden sands you can paddleboard, sail, jet ski and dive, or explore the atmospheric waterways in a kayak or canoe.

The city is also famous for its motorsports, and even if the timing of your trip means you don't get the chance to see some action at Daytona International Speedway fans should head to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. If you're more interested in vintage vehicles there's the Living Legends of Autoracing museum too.

Where to stay in Orlando: get your theme park fix

Orlando is world famous for its theme parks – take your pick from Disney's Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida, and many more.

If you're looking for something different, go boating on Lake Eola or check out the evening light show. Or get your culture fix at Orlando Fine Arts Museum followed by a performance at Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

With the restaurants and bars of downtown Orlando just a couple of minutes' walk away, booking in a bright and spacious room at Aloft Orlando Downtown means you're in the heart of the action. It's also right on the route so it's the perfect base for an overnight stop in the city.

Relax by the outdoor pool before heading out to explore the city - you can hop straight back on to I-4 for a smooth journey out to Walt Disney World Resort or Universal Orlando Resort, which are both within 20 minutes' drive.

Click here to skip back to the top.

Day 2: Driving from Orlando to Miami

You'll spend longer on the road on the second day of your Florida road trip on this beautiful coastal drive from Orlando to Miami .

It's 255 miles from Orlando to Miami, which will take around 5 hours 30 minutes to drive, so we'd recommend making an early start if you want to spend time in Juno Beach, Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale as well as visiting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

Road trip route from Orlando to Miami

Head east out of Orlando until you meet FL-538 near the airport. This road will take you right out to the coast before crossing the Indian River and becoming Route A1A when you arrive on Cape Canaveral. Detour north to visit the Kennedy Space Center, then keep an eye out for space launches as you make your way along the highway.

After Pineda Beach Park, turn back towards the mainland again and continue south on Route 1 through Palm Bay, Vero Beach and Port Salerno before joining back up with the interstate at Palm Beach. All that's left for the day is to follow it to downtown Miami.

Things to explore on the way to Miami

The Kennedy Space Center is the most famous attraction at Cape Canaveral. You can learn about all things space at the immersive visitor center and take a turn in one of the simulators.

Cape Canaveral isn't just about the space center though – take some time to explore Canaveral National Seashore where you can hike or canoe through the pristine coastal environment of this barrier island.

NASA Logo on Globe at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. To the left is a painting visible of President John F. Kennedy.

Where to stay in Miami: get ready to party the night away

Spend the night in Miami to enjoy the city's legendary nightlife – whether you're in the mood for cocktails by the waterfront or one of the city's stylish nightclubs you'll find something to suit every taste.

As a bonus you can start the next day slowly on one of the city's stunning beaches before checking out Miami's legendary shopping scene.

If you prefer your entertainment a little more low key head to Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts to watch international stars of ballet, opera and live music.

Rooms at Mint House Miami Downtown are bright and modern so you can relax into the stylish Miami vibe as soon as you've checked in. The stunning pool area is the perfect place to relax after a busy day on the road.

Your booking at this Aparthotel will include kitchen facilities, which is ideal if you enjoy a break from dawn-to-dusk restaurant food on your travels.

Larger apartments are also available, making this a great choice if you're travelling in a group. It's also in walking distance of several restaurants if you'd rather dine out.

The hotel isn't far from the route – just a few blocks off I-95 - and has private parking for extra convenience. Plus, it's within walking distance to HistoryMiami and Miami Art Museum, with other city attractions just a short drive away.

READ MORE - Road Trip from Orlando to Miami

Day 3: Driving from Miami to Key West

The drive from Miami to Key West is another stunner . Once you've left the city the drive through the Florida Keys is a memorable experience in its own right as the highway takes you across the ocean via a series of bridges and tunnels which connect the islands that make up the Keys.

In normal traffic it will take around 3 hours 30 minutes to drive from Miami to Key West, the furthest of the islands. This 170-mile drive takes you through Homestead and then across to the Keys where you'll see Key Largo, Marathon and Big Pine Key on the way to Key West.

Some travellers prefer to skip the drive through the Florida Keys and head direct to Marco Island instead. From here, you can park up and take the ferry through the sparkling blue ocean all the way to Key West. Read our guide on how to take the ferry to Key West .

That way you can sit back and relax once you reach Key West without having to worry about parking or finding an affordable place to stay. You'll avoid the traffic driving south from Miami too, which can be heavy at weekends and holidays.

Road trip route from Miami to Key West

Head through the suburbs of Westchester and Kendall to leave Miami, joining up with the Ronald Regan Turnpike to carry on to Florida City. From here, Route 1 will take you across Manatee Bay and Blackwater Sound to begin your drive through the Florida Keys.

This is one of the simplest parts of the road trip to navigate, as there's only one main road between the islands. Sit back and enjoy the ocean view as you follow Route 1 past John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Plantation Key and Islamorada on your way to Key West.

Things to explore on the way to Key West

One of the most popular places to stop along the way is Key Largo. Head out to sea on a fishing trip – all the equipment you need will be provided on board, as well as plenty of advice for beginners. Scuba divers will find a number of sites to explore too.

Sunrise over a hammock in Key West, Florida

Or just relax on another beautiful beach – there are plenty to choose from.

Where to stay in Key West: relax in subtropical style

As well as enjoying the subtropical weather and watching the sunset over the ocean there's also plenty to see and do in Key West. Stop at President Truman's Little White House or get a feel for Key West's past with a tour of the golden era Audubon House and Gardens.

Potter around independent galleries to discover local artists and take in the colorful Historic Seaport district.

The beautiful waterfront location of Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Sunset Harbor means you can really immerse yourself in the Key West atmosphere. Many of the bright and spacious rooms have balconies and seating and as well as the outdoor pool and hot tub there's a spa center on site if you're ready for some relaxation.

Many of Key West's attractions are close to this resort including the Little White House and Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum. As you would expect, there are beaches within a short walk too.

Accommodation prices in Key West sit at the higher end of the scale so look into staying here mid-week to secure more affordable rates.

READ MORE - Road Trip from Miami to Key West

Day 4: Driving from Key West to Fort Myers

The next day of your road trip covers 300 miles, passing Homestead and Sweetwater before crossing from the eastern side of Florida to the west on this 5 hour 30 minute journey.

Road trip route from Key West to Fort Myers

Make your way back along the Keys and through Florida City onto the Ronald Regan Turnpike, which you'll follow through Sweetwater to join up with I-75.

The interstate takes you all the way to Fort Myers but along the way you can detour to visit the iconic Everglades. As you'll see if you keep reading there are several entrances to this vast national park so just pick the one which works best for your schedule.

Things to explore on the way to Fort Myers

The unique landscape of the Everglades, with endless creeks and channels, is home to diverse wildlife including alligators, wetland birds, manatees, and the Florida Panther.

You can drive through some sections of the Everglades but to really appreciate the landscape it's best to head out across the water – iconic airboat rides are a popular choice, or take a kayak tour to explore at a slower pace.

Florida wetland, Airboat ride at Everglades National Park in USA. Popular place for tourists, wild nature and animals.

There are a number of entrances to this huge wetland national park – heading west from Tamiami on US-41 or detouring to Everglades City on the Florida Gulf are two of the most popular. Check ahead for opening times and facilities as hurricane damage has affected visitor centres.

Where to stay in Fort Myers: enjoy a Gulf of Mexico sundowner

As with many of the other stops on this route, you can hit the beach in Fort Myers or take a boat tour to follow one of the pods of dolphins that can be found just off the coast here. There's also the chance to explore the winter estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, who loved to spend time in sunny Fort Myers.

Luminary Hotel & Co. is a beautiful hotel with chic interiors located right on the Caloosahatchee River. It's only a short drive away from the Fishermen's Village and also has easy access to Sanibel Island with the picturesque Sanibel Lighthouse only a short drive away.

Edison & Fort Winter Estates as well as IMAG History and Science Center are both located a short drive away from the hotel, so it's the perfect base if you plan on sightseeing.

The hotel also has free bikes and a fitness center if you want to stick to your fitness regime during your stay - then head to the fantastic restaurant and stylish bar to round off your day.

Day 5: Driving from Fort Myers to Tampa

After a couple of days of longer drives you have a more relaxed section of the trip ahead of you on day 2. It's only a 2 hour 10 minute stretch between Fort Myers and Tampa, with the chance to spend time exploring Myakka River State Park, Sarasota or Anna Maria Island as you travel this 130-mile route.

Road trip route from Fort Myers to Tampa

Heading north out of Fort Myers the interstate crosses the Peace River near Solana then runs around the edge of Myakka River State Park before passing Sarasota.

After crossing the Manatee River the interstate divides, and to carry on towards Tampa you'll take I-275 through Terra Ceia Preserve State Park. then follow the 4-mile-long Sunshine Skyway Bay across the sparkling water of Tampa Bay. The bridge is so long that there are fishing piers along the way - bring your rods if you're keen!

Back on dry land, the interstate takes you through St Petersburg and then over the Howard Franklin Bridge to reach your day 5 destination, Tampa.

Things to explore on the way to Tampa

Myakka River is a scenic, but sometimes overlooked gem in Florida. Since this drive is on the shorter side, you can take a lengthy break here and enjoy the great outdoors for the day. From arching palm trees to beautiful oak trees lining up the banks of the stream, you will find some great scenery here.

Pink and White Roseate Spoonbill with wings spread coming in to land on water in Myakka River State Park in Sarasota Florida USA

Myakka River is Florida's first ever designated scenic and wild river, and it will provide you with the opportunities to boat (depending on the water levels), fish, kayak and canoe during your visit. If you want to stay dry, you can opt for hiking or hop on your bike to explore.

Where to stay in Tampa: enjoy the ocean views from Clearwater Beach

As its name suggests, Clearwater Beach has a choice of stunning sands where you can sit back and relax for a few hours to enjoy the sunshine. Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium to learn about their conservation efforts, or head to Florida Botanical Gardens for a stroll in the sunshine.

It's a great starting point to visit the unspoilt beaches of Caladesi Island State Park. There are no roads in the state park so getting there from Clearwater Beach is part of the adventure. It's around an hour's walk, but check tide times before setting out.

The outdoor bar and terrace at Courtyard by Marriott Clearwater Beach are perfect to watch the sun go down. Rooms here are spacious and extremely comfortable, and many have a view across the water so it will be the first thing you see when you wake up again too.

As a bonus, the hotel is close to the beach and has private parking too.

Day 6: Driving from Tampa to Destin

In contrast to the previous day, your onward drive from Tampa to Destin is the longest on your Florida road trip. Coming in at a mammoth 7 hours and 15 minutes, this 400-mile drive will take you right across the Panhandle.

It's possible to stick to the interstate to cut down the drive time a little, but seeing as this is your last day of ocean we'd recommend following the coast road past East Point, Mexico Beach and Panama City.

Road trip route from Tampa to Destin

Leave Tampa on FL-589 through Citrus Park and Odessa, then continue along the same road as far as the beautiful town of Crystal River. From here, turn onto US-98 which sits a few miles inland but runs parallel to the coast all the way past Big Bend and Apalachee Bay before finally greeting you with ocean views at Alligator Point.

The highway then takes you all the way into Destin, with mile after mile of stunning white sand and dazzling blue sea to enjoy through the car window before you cross over Panama City's East and North Bays and cross Point Washington State Forest on the way to your destination.

Things to explore on the way to Destin

Crystal River calls itself the Manatee Capital of the World, since it's where these gentle giants come in huge numbers to shelter in the warm spring waters over winter. You can take a kayak or snorkelling trip to see them up close - the waterways and shore make this a stunning place to stop.

You can also explore Florida's history at Crystal Rivers Archaeological State Park, set around Native American ceremonial mounds which date back over a millennium, or visit the ruins of Yulee Sugar Mill which until the civil War was a huge plantation.

If you're feeling active, leave the car behind and explore Withlacoochee State Trail which winds 46 miles through beautiful coastal landscapes.

As you continue on around the coast you'll see a different side of Florida at the beautiful waterfront town of Apalachicola. After taking a stroll past the charming timber buildings, enjoy a delicious meal of fresh seafood or maybe try your hand at catching something for yourself.

Where to stay in Destin: enjoy the country's best beaches

The white sand beaches along this stretch of the coastline are said to be among the best in the United States and you'll come home from Destin with a reel of stunning photos.

You can also enjoy watersports at Destin Harbor, or head to Henderson Beach State Park to spend some time in nature.

Destin is a lively destination so you'll find plenty of places to enjoy a cocktail in the evening too.

Aerial Close-up of Crab Island, Destin Florida on a sunny day

Some of the spacious and contemporary rooms at Hotel Effie Sandestin have a view out across the bay , but even if you're not lucky enough to book one of them you can still look out over the ocean from the rooftop pool and lounge.

There's a private beach to enjoy too, or borrow a bike for free to explore the coast around Destin on 2 wheels. If you're in need of a pick-me-up at this stage in your road trip, why not book a relaxing treatment in the spa or play a round of golf on your choice of the many local courses?

Day 7: Driving from Destin to Jacksonville

The final day of your road trip takes you from the far west of Florida to the far east - in fact it's pretty much the longest west to east journey you can make in the state.

It will take you 6 hours to drive from Destin to Jacksonville, where you'll complete your road trip. First you'll swing even further west toward Pensacola, before hitting the interstate which you'll follow for most of the 400-mile drive.

You can still squeeze in a little more adventure though, with Florida's state capital Tallahassee plus laid back Lake City both waiting to be explored.

Road trip route from Destin to Jacksonville

From Destin head back onto US-98, which carries on along the Gulf Coast all the way to Pensacola - you can enjoy some amazing views of Santa Rosa Sound as you drive.

After crossing Pensacola Bay and making your way through the city you'll be able to connect with I-10 which takes you all the way back to Jacksonville. It might feel tempting to just push on through this final stretch of the journey but take the time to stop and explore Tallahassee and Lake City along the way to get a feel for inland Florida after so much time on the coast.

Things to explore on the way to Jacksonville

Florida's state capital, Tallahassee, is right on the route. Visit one of its antebellum mansions then check out the Museum of Florida History nearby.

Tallahassee Automobile Museum also has a vast collection of vintage vehicles which have been lovingly cared for - it's the perfect place to stop and picture road trips of the past as you near the end of your incredible journey.

Blue Sky Behind White Clouds Over the State Capitol on Florida in Tallahassee

If you have time for one final stop you might like to hop off the interstate at Lake City to play a final round of golf or spend time on the water. The springs here sit at a pleasant 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year round so if you're travelling in winter and find the ocean a little chilly, this is a great alternative.

Where to stay in Jacksonville: round off your road trip with some relaxation

Make a last beach trip to round off your trip once you arrive back in Jacksonville – head to the edge of the city and there's a long stretch of gorgeous sand which runs from Atlantic and Neptune Beaches until you reach Jacksonville Beach itself.

If you need somewhere to stay before heading home, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront is a great pick. It has views out across the river and spacious rooms as well as a rooftop pool. The hotel also offers a shuttle service around Jacksonville which means you can leave the car behind after all that driving.

There are 3 restaurants to choose from on-site, including a great seafood restaurant, so sit back and relive the memories of your ultimate Florida road trip.

Things to see on the ultimate road trip in Florida

It will come as no surprise to learn that your road trip around Florida will be packed full of golden sand and blue sea. That's just the icing on the cake though as Florida is packed full of other attractions waiting to be explored.

  • Disney World - Watch a live show or enjoy the rides at Disney World's four Florida theme parks.
  • Universal Orlando Resort - Immerse yourself in your favorite movies at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Universal's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park.
  • The National Navy SEAL Museum - Learn about the elite US Navy Seals including their training and the battles they've fought.
  • Boca Raton - Play a round of golf then head to the sea turtle sanctuary to find out about the conservation efforts taking place around the Florida coast.
  • Fort Lauderdale - Explore the canals of this beachfront city or take a walk along the Strip which runs along the ocean
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - Take a scuba diving trip to visit the country's only living coral reef. You can explore it on an open-bottom boat trip if you're not a diver.
  • Cape Coral - Lose yourself among the many miles of canals in “Florida's Venice”.
  • Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge - Seek out some elusive American crocodile when you follow the trails through this wetland refuge on foot or along the 4-mile long Wildlife Drive.
  • Ybor City - Go on a ghost hunt in this historic part of Tampa, rumoured to be among America's most haunted!
  • Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve - Explore this less-developed part of the Florida coast by kayak or on a wildlife viewing boat tour.
  • Pensacola Lighthouse - Built over 150 years ago, this historic lighthouse watches over the Gulf of Mexico – take a tour to enjoy the beautiful view from the top
  • Pensacola History Museum - Learn about Florida's long history as a European settlement at the museum then follow a self-guided tour to some of the city's historic buildings.

Beautiful Sunset with rainbow at Boca Raton beach, Florida

Best time to go on the ultimate road trip in Florida

Florida is a popular winter sun escape and also a great summer vacation trip - it's one of the great year-round destinations. However, there are some things to think about when planning your trip.

Traveling in winter

Florida is really popular in winter due to its all-year sunshine, with temperatures in the mid-70s Fahrenheit even when other parts of the country are under a thick covering of snow.

Visit in January and you'll be able to enjoy days of pirate-themed entertainment at the unique Gasparilla Pirate Fest in Tampa. And of course, there are weeks of festive events that run at the theme parks, such as Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Disney World, which is a unique way to get into the holiday mood.

Unlike many parts of the country, winter in Florida can be one of the busiest and more expensive times to visit so be sure to book ahead, especially if you're taking your road trip over a holiday period.

Traveling in summer

Temperatures reach the low 90s Fahrenheit in summer so on paper a Florida road trip is a great sunshine getaway.

Daytona Beach in Florida shore with pier and unknown surfer walking USA

However, parts of Florida can feel very humid during the summer months, so you might like to pick air-conditioned activities and accommodation accordingly!

From June to October there's also a chance of intense rainstorms and occasionally hurricanes so it's best to factor in a little flexibility if travelling at this time of year.

Traveling in spring or fall

Spring and fall are both excellent seasons to visit, as you can enjoy hot sunny days with temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. There will be plenty going on as you travel around the state, for example April sees Sugar Sand Festival coming to Clearwater when you can marvel at impressive sand sculptures along the beaches.

Both spring and fall are quieter than the winter and summer vacation periods, though be careful to avoid spring break if you want to avoid crowds.

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Home » North America » Florida

Epic Florida Road Trip Guide for 2024

Going on a  Florida road trip  is hands-down the best way to experience this state! With endless beaches, hidden springs, tons of food, and lots of attractions, you’re going to need a flexible mode of transportation.

Having your own car or campervan is absolutely the best way to visit all of the best places in Florida as you’ll be able to go wherever you want!

Florida is a big and beautiful place but, more importantly, it can also be a pricey one. Everyone who wants to visit Florida wants to lay on the beach and so you’ll have to compete not only with crowds but inflated prices.

In this Florida road trip guide, we’ll cover several topics concerning the Sunshine State. You’ll learn to avoid overpriced hotels and how to camp like a pro, find the state’s hidden gems, navigate the roads, and explore the best that Florida has to offer!

So grab ur’ flip-flops, boardshorts, and a cooler full of cold beer because we’re off to warm beaches and eternal sun of glorious Florida!

florida road trip

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Florida USA Road Trips Costs

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There are loads of road trips opportunities in the USA , some of them a bit more affordable than the other. Florida is by no means a cheap place to go on holiday. Everyone and their grandma wants to come here either to vacation or retire, and so, as a consequence, Florida can be expensive.

At The Broke Backpacker, we are never scared of inflated prices! We’re constantly looking for new ways to cut travel costs and have a whole repertoire of useful tips to share with you. Even if we are unable to travel for $10/day like in our favorite countries, we can at least help you minimize expenses.

walt disney world florida road trip expenses

The average daily budget for a Florida road trip is between $150-$200 (ouch…) – this includes gas, a rental car, lodging, food, drink, and entry fees.

  • Lodging will be one of your largest expenses on your road trip. Real estate here is very expensive and hotels will take a chunk of change from your budget. Be sure to stay in hostels and camps to save money. Another great option is to stay at one of the epic Airbnbs in Florida .
  • Gas is relatively cheap in Florida but can still end up costing you quite a bit due to distances. It’s very difficult to gauge how much gas you will actually need, so it’s very important to be flexible with this expense. Try and stick to a budget by following planned road trips.
  • Food and drinks  in Florida are, thankfully, much less intimidating. You can eat cheaply by cooking your own food and eating at food carts. If you wanted to, you could still eat and drink like a king one night and spend a small fortune in the process.

Below is a breakdown of the average costs associated with traveling to Florida.

Average Costs of Florida Road Trips

Rental car:  $30-$100

RV rental:  $100-$300

Gallon of gas:  $2.85

Average AirBnB:  $120

Hotel room:  $140

Hostel:  $25-$35

Campground:  $5-$20 (sometimes free!)

Sandwich:  $6-$8

Beer at a bar:  $4-$8

Coffee:  $2-$4

Bottle of Whiskey from market:  $18

Dinner for two:  $30-$60

Below is a list I created of sample road trips through Florida. Varying from 4 days to 14 days in length, they cover many of Florida’s top attractions. Each itinerary provides day-by-day highlights, which are meant to give you some solid Florida road trip ideas.

florida road trip

The USA is  blisteringly beautiful. It’s also blisteringly expensive! Visiting two national parks in day can run you $70+ in entry fees.

Orrrr… you kick those entry fees to the curb, buy an annual ‘America the Beautiful Pass’ for $79.99,  and get unlimited access to ALL 2000+ federally managed sites in the States totally FREE!

You do the math. 😉

4 Day Florida Itinerary: Road Trip to the Florida Keys and Everglades

florida road trip map itinerary 4 days

4 Days: Road Trip to the Florida Keys and Everglades

Day 1: Everglades

4 Days in Florida isn’t a lot. So if you’re expecting to see everything that the state has to offer, you’ll be disappointed. However, you can fit in the most important hotspots without a problem or stress. Start your first day in Miami. Organize your rental car and head to the first destination on your road trip, the Everglades National Park . Once you’ve found a lodge or camping ground to stay at, check out the epic walks and hiking opportunities. These are our favorite ones:

  • Anhinga Trail
  • Shark Valley Trail
  • Long Pine Key Trail

florida storm clouds above everglades florida

Day 2: Everglades

Day 2 is going to consist of more exploration and adventures. Go on a full-day water safari with an airboat or check out the Ten Thousand Islands area. This national park in Florida is HUGE. You’ll have plenty of ground to explore.

Once you’ve had enough exploring, return to your lodge or your Everglades camping site to prepare to move on tomorrow. Do make sure not to leave any waste behind!

Day 3: Florida Keys

Enough nature – we’re going back to civilization! You’ll head to the Florida Keys for your 3rd day. Make sure to depart early so you’ll have more of the day. Enjoy the beautiful scenery on the Florida Keys Scenic Byway. These are our favorite stop-overs on the way:

  • Rain Barrel Sculpture Gallery
  • Theater of the Sea
  • Turtle Hospital
  • Ernest Hemmingway’s House

If you’re a passionate Scuba diver, you’ll love Key Largo and Biscayne Bay . The water is crystal clear! Once you arrive in Key West , it’s time to sort your lodge once again. Luckily, there are quite a few awesome Airbnbs in Florida Keys .

plane flying over florida keys

Day 4: Florida Keys

On the last day of your Florida road trip, you should explore Key West further. Bar hopping is especially popular and you can be sure to meet loads of nice people from all over the world. If you miss socializing, this is your go-to for the day. If you’re more of an adventurer, check out the Dry Tortugas National Park (this is more like a day trip though). At the end of the day, it’s time to pack your bags again for the next morning departure. And if you do decide to stay a bit longer, Islamorada is the perfect central location in the Florida Keys.

7 Day Florida Itinerary: A1A Florida Road Trip

Florida road trip map itinerary

7 Days: A1A Florida Road Trip

Day 1: Key West

Don’t waste any time on your first day! Arrive in Miami, sort your rental car/campervan and head to the Florida Keys straight away. There are a couple of cool keys on the way which we covered in the 4-Day-Road-Trip above – be sure to check them out. Once you arrive in Key West, make sure to find the perfect lodge and check in. Now it’s time to explore the area. If you’re not exhausted from the car ride, head out to the bars for a couple of drinks.

Day 2: Fort Lauderdale

For Day 2, you’ll depart early in the morning and head to Fort Lauderdale. You can stop in Biscane Bay for diving or in Miami for lunch and a bit of a beach tanning session. Once you arrive in Fort Lauderdale, check into your lodge. Now it’s time for some lounging on the beach, chilling in the sun and do some people watching. To end the day right, explore Las Olas nightlife.

fort laudardale beach with umbrellas florida

Day 3: Cocoa Beach

Day 3 is going to be a bit of driving but mainly surfing and relaxing. Depart from Fort Lauderdale and head North to Cocoa Beach. It’s an epic place to fresh up your surf skills, learn new tricks or find you balance on a board for the first time. The beach is beautiful as well – perfect to step up your tanning game!

Day 4: St Augustine

You’re going to continue the Florida road trip on A1A Northbound. On the way, check out the Kennedy Space Center and stop by Datona Beach for lunch and lounging. You’ll arrive in St. Augustine, where you can explore the area if there’s enough time left of the day or simply relax. St Augustine makes for a great place to stay as a rest stop.

Day 5: Jacksonville/Amelia Island

Day 5 will be an early rise. Visit Castillo de San Marcos early in the morning and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Once you feel like it, depart St. Augustine and head to Jacksonville. This is where you’ll stay for the night unless you have more time on your hands – then you should head to Amelia Island.

sunset florida with sailboat in water

Day 6: Vero Beach/Miami

You’re going to be leaving Jacksonville (or Amelia Island) early in the morning and head back south. Make sure to stop over in the quiet Vero Beach – it’s a real treat! You can also drive further (6-7 hours) to Miami, sort your accommodation (we higly recommend Miami’s Airbnbs ) and spend the night there.

Day 7: Miami

If you stayed in Vero Beach, it’s time to depart for Miami. If you’re already there – even better, you can take your time enjoying and exploring the lively city. Our favorite hotspots are:

  • Little Havana
  • Coral Gables
  • Design District

14 Day Florida Itinerary: Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Florida road trip map itinerary

14 Days: Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Day 1-6: Florida Keys, Fort Lauderdale, Cocoa Beach, St. Augsutine, Jacksonville, Amelia Island *

For this ultimate 14-day Florida road trip, you’ll spend the first 6 days like we already described in 7-day itinerary above. The only difference is that you won’t head down to Miami on the last day.

florida keys water like cyrstal

Day 7: Emerald Coast

Depending on where you stayed on Day 6, you’ll either depart from Jacksonville or Amerlia Island. From there, head west on I-10. You can stop over in Tallahassee for lunch (or even spend the night here). If you decide to travel further, head to the Emerald Coast and check in at your preferred lodge. If there’s some time left of the day, you can spend it on the beach – you deserve a rest after all that driving!

st augustine beach boardwalk florida

Day 8: Emerald Coast

There are so many beaches on the Emerald Coast and they’re all worth exploring. So this is exactly what you’ll be doing on Day 8 of your road trip. To make sure you’ll check out the absolute best, have a look at these:

  • Miramar Beach
  • Fort Walton
  • Grayton Beach
  • Perdido Key

Consider visiting the Forgotten Coast, which is one of the weirder Florida attractions, but definitely a cool spot to explore.

Day 9: Tampa Bay

Say goodbye to the Emerald Coast and head for Tampa via the I-10 and I-75. You can stop in Gainesville for a recharge on coffee, gas and snacks. Once you arrive in Tampa, check into your lodge and spend the afternoon exploring the city and maybe even St. Petersburg. We’d recommend visiting these cool attractions:

  • The Dali Museum in St Pete
  • Museum of Art in Tampa
  • The Fine Arts Museum in St Pete

Spend the night out in Ybor City or stay in St Petersburg.

florida coast beach sunset

Day 10: Tampa Bay

Day 10 is for exploring the beaches of Clearwater and relaxing to the absolute max. These are the best beaches:

  • Caladesi Island
  • Honeymoon Islands
  • Clearwater Beach

If you’re not into relaxing, consider making the trip to Siesta Key in Sarasota, which has some of the whitest sand in the world and some amazing places to stay . There are also some incredible vacation rentals in Sarasota for an affordable price.

Day 11-12: Everglades *

These two days are for adventures and a bit of physical activity in the Everglades. Depart Tampa and check into your new lodge or set up to camp. You can spend the rest of day 11 by exploring the area. There are many famous hikes in the Everglades but these are the best:

On day 12, you’ll explore the area in more detail. You could also go on a full day safari with an airboat. If you’ve got the time, explore the Ten Thousand Islands area as well. Once the day comes to an end, head back to your cap or lodge and chill out.

gator in biscayne national park florida

Day 13: Miami

Depart the Everglades and head to Miami. Depending on when you’ve left, you can have a look at Miami’s cool neighborhoods:

  • Little Haiti

Go out for a drink at night in Miami’s best bars, pubs and clubs.

Day 14: Miami

Depending on how hungover you are, you can either spend the day chilling on the beach or go diving in Biscayne Bay – both very cool activities. You can also check out South Beach, Bal Harbor or Surfside. Since this is the last day, why not get fucked up again? You’ve earned it! But make sure your bags are packed.

*Indicates that this day was copied from a previous itinerary

Backpacking the USA has some amazing places to offer. And Florida hosts loads of them! Below is a list of the best Florida road trip stops. Study them well and decide which ones you like the most.

Road Trip to Miami

Ah yes, backpacking Miami! Home to beautiful people, some of the best beaches in Florida, and a nightlife that doesn’t quit.

Miami is one of the richest and wealthiest cities in the USA. Its glittering city center, which hosts the tallest skyline in America, is home to many prosperous banks and institutions. Miami receives more tourists than any other American city and is undoubtedly the best city to visit in Florida.

It’s also one of the most culturally unique cities in the USA thanks in part to its enormous immigrant population. More than 70% of the population is non-White Hispanic and more people speak Spanish as a first language, rather than English. For this reason, Miami is jokingly referred to as being the “Capital of South America.” Some people assume that Miami is a dangerous melting pot , but we can assure you that this isn’t the case, unless you’re looking for trouble.

Miami’s Latin residents really give the city the flair that it’s known for. Walking around the interesting neighborhoods of Little Havana and Little Haiti  will offer insight not only into the local cultures but also afford you chances to try their amazing cuisines. Just keep your head on a swivel as some parts of these districts are more dangerous than others, especially at night.

Being the chic destination that is though, Miami is not short of elegant, affluent districts. The Design District , Brickell , Coconut District , and Coral Gables are among the trendiest neighborhoods in town and offer visitors lots in the way of splurging.

Those looking for hipper, more downtempo areas to hang out in should check out Wynwood , Midtown , and Upper Eastside .

Of course, most people make a road trip to Miami for the beaches, which are amazing. Most are located on the separate island city of Miami Beach . Be sure to visit South Beach , Aventura , Surfside , and Bal Harbor for the best beaches in Miami. South Beach, in particular, is very famous for its art, food, and fashion scenes. If you want to step your vacation up a notch, you can rent a boat in Aventura for the day and explore the sub-tropical Floridian waters.

Best Hostels in Miami

Epic Places to Visit in Miami

Miami Itinerary

Where to Stay in Miami

miami skyline and beach florida road trip

Road Trip to Fort Lauderdale

Just north of Miami is the notorious Fort Lauderdale , famous for once being the spring break capital of America. If you ever watched MTV in the 80s and 90s, then your impression of this city will be wasted college kids who cause utter mayhem.

These days, Fort Lauderdale is much more laidback, having done the best it could to shake the worst of the spring breakers. The city is, in fact, very beautiful and is often called the “Venice of America” due in part to the many canals that run through it.

With some of the best artificial diving in Florida just off the coast and plenty of amazing beaches, Fort Lauderdale is filled to the rim with amazing things to do.

Las Olas is the main strip in Fort Lauderdale and hosts most of the city’s art galleries, museums, and shops. It’s a very clean and pretty part of town, lined with boutique stores and billowing trees. If you’re looking to explore a bit of Fort Lauderdale, this is the place to start.

Of course, most people visit Fort Lauderdale for the beaches, which are, expectedly, very good. The main “Strip” of beaches starts at Las Olas Blvd and ends around Sunrise Blvd . If you’re wondering where to stay in Fort Lauderdale , this would be your go-to area!

Between these two streets are the most popular stretches of sand as well as the busiest cafes, restaurants, and bars in the city. You’ll find loads of awesome Fort Lauderdale hotels here as well.

In reality, the beach continues much further though – all the way into Boca Raton and even beyond. Those looking for a quieter beach shouldn’t have a problem.

Be sure to visit the Bonnet House and Hugh Taylor Birch State Park . The latter offers good hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.

fort lauderdale port with skyline in background

Road Trip to the Florida Keys

No road trip to Florida is complete without visiting the Florida Keys. Located southwest of Miami in the Caribbean Sea , these are among the most beautiful places in Florida.

More impressive though – they are connected to the mainland via Highway 1A1 , which has to be one of the most stunning roads in the world.

A road trip through the Florida Keys is definitely one of the best things to do in the state! While driving on this route, you will be surrounded on all sides by the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. The views are amazing and it feels like you are gliding above the water.

Most people make a road trip to the Florida Keys while on holiday to visit the many beaches, go diving, and sample some local delicacies like key lime pie.

Though the road through the Florida Keys is long, the Keys themselves are not large by any means. Admittedly, most attractions are small here – the beaches are certainly compact – and are fairly limited actually.

There are a few things to do in the Florida Keys that are noteworthy. Strewn throughout the keys are several excellent parks that offer quintessential Caribbean scenery. Bahia Honda Beach is one of the best places to play in the ocean for sure.

Key West has a thriving nightlife as well as Ernest Hemingway’s former home, which is now a museum. Diving is perhaps the most popular activity in the Keys as it’s excellent here, especially near Key Largo .

The westernmost portion of the Keys is Dry Tortugas National Park. The Florida 1A1 does not go this far into the ocean – it ends at Key West – so the park is only accessible by boat.

Dry Tortugas hosts Fort Jefferson , the largest brick masonry project in the Western Hemisphere, and the Tortugas Islands . Set amongst the shoals of Caribbean coral, the fort itself is extremely impressive if not for its scope then for its gorgeous natural surroundings.

florida keys view from space

Road Trip to the Everglades

The Everglades are the most visited national park in Florida and arguably one of the most important natural sanctuaries in the USA.

Among the shallow waters, the labyrinthian cypress groves, and the towering pines are some of the most precarious wildlife species in the South, including the Florida panther, manatees, and the American crocodile, to name a few.

The Everglades are an extremely vital part of the surrounding ecosystems and provide crucial support the wildlife and humans as well. The habitability of much of Southern Florida depends on the Everglades so much so that it became a protected national park and the source of great rehabilitation.

A road trip through the Everglades will be a very enlightening if not exhilarating experience. The landscape here is powerful and exploring it is certainly one of the most unique things to do in Florida.

There is are two roads that enter the Everglades: the first is Florida 1A1 running along the eastern edge of the park, and the second is  Highway 9336 , which penetrates deeper into the park. Be aware there is only one gas pump at the very end of 9336. Though many of the park’s attractions are accessible by vehicle, the best parts of the Everglades require a watercraft.

The Everglades are most often experienced via an airboat – those weird looking watercrafts with giant propellers. Booking a tour with one of these will grant you plenty of opportunities to see wildlife.

The Everglades also hosts a number of hiking and bike trails. The dry season is the best time to do both as the trails will be clear and the water will be low enough to spot local wildlife. Some popular trails include Anhinga , Shark Valley , and Long Pine Key Trail .

crocodiles in everglades road trip in florida

Road Trip to Tampa Bay

In a state where every city feels either like a resort or an amusement park, Tampa Bay may be the only place that actually feels like a city. Tampa Bay is one of the most important economic sectors in the state, being a crucial center for technology, shipping, research, and manufacturing.

Tampa Bay is arguably grittier if not more authentic city than Miami or Fort Lauderdale, which can feel somewhat simulated at times. That being said, Tampa Bay is still a Floridian city, which means that the sun keeps on shining (statistically more than Miami, actually) and the beaches are never too far away. For these reasons, Tampa Bay is one of the best cities to visit in Florida.

Tampa Bay is a huge metropolitan area composed of several smaller cities. The three largest cities in Tampa Bay area are  Tampa , St. Petersburg , and Clearwater . Tampa is considered the hub of the three. As a whole, the Tampa Bay area is one of the best and cheapest places to visit in Florida as well.

Tampa has several districts worth visiting. The Downtown area has most of the city’s cultural centers including the Museum of Art , the Henry B Plant Museum , the Aquarium , and the Children’s Museum .

Most fun to visit is Ybor City , which is the historic immigrant quarter. Here you’ll find theremnants of Tampa’s once-prosperous cigar business, not to mention the best bars and restaurants in the city.

Across the bay is St. Petersburg, which is like a smaller version of Tampa. Like Tampa, there are several fascinating museums in St. Petersburg like the Dali Museum , Florida Holocaust Museum , and Fine Arts Museum .

St. Pete has a thriving nightlife! Be sure to go out to Central Av on the first Friday of every month for a big block party.

Finally, Clearwater has the best beaches in the area. Staying in Clearwater Beach is considered a must since it’s the best city beach but local state parks like Sand Key , Caladesi Island , and Honeymoon Islands are fierce competitors.

tampa bay skyline florida road trip

Road Trip to Orlando

Referred to as the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” Orlando hosts some of the largest and most notorious amusement parks in the entire world.

Orlando is great! Here you’ll find Meccas of amusement like Disney World , Universal Resorts , and LegoLand , all of which attract more than 70 million visitors per year. These complexes are absolutely enormous and are practically self-contained cities unto themselves, complete with private lodgings, restaurants, and public transport.

While you’re more than welcome to visit these places, you won’t find any suggestions for the themeparks in this guide.

Outside of the amusement parks, Orlando itself is a garden-city that hosts some of the most impressive botanic gardens and parks in the state. Places like Harry P. Leu Gardens , Mead Botanical Garden , and the Historic Bok Sanctuary offer an impressive variety of flowers and flora from all over the world.

Orlando is also surrounded by countless lakes. Lake Eola , near the center of Orlando, is one of the centerpieces of the city. This lake hosts the majority of the city’s public events and festivals as well.

Lake Tohopekaliga and Lake Kissimmee are also very bucolic places that offer good wildlife viewing opportunities – in particular, bald eagles are commonly spotted.

North of Orlando, there are several freshwater springs. These springs often have crystal-clear water – a phenomenon that Central Florida is famous for – and are great places for swimming.

Rock Springs , the Ocala National Forest , and Rainbow Springs are all worth checking out. In the cooler winter months, Blue Springs sometimes receives visiting manatees as well. (Rainbow Springs is a bit further west and is actually a great road trip from Tampa as well.)

Best Airbnbs in Orlando

Best Places to Visit in Orlando

Best Things to Do in Orlando

Where to Stay in Orlando

freshwater spring in central florida

Road Trip on the Atlantic Coast

We’re returning to the Atlantic Coast of Florida and starting a long journey north all the way to the border of Georgia. Along the way, you’ll be seeing more of the best of Florida, including some of its most famous attractions. The best surfing in Florida is also found on this part of the coast.

Directly east of Orlando on the Atlantic Coast is the Kennedy Space Center , which has been the primary launching pad for NASA’s spacecrafts for the last 30 years. Rockets are still launched at Kennedy but, these days, mostly carry cargo. You can visit the Kennedy Space Center in person, and check for upcoming launches here.

On to the beaches though! South of Kennedy are the quieter coastal communities of Cocoa Beach and Vero Beach . Cocoa Beach and the nearby Sebastian’s Inlet are two excellent places to go surfing in Florida.

Directly north of Kennedy is the Canaveral National Seashore , which is one of the longest stretches of undeveloped beach in Florida. Beyond this is Daytona Beach , home to the Daytona 500 Races. The beach suburbs of Flagler , Ormond , and Smyrna are where you’ll find the best waves for surfing.

Moving on north we arrive in St. Augustine , which is most notable for its Spanish heritage. This anachronistic town is a relic from Spanish colonialism and is full historical architecture. The Castillo de San Marcos is the most impressive colonial site.

Finally, we arrive in the largest city on the Atlantic Coast of Florida: Jacksonville . Jacksonville is a sprawling metropolis but still slightly smaller than Miami in terms of population. The city does have a number of museums and historical landmarks, but most people visit for the beach (what else?).

There are a ton of attractions in Jacksonville , but most visit for Jacksonville Beach , a lovely city beach but pales in comparison to the nearby Amelia Island , which is one of the most desirable vacation spots in the USA.

florida liftoff kennedy space station florida

Road Trip to the Florida Panhandle

The Panhandle is Florida’s best-kept secret. Aside from hosting the state’s capital, Tallahassee , this region also has some of the best beaches in Florida. Best of all, you can find some very affordable lodges here, making it one of the best cheap places to visit in Florida too.

The most developed part of the Florida Panhandle is the Emerald Coast aka the Miracle Strip aka the Redneck Riviera .

This area includes the larger coastal cities of Pensacola , Panama City , and Destin . Between these cities are some absolutely spectacular beaches that are relatively untouched compared to overrun coastline around Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

The Emerald Coast attracts families from all over the South, who want to make their own road trip to Florida. For this reason, this area receives far less international tourists, which is probably why it feels less hectic and also probably the reason why people call it the “Redneck Riviera.”

Those who really want to go into the Heart of Darkness that is Florida should head to the Forgotten Coast . The local towns found here are among the least visited communities in Florida.

Though the Forgotten Coast has its fair share of beaches, it’s much more rugged (in a Floridia kind of way) and has a more coastal forest. Consider going on an adventure here if the rest of the state feels boring to you.

The interior of the Florida Panhandle is where you’ll find the state capital of Tallahassee. As the administrative center of the state, Tallahassee has lots of activities to offer . One of the highlights are the several historical museums that exhibit everything from colonization to WWII to natural phenomenon.

Aside from being the capital, Tallahassee is also a college town, hosting the immensely popular Florida State University , which means that this town can get pretty wild on weekends and game days.

beach boardwalk in florida

Check out our list of the  Best Places to Visit in the USA  for inspiration on this entire country!

Off the Beaten Path Florida Road Trip Destinations

Want to take a less-traveled road trip route in Florida? Then check out these off the beaten path locations for a chance to see something different!

  • Sarasot: An eclectic town that has some absolutely stunning beaches and cultural landmarks. Most importantly, Sarasota has the Siesta Key, which has been called the cleanest/whitest beach in the world. If we’re being honest, Sarasota isn’t really unknown and really isn’t off the beaten path (it’s a short road trip from Tampa) but, regardless, it is still worth mentioning.
  • Gainesville: This city hosts one of Florida’s most popular higher-learning institutions – the University of Florida. The university is arguably the best and home to the most active student population in the state, though with parties happening all the time. Several freshwater springs are very close to Gainesville as well, which make for good day trips.
  • Naples: A very quiet town that has some of the best beaches in Florida (we heavily emphasis on the “quiet” part). Not much exciting happens in Naples, probably because most of the population is in their golden years. Visit here if you need a good place to cure a massive hangover from Miami and need some quality beach time. It’s pretty close to Sanibel Island as well, which is definitely worth a visit.
  • Big Cypress National Preserve: This is the northern portion of the Everglades that features more swampy scenery. It is much less visited than the national park and a great alternative. Hunting, camping, and hiking are all popular here. The 1000-mile-long Florida Trail also starts in Big Cypress and runs all the way to the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

big cypress reserve sunset florida

Roadside Attractions in Florida

Looking for weird Florida attractions? Nothing gets stranger than the state’s roadside attractions! These odd yet iconic landmarks are often found out in the middle of nowhere and have become some of the most popular road trips in Florida.

If you need to take a break from a long drive, try stopping by one of these 5 Florida roadside attractions for a moment.

  • The Fountain of Youth (St. Augustine): Geriatrics may have been seeking a way to turn back time when they fled to Florida but this Fountain of Youth is, unfortunately, only a museum. Juan Ponce de Leon famously arrived here and declared the legendary fountain existed at a local spring. Nowadays, the spring water is sold to visitors, wondering if they will actually become younger from drinking it.
  • Weeki Wachee Mermaids (Weeki Wachee): One of the most culturally significant roadside attractions in Florida, this place features mermaids – trained performers – swimming around a freshwater pool and doing stunts for attendees. It has since become a state park.
  • Flamingo Gardens (Davie): A real-life Garden of Eden that features hundreds of plant and animal species. The animals are often brought to the park to be rehabilitated following an accident- some are released while others remain due to serious injury.
  • Goofy Golf (Panama City): One of the most extravagant and kitschy golf courses that you’ll ever see. 18 holes with giant, strange, and, most of all, artistic obstacles.
  • Skunk Ape Research Headquarters (Ochopee): Been to Colorado and Oregon and still can’t find the elusive Bigfoot? Florida has its own version of the monster, Skunk Ape, who terrorizes locals with his horrible smell. See the evidence here.

gatorland florida road trip

Florida Scenic Drives

Looking for more Florida road trip ideas? Check out any one of these scenic routes below, which feature some of the best places to visit on a Florida road trip.

  • Florida Keys (Florida 1A1): Arguably the most well-known and beautiful road in Florida, you can travel overseas via this impressive landbridge to the Florida Keys. On this route, you’ll pass by the occasional atoll and mangrove forest but mostly you’ll just be surrounded by the cerulean waters of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Big Bend (Florida 98, 329, 65): A remote road in Northwestern Florida that features lots of wetlands, old growth forest, and animal habitats. This is one of the most unique places in Florida with some of the most interesting wildlife in the state including carnivorous plants, several avians, and Florida bobcat. There is beautiful Gulf-scenery as well.
  • The Grade (Florida 714): A soft-used road that connects Stuart and Okeechobee Lake. Features pastoral Floridian scenery and giant trees that form a canopy over the road.
  • Lemon Bay/Myakka Trail (Florida 776): A very quiet and secluded part of Southern Florida that features old-Floridian settlements and hidden beaches. Great area to explore in Florida if you want to get away from the tourist masses and areinterested in history. There are good walking trails in the area as well.
  • Florida Black Bear National Byway (Florida 19, 40): A series of roads that wind through the Ocala National Forest, which is one of the most beautiful places in Florida. Inside the forest are sand dunes, secret glades, and a series of stunning crystalline pools. This is one of the coolest places to explore in Florida.
  • The Ridge (Florida 17): This route affords views of quintessential Central Florida, including citrus plantations, dusty roads, and inland lakes. Along the way is the Bok Tower, a giant structure in the middle of nowhere that “sings,” which has to be one of the coolest things in Florida.

road trip on the florida coast

Best Diving in Florida

Being at the nexus of the gorgeous Caribbean Sea and the highly nutritious Gulf of Mexico, Florida has some of the most spectacular underwater worlds in North America! With myriads of reefs and underwater wrecks, there is no end to the diving opportunities in Florida.

Refer below for a list of some of the best diving in Florida.

  • Tenneco Towers – A sunken oil rig turned into the largest man-made reef in Florida. Swimming in this behemoth structure and watching the ocean life takeover is definitely one of the cooler things to do in Florida.
  • Blue Heron Bridge – A very convenient dive site located just north of West Palm Beach . The bridge shelters lots of amazing marine life like octopuses, seahorses, angelfish, and rays. Good for snorkelers and divers.
  • Biscayne National Park – Located in the Eastern Florida Keys. Good mix of wrecks and natural reefs that is more preserved thanks to the “national park” title. Popular dive sites include Elkhorn Reef, the Alicia wreck, and Ajax barrier reef.
  • Key Largo – Features some of the most impressive shipwrecks and artificial reefs in North America, and is one of the best areas in the Florida Keys. Spiegel Grove is the largest wreck and attracts the most attention. Bibb and Duane wrecks, as well as the Molasses Reef, are also worth seeing. Also hosts a giant underwater Jesus.
  • Devil’s Den & Blue Grotto – The best cave diving in Florida. These grottos, located near Williston in Central Florida, have some clearest water in the state and preserve many strange objects; from fossils to the remains of a drowned man.
  • Crystal River – The best place to go swimming with manatees ! Only snorkeling is allowed in the areas where the manatees frequent but divers will find plenty of interesting sites nearby. Non-manatee sites feature underwater springs and schools of grouper, snapper, and largemouth bass.

swimming with manatees florida

Florida, being the tourist behemoth that it is, has a vast array of hotels to choose from. Lodging in Florida runs the gamut from swanky resorts to charming bungalows to cheap motels . Between these many options, you’re sure to find the right one for you. For a unique experience, check out these epic treehouses in Florida . You may only visit Florida once so why not make it a memorable stay!

Make no mistake though – lodging in Florida ain’t cheap.

If you’re on a budget road trip in Florida and need a hotel, you’ll have to stick to the cheaper motels and roadhouses. These lodges can be pretty basic, sometimes offering no more than a few walls and a roof over your head. Expect to pay no less than $80 for budget hotels in Florida.

Airbnbs are sometimes more preferable to hotels as they can be cheaper and more interesting. There are some pretty wild vacation rentals in Florida – I’ve seen tree houses, houseboats, man caves, and even a whole private island! There are many awesome vacation rentals in Miami that make for an excellent starting point for your road trip.

If you like the homely comforts but don’t fancy self-catering, consider checking out a bed and breakfast in Florida which at least provides you with a hearty breakfast before a days exploring.

There are many hostels in Florida and these are usually the most affordable lodging options, especially for solo travelers. Florida hostels offer just as good if not better quality of amenities than conventional hotels. Be aware that hostels located near vacations areas like Fort Lauderdale can be overly loud and raucous.

If you’re feeling lucky you could try your hand at Couchsurfing, but the competition for hosts is quite high.

florida road trip

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

Best Budget Accommodation for a Florida Road Trip

panorama of miami florida

Camping in Florida

Camping is one of the best ways to go on a budget Florida road trip! There are all kinds of campgrounds in Florida that offer a wide range of amenities and rates. Generally speaking, there are four types: private , public , dispersed , and backcountry/primitive . Below is a brief explanation of each.

  • Private – Larger campgrounds that offer the most amenities including communal kitchens, showers, and maybe onsite restaurants. Most appropriate for demanding campers. Most expensive as well. Payment is made through the office of the owners.
  • Public – More basic campgrounds that offer limited but crucial amenities. Running water, electricity, and bathrooms should be (but are not always) present. Good prices. Payment is made to a public organization either online or via a dropbox at the camp.
  • Dispersed – aka wild camping, primitive camping . Camping in an area that is not an official campground but is still legal. Little to no amenities. Almost always free.
  • Backcountry/Primitive – Camps located in the wilderness areas. Almost always require a hike to reach. Often no facilities so campers must bring food, cooking gear, camp supplies, etc. Permits are usually required and can be arranged at a nearby ranger station.

A lot of campgrounds, especially those at the national parks, can fill up very quickly. Consider booking a campground ahead of time to ensure that you have a spot.

If there are no campgrounds left at a specific place, there may be walk-up sites available, which you’ll need to arrive early to claim. If you strike-out on the walk-up sites as well, there may be overflow camping nearby.

The best places to find free camping in Florida are the Water Management Areas . Similar to the West Coast’s BLM, conventional campers will find camping in the FWMA very straightforward – RVs campers may have difficulty finding a larger space. For a larger compendium of free camping in Florida, refer to this website.

florida campground with rvs

Traveling without insurance would be risky so do consider getting good backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

florida road trip

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Best Time to Visit Florida

Florida is subject to a semi-tropical climate. This means that Florida only has two distinct seasons – a hot, humid summer and a cool, dry winter.

The winter months (November-April) are generally considered the best months to visit Florida. Temperatures are pleasant, rain is sporadic, and the air is usually crisp.

This time of year also sees the greatest amount of tourists, which means that prices will be at their highest levels. Granted, prices shouldn’t be so high as to dissuade those looking for a budget road trip in Florida but these people may want to take advantage of the campgrounds during this time.

Summers in Florida (May-October) are the rainy seasons, which means storms, high winds, and a shit ton of rain. Thankfully, rain usually falls in the late afternoons – those who want to visit the beach can still do so in the mornings. Prices are usually lower during this time.

Oddly enough, the summer does see some sporadic spikes in prices due in part to families going on vacation during the holidays. Since most families only visit certain destinations in Florida, like Disneyworld (Orlando) and the Keys, you can usually avoid the hordes with the right planning.

Hurricane season is officially from June-November and peaks between August-September. Hurricanes are not to be taken lightly as these natural disasters cause huge amounts of damage to property and lives.

Hurricanes generally do the most damage in the South of Florida in the Gulf and on Caribbean shores but have been known to travel as far north as the Atlantic coast. Be very aware of the weather alerts when on a summer road trip in Florida.

hurricane season florida truck in flooded streets

Why Visit this Part of the World

There’s a reason why working Americans dream of settling in Florida and celebrities consistently visit this state. Florida has some of the best beaches, best parties, best weather, best food, best vacation spots, and a whole lot more superlatives in the entire United States.

Florida represents a lot of Americans’ idea of paradise (just ask Ash from Evil Dead) and, for this reason, many retire here.

Florida is a unique state with its mixture of culture, beauty, tourism, and political charge. Nowhere else in the country will you find such a strong immigrant population, which is so prevalent, mind you, that many portions of the state don’t even feel like the USA at all.

Miami is the centerpiece of the state and one of the most desirable cities in the world, right up there with San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. It is a supremely glamorous place with glittering towers and shining residents who exude confidence. With some of the most beautiful city beaches ever and a host of world-class restaurants, you’d be hard-pressed to find a place more satiating to hedonistic desires.

If you get tired of Miami’s exuberance and Latin culture, there’s the whole other part to the state as well! You can hang out in hip Tampa Bay, eat barbecue in Jacksonville, and swim in Central Florida’s turquoise pools. Better yet, there are still more and more beaches – more than you could possibly visit in a lifetime! If you really want to experience the best of Tampa Bay, you can charter your own yacht at an affordable price.

Top Tips for Broke Backpackers and Road Trippers

Below is a list of Florida road trip ideas for saving money. Try and practice these as much as possible.

  • Rent an economy car: Prices can be as low as $25/day depending on the time of year and how far in advance you reserve. Economy cars are also more fuel efficient so you’ll save on fuel. Use apps like ViaMichelin to find cheap gas, which, seriously, always ends up being one of the most surprising and costly expenses on a road trip.
  • Use vehicle relocation services: These brilliant services offer huge discounts to people on the condition they get a vehicle to a certain place at a certain time. No joke, you can rent a car sometimes for as low as $1/day! Availability is very limited though, so keep a watchful eye on the sites. Check immova and Cruise America to start with.
  • Sleep overnight in an empty lot: Though not technically legal, people sleep in parking lots all the time. Make sure the lot is safe by asking around. Walmarts are reportedly good places to park overnight as they allow overnight parking.
  • Camp: Unless you want to fork out big bucks for a lodge, you have to camp. Campgrounds are way less expensive and sometimes even free. Check out this post for a breakdown of the best tents to take backpacking.  If you’re feeling really adventurous and want to save some cash, consider picking up a backpacking hammock.
  • Cook your own food: Eating out can be very expensive. Cook your own food as much as possible to save – I recommend bringing a portable backpacking stove. Otherwise, have a fancy night out at a food cart.
  • Do free shit: There are lots of free activities in Florida! From hiking to laying on the beach to going to the local monuments; all of these things cost you nill. Be sure to keep your ear to the ground for all things free in Florida.
  • Buy an America the Beautiful Pass : Seriously, if you’re visiting more than two national parks, you’d be a fool not to buy this.
  • Pack a travel water bottle : It’s good for your wallet and the environment.

flamingo swimming in florida

Camping in Florida – Gear Checklist

Camping is a very enjoyable activity in Florida. You could sleep in your car or an RV while on a road trip to Florida but sleeping outside under the stars is way more fun. Having a good tent will keep you comfortable on those chilly nights and give you lots of flexibility when it comes to finding a place to sleep.

Packing for Florida is just as important as planning your trip. So here are the absolute essentials:

Pacsafe belt

Travel Security Belt

This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

sea to summit towel

Microfiber Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Gifts for backpackers

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

GEAR-Monoply-Game

‘Monopoly Deal’

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Mesh Laundry Bag Nomatic

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

packable travel medical kit

Things go wrong on the road ALL THE TIME. Be prepared for what life throws at you.

Buy an AMK Travel Medical Kit before you head out on your next adventure – don’t be daft!

Books to Read during your Florida Road Trip

These are some of my favorite travel reads and books set in Florida. Read one or two and you may have some great road trips ideas for Florida…

  • To Have and To Have Not – A family man gets involved with the drug smuggling business in the Key West and ends up in a strange affair. Written by the great Ernest Hemingway.
  • Back to Blood – Explores one of the culturally distinct and independent cities in the USA through the eyes of Miami cop, Nestor Camacho. An exploration of the Cuban and Latin communities by the highly respected Tom Wolfe.
  • The Yearling – A young Florida boy living in the backwoods finds a wounded faun and nurses her back to health. He must struggle to keep it safe from predators and the harshities of life.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God – One of the most important and culturally uplifting novels for the African-American community. Told through a series of flashbacks, which occur in mostly in Slave-era Florida.
  • Rum Punch – The crime novel that inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown . A low-level flight attendant and secret smuggler, Jackie Burke, get caught between the law and her devious employer.
  • The Orchid Thief – A man becomes obsessed with acquiring an extremely rare flower and goes on an epic quest to Florida to obtain it.
  • Lonely Planet: Florida – It’s sometimes worth traveling with a guidebook.

florida road trip

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Make Money Online whilst Traveling in Florida

Want to stay in the USA longer? Worried that you don’t have enough cash for a longer Florida road trip? One idea is to make money while traveling!

Teaching English online is a great way to earn a consistent income—from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection. Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate) you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills!

It’s a win-win! Check out this detailed article for everything you need to know to start  teaching English online .

In addition to giving you the qualifications to teach English online, TEFL courses open up a huge range of opportunities and you can find teaching work all over the world. To find out more about TEFL courses and how you can teach English around the world, read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad .

Broke Backpacker readers get a 50% discount on TEFL courses with MyTEFL (simply enter the code PACK50), to find out more, please read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.

Whether you are keen to teach English online or looking to take your teaching game a step further by finding a job teaching English in a foreign country, getting your TEFL certificate is absolutely a step in the right direction.

sunset on beach in florida people playing

Renting a car is the most popular way of getting around Florida. There are a myriad of car rental agencies here that offer varying deals and varying models.

To find the best rental car deal in the USA, use search engines that compare the prices from individual companies. We personally like using rentalcars.com as they’ve never failed to give us a great price.

Renting an RV in Florida is also a great option. Although it might come out as a bit more expensive, because of gas and higher prices at campgrounds, it allows you to not worry so much about your camping gear and makes for some pretty epic road trips!

We suggest booking a campervan with Outdoorsy as they usually have a good selection and good prices. Better yet, Broke Backpackers also get a $40 discount with Outdoorsy! Just use the coupon code “BACKPACKER” when checking out.

The roads in Florida are generally very good and a sedan or economy car should deliver you to most of the state’s top destinations. Only in the most remote portions of the swamps, will the roads be so bad that you need 4×4 or at least high clearance.

Tips for Saving Money on Car Rentals in the US

  • We mentioned before that you can reach out to vehicle relocation services, like immova and Cruise America , as a way of saving heaps of cash on rentals. Pursue these as best you can as they can save you a lot of money. Don’t get your hopes up too much though, as availability is always limited.
  • Car insurance isn’t always mandatory in the USA but is highly encouraged. This being said, you don’t necessarily have to buy car insurance from the company you’re renting from. Purchase a RentalCover.com policy to cover your vehicle against any common damages such as tires, windscreens, theft, and more at a fraction of the price you would pay at the rental desk.
  • Many credit card companies offer free car insurance if you book the car with the proper card. Call your credit card company for more information regarding terms and conditions.

driving over bridge in miami florida

Food in Florida

Floridian food is a mix of Southern American and Caribbean cooking. In the north, you’ll find more Southern fare like barbecue, fried snacks, and other comfort foods. Miami and the southern tip of Florida are definitely more influenced by the state’s Caribbean communities – Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, Dominican, etc are all very common styles and are served very authentic.

Florida and its chefs benefit from a very productive agriculture sector that is active near year-round. Florida grows an amazing variety of fruits and these are featured heavily in local dishes.

Expect to see lots of citrus, mango, papaya, and even strawberries. Key lime pie, a Florida creation, is another example of fruity Florida cooking at its finest.

Fish is also a staple of the Florida diet due in part to the ocean’s sheer presence. Grouper is the most common type of fish and is found on just about any menu. Shark, snapper, tarpon, and oysters are also common catches in Florida. Seafood is usually prepared fresh in the southern parts of the state – i.e. grilled or as ceviche  – while the northern part tends to fry it.

You will have many opportunities to sample the local food while on a road trip through Florida.

Restaurants and diners are, of course, ubiquitous throughout the state but do tend to be expensive. You can visit a local market for fresh fruit and fish and then cook it yourself or you can take the fish to a restaurant have them cook it, often for a discounted rate.

To save the most on dining, take advantage of the local food carts and taco trucks. These mobile kitchens are staples of good American cooking and are usually very affordable. I’ve had the best chicken, Mexican, barbecue, hell, the best everything at food carts.

cubano sandwich florida food

Get your Buzz On

Unless you haven’t heard from the news already, shit gets weird in Florida, real quick. Florida has some of the craziest and wildest parties in the USA, and there seems to be no end to the ways you can cut loose either! If you can think of a way to have fun, Florida probably does it already.

Miami hosts the most amount of parties in Florida. Here, you can go to a local sports bar, dance at a Latin jazz bar, relax at a beachside cantina or attempt to get into a super ritzy nightclub.

Clubbing in Miami is very serious business. People invest a lot of time and money to make sure that they appear absolutely perfect in public while at the club. For this reason, going to a club in Miami requires a lot of effort.

If you want to go clubbing in Miami, you need to dress very appropriately – dresses, skirts, high heels, collars, pants, close-toed, etc – and conduct yourself properly.

You will have to stand in line for quite a while to get into the club; men, in particular, will have a hard time getting in. To maximize your chances of getting in a club in Miami, try to get on “the list” and avoid pissing off the bouncer.

Most of the younger crowds party in the college towns – Tallahassee and Gainesville – or at certain beach locations – Daytona Beach and South Beach.

If you’re on a spring road trip in Florida be very aware, ney terrified, of the Spring Break crowds. They will descend onto the beaches and cause a ruckus for a week straight.

Note that a few counties in North Florida are dry i.e. do not permit the consumption of alcohol. They are Lafayette , Liberty , and Washington . If you’re in one of these counties, you will not be able to buy or drink booze.

Being a Responsible Backpacker in Florida

Remember to be a respectful and responsible backpacker on your Florida road trip. Depart from the grounds at a decent hour and follow leave no trace principles.

Furthermore, don’t be like the Spring Breakers and trash peoples homes and beaches.

Reduce your plastic footprint: Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world. Don’t buy one-use water bottles, the plastic ends up in a landfill or in the ocean.

I know it can be hard, but do your best to use the least amount of plastic water bottles that you can. Refill the ones that you do buy! Use a GRAYL GEOPRESS . Refill at your hostel/guest house! There are plenty of ways to reduce plastic!!!

grayl geopress filter bottle

Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the worlds leading filtered water bottle protecting you from all manner of waterborne nasties.

Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle. Save money and the environment!

We’ve tested the Geopress  rigorously  from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Bali, and can confirm: it’s the best water bottle you’ll ever buy!

florida road trip

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Colleen Kinsey

Colleen Kinsey

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Wander Era

The Perfect 1-Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary (Stops & Activities)

Looking for ideas to plan the perfect 1-week Florida road trip itinerary?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! I’m here to be your virtual travel guide, sharing all the best details and must-see spots for an unforgettable week-long trip.

From vibrant cities like Miami to pristine beaches like Siesta Beach and everything in between, Florida has a variety of landscapes and adventures. And hey, why listen to me? Well, I’ve explored lots of places in this beautiful state as a former resident and can offer some insider tips and hidden gems. 

Ready? Let’s dive into this 7 day Florida road trip itinerary through the Sunshine State!

Table of Contents

Florida Road Trip 1 Week Itinerary

While it’s (surprisingly) difficult to plan a Florida road trip 1 week itinerary, I’ll do my best to give you some great ideas to help you plan and find what’s best for you. You’ll be starting out in Miami, heading to the Gulf Coast, central Florida and then back to Miami. 

Note: This itinerary assumes you’ll be flying into Miami International Airport (MIA) and that you’ll be driving from there. (As an alternative, you can also reach Miami by bus .)

Day 1 – Miami

Welcome to the vibrant city of Miami, where the sun always shines and the energy is contagious! Your road trip is about to kick off with a bang as we dive headfirst into the captivating charms of the Magic City. 

Explore Miami Beach

Florida road trip itinerary

Miami Beach is a must-visit destination in Miami. Start your day right with an incredible breakfast at The Front Porch Café, known for its mouth watering pancakes and cozy beachfront vibes. 

The Miami Beach area is famous for its white-sand beaches, clear waters, and Art Deco architecture. Take a stroll along Ocean Drive and admire the colorful buildings, or rent a bike and explore the area on two wheels. You can also rent a beach chair and umbrella and soak up some sun on the beach.

Explore Little Havana

Make sure to swing by Little Havana, a vibrant neighborhood that exudes the spirit of Cuba. Stroll along Calle Ocho, inhale the aroma of freshly rolled cigars, and savor a strong cup of Cuban coffee. Immerse yourself in the rhythmic beats of salsa music and witness the passionate art of salsa dancing. It’s a sensory experience you won’t want to miss!

For a delicious lunch, head over to Versailles, an iconic Cuban restaurant in Little Havana, where you can savor authentic dishes like Ropa Vieja and mouth watering Medianoche sandwiches. 

Check out Wynwood Walls

florida road trip

Wynwood Walls is an outdoor art gallery that features colorful murals and graffiti art. The area is home to many art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Take a stroll around the area and admire the vibrant street art. You can also grab a bite to eat at one of the many food trucks in the area (if you haven’t eaten already).

Enjoy the Nightlife

When dinner time rolls around, make your way to Joe’s Stone Crab, a Miami restaurant famous for its heavenly seafood and lively atmosphere.

Miami is known for its vibrant nightlife. Head to South Beach and party the night away or enjoy a night out at one of the many clubs or bars. You could also check out a rooftop bar in downtown Miami and enjoy a drink with a view (or even a view from a boat ).

That’s it for day one in Miami! Get some rest and get ready for another exciting day on your Florida road trip.

Day 2 – The Everglades

You wake up early on Day 2 of your Florida road trip excited because you’re going to explore the Everglades! The park is located just a short drive from Miami, making it an easy trip.

It’s time to trade the cityscape for a little bit of untamed wilderness. You’ll be driving along the Tamiami Trail since you’ll head to Naples later today while stopping off to explore parts of the Everglades.

Note: You won’t have a chance to see all of the amazing things in this National Park, but you’ll still have a chance to see quite a bit. However, if you’re up for a 2+ hour detour to head to the official Park, I’d say do it! Otherwise, follow this itinerary for a more direct route.

Take an Airboat Tour

Airboat and Everglades

Your day will kick off with an adrenaline-pumping airboat tour through the heart of the Everglades. You’ll zip across the shimmering sawgrass prairies on the lookout for alligators lurking beneath the surface and colorful birds soaring above. Get ready for a wild ride that will leave you with plenty of memories.

Pro-Tip: Morning or dusk is a great time to look for alligators.

Your airboat tour should take about an hour or so and afterwards it’s time to grab some lunch. Coopertown Airboat tour not only has a great tour of the Everglades but also a restaurant where you can try anything from alligator bites to frog legs!

Shark Valley Visitor Center

Shark Valley Visitor Center

After lunch and your airboat tour, head to Shark Valley to see the park’s famous observation tower . The tower offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and you might even spot a few alligators out sunbathing below.

While at Shark Valley, there’s a 15 mile trail to explore via bikes or by a tram tour. This trail offers great views of the Everglades and park’s diverse habitats, including sawgrass marshes, cypress swamps, and hardwood hammocks.

Drive Scenic Loop Road

Get ready for a scenic and adventurous drive along Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve—it’s an absolute gem for this itinerary! This scenic route (Route 94) will take you deep into the heart of the Everglades. 

You’ll navigate the winding road and catch plenty of alligators sunbathing near the roadside. With every twist and turn, you’ll find new landscapes—vast sawgrass marshes, towering cypress trees, and, of course, plenty of wildlife. 

Quick note: this is a dirt road so make sure your car is up for this!

Drive to Naples & Watch the Sunset

As the day draws to a close, it’s time to make your way to the charming coastal city of Naples. You’ll continue to take the Tamiami Trail until you get to Naples. From there, you can either check in to your hotel or head out to the famous Naples Pier to catch the sunset and a quick dinner.

Day 3 – Naples

On day three of your 1 week Florida road trip, you’ll be exploring the beautiful Gulf Coast city of Naples. Naples is known for its beaches, high end shopping, and world class golf courses, so get ready for an exciting day!

Enjoy your morning in the sun

Boardwalk leading down to the white sand of Vanderbilt Beach at

Kickstart your day with a quick breakfast or a coffee pick-me-up. Then, hit the beach (Vanderbilt Beach is a nice spot) for some sunshine or, if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for a more active way to spend the morning. Go swimming, take a stroll along the shore, go paddle boarding or kayaking to explore the waters nearby.

Visit the Highlights in Naples

After your morning in the sun, grab some lunch and then explore one of Naples’ highlights – either the Naples Botanical Garden or the Naples Zoo.

The Naples Botanical Garden is a truly stunning place to visit with plenty of walking trails and wildlife, plus plenty of tropical plants and beautiful blooms to enjoy. If you opt for the zoo, you’ll find a variety of different animals (giraffes are a big hit!) and it’s a great family friendly activity for the afternoon.

Nearby Marco Island is also a great place to explore if you have the time. There are two beautiful public beaches there. Plus, it’s a beautiful island with plenty of great shelling opportunities if you want to hunt for treasures like sand dollars or starfish.

Explore Fifth Avenue South

Naples Pier on the beach at sunset

Head to the popular Fifth Avenue South , about a mile in distance, that has a great selection of shops, bars, and restaurants to explore. This area is the picture of classy and Old World charm. Plus, it’s Naples’ top shopping spot. 

A popular spot for dinner and drinks in Naples is Bar Tulia 5th Ave. Enjoy the lively atmosphere with an incredible cocktail and pair it with some of the best food, like the Truffle pizza or pasta dishes.

Depending on when you go to dinner, you might have a chance to catch the sunset again. Head to a spot for drinks on the patio to watch the sunset (a popular spot is the Sand Bar in the Ritz Carlton) or head back to the Naples Pier to catch one more incredible sunset here.

After a full day out in the sun and then spending the evening eating incredible food in Naples, it’s time for some much needed rest. Start prepping for Day 4 in Siesta Key as you continue your road trip adventure!

Day 4 – Siesta Key

Good morning, beach lovers! Today, we’re off to stunning Siesta Key—one of Florida’s most breathtaking coastal destinations. 

The ride from Naples to Siesta Key is just under two hours. You’ll take Golden Gate Parkway east and then 75N most of the way till you get to Route 72 or Clark Rd, where you’ll take that west to Siesta Key. You’ll cross over the Stickney Point Bascule Bridge, and then you’ll have arrived! 

Head to the Beach!

florida road trip

Kick off the day with a solid breakfast at Sun Garden Café for mouthwatering eggs benedict, chicken and waffles, omelets, and plenty more.

From here, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your swimsuits on, because it’s time to hit the beach. Siesta Key Beach is often rated the #1 Beach in the USA! And you’ll see why when you’re there. Imagine incredibly soft, white sand and crystal-clear blue turquoise waters. You’ll definitely want to make sure you don’t miss this one, so make sure to get there early for parking! 

This beach is the perfect place to start your day whether it’s a stroll along the shore, swimming in the easy waves or soaking up the sun from the sand. With concession stands, restrooms and all the best kinds of amenities, you can easily spend the morning into the afternoon here. 

Explore Siesta Key Village

Now it’s time to explore the vibrant Siesta Key Village. This charming area is packed with a little bit of everything from boutiques and local shops to cozy cafés just begging to be explored. Hunt for unique treasures or souvenirs. When hunger strikes, Siesta Key Oyster Bar is a great place to stop and offers fresh seafood, sandwiches, and of course, oysters!

If you’re not into shopping, you could also use the afternoon to explore the Point of Rocks—a hidden gem that is absolutely perfect for snorkeling. Head into those clear waters and you’ll be amazed by the colorful marine life and mesmerizing underwater scenery.

Dinner, Drinks & Fun

Siesta Keys beach sunset

As the sun begins to set, it’s time to find yourself a cozy spot on the beach (if you didn’t head to the Village yet) to relax and witness the incredible sunset.

After the sunset, or if you’re already in the Village area, you’ll gear up for an evening filled with a casual dinner and live music. Treat yourself to incredible seafood at The Hub Baja Grill or sip on tropical drinks at Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar. And hey, don’t forget to let loose and dance to some awesome live music at the Beach Club.

That’s a wrap for the day in Siesta Key! Sadly, you don’t have enough time to visit one of my other favorites nearby, Anna Maria Island , but you can add that one in for the next time you visit. You’ll be headed to the St. Pete and Tampa area on Day 5 so rest up and get excited to explore the Tampa Bay area!

Day 5 – Tampa & St. Pete

On the fifth day of your Florida road trip, you will explore the vibrant cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg. These two cities are located just a short drive away from each other, making it easy enough to explore both in one day.

From Siesta Key you’ll leave over the Siesta Key North Bridge, take State Highway 758 east until you get to 75N. You’ll be on 75N for a little under an hour and you’ll take exit 8 for the Selmon Expressway that leads to Tampa. The drive is a little over an hour total.

Breakfast & The Riverwalk

florida road trip

Start your day in Tampa by grabbing breakfast at Oxford Exchange, one of my favorite places in Tampa . This is a restaurant, gift store, coffee shop, and much more all in one! It’s a great way to start the day, and it’s about a 10-ish minute walk from the Tampa RiverWalk area. 

After breakfast you’ll head to the Riverwalk, a scenic trail that runs along the Hillsborough River. You can choose to walk this path or rent bikes, whatever you’re feeling up to. There’s lots to see here along the way with plenty of great views. Walk to Armature Works which is along the northern end of the Riverwalk. This is a great place to grab drinks or food before you head to St. Pete.

Explore the St. Pete Area

Salvador Dali Museum

After exploring Tampa, head to St. Pete, which is known for its beautiful beaches and lively arts scene. Visit the Salvador Dali Museum, which houses the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Spain. The museum is located in downtown St. Petersburg and is a must-see for art lovers.

You can also walk along the St. Pete Pier, a scenic boardwalk that offers stunning views from the water with plenty of places to eat and drink and explore.

Dinner & Drinks by the Water

In the evening, head about 20 minutes west to the St. Pete Beach area on the main road, Gulf Blvd. This area is known for its restaurants and nightlife. Grab dinner and drinks at Bongos Beach Bar & Grille, a great spot where you can sit outside in the sand with your dinner and watch the sunset on the beach. 

Day 5 has officially wrapped up, and you’ll be on your way to Orlando tomorrow so prepare for another long but exciting day ahead! 

Day 6 – Orlando

Visiting a theme park in Orlando on the sixth day of your Florida road trip is an exciting way to cap off the second to last day of your journey! I highly recommend waking up as early as possible for today since you’ll be trying to cram a lot into one day.

From Tampa to Orlando, you’ll take I-275 N to I-4 E which you’ll be on for most of the way there. The trip should take you about an hour and a half, but that’s without traffic. 

To make the most of your one day in Orlando, consider purchasing an early entry pass or a pass for the shorter lines. I also only recommend choosing only one park to explore as that will be more than enough for the day (and then some!) Make a list of the must-ride or must-see places for the day, since it’ll go by quickly.

Head to a Theme Park

florida road trip

I would suggest grabbing a quick breakfast and coffee at your hotel before you head out (it’s cheaper that way before you head to the parks!). 

From there, I’d recommend heading to and spending the day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, or Islands of Adventure.

Magic Kingdom is probably the most popular of all of the Disney Parks, Universal Studios is a great option if you’re traveling with kids, and Islands of Adventure is a great option for adults (it’s actually my favorite!)

Lunch & Final Rides

In the afternoon, you’ll grab lunch at whichever park you chose for the day. Make sure you’re referencing your list of must-rides or must-sees. Time flies in a theme park with the long lines and constant walking from one place to another. Prioritize any rides you haven’t yet gotten to since you’re in the final stretch of the day.

Dinner nearby the Park

florida road trip

Depending on which park you chose for the day, closing time might be looming around the corner. This is a great time to head to a spot nearby for dinner. Depending on when your flight is the next day, this could actually be your final dinner of the trip!

If you explored Disney, head to Disney Springs and check out Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant or STK Orlando. If you went to Universal, head to CityWalk and try out VIVO Italian Kitchen or Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food.

Both of these spots have great restaurants, shops and plenty of other things to do, so take your time and enjoy your night.

That’s a wrap for Orlando. It went by pretty quickly, didn’t it? It’s time to check into your hotel and rest up for your next and final day of your 1 week road trip in Florida.

Day 7 – Space Coast & Drive back to Miami

On your last day of the road trip, you’ll be visiting the Space Coast and then heading back to Miami. It’ll be a full day, so I recommend waking up early for it. 

From Orlando, you’ll take 408 E to 50 E, and then 405 to cross the NASA Causeway Bridge to the Kennedy Space Center.

Explore the Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden

Start the day early with a quick breakfast before getting on the road. Check out Easy Luck Coffee & Bodega or Moma’s Cafe, both of which you can’t go wrong with!

Your first stop will be the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida, which is almost an hour away from Orlando by car.

The Space Center opens around 9am, and you’ll want to get there as early as possible to avoid crowds. You’ll spend the morning into the afternoon exploring the Kennedy Space Center . There’s lots to do here so you’ll want to make a list of your top 3 or 4 things to do upfront. A few examples to get you started include the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Rocket Garden, and the Apollo 8 firing room. 

Cocoa Beach & Drive Back to Miami

Cocoa Beach

Grab lunch at the Orbit Cafe, which offers a decent variety of options or the Rocket Garden Cafe that overlooks the Rocket Garden.

After a few hours at the Space Center, it’s time to get back on the road and head to nearby Cocoa Beach. It won’t be a long visit, but you can spend some time relaxing on the beach, swimming, or walking around at this world-famous beach. You can even swap out lunch at the Kennedy Space Center for lunch here on the Cocoa Beach Pier (better & cheaper food, in my opinion).

It’s an almost 4 hour trip back to Miami (without traffic) so you’ll want to make sure you leave enough time for the drive back, whether checking into your hotel or heading to the airport! Make sure you factor that into your plans for the afternoon. You unfortunately won’t have a lot of time to make stops on your drive back to Miami.

You’ll take A1A S and FL-404 W to I-95 S, and from there, you’ll be on I-95 S for most of the way back to Miami.

Final Night in Miami or the Airport

Once you’re back in Miami, check into your hotel for the night or head to the rental car drop off and the airport for your flight.

If you’re staying for the night, you might be exhausted from the week and want to grab takeout or order in for dinner at the hotel. Totally understandable. If you’re still up for a dinner out on your last night, I’d recommend checking out the Taco Stand in Wynwood or the Lobster Shack in Miami Beach for a casual dinner.

As you wind down for the night, it’s time to reflect on such an incredible 1 week road trip through Florida. You’ve covered a lot of ground from Miami to the Gulf Coast to Orlando and then back again. You’ve also managed to see some of the best sites in Florida all in one road trip!

More Road Trips Ideas in Florida

Naturally, only having a week for a road trip in Florida isn’t exactly a lot of time. You might have an extra day or so to explore some other areas, and there’s plenty to explore! Here are some additional destinations for your Florida road trip itinerary that we didn’t cover but would make a great stop on your trip:

  • St. Augustine
  • Daytona Beach
  • West Palm Beach
  • Anna Maria Island

Florida Road Trip Map 

Need a visual of all of the towns we covered on this trip? Here’s a great map of this epic 1-week Florida road trip itinerary. 

You might have a few lingering questions about your road trip in Florida. Here are some common questions and answers for you to help plan your trip.

How many days are needed for a Florida road trip?

It all depends on what you want to do and see. Some people can be satisfied with a week-long experience visiting cities like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. Others prefer to take their time and explore different parts of the state, like the Everglades or the Florida Keys. A two week road trip would give you enough time to explore and enjoy several areas of Florida.

How to plan a road trip to Florida?

Planning a road trip in Florida can be both exciting and overwhelming. Start by making a list of destinations that you want to see and then research different routes that work those places in. It’s best to book hotels and any attractions ahead of time as places fill up quickly! Plus, it’ll be helpful to budget the cost of your trip. 

Final Thoughts: Florida Road Trip 1 Week Itinerary

I hope this 1-week Florida road trip itinerary has been helpful in planning your next vacation. From the vibrant cityscape of Miami to the thrilling theme parks of Orlando and everything in between, we’ve covered a lot of ground!

It can be a lot to plan a road trip, but hopefully I’ve done some of the leg work for you with laying out places to visit. Feel free to change up this itinerary if you’re looking for something a little different, or keep it as is if it sounds like a good fit! Oh, and make sure you book your hotels and buy passes for attractions ahead of time!

So grab a map (or your phone, let’s be real) and get ready for an unforgettable adventure filled with stunning landscapes, exciting experiences, and plenty of memories to be made!

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101 BEST FLORIDA ROAD TRIPS

By   Mike Miller  Updated July 15, 2023

The Florida road trips, and scenic drives you will learn about on this website are the best way to enjoy and experience the real Old Florida out on the back roads.

Vintage Postcard Couple in 1931 Oldsmobile

Road Trips  are all about the scenery and driving routes.  They go through interesting places where you can stop if you'd like or drive on through.  Each of our road trip pages include driving maps.

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These trips are designed to take you off congested highways including interstates.  We make sure, however, that your route is on paved roads not too far from restaurants and food, gas stations, and rest rooms.

Our focus is on on tree canopied routes through historic old towns and rural scenic countryside.  Some of the routes are designated Florida Scenic Highways or Byways by the Florida Department of Transportation.  

FLORIDA REGIONAL ROAD TRIPS THROUGH SMALL TOWNS

We have divided Florida into 8 regions, and each regional web page has a listing of recommended day trips. Each regional web page also has it's own interactive Google Florida state map focused on the region.

Seaside Cottage

Northwest Florida Road Trips and Scenic Drives

1.  Pensacola to DeFuniak Springs on US-90 2.  DeFuniak Springs to Seaside 3.  Pensacola to Seaside on US-98 4.  Panama City Beach to Grayton Beach on Highway 30A 5.  Chattahoochee Loop through Sneads and Marianna 6.  Big Bend Scenic Hwy from Apalachicola to St Marks

Herlong Mansion, Micanopy

North Central Road Trips and Scenic Drives

1.  Quincy to Gainesville on US-90 2.  Panama City to Carrabelle on US-98 3.  Gainesville to Cedar Key on SR-24 4.  Gainesville to Micanopy and McIntosh on US-441 5.  Micanopy to Cross Creek on CR-346 and CR-325 6.  Cross Creek to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Grave 7.  White Springs to Suwannee along the Suwannee River 8.  Big Bend Scenic Highway from Apalachicola to St Marks

Old Home, Crescent City, Florida

Northeast Florida Road Trips and Scenic Drives

1.  Fernandina Beach to St Augustine Beach on SR-A1A 2.  Jacksonville to Spuds on SR-13 along St Johns River 3.  Korona to Atlantic Ocean at Highbridge Road 4.  Highbridge Road to St Augustine on SR-A1A 5.  Orange Park to Crescent City on US-17 6.  Nature Drive North of St Johns River and Jacksonville 7.  Satsuma Loop through Welaka and Crescent City

Georgiana United Methodist Church, Merritt Island, Florida

Central East Florida Road Trips & Scenic Drives

1.  Anderson Drive from Highbridge to Ormond Beach 2.  South Daytona Beach to Ponce Inlet on S Atlantic Ave 3.  New Smyrna Beach to Edgewater along Halifax River 4.  Oak Hill through Kennedy Space Center to Titusville 5.  Williams Point thru Cocoa/Rockledge on Indian River 6.  Merritt Island to Georgianna on South Tropical Trail 7.  Pineda Causeway to Mathers Bridge on S Tropical Trail 8.  Indialantic to Sebastian Inlet on SR-A1A 9.  Wabasso Beach to Vero Beach on Jungle Trail 10. Fort Pierce to Jensen Beach along the Indian River 11. New Smyrna Beach Pioneer Trail Shortcut

Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales

Central Florida Road Trips and Scenic Drives

1.  Maitland to Orlando through Winter Park 2.  Lake Buena Vista to Windermere on SR-535 3.  Orlando to Winter Haven on US-17 4.  Orlando to Mount Dora on US-441 5.  Clermont to Lake Wales on US-27 6.  Lake Wales to Lake Placid on US-27 7.  Mount Dora to Groveland on SR-19 8.  Winter Haven to Wauchula on US-17 9.  Lake Wales to Frostproof on Scenic Highway 17 10. Polk City to Auburndale on CR-557 and CR-559 11. Mount Dora to Altoona to Villages and Return 12. Lake Griffin Scenic Loop via Lady Lake and Weirsdale 13. Yalaha Scenic Loop from Howey in the Hills 14. Mount Dora to Melrose through Ocala National Forest 15. Mount Dora to Cross Creek, Micanopy, and McIntosh 16. Mount Dora to St Leo through Dade City 17. Lake Apopka Loop via Apopka, Montverde, Howey 18. Emeralda Island Scenic Loop west of Eustis 19. Haines Creek Lock between Lakes Griffin and Eustis 20. Fort Gates Ferry Drive across St Johns River 21. Green Mountain Scenic Byway around Lake Apopka 22. Sugarloaf Mountain Loop near Montverde and Ferndale 23. On Top Of The World near Ocala to Melrose

Sponge Diver Statue, Tarpon Springs

Central West Florida Road Trips and Scenic Drives

1.  Bushnell to Floral City through Istachatta 2.  Inverness to Crystal River on SR-44 3.  Weeki Wachee Springs, Aripeka, Hudson on CR-595 4.  Holiday, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs and Dunedin 4.  New Port Richey-Tarpon Springs west of US-19 5.  Gospel Island - Inverness & Lake Tsala Apopka 6.  Gobbler's Drive - Floral City & Lake Tsala Apopka

Smallwood Store, Chokoloskee, Florida

Southwest Florida Road Trips and Scenic Drives

1.  Port Charlotte to Boca Grande thru Placida on CR-771 2.  Fort Myers to Iona on McGregor Boulevard 3.  LaBelle to Immokalee on SR-29 4.  LaBelle, Alva, Olga along the Caloosahatchee River 5.  Cape Coral to Matlacha and Pine Island 6.  Vanderbilt Beach to Port Royal through Old Naples 7.  Fifth Avenue Historic District in Old Naples 8.  Naples to Chokoloskee through Everglades City 9.  Naples to Miami on Tamiami Trail - US-41 10. Naples to Fort Myers Beach along the Gulf of Mexico

Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse

Southeast Florida Road Trips and Scenic Drives

1.  Fort Pierce to Jensen Beach along the Indian River 2.  Jupiter to Hobe Sound via Jupiter Island on the Ocean 3.  Jupiter to North Palm Beach on SR-A1A 4.  Palm Beach to Lake Worth Inlet among the mansions 5.  Palm Beach to Boynton Beach on SR-A1A 6.  Boynton Beach to Fort Lauderdale on SR-A1A 7.  Coconut Grove to Goulds on Old Cutler Road 8.  Miami to Fort Myers - Belle Glade, Clewiston, LaBelle 9.  Martin County Scenic Highway west of Stuart

STATE WIDE FLORIDA ROAD TRIPS

Some trips cross several regions of the state and many actually go from coast to coast.  These trips focus on staying on one highway - usually a lesser traveled one - and show you a part of Florida you would never see if you stay on the Interstates.

Fort Gates Ferry Across the St Johns River

Scenic Drives Along Florida Rivers

Old Florida Towns on the Indian River Lagoon

Old Florida Towns on the Forgotten Coast

Old Florida Towns on the St Johns River

Old Florida Places on the Suwannee River

Old Florida Towns US-1/SR-A1A, Fernandina-Key West

Old Florida Towns on Scenic Highway 17

Old Florida Towns on US-17 South of I-4

Old Florida Towns on US-17 Georgia to Punta Gorda

Old Florida Towns on SR-19 Groveland to Palatka

Old Florida Towns on SR-20 Niceville to Flagler Beach

Old Florida Towns on US-27 Georgia to Miami

Old Florida Towns on US-41 Georgia to Tampa

Old Florida Towns on SR-44 Crystal River to New Smyrna

Old Florida Towns on SR-60 Clearwater to Vero Beach

Old Florida Towns on SR-70 Bradenton to Fort Pierce

Old Florida Towns on SR-80 Fort Myers to Palm Beach

Old Florida Towns on US-90 Pensacola to Jax Beach

Old Florida Towns on US-301 Georgia to Sarasota

Road Trip Maytown Road from Osteen to Oak Hill

Road Trips on the East-West Highways

Road Trips on the North-South Highways

Florida Cracker Trail

Espanola Florida and the Old Brick Road

Florida Scenic Highway 30A

Old Spanish Trail

Florida Solo Travel For Women

Road Trips on the East-West Highways With Maps

Road Trips on the North-South Highways With Maps

FLORIDA TOWNS for information on hundreds of towns along with histories and Google interactive maps.

BEST FLORIDA ROAD TRIP CARS for the ones I've owned and driven on more than 2,000,000 miles of road trips.

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2-Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary (2024 Guide)

Lindsay Harvey

  • Last Updated: February 3, 2024

Enjoy my personal favorite 2-week Florida road trip itinerary, based on my experiences of growing up in the state.

There are plenty of incredible things to do in Florida . And taking a trip around Florida is a great idea, whether you go solo or with friends and family.

While there are many great places to visit in the US, Florida is a destination on its own.

Known for its beaches, sunshine, wildlife and a variety of attractions, Florida has so much to offer a traveler. 

Whether you’re visiting from out of the country or just out of state, taking a road trip through Florida will give you the best opportunity to see and do amazing things.

From racing through all of the rides at the theme parks in Orlando to being lazy along the beaches of Daytona or Miami , you can go as fast or slow as you like. 

Find yourself immersed in the history of St. Augustine , the oldest town in North America, or at the cutting edge of space at the Kennedy Space Center.

Absorb the Latin and Caribbean influence in Miami’s Little Havana or Tampa’s Ybor City or set out to explore the wildlife and uniquely Floridian landscapes of the Everglades or the Florida Keys. 

There really is so much to do, and you’ll find some of the best beaches in the country here. And driving gives you the best opportunity to experience Florida at its finest.

So let’s get into this incredible Florida road trip. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary Miami Beach

Table of Contents

Arrive in and Enjoy Orlando (3 days)

Drive to st. augustine (1 day) / daytona beach (1 day), drive to miami with stops at kennedy space center and/or cocoa beach (1 day), explore miami (3 days), road trip to key west (1-2 days), take in key west (1-2 days), make your way to tampa (2 days), return to orlando (1 day), to/at the florida panhandle, northeast florida, condensed florida road trip itinerary, beginning your 2-week florida road trip.

Where you begin your ultimate Florida road trip is up to you. If you are driving your own vehicle into or from another part of the state, then pick up on this itinerary at its closest destination.

For example, if you’re traveling from the East Coast then you’ll likely take Interstate 95 straight down and your first stop would be St. Augustine or Daytona Beach. 

But if you are flying into Florida then we’d recommend you consider both beginning and ending your Florida road trip in either Orlando or Miami.

This road trip in Florida is circular , so you can pick up on it wherever it is most convenient for you.

But Orlando is in Central Florida, has a great airport for both domestic and international flights and will allow you to strike off in any direction you’d like. 

On that note, let’s begin! 

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

If you are flying into Florida, Orlando is a great place to begin your Florida road trip. It is located right in Central Florida so you can start off in any direction.

There is a large international airport that will allow you many rental car options. And there are also plenty of awesome things to do in Orlando itself.

So whether you are flying in on a long journey and want a few days to adjust or you are ready to hit the road, Orlando is your best first stop. 

Orlando is most known for its various theme parks. But there are also plenty of other great things to do in Orlando . 

You could easily spend a few days at either Disney World or Universal Studios parks. 

Disney World offers great attractions such as the iconic Magic Kingdom and Epcot as well as rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain.

Spend time exploring Downtown Disney whether you venture into the park or not. 

At Universal Studios you can see your favorite superheroes and ride The Hulk, Spiderman, Transformers and Revenge of the Mummy.

Of course, if you’re a fan of Harry Potter you can’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter through either Universal or it’s joint park Islands of Adventures. 

If you’re just looking for a great place to people-watch while grabbing a delicious bite to eat and maybe a concert or show of some sort, Universal City Walk at the front gates of the park will keep you busy for hours. 

If you’re not interested in theme parks, head down to International Drive and take your pick of entertainment options. You could walk or drive your way through days of activities.

A few of our favorite ideas are I-Drive Nascar, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, iFly indoor skydiving and Wonderworks . 

There are tons of great restaurants in this part of Orlando and most hotels along I-Drive have shuttles that will take you to virtually all of the top Orlando attractions.  

READ MORE: Plan the perfect 3 days in Orlando with this itinerary .

Disney Magic Kingdom

After leaving Orlando you can literally head in any direction. But we recommend that you start by heading northeast along Interstate 4 toward Daytona Beach.

The drive will take approximately 1 hour and will connect with Interstate 95.

From here you can either stop for the day in Daytona Beach or travel another hour north to St. Augustine.

You could also travel inland through the Ocala National Forest State Park or Blue Spring State Park, for scenic views on the way to St. Augustine.

If you spend the day in St. Augustine don’t worry as you’ll pass right through Daytona Beach on your way to Miami. 

But we’d recommend that you plan to visit St. Augustine as it is the oldest city in America and is full of history and the small-town charm for which Florida is known.

In St. Augustine, the obvious first thing you’re going to want to do is to explore the historic fort, Castillo de San Marcos . Built by the Spanish who settled the area, this fort has seen it all over the past few hundred years. 

Then wander through Old Town St. Augustine along St. George Street . Grab a bite to eat at The Columbia restaurant and wash that down with ice cream or other sweets from Kilwins .

Step into whatever shop grabs your attention to pick up a souvenir or anything you might have forgotten to pack.

Pick up a bottle of wine from San Sebastian Winery or some whiskey from Ice Plant Bar . And be sure to catch the sunset from at or along the Bridge of Lions . 

There are several beaches to enjoy, a lighthouse you can climb and a fun trolley that will take you all over the small city and fill you in on the history and quirky facts of the area. 

It’s only a 40-minute drive north to Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach if you have time and are interested.

READ MORE: Check out these great things to do in St. Augustine

Bridge Of Lions In St Augustine

From St. Augustine, you will drive an hour south on Interstate 95 to reconnect with Daytona Beach .

If you didn’t stop before, now is a great time to spend a day enjoying a world-famous beach that came to fame for the car races that eventually launched NASCAR and the famous Daytona 500 . 

While the races are now held at their own huge Daytona International Racetrack (worth a stop if you are interested in car racing) Daytona Beach remains one of the few beaches in Florida where you can still drive on the beach.

You could spend a few days relaxing at Daytona Beach in one of the many oceanfront hotels or resorts. But to keep things moving, we’d advise just one day here. 

Read Next: Check out our post on all of the best things to do in Florida!

After leaving Daytona you will become pretty familiar with Interstate 95 as it will take you around 4 hours to travel south to Miami along the Atlantic Coast.

But there is a great stop along the way to break up the drive about an hour south of Daytona. 

The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the heart of NASA’s space program when it comes to launching spacecraft.

From Apollo 11 to the Space Shuttle program to the next phase in space travel to the moon, Mars and beyond, KSC deserves a stop from a historical standpoint.

You can easily make a day trip from Orlando if you’d prefer to keep moving.

But if you have ever wanted to see any of the rockets that have carried astronauts to the moon, or even have the chance to meet and have lunch with an astronaut, then make time for KSC. 

If you’re more into surfing than into space, the world-famous Cocoa Beach is right next door.

Stop into Ron Jon’s Surf Shop to pick up your beachwear for the rest of the Florida road trip or take your photo with the statue of Kelly Slater , the hometown surf hero and arguably best surfer of all time.  

You can quickly hop back onto Interstate 95 and continue the 3-hour drive south to Miami. 

Fort Lauderdale, Vero Beach, and West Palm Beach are also on the route to Miami.

As a big city, Fort Lauderdale is packed with shopping, skyscrapers, restaurants, and a few nice beaches. It’s nothing super special in my opinion, but if you want to include another stop on the way to Miami you can stop in Fort Lauderdale for lunch!

Kennedy Space Center

No Florida road trip is complete without a stop in Miami. And while you could easily plan a whole vacation around the city itself, we’d recommend no fewer than 3 days here.

If you’re planning to drive to Key West (which we highly recommend!) then you may want to give yourself one day in Miami between Key West and Tampa just to break up the drive.

Otherwise, there is no end to the number of things you can do in Miami!

We’d advise that you divide your time in Miami between Miami Beach and the downtown area.

Plus there are a lot of great things to do in the near vicinity of Miami – including day trips to the Everglades National Park which houses the Shark Valley Visitor Center, and to Biscayne Bay National Park . 

Miami Beach is best known for the glitz and glamour of South Beach . And while you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy this part of the beach, you’ll definitely find plenty of ways to spend money at the many shops, restaurants and bars that line South Beach. 

Here there are also nearly a dozen beaches spread out along the ocean for you to enjoy. Many will offer kayak and SUP rentals and some will be less crowded than others. 

In downtown Miami, there is also plenty to explore.

From enjoying the Cuban influence on the city in Little Havana , where you can sip Cuban coffee and eat authentic Cuban sandwiches, to admiring the massive amount of street art of Wynwood Walls , you are sure to stay entertained.

Enjoy Bayside Market or the Wharf to gawk at mega yachts, or take a sunset cruise along Millionaire’s Row to see some of your favorite celebrities’ homes.

If you’re interested in professional sports, Miami has them all depending on the season. 

READ MORE: Plan your perfect 3 days in Miami with this itinerary . 

Miami Has Tons Of Great Beaches From Which To Choose

From Miami, you are within a 4-hour drive to Key West. This drive is in itself one of the top Florida road trips and well worth the time. 

Although Key West should be your ultimate destination for this part of the road trip, it is going to be incredibly tempting to stop at many places along the drive.

The northern Florida Keys (smaller islands) tend to feel much like the rest of the state of Florida.

But once you get around halfway down the Florida Keys you will see the stunning crystal blue water, flourishing palm trees and coral-white sandy beaches for which the Keys are known. 

Some great stops along this portion of the Florida Keys road trip include: 

  • Islamorada – See (and/or feed) massive tarpon at Robbie’s Marina
  • Marathon Key – Count all of the miles as you drive across the 7-mile bridge
  • Big Pine Key – Enjoy a few hours (or the day) at the pristine Bahia Honda State Park 
  • Key Largo – Snorkel or kayak in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Once you reach Key West you will immediately see and feel the vibrant life for which the island is known.

From the colorful houses and buildings to the nightly sunset celebrations, Key West is all about the high quality of living. 

Depending on how long you took to drive from Miami to Key West, you’re going to want to spend at least 1-2 days taking in the sights.

Of course, when you are in Key West you have to visit the Southernmost Point in the US . There’s a statue in the shape of a buoy that you can’t miss.

Wander through the old, colorful neighborhoods and be entertained by the quirky merchandise advertised in storefronts along Duval Street .

You could also spend the day on the water, renting everything from kayaks and SUPs to jet skis, powerboats or even going for a parasailing ride. 

But whatever you do to stay busy enjoying Key West during the day, be sure to make it to Mallory Square for sunset.

With dozens of popular bars nearby made famous by the likes of Ernest Hemingway , you can grab your favorite drink and cheer the many street performers and artists who make their living at the water’s edge each night.

The whole area turns into a party once the sun goes down so you can stay as social as you’d like at that point. 

You could also take a day trip to the nearby Dry Tortugas National Park . Full of stunning coral reefs where you can kayak or snorkel, Dry Tortugas National Park is home to some of Florida’s most beautiful marine life.

READ MORE: Plan the trip with these awesome things to do in Key West!

Southernmost Point Key West

The drive between Key West and Tampa is a long but scenic one along the Gulf Coast of Florida. We’d recommend you stop in Miami and finish doing anything you failed to check off your itinerary when you were there before. 

Regardless of whether you stop or not, you’ll pick up Interstate 75 in Miami and head northwest to Tampa.

This part of Florida is known for the number of smaller cities and towns that serve as vacation destinations, second homes and retirement communities and for good reason.

You could stop at any number of them as you need for a bite to eat, to fill up on gas or just stretch your legs. Naples , Fort Meyers , Venice and Sarasota are a few of the more popular places. 

Fort Myers Beach is a popular spot for a beach day, and Sanibel Island is a gorgeous place to visit between the Florida Keys and Tampa.

But Tampa and the surrounding area on the Gulf Coast are also worth 2-3 days of your Florida road trip itinerary.

If you aren’t tired of beaches yet (Florida has tons of them!) there are plenty of options to enjoy a different kind of west coast Florida beach. Florida’s Gulf Coast tends to have calmer, warmer water so the beaches are relaxing and dreamy.

But there is also lots of things to do in Tampa itself that make it worth your time. 

Venture into Ybor City , once the thriving center of Tampa, where the Cuban influence in the neighborhood can still be seen and experienced in hand-rolled cigars, the food and the historic buildings.

There’s even a small park nestled in the area that is literally owned by Cuba and wild chickens roam the streets.

In downtown Tampa, you’ll want to spend your time along the Riverwalk where most of the best activities will be.

Ride a water bike (yes, it is a bike-like machine you ride on the water), rent a SUP or stroll along the Hillsborough River and stop as you please. Check out a few museums and find plenty to eat at Armature Works .

You can also enjoy the beaches of Clearwater or Honeymoon State Park . Or get your thrills at Busch Gardens or Adventure Island .  

If you have time for a day trip, a quick visit to Crystal River to kayak or swim with manatees is a popular excursion from Tampa! Or head to the nearby town of Tarpon Springs and check out the famous Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

READ MORE: Plan your perfect 3 days in Tampa with this itinerary !

Ybor City Streetcar

As all good things must come to an end, your Florida road trip will end where it began in Orlando.

From Tampa, it is just over an hour along the other side of Interstate 4 to reach Orlando. 

If you already spent a few days enjoying the city then you can plan to drive straight from Tampa to the Orlando international airport to catch your flight.

Just give yourself a little extra time for traffic and to return your rental car. 

But if you have a few days left for Orlando, enjoy your time there! You can get around the city without a car, so if you want to save a few dollars on the rental and potential parking fees go ahead and drop off the car and catch a ride to your hotel from there. 

The Wheel Orlando

Other Excursions for Florida Road Trips

Florida is a rather large state and with so much to offer it is really impossible to see it all in two weeks.

In fact, there are entire sections of the state that we left off this 2-week Florida road trip itinerary to make sure you experienced the most you could in such a short amount of time. 

So if you have more time and/or want to see and do more than just the major Florida attractions and highlights, there are many more options!

Here are some additional Florida road trip ideas. These will require a little more driving. But the rewards of the experience will be worth it for sure! 

Read Next: Check out all of the other great places to visit in Florida !

  • Swim with (or just view) manatees in the wild (Crystal River)
  • Snorkel for scallops (Steinhatchee or Cedar Key)
  • Float down a crystal clear spring (Itchetucknee) 
  • See the original Blue Angel airplanes ( Pensacola )
  • Enjoy Panama City Beach or Fort Walton Beach
  • Walk through history in St. Augustine (if you didn’t already)
  • Collect prehistoric shark teeth (Fort Clinch State Park)
  • Ride horses on the beach (Amelia Island)
  • Play/watch a round of golf at The Players Championship at Sawgrass

If you were to break down the state of Florida into the most-visited cities in which to spend your time, these would include Orlando, Miami and Tampa.  

So in worst case, if you had no interest in visiting the Florida Keys, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach or Cocoa Beach then you could have a much more condensed Florida road trip between Orlando, Miami and Tampa. 

Of course, you’ll miss out on the opportunities in some of the smaller cities and towns along the way.

But you will spend less time driving between places and more time exploring all the great things to do in and around the cities themselves. 

We’d still recommend that you make a circular route between the three cities. But whether you started in Orlando, Tampa or Miami would be entirely up to you.

The entire loop between these three cities is around 600 miles, leaving you plenty of time in the cities themselves. 

Wherever you choose to spend time during your Florida road trips we hope that you enjoy the state as much as we do!

There is a reason people flock to the state year after year and we want you to see why! 

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

Lindsay Harvey

Lindsay Harvey

Hi, We’re Alesha and Jarryd!

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Related posts, 18 fun road trips from houston, texas (2024 guide), 21 best things to do in pensacola, florida (2024 guide), 21 best things to do in naples, florida (2024 guide), 1 thought on “2-week florida road trip itinerary (2024 guide)”.

Thanks for the insightful and detailed plan.

I am wondering if you have ever made a whole round trip of FL, starting from Tampa, and covering the panhandle, across via Tallahassee to Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Orlando, Cocoa beach, West Palm beach, down the coast line to Miami, Key West, and back up West coast towards Naples, Fort Myers? Would love to get any tips/suggestions/recommendations on places to visit.

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The Ultimate History Travel Blog Since 2015

The Ultimate Florida Road Trip Itinerary: See the Best of Florida in 10 Days!

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach

Last Updated on: 17th March 2023, 02:20 pm

There’s no denying it. Florida is massive. Bordered by Alabama and Georgia, Florida covers an expanse of over 65,000 square miles – perfect for  planning a big Florida road trip!

Here’s everything you need to know to have an amazing Florida road trip: itinerary, travel tips, what to pack, and more.

This itinerary is designed to help you  see the best of Florida in 10 days,  but there are also suggestions for how to  see Florida in 7 days or less  and what to do if you have  two weeks in Florida!

Can’t read now? Pin for later! 

The Ultimate Florida Road Trip Itinerary See the Best of Florida in 10 Days!

Good to Know:  This Florida road trip itinerary comes to us from Alesha and Jarryd, two travel writers, photographers, and creators from Australia who have been traveling the world together non-stop since 2008.

Their passion for adventure travel, sustainable tourism, and van life has seen them visit some of the most remote destinations on the planet, seeking out incredible landscapes and unique cultures. You can follow their adventures on  NOMADasaurus  and  Van Life Theory .

It was also edited by me (Stephanie Craig – the girl in the sidebar). I have added some additional Florida road trip planning tips and sections from my own travels in the state.

My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2023

These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.

Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing

Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide and Viato r .

Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com .

For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.

For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars .

Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.

For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon .

Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).

For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.

Top 7 Most Popular Florida Tours & Attractions

Before you dig into all the state has to offer, you should know that these are the most popular guided tours, attractions, and day trips in Florida.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center Complex: Admission Ticket

Everglades National Park: Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show

Miami Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

Key West Day Trip from Miami with Activities

Miami: City Cruise to Millionaire’s Homes & Venetian Islands

St Augustine: Nights of Lights Trolley Tour

Miami: Sunset Cruise through Biscayne Bay and South Beach

How to Get Around Florida

On our last  road trip to Florida , we used our own car and drove down from Hilton Head, South Carolina via Georgia.

Using  your own car  is a great option if you are close enough to  drive to Florida  to start your trip.

Florida - Amelia Island - Downtown Fernandina Beach - Leaving Florida

However, if you plan to  fly to Florida,  you will need to rent a car. 

Make sure to  book your vehicle ahead  of time since rental car inventory in the US has been fluctuating.

I use  Discover Cars  to  book rental cars  on my trips. You can also check  RentalCars.com  if you want to compare prices.

If you want to  book an RV  instead of a car, you can find the right one for your trip on  RVshare.

Reserve a rental car for your road trip.

How Much Does it Cost to Roadtrip Florida?

The average  cost of a Florida road trip  might surprise you. 

While I’ve seen prices online that a  typical Florida road trip costs about $1300  per person for seven days, I don’t believe this factors in the full cost to travel around Florida.

This would be about  $1850 per person for ten days …which seems low.

Do not use this number , instead, look at each travel cost and the style that your family travels in.

Florida - Amelia Island - Spring Hill Suites by Mariotto - Our Amelia Island Hotel - Jordan

How much you end up spending depends almost entirely on your travel style.

Hotels can range from  $75 a night in some parts to $200 a night  even for budget options in pricier parts of the state. 

Vacation rentals can end up being much more than that,  so self-catering in these circumstances might not end up saving you that much money.

Florida - Amelia Island -10

When you  create your trip budget , determine your transportation costs for getting to Florida and how much your accommodations will be.

Make sure to look at the costs for your family for each category:  Gas (petrol), Hotel or Accommodations, Parking, Food, Attractions, Emergency/Miscellaneous, Souvenirs, Travel Insurance, and Gear.

Florida - Amelia Island - Main Beach - Jordan

Before any trip, I  make a budget spreadsheet  and start tracking these nine budget categories and look up the prices for where I’ll be going.

For food, you can budget anywhere  from $30 per person per day (some cheap meals out and some groceries) to $100 per person per day (or more!)  if you will be doing mostly eating out and including a lot of drinks with your meals.

For our family, I typically budget  $100 per day for all three of us  for meals since our son rarely eats off of the menu. 

However, in pricier destinations, we end up spending more even when we cook half our meals ourselves.

florida road trip

For things to do in Florida, you can  include mostly free things to do like public parks and beaches , or you can enjoy some of the  more exciting once-in-a-lifetime tours and adventures.

If you add a trip to   Disney World or Universal Studios,  you can easily spend over $100 per person per day on activities. 

For a ten-day trip for two adults, I would budget:

 $2000 for accommodations  ($200 per night including taxes and fees)

$1500 for food  ($75 per person, per day)

$2000 for activities  ($100 per person per day, or set aside $300 for visiting a theme park plus $75 per person per day for the rest of the trip. Kayaking, snorkeling, museums, boat trips, and day trips can add up fast in Florida!)

$250 for gasoline  (petrol) (this is one of the most important categories to check ahead of time since gasoline prices fluctuate and are different in different seasons)

$250 for parking  (parking in bigger cities and at theme parks can be pricey. You may need more if you plan to use hotel valet.)

$300 for souvenirs  (more if you love shopping)

$200 for  travel insurance   (get a  quote   ahead of time)

$500 for emergencies and miscellaneous expenses

This means that for my initial budget, I’d want to set aside $7000. 

However, I’d start  plugging in actual prices  as I book things. I would take money out of the budget where I know I’ll save money (for example, we tend to cook a lot of our meals in our hotel because my husband is a chef). 

However, if there’s an area I know we will want more room, like more tour options or more days at theme parks, then I would  look up the realistic costs  and add more to those categories.

Florida - Amelia Island - Downtown Fernandina Beach - Downtown Centre Street - Cinnamon Bear - Ice Cream

You can spend less  than this if you eat more meals at your accommodations, spend more time at beaches and parks than on tours, skip the theme parks, skip the shopping, and book real budget accommodations where possible.

You can also easily spend more  than this if you splurge for luxury hotels and eat every meal out, spend your days on nice tours, and book private experiences.

Florida - Amelia Island - Downtown Fernandina Beach - Ritz Carlton

Good to Know:  this budget estimate doesn’t include getting to Florida or renting a car because those costs will depend entirely upon where you’re coming from and how you’re getting to Florida.

How to Have a Fun Road Trip in Florida (Florida Road Trip Tips)

Use these tips to make your  Florida road trip planning  go even smoother.

Add Some Wacky Florida Road Trip Stops

You really can’t run out of Florida travel ideas, and this itinerary is truly packed. However, it can’t hurt to find some fun  Florida roadside attractions  and add them to your trip.

Mix Old Florida and New Florida

There are so many different places to drive to in Florida, so make sure you don’t do the same thing every day!

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - St. Augustine - St. Augustine, Florida at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

Yes, you’ll want to see Florida Keys beaches, Nasa, and Little Havana. But make sure to see some of the state’s historic sites in St. Augustine or add on some time on  Amelia Island.

Make Sure to Research Your Beaches

While white sand beaches and crystal blue water can be found in Florida, not every beach is the same! 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - Miami Beach

Look up the beaches near where you’ll be staying and decide which ones are the most enticing to you.

Prep Your Car Before You Leave

To road trip Florida right,  you need to be in a car that is  comfy and safe.  

If you’ll be using your car, get your  oil changed and your tires and brakes checked  before you leave.

Tennessee - Nashville - The Fairlane Hotel in Downtown Nashville

You don’t want a preventable car issue to  ruin or delay your trip.

If you’ll be  renting a car , make sure it will be one that you’ll enjoy sitting in for 18 hours of drive time and almost a thousand miles!

Read next: 21 Things to Know Before You Rent a Car in Miami

How to Get Better Florida Vacation Photos

If you are going on a  special trip  to Florida, like a  family vacation or couples getaway , you may want to leave making sure you have the best vacation photos!

You can use the service  Flytographer  to book a personal  Florida photo session  so that you leave knowing you have amazing pictures to help you treasure the memories of your trip.

I used them in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and I loved how our family photos came out! In  just thirty minutes , we were able to capture  professional travel photos  that will last a lifetime.

I even used the photos for our holiday card!

florida road trip

You can use the code  HISTORYFANGIRL  for 10% off your first photo session.

Book your Florida vacation photo session.

The Best Florida Road Trip Itinerary for 10 Days

Dotted with vibrant cities and charming rural areas, the  Sunshine State  is the third most populous in the USA. 

Because it has the  longest coastline  in the country, you can expect plenty of  beautiful beaches and nautical activities  that you can enjoy during your road trip. 

Florida - Amelia Island - Fort Clinch State Park - Stephanie

One of the best things about  exploring Florida by car  is that each city feels like a whole other country with different activities, food, people, and culture. 

More importantly, there are  plenty of hotels and motels  along the way where you can pull over for the night. 

For convenience’s sake, most people  start to road trip Florida in Miami. 

florida road trip

From there, you can explore some of the cities in the vicinity before making your way north to finally  end in Jacksonville.  

Owing to its size, it’s usually recommended to allocate yourself  ten days  to properly take in everything that this beautiful state has to offer. 

However, there are ideas for what to do on a  one-week Florida road trip  and a  two-week Florida road trip  after.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary Day 1: Start in Miami 

The aptly-named  Magic City  offers the ideal platform to kick off your 10-day Florida road trip. 

This glamorous, sun-soaked city may be on the more expensive side, but it does offer plenty to thrill adults and children alike. 

florida road trip

If you’re visiting in spring or summer, there’s no denying that the best way to see the city is by  renting a bike. 

Prices hover around the $5 mark for half an hour or $24 for a full-day rental. 

Since it’s one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the USA, you’ll be able to bike to popular  Miami attractions   such as the  iconic Miami Beach and  South Beach  or the  Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

If there’s one thing Miami is particularly known for, other than its near-perpetual sun, of course, it’s the  excellent cuisine. 

Striking the right balance between healthy eats and calorie-laden albeit moreish dishes, the city is home to local delicacies such as chicken ‘n’ watermelon ‘n’ waffles,  key lime pies,  arepas, chilled stone crabs with hash browns, and of course, the  world-famous Cuban sandwiches. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - Miami - Little Havana

Make sure to set aside time to eat your way through  Little Havana , a Miami neighborhood that is one of the most unique places to visit in Florida.

A mere fifteen-minute drive from Miami takes you to Coral Gables where you will find  The Venetian Pool,  a novelty attraction that also happens to be the largest freshwater swimming pool in the states. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - Miami - Venetian Pool in Coral Gables

Originally built in 1924, this pool was modeled after Venetian grotto pools and has a natural filtration system to ensure that the water always remains clean.  

Where to Stay in Miami 

Budget:  Hotel La Flora

Mid-Range:  YVE Hotel Miami

Luxury:  Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club

Best Tours in Miami

City Cruise to Millionaire’s Homes & Venetian Islands

A Taste of South Beach Food Tour

Sunset Cruise through Biscayne Bay and South Beach

Day 2: Get out on the Everglades 

In stark contrast to Miami’s bustling city center,  the Everglades  offers quiet and soothing spots, perfect for fans of the great outdoors. 

Just a quick, twenty minutes’ drive west of Miami, the Everglades offers an abundance of things to explore, including multiple nature trails and swamps. 

Florida - Everglades

One of the eleven  national parks in Florida,  the Everglades belongs on your Florida bucket list.

You can visit  Everglades National Park from Miami ,  home to endemic mangroves, manatees, panthers, the Wilderness Waterway Trail, and of course, those infamous Floridian alligators. 

One of the park’s main attractions is the Shark Valley Tram ride which spans over two hours. 

And while the tram certainly is speedier, you also have the option of renting a bike instead. 

Of course, no trip to the Everglades will be considered complete without the quintessential guided canoe tour or  airboat tour  through the swamps and mangroves.  

It’s good to know that despite its spectacular sights, The Everglades can be exceptionally humid and insect-infested. 

Florida - Everglades

As such, you may want to slather on  bug spray  as well as  sunscreen  and wear loose, comfortable clothing. 

Best Everglades Tours Leaving from Miami

From Miami: Half-Day Everglades Airboat Ride & Wildlife Show

Florida Everglades Airboat Adventure plus Miami Biscayne Bay Cruise

Everglades: Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show

Day 3: Kick Back in Key West  

From Miami, take a scenic,  three-hour drive to Key West  which is especially known for its excellent pies and whiskey culture.

Make sure to enjoy the drive, because it’s one of the  most scenic drives in the US.  You’ll get to drive on the modern  7-Mile Bridge  that connects Knights Key with Little Duck Key.

Located  closer to many Caribbean islands  than mainland Florida, you really will feel like you’re driving to another world.

Aerial shot of U.S. route 1, Key West , Florida USA

While you’ll just get a taste of  Florida keys  life, you can see a lot here in just twenty-four hours.

Guided distillery tours usually cost between $10 – $20, and if you’re interested in a few products, most distilleries will ship the bottles to your home address for an extra charge.

As an alternative to a distillery tour, you can go on a  craft cocktail crawl.

While in Key West, don’t miss a visit to the  Hemmingway House  where famed American writer Ernest Hemingway used to live back in the ’30s. 

USA - Florida - Office and typewriter in Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum, Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida, United States

This establishment is also known for its extensive population of  six-toed cats  who are said to be direct descendants of the writer’s actual cats, hence their nickname: the  Hemingway cats.

Locals and tourists alike often flock to the  Southernmost Point Buoy  which, as the name suggests, is known for being the  southernmost point in the USA  as well as the lowest land (altitude wise) in North America. 

After touring this site, you can indulge in some shopping at  Mallory Square  or check out other famous points of interest such as  Truman Little White House , the  Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum,  and  The Key West Butterfly Conservatory. 

When the weather’s sunny – which is nearly always the case in Key West – you can also check out Key West’s many scenic beaches such as  Smathers , Fort Zachary Taylor, Fort Jefferson, and Higgs Beach.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Bahia Honda State Park

There’s also the nearby  Bahia Honda State Park  if you want even more natural beauty.

Where to Stay in Key West

Budget:  Harborside Motel & Marina

Mid-Range:  Ibis Bay Resort

Luxury:  Kimpton Ella’s Cottages, an IHG Hotel

Best Tours in Key West

Reef Snorkel Morning Tour with Breakfast & Mimosas

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by Catamaran from Key West

Key West Dolphin Watch and Snorkel Eco Tour

Sunset Cruise with Buffet Dinner and Open Bar

Old Town Trolley 12-Stop Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Ghosts & Gravestones Tour of Key West

Two-Hour Key Largo Jet Ski Tour

Day 4: Get Back to the Mainland with a Stop in Naples 

Today will be the longest day in the car. Leaving Key West, it’s a five-hour  drive to Naples, Florida.

Hailed as one of the  best beach destinations in Florida,  Naples sees over 280 days of sunshine each year which is why golfing is one of the area’s most popular sports. 

It was named after  Naples, Italy , as local tourism and development promoters claimed that their  bay on the Gulf Coast  was more beautiful than the Bay of Naples.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Naples Florida Skyline

Steer away from the typical brochure-like activities, however, and you’ll find a spectacular assortment of  hidden gems to uncover in Naples.  

If you’re traveling with children, you may wish to check out the  Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples  which was designed by children with the help of pediatric psychologists. 

Some of the museum’s main exhibits include a virtual pond with water plants and fish, a produce market, and a Journey Through the Everglades exhibition featuring a mangrove maze and a massive banyan tree. 

During your time in Naples, you can also check out the  Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve  which offers over 110,000 acres of marine estuaries and coastal landscapes.

Despite its many sights, the entry ticket to the park only costs $5 per adult. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Naples Bay

Since you won’t get here until the early afternoon, pick one or two things to do in Naples that interest you. And if it’s’ spending the afternoon at the beach, that’s great, too!

Where to Stay in Naples

Budget:  Super 8 by Wyndham Naples

Mid-Range:  Best Western Naples Plaza Hotel 

Luxury:  Hilton Naples

Best Tours in Naples that Leave in the Afternoon

Ten Thousand Islands Boat Tour up to 12 people

Naples Sightseeing Boat Tour

Mangrove Tunnels Eco Tour (Kayak & Paddle Board)

Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Tour by Boat in Naples

Day 5: Slow Down on Sanibel Island

An hour’s drive north of Naples takes you to the  Sanibel Causeway  where you’ll find a glorious assortment of funky eateries, sprawling wildlife preserves, and silky beaches. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Sanibel Island

Heading into  Sanibel Island  almost feels like visiting a whole other country: indeed, the laidback atmosphere and slow pace of living are perfect for those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of their daily activities. 

On the eastern tip of Sanibel, you’ll find the  historic Sanibel Lighthouse  which stands at 112 feet above sea level and is one of the most  beautiful lighthouses on the East Coast.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Sanibel Island

This popular attraction is surrounded by miles of soft sand fringed by a  crystalline lagoon. 

You’ll even find picnic tables, showers, and restroom facilities. After taking a dip in the ocean, you can always head over to one of the nearby restaurants, most of which specialize in  fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. 

If you’re planning on spending the night, you will be glad to learn that Sanibel offers plenty of budget-friendly options such as  family-owned inns and vacation rentals. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Sanibel Island

Families who are more into camping can check out sites such as  Periwinkle Park  fitted with eating areas, showers, and even laundry facilities.  

Where to Stay in Sanibel

Budget:  Seaside Inn

Mid-Range:  Sunset Beach Inn

Luxury:  Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Day 6: Visit Iconic Fort Myers Beach & the City of Fort Myers

From Sanibel Island, you can easily hop over to  Fort Myers,  located just an hour away. 

While there’s no denying that this region is globally acclaimed for its iconic  Fort Myers Beach,  rest assured that there are also plenty of other sites that you can visit during your trip there. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach

Times Square,  for example, lies directly behind the  Fort Myers pier  and offers plenty of restaurants with Al Fresco seating, street performers, old-fashioned ice cream parlors, and souvenir shops among others. 

Thanks to the many pedestrian-only streets, Times Squares is also one of the most  walkable areas of Fort Myers. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach

If you happen to be there in spring, you can always catch a game at the Hammond or Jetblue Park Stadiums. 

In February, the stadiums come to life for  MLB Spring Training  with major league games by the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox. 

Where to Stay in Fort Myers

Budget:  Homewood Suites by Hilton Fort Myers

Mid-Range:  The Neptune Resort

Luxury:  Luminary Hotel & Co., Autograph Collection

Best Tours in Fort Myers

Marco Island: 2-Hour Dolphin, Birding, and Shelling Tour

Historic Walking Tour of Fort Myers   (Likely to sell out)

Marco Island: 10,000 Islands Shelling Tour by Boat

Fort Myers Beach Haunted Pub Crawl

IMAG History & Science Center: Skip-the-Line Ticket

Day 7: Experience Florida’s Inland Sea at Lake Okeechobee

Home to the biggest freshwater lake in the whole of Florida,  Lake Okeechobee  and  Okeechobee County  are found less than two hours away from Fort Myers. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Lake Okeechobee and Okeechobee County

Because of its many outdoorsy activities, abundant wildlife, and RV parks, this region is hailed as one of the  best family-friendly destinations  in the United States. 

Known for its relaxed vibes and charming  old-fashioned amenities  such as horse-drawn carriages, Okeechobee County also happens to be one of the  most affordable places to visit in the Sunshine State,  perfect for those traveling on a budget.  

In terms of attractions, locals and tourists travel to Okeechobee County to explore the  famous Lake Okeechobee  which provides plenty of boating, fishing, as well as camping opportunities.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Lake Okeechobee and Okeechobee County

Nicknamed  Florida’s Inland Sea,  the sheer size of this lake in southeastern Florida might surprise you!

Because of its lush vegetation, Okeechobee County is also ideal for activities such as  hiking, biking, and air boating.  

Where to Stay Near Lake Okeechobee

Budget:  Flamingo Motel

Mid-Range:  Hampton Inn Okeechobee – Lake Okeechobee

Luxury:  Near Lake, 2 Beds, 1 Bath, Fit’s 7, Full Kitchen, Kayak Included

Best Tours in Okeechobee County

Lake Okeechobee Fishing Trip   (Full Day)

Lake Okeechobee Fishing Trip  (Half Day)

Day 8: Feel the Magic in Orlando 

From Okeechobee County, head north  through   Kissimmee  as you make your way to  Orlando in Central Florida. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Downtown Orlando

If there’s one thing this city is known for, it’s the  Walt Disney World Resort.

This attraction needs no introduction, but suffice to say it’s undoubtedly going to please kids and adults alike. 

Similarly,  Universal Orlando Resort  draws millions of visitors each year thanks to its many  Harry Potter-themed attractions. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Universal Studios

If you’re not the theme park type, fret not! 

Orlando offers no shortage of things to do other than theme parks. 

An hour outside of the city’s main touristy zones is  Boggy Creek  which offers thrilling headwater rides aboard  airboats that can go up to 40mph.  

Golf aficionados can work on their swing at the  Universal City Walk’s Hollywood Drive-In Golf,  a sprawling 18-hole course with themes such as ‘Invaders from Planet Putt’ and ‘The Haunting of Ghostly Greens.’ 

Because it’s part of the Universal City Walk, expect plenty of entertainment, retail, and dining options virtually everywhere in the area. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Orlando

While in Orlando, you may also wish to hop on a ferry to the   Kennedy Space Center   located on Merritt Island.

If you are looking for some  fun Orlando nightlife, check out the House of Blues.

Where to Stay in Orlando

Budget:  Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort Area

Mid-Range:  Walt Disney World Swan Reserve  

Luxury:  JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa

Best Tours in Orlando

The Wheel at ICON Park Observation Wheel + Options

Universal Orlando: Base Ticket with Easy Cancellation

Kennedy Space Center Day Trip with Transport from Orlando

Boggy Creek Airboat Ride

LEGOLAND Florida Resort Admission Ticket

Day 9: Relax on the Palm Coast   

With mesmerizing sunsets and sprawling nature reserves,  Palm Coast  is found a quick seventy-five-minute drive from Orlando. 

Nestled between  Daytona Beach and St. Augustine , Palm Coast is also known for its many golf resorts, some of which were designed by Jack Nicklaus. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Palm Coast

If fishing is more your thing, you can always head over to the  Intracoastal Waterway  which covers an expanse of 20 acres. 

Some of the Waterway’s most popular amenities include  hiking trails, a children’s playground, a fishing pier, and picnic pavilions. 

An attraction that’s unique to the area is the  European Village  which is a massive outdoor mall with park-like features and European architecture. 

The European Village regularly hosts special events including live music and the  European Village Farmers Market,  where local farmers and artisans showcase their products. 

Nearby  Flagler Beach  is another great way to relax in this part of Florida.

Pro Tip:  Don’t confuse  Palm Coast  with  Palm Beach!  The two are over three hours apart.

Where to Stay in Palm Coast

Budget:  Legacy Vacation Resorts – Palm Coast

Mid-Range:  Fairfield Inn & Suites Palm Coast I-95

Luxury:  Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Day 10: Finish Your Florida Road Trip Itinerary in Jacksonville, the First Coast

End the best road trip in Florida with a  drive to Jacksonville  which is found less than an hour’s drive from Palm Coast. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Jacksonville

There are also lots of fun  things to do in St. Augustine ,  which is on the route from Palm Coast to Jacksonville, so stop there for a few hours if you’d like!

Those traveling with children will enjoy a visit to the  Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens  which houses over 1,000 types of plants and 2,400 animal species. 

Tickets are priced at $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children (aged 3-12).

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Jacksonville

Jacksonville ‘s cuisine  is famous all over the world! So while in the city, be sure to try out classic delicacies such as the Peruvian Sub, Hubbard Pie, Banana Curry, and, yes as strange as it may sound, Brussel Sprouts Tacos.

This is a great city to  enjoy a food tour,  just book early because it’s likely to sell out.

Just thirty minutes from Jacksonville is  Little Talbot Island State Park,  which is one of the few islands in Northeast Florida which is still underdeveloped. 

With  five miles of unblemished beaches,  this island has a campground as well as plenty of kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching opportunities. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Jacksonville

After touring the park, head back to Jacksonville where you can check out Beaches Town Center, a quaint boulevard located between Neptune and Atlantic Beach. 

This dining and entertainment hub features sweeping ocean views as well as plenty of art galleries and beachy souvenir shops. 

Where to Stay in Jacksonville

Budget:  Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Jacksonville, FL

Mid-Range:  DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront

Luxury:  Homewood Suites by Hilton Jacksonville-Downtown/Southbank

Best Tours in Jacksonville

City Tour in Downtown Jacksonville

Corks & Forks Strolling Tour

Flytographer Photo Session to End Your Trip

Jacksonville Residential Architecture & History Tour

Group Surf Lesson in Jacksonville

Florida Road Trip Map

Your tour to Florida is going to cover a lot of grounds – almost one thousand miles and about 18 hours of drive time.

Here’s what your road trip around Florida ends up looking like on the map:

Best Road Trip of Florida Map

What to Do on a Florida Road Trip: 2 Weeks or More

You really  can’t ever run out of Florida trip ideas  – the state is just too big and too beautiful!

If you have more than ten days to explore Florida, then you have some choices.

You can stay in any of these places longer. Let’s be honest, one day in most of these places isn’t enough to get to know them.

Floirda - Miami - Rental Car

You won’t be sorry if you’re able to add another day to your stops in  Miami, Key West, or Orlando , that’s for sure!

Another option is to add  additional cities to your Florida itinerary.  Here are a few more of my favorite places to  road trip in Florida :

More Places to Stop on a Road Trip to Florida

Here is even more  fun Florida road trip stops!

Amelia Island

Florida - Amelia Island - Fort Clinch State Park - Stephanie

One of my favorite places to visit in Florida, you can spend an entire  weekend in Amelia Island  soaking up the strange history (from the  French and Spanish  and beyond) and gorgeous  Atlantic Coast beaches.

The town of  Fernandina Beach,  which boasts less than thirteen thousand permanent residents, is one of the  best small towns in Florida.

You can add an  Amelia Island visit  before or after your stop in Jacksonville.

Here are tips for  planning a stop on Amelia Island   if you decide to add it.

Cape Canaveral

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Cape Canaveral

If you’re a NASA fan, you might want to make a separate stop in  Cape Canaveral  instead of tacking it to your time in Orlando.

You will want to make sure to stop at  Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center Complex .

If you want to see more of the literal  Space Coast of Florida,  head to nearby  Cocoa Beach,  one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.

Add your stop in Cape Canaveral right after you leave Orlando.

Clearwater 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Clearwater

Clearwater  is popular with  Major League Baseball fans  for its Spring Training schedule and people who want to visit serene state parks like  Honeymoon Island State Park.

You would add this before or after your stop in Okeechobee Country since it’s  located near St. Petersburg and Tampa. 

St. Pete is another great town in the area, so you can opt for that instead if you want to see this part of Florida.

Florida - Palm Beach - Flying into Palm Beach International Airport

Instead of flying into Miami, you could  fly into Palm Beach International Airport  and start your Florida road trip in luxury.

This famous resort town offers  golf courses,   five-star hotels, great beaches, art deco museums, and more.

I adore Palm Beach and  Palm Beach county.

Here are my  favorite things to do in Palm Beach  if you want to start your trip here instead and drive to Miami after.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Pensacola

If you want to see  Florida’s panhandle,   then add a stop in  Pensacola  at the end of your trip. 

It’s a bit of a trek out here from the rest of Florida, but you’ll get to see a different side of the Sunshine State.

There are great Gulf Coast beaches along with educational opportunities like a stop at the  Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum  and the  National Naval Aviation Museum. 

If you add it, put it at the end of your trip (after Jacksonville), and  fly out from Pensacola  instead.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida, USA

St. Augustine  boasts that its the  oldest city in the US.  Here you can visit the Spanish  Castillo de San Marcos  and the  St. Augustine Lighthouse.

While this itinerary already mentions St. Augustine as a great place to stop, you can spend an entire day exploring the city before moving on to your last stop in Jacksonville.

Looking for More Places to Visit in Florida?

Here are twelve more ideas, or you could visit one of the eleven  US National Parks in Florida.

Crystal River

Daytona Beach

Fort Lauderdale

Gainesville

Ocala National Forest

Panama City (Panama City Beach)

Tarpon Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs

What to Do on a Florida Road Trip: 1 Week or Less

If you are looking for  Florida road trip ideas that don’t take longer than a week , here are a few ideas.

And don’t worry – some of the best road trips in Florida don’t have to take that long. You can see so much of the Sunshine State in  seven or five days, or even during a 3-day weekend!

East Coast Florida Road Trip

Florida - Palm Beach - Four Seasons

Start your Florida East Coast Road Trip in Jacksonville and make your way through St. Augustine, Palm Coast, and Palm Beach. End in Miami.

Central Florida Road Trip

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Tampa

​Fly into Orlando and make stops in Ocala, Clearwater, St. Pete’s, and fly out of Tampa.

Florida Panhandle Road Trip

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Panama City

Fly into Tallahassee and see Panama City and Panama City Beach and Pensacola before ending in Perdido Key at the Floribama Shore.

North Florida Road Trip

Florida - Amelia Island - Downtown Fernandina Beach - Downtown Centre Street - The Palace Saloon Coca Cola Mural

​Fly in and out of Jacksonville, with stops in Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Palm Coast, and Vero Beach.

South Florida Road Trip

Florida Road Trip Itinerary -  Where to stop on a road trip in Florida - Key West

Fly into Palm Beach and see the Everglades, and the Florida Keys, and fly out of Miami.

Weekend Road Trips in Florida

If you only have a weekend, I would fly in and out of one city and take a day trip to another area if you want to see more.

Florida - Amelia Island - Weekend Trip

You can easily enjoy the best of Miami, the Florida Keys,  Amelia Island,   Palm Beach,  or Orlando in one weekend without the hassle of trying to spend most of your time in a car.

Alternatively, you could do these short Florida road trips:

  • Miami to Key West
  • Jacksonville to Daytona Beach
  • Tampa to Fort Myers
  • Orlando to Ocala
  • Orlando to Vero Beach
  • Jacksonville to Amelia Island to St. Augustine
  • Tampa to Crystal River to Ocala
  • Miami to Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach
  • Tallahassee to Panama City to Pensacola

5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Florida

Canada - Toronto -Luggage

You know to bring  sunscreen and sunglasses,  but here are five items you do not want to forget!

First, get a guidebook like the  Lonely Planet Florida . It’s not easy to find traditional guidebooks once you land.

If you will be going on a road trip around Florida or nearby Georgia and South Carolina, I love Lonely Planet’s  Florida & the South’s Best Road Trips . 

Florida - Amelia Island - Stephanie holding cell phone

Second, make sure to bring your  cell phone . You will want to stay connected during your trip, plus it will serve as a navigation system and a go-to camera. 

I use an  iPhone 12 Pro  these days, but I have also used  Samsung  phones in the past.

Third, grab a  camera . While it’s great to have a cell phone with you for quick pics, if you want to do more serious photography or take more videos, I find it nice to travel with a separate dedicated camera as well.

If I will be wrestling with my toddler on the trip, I’ll grab my  Sony ZV-1 , which is a powerful compact camera with great video capabilities as well. 

If it’s just me, I’ll take my  Nikon   (though if you’re buying a new camera I have my eye on this  Sony ).

Florida - Amelia Island - Sunset Cruise - Stephanie and Valentine

Next, bring a  waterproof bag  (also knowns as a dry bag) so that you can safely bring your electronics to the beach or kayaking.

You don’t want to ruin your trip with a drowned cell phone or wet camera, but you also don’t want to miss out on capturing all those great beach moments with your loved ones!

Finally, bring a  backup charging bank  for your phone. 

Even though my new phone has an awesome battery life, I would not want to be out on a boat or a tour for the day and end up with a dead phone. 

It’s a safety issue as well as an inconvenience.

More Florida Travel Resources

We just love Florida! I’ve been six times, and I already can’t wait to go back! Here are all the Florida travel blog posts that I have to help you plan your trip around this wonderful state!

Florida State-Wide Guides

125 Fantastic Quotes about Florida and Florida Instagram Caption Inspiration!

The 11 National Parks in Florida: Why + How to See Each One!

Florida City + Regional Guides

17 Essential Amelia Island Travel Tips: Planning a Trip to Amelia Island, Florida made Simple!

3 Days on Amelia Island: Itinerary for a Magical Weekend in Amelia Island (Plus Ideas for 1, 2 & 4 Days)

21 Reasons to Visit Amelia Island, Florida, an Atlantic Coast Gem

Where to Stay in Amelia Island: The Best Hotels & Accommodations on Amelia Island, Florida

The Everglades

The Best Quotes about the Everglades in Florida

An Irreverent History of Disney World

21 Things to Know Before You Rent a Car in Miami

Best Quotes about Miami, Florida

51 Perfect Things to Do in Palm Beach, Florida + Palm Beach County!

Best Quotes about Palm Beach, Florida

Florida is Included in these Round-Ups

The 40 Most Scenic Drives in America for Stunning Weekend Getaways

30 Historic Cities in the US to Explore on Your Next US Getaway

30 of the Best Historic Towns in America for a Charming Getaway

27 of the Best Art Museums in the US for Your Next Cultural Escape

27 Most Beautiful East Coast Lighthouses & How to Visit Them!

17 Houses of Famous Authors You Can Visit in Real Life!

7 Best College Towns in America for an Awesome Collegiate Getaway

Traveling the Green Book

Guidebooks I Used to Plan My Trip Around the South

These are the travel guidebooks that I used to plan my entire 5-week Southern USA road trip. I highly recommend each of them!

This is My South  – written by my friend Caroline Eubanks of the  eponymous blog , this book is a must-read if you plan on visiting a few places on your trip.

Lonely Planet Florida & the South’s Best Trips  – this book was essential for me when I was trying to plan our road trip and understanding what was near each other and what absolutely not to miss.

Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events that Made the Movement  – we did a lot of Civil Rights and Civil War historic sites on our trip, and if you’ll be doing any of this kind of travel, make sure to get this. 

It was invaluable for finding off-the-beaten-path sites and can’t miss Black-owned historic businesses.

Before You Leave for Florida – Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

Before you leave for your Florida vacation, make sure you have a valid  Travel Insurance Policy  because accidents happen on the road. I like to use  Safety Wings   when I travel, and I happily recommend them.

It’s especially important to get travel insurance whenever you are more than one hundred miles from home, hanging out in large cities, or doing outdoor activities like going to the beach or kayaking.

So basically everything that is fun about visiting Florida.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

If you are going to go on a Florida road trip from NYC (like I did when I was staying at the Grove Pointe Apartments Jersey City NJ ) then you need to decide whether you are going to fly out of JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark. Alternatively, you could rent a car in NYC and drive down.

Pin this Florida Road Trip Itinerary for 10 Days in Florida for Your Florida Road Trip Planner!

The Ultimate Florida Road Trip Itinerary See the Best of Florida in 10 Days!

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Road trips in the sunshine state.

From coast to coast and from Pensacola to Key West , here are some great Florida road trips .

We’ve even got 26 officially designated Florida Scenic Highways , which are scenic (obviously), but also highlight Florida’s history, culture, archeology, natural resources, and archeology.

Let’s hit the roads.

Boca Grande Causeway Aerial for Hertz Partnership (Luis Santana)

Florida's Scenic Highways

SumterByway (1)

8 Back Road Routes

keyshwy

The Overseas Highway

A1A04

Off the Interstates

A1A05

St. Augustine to Daytona Beach

The Roosevelt Bridge is a major highway segmental bridge across the St. Lucie River in Stuart, Florida.

Florida Driving Tips

A1A03

A1A in Northeast Florida

Road trips in florida.

By Gary McKechnie

There are about 4 million miles of roads in America but only a fraction of those can deliver a 100 percent authentic Florida road trip. And with a variety of high-test two-lane drives, Florida road trips might just be the best road trips of them all. From coast to coast and from Pensacola to Key West you’ll discover a mix of coastal roads, long stretches atop the Lake Wales Ridge, and forest roads that shoot like blacktop arrows through the green pines.

So pull out a map, choose a starting line, and get rolling.

Start Your Engines!

Florida and driving are intertwined. From early land speed records set along the Atlantic Coast to the high-octane energy of today’s Daytona 500 , driving is part of our nature.

Where records were broken and history made is a road that’s ready to be explored.

Oceanfront A1A is a road best experienced with the top down, the sound up, and the odometer rolling over. The two-lane strings a line along the Atlantic Coast for hundreds of miles, but rather than embark on a marathon motoring tour, it’s just as pleasing to separate the highway into sections. With wonderful beaches, barrier islands, and historic communities along the way, you can divide trips by any number of destinations; Amelia Island to St. Augustine , St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach , New Smyrna Beach to Melbourne and so on down the line until you’ve arrived in Key West .

At the end of the line, make a U-turn and discover Florida’s interior via highways bypassed by interstates in the 1960s. Few drives are as pleasing as you travel through a region nearly frozen in time -- especially the combination of highways 441, 27, and 78 that encircle Lake Okeechobee on the northern fringes of the Everglades .

Further north, Highway 27 connects Lake Placid , Sebring , and Lake Wales . Motorists who discover this stretch of road along the Lake Wales Ridge enjoy state parks, museums, art galleries, shopping, theatres, lakes, and rolling hills of citrus.

North of Orlando, Highway 19 is literally a drive in the country as it sneaks into the Ocala National Forest where lakes, crystal clear springs, and hiking trails are a natural attraction for anyone who loves the outdoors.

This only scratches the surface.

The Best of the West

Florida road trip enthusiasts ready for a double dose of great driving fill ‘er up and head to western Florida where two highways deliver completely different, but equally unforgettable, driving experiences. Interstate 10 is the fastest route between Jacksonville and Pensacola , but it takes a back seat to its more laid back predecessor, U.S. 90. This is a link to Florida’s past and a present for motorists yearning to experience Old Florida as they drive through a land of magnolias, oaks, rolling hills, and antebellum homes and discover charming towns like Madison, Monticello, Quincy, and DeFuniak Springs.

South of U.S. 90 is one of America’s best road trip roads: US 98. From Pensacola to Carrabelle , this is western Florida’s version of A1A, hugging the waterfront as it glides along the Gulf Coast. Where the land drops south, the road follows suit. Where a bay appears, a bridge spans it. At times the road is only a few feet from the water, even closer when high tide covers the mud flats.

It’s all in Florida and it’s all waiting for you. Happy motoring!

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East and Southern US , Florida , North America · December 21, 2022

The Perfect One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Florida is the perfect state for a road trip. There is so much to do with pristine beaches, crystal clear springs, metropolitan cities, amusement parks, Everglades National Park, and so much more! Keep reading to discover the perfect one-week Florida road trip itinerary.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase or book a reservation through the link provided then we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We really appreciate your support!

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Simply Wander #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Day 1: Miami

  • Check into hotel

Lunch at Havana 1957

Afternoon airboat tour, relax at south beach, dinner in little havana, check into your hotel.

Depending on when your flight lands and when check-in is available, you’ll want to get settled into your hotel.

The Goodtime Hotel is a trendy boutique hotel in Miami Beach that is close to restaurants, shops, and the beach.

The hotel features a pool and the Instagram-worthy Strawberry Moon cafe. Guests will also have access to free bikes and beach chairs.

For a taste of Cuba, head to  Havana 1957  on Espanola Way.

Enjoy Cuban sandwiches and fried sweet plantains in a tastefully decorated space that is reminiscent of 1950s Cuba.

The eastern edge of Everglades National Park is only about a 25-minute drive from downtown Miami.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Everglades National Park Airboat Tour #simplywander #florida #miami

Here you will find Coopertown Airboats , the first tour operator to take guests on guided airboat tours through the Everglades.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Everglades National Park Airboat Tour #simplywander #florida #miami

Tours last about 45 minutes as you glide along the “river of grass”.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Everglades National Park Airboat Tour #simplywander #florida #miami

The tour guides know where the gators like to hang out so your chances of seeing alligators are very high.

You’ll also learn some interesting facts about the Everglades and see other wildlife and plants that are unique to the area.

South Beach is the most iconic beach in Miami and is located only a short distance from the Goodtime Hotel.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | South Beach Miami #simplywander #florida #miami

After your airboat tour, take some time to relax on the sandy shore, pose for photos with the brightly colored lifeguard stands, and visit the shops at the nearby Espanola Way.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | South Beach Miami #simplywander #florida #miami

Little Havana is a colorful Cuban neighborhood that boasts a vibrant nightlife.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Little Havana #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Check out the shops and stands lining Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street) in the heart of Little Havana.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Little Havana #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Then stop in at the  Versailles  restaurant for some traditional homemade Latin dishes.

Their signature dish is the Cuban sandwich with yellow rice, beans, and plantains on the side. A few other popular items include empanadas, croquettes, and caramel flan.

For more things to do in Miami, check out our guide How to Spend 48 Hours in Miami .

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Little Havana #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Day 2: Key Biscayne and drive to Orlando

Breakfast at donut gallery diner.

  • Boating at Biscayne Bay
  • Lunch at Rusty Pelican

Afternoon at Key Biscayne

Dinner at delray beach, drive to orlando and check into your hotel.

Start your day off in the quiet residential community of Key Biscayne.

Key Biscayne is one of Miami’s barrier islands that can be reached by crossing the Rickenbacker Bridge.

Stop in at the Donut Gallery Diner for their famous “Ted Special” that made Thrillist’s list of the ’50 Things You Need to Eat in Miami Before You Die’.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Donut Gallery Diner #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

This small family-owned diner has been a neighborhood favorite for the past 50 years.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Donut Gallery Diner #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Explore Biscayne Bay

After breakfast, rent a boat or take a boat tour to explore Biscayne Bay.

If you’re interested in renting a boat,  Boatsetter  is like the Airbnb of boat rentals and has a variety of boats available to rent.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Biscayne Bay boat tour #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

If you prefer a guided boat tour of the bay, try reserving a spot on a  vintage yacht , or take a  millionaire home tour  for only $30!

You can also take a relaxing sightseeing boat tour or a thrilling speed boat sightseeing tour .

Whether you are renting a boat or taking a tour, you’ll want to check out Star Island. This man-made island is home to celebrities and some of Miami’s wealthiest residents.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Biscayne Bay boat tour #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Be sure to take a cruise up the Miami River that cuts right through downtown.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Biscayne Bay boat tour #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Stiltsville is also an interesting place to visit.

It is located at the southern end of the bay where you’ll find a collection of derelict buildings that once housed some of Miami’s hottest social clubs back in the 1930s.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Biscayne Bay boat tour #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

There are also several sandbars in Biscayne Bay that attract throngs of people on the weekends.

Lunch at the Rusty Pelican

The Rusty Pelican is a popular waterfront restaurant. It is conveniently located at the Rickenbacker Marina so you can pop over for lunch after your boat tour.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Biscayne Bay boat tour #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

They serve fresh seafood, including tasty crab cakes, calamari, and fried snapper.

The Rusty Pelican Board is also a great option to sample different foods.

After lunch, spend some time exploring Key Biscayne.

Relax on the white sand beaches at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and take a tour of the Cape Florida Lighthouse.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Key Biscayne #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

You can also visit the abandoned ruins of the Crandon Park Zoo, buy local produce and gifts at the farmers market, rent bikes and explore the Bear Cut Preserve, or take a snorkel tour to see a sunken ship at the Half Moon Archaeological Site.

For more information and recommendations, see our guide 4 Fun Things to do in Key Biscayne .

Later in the afternoon, hit the road for the 3 1/2 hour drive to Orlando.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Delray Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

On your way, stop in Delray Beach and grab a bite to eat at Lulu’s Cafe & Cocktails.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Lulu's Cafe  Delray Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

This trendy neighborhood cafe is located in the design district of Pineapple Grove.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Lulu's Cafe  Delray Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Try the Steak Sandwich or Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with a fresh salad or bowl.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Lulu's Cafe  Delray Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Delray Beach is a charming beach town that was voted Most Fun Small Town by USA Today in 2012.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Delray Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

If you have more time to spend in the area, check out the shops on Atlantic Avenue or walk along the elevated boardwalk at Wakodahatchee Wetlands and look for alligators.

You can also snorkel through a sunken steamship at Delray Wreck, or play unlimited retro pinball games at the Silverbell Museum.

Drive to Orlando and check into your hotel. If you want to stay by Disney’s Magic Kingdom, I would recommend staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort .

If you want to stay by Universal, consider Universal’s Aventura Hotel .

Both hotels include perks to the parks like early access an hour before the parks open. Universal hotel guests even get complimentary Express Passes.

Day 3: Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

You can’t come to Orlando and NOT visit Disney World! You’ll definitely want to set aside a day to spend at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Disney World's Magic Kingdom #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

You could easily spend an entire week at Disney World, but there’s so much more to see on a seven day Florida road trip so we just planned for one day.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Disney World's Magic Kingdom #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Plan to arrive early for rope drop, and be sure to purchase the Genie + Lightning Lane Passes in order to make the most of your day.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Disney World's Magic Kingdom #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

For more help planning your time at Disney, see our guide Magic Kingdom Tips & Tricks .

And if you’re looking for food recommendations in the park, see our guide for the Best Snacks at Disney’s Magic Kingdom .

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Disney World's Magic Kingdom #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Day 4: Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando is much bigger and better than the one in Hollywood, so you’ll definitely want to spend at least one day here!

If you want to get the full Harry Potter World experience, you’ll need to purchase a two-park pass to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | The Wizarding World of Harry Potter #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Islands of Adventure is home to Hogsmeade while Universal Studios is home to Diagon Alley. Guests with a two-park pass can hop aboard the Hogwarts Express to visit both lands.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | The Wizarding World of Harry Potter #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

If you only have one week on your Florida road trip, then it’s possible to do both parks in one day.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | The Wizarding World of Harry Potter #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

However, if you have extra time then it would be ideal to spend two days at Universal so that you’re not rushed.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | The Wizarding World of Harry Potter #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

For more help planning your day, check out our guide Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips & Tricks .

Day 5: King’s Landing and drive to Gulf Coast

Grab a bite to eat at the world’s largest mcdonald’s, afternoon kayaking at king’s landing, drive to the gulf coast and check into your hotel.

After going hard at amusement parks for two days, you’ll want to sleep in and have a slow morning.

Before heading out of Orlando, stop at Epic McD located at 6875 Sand Lake Rd. Orlando, FL 32819 and grab a bite to eat.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | World's Largest McDonald's in Orlando #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

This two-story 19,000 square foot McDonald’s is the largest McDonald’s in the world. It also features a menu that’s different than any other McDonald’s you’ve ever been to.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | World's Largest McDonald's in Orlando #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

In addition to the standard burgers and fries, you can also order wood-fired pizza, customized pasta dishes, and even a slice of three-layer chocolate cake!

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | World's Largest McDonald's in Orlando #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

The Play Place is also bigger and better than your typical McDonald’s. It even includes an extensive arcade area with over 100 games!

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | World's Largest McDonald's in Orlando #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

After you eat, drive about 25 miles northwest of Orlando to Apopka.

Here you’ll find Rock Springs, one of the most beautiful natural springs in the state.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | King's Landing #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Rock Springs Run is often rated as the top paddle run in Central Florida and it has even been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | King's Landing #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

King’s Landing is the launch site that gives access to the Rock Springs River. You can either take a guided tour, rent a kayak, or launch your own kayak.

The kayak trip is absolutely beautiful as you follow along the crystalline waters, paddle under tunnels of trees, and stop at the stunning Emerald Cut.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | King's Landing #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

For more details and information see our guide Tips for Kayaking at King’s Landing Florida .

After you finish your kayak trip, hop in the car and head to the Gulf Coast.

The drive across Central Florida to the Gulf Coast takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes, so you’ll want to stop and grab a bite to eat along the way before checking into your hotel.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Marriott at Treasure Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

We chose to stay at the Marriott Residence Inn at Treasure Island and I would highly recommend it!

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Marriott at Treasure Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

It sits right on the beach and is centrally located to various Gulf Coast destinations.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Marriott at Treasure Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

The beach in front of the hotel is a popular nesting ground for sea turtles. If you’re lucky you may catch the hatchlings emerging from their shells and making their way to the ocean at night.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Marriott at Treasure Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Just be sure to always keep your distance and never disturb their nests.

Day 6: Clearwater, Honeymoon Island, and Tarpon Springs

Spend the morning at clearwater beach.

Head to Clearwater Beach and start your morning off with a Cinnamon Bun French Toast from Clear Sky Cafe.

Spend some time playing in the waves or sunbathing at this pristine beach.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Clearwater Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Walk along Pier 60 to spot dolphins, stop in at Hulk Hogan’s Beach Shop, or visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium which was once home to Winter from  Dolphin Tale.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Clearwater Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Many tour operators are also located at the Clear Water Beach Harbor.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Clearwater Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Consider taking a dolphin tour on Little Toot , board a Pirate Ship for some swashbuckling fun at sea, or take a leisurely cruise on a catamaran.

For more details and recommendations, see our guide 7 Things to do in Clearwater .

Make a stop at Honeymoon Island

As you head further north, make a stop at Honeymoon Island.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Honeymoon Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Honeymoon Island State Park is located on a barrier island about 20 minutes north of Clearwater and is considered one of the best state parks in Florida.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Honeymoon Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

The name comes from a businessman that purchased the island in the late 1930s and constructed 50 honeymoon cottages as a destination for newlyweds.

While on the island, be sure to stop by the Rotary Club Centennial Nature Center to see photos of the cottages.

Bike rentals are also available at the Nature Center where visitors can bike along the Osprey Trail. The trail leads through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests in Florida.

You can also take a 20-minute ferry ride from Honeymoon Island to the remote Caladesi Island.

The island can only be reached by water and boasts 3.5 miles of white sand beaches and mangroves.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Honeymoon Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Lunch at Tarpon Springs

The last destination of the day is Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs dates back to the early 1900s when it first became known for its thriving sea sponge industry.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Tarpon Springs #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Tarpon Springs also has a strong Greek influence. Sponge divers from Dodecanese Island had experience diving for sponges in the Aegean Sea and migrated to Tarpon Springs looking for more work.

They settled here over a century ago, but you can still find a strong Greek influence in Tarpon Springs today. The cobblestone streets and Greek shops in the historic district are an echo of the past.

Be sure to stop for lunch at Hellas Restaurant and order a gyro for lunch, then pick up a slice of baklava cheesecake from the restaurant bakery.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Tarpon Springs #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

The sea sponge industry is still thriving in Tarpon Springs as well.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Tarpon Springs #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Walk along the sponge docks to see the boats, and pick up some unique souvenirs made of sea sponges. You can also take a boat tour to watch a sea sponge diver in action.

Sunset at the beach

Head back to your hotel at Treasure Island and pick up some pizza at the nearby Britt’s Coal Fire Pizza for dinner.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Marriott at Treasure Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

After dinner, grab some gourmet milkshakes from Shake Shop that is also located just in front of the Marriott Treasure Island hotel.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Shake Shop at Treasure Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Spend the evening relaxing on the beach at Treasure Island and enjoying a glorious sunset as the sun sinks into the Gulf.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Treasure Island #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Day 7: Fort De Soto, Dolphin Tour, Siesta Key

Visit fort de soto park.

In the morning, head out to Fort De Soto Park. This county park is made up of five keys connected by bridges and causeways.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Fort De Soto #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

Here you can find the remains of an old Spanish-America War era military bunker located on Mullet Key.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Fort De Soto #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

You can even see the remains of Battery Bigelow that collapsed into the gulf during a hurricane in the 1920s

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Fort De Soto #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

A few other popular attractions at Fort De Soto include visiting the Quartermaster Museum, renting bikes and riding along the 7-mile paved bike path, renting kayaks and exploring the mangroves, fishing from the pier, taking a ferry to Egmont Key, or going tide pooling at North Beach

Go on a dolphin tour

Book an afternoon tour with Dolphin Racer at St. Pete’s Beach, it’s affordable and so fun for the whole family!

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Dolphin Racer Tour at St Pete's Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

For the tour, you’ll hop aboard one of the largest speedboats in the US and enjoy a thrilling ride while the dolphins jump and play in the large wake.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Dolphin Racer Tour at St Pete's Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

The boat cruises around the bay before heading out into the Gulf and then making its way back to the harbor.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Dolphin Racer Tour at St Pete's Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

While in the bay, you’ll even get an up-close look at some of the largest oceanfront mansions in Tampa Bay.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Dolphin Racer Tour at St Pete's Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

We saw so many dolphins while on the tour, and you are guaranteed to see at least one dophin or your next tour is free.

Sunset at Siesta Key Beach

As you make your way back to Miami, stop at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota to enjoy the sunset.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Siesta Key Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

In 2015, Siesta Key Beach was voted #1 overall on Trip Advisor’s USA Traveler’s Choice for Best Beach.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Siesta Key Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

In 2011 it was also voted Best Beach in America by Dr. Beach.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Siesta Key Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

The long stretch of powdery white sand, warm turquoise water, colorful lifeguard stands, central location, dreamy sunsets, and modern amenities helped this beach to secure the top spot.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Siesta Key Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

The beach is a tourist magnet, but the ample parking and wide sandy beach help accommodate the large crowds.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Siesta Key Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

It’s the perfect spot to enjoy your last sunset in Florida before heading back to Miami.

One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary | Siesta Key Beach #simplywander #florida #roadtrip

After the beach, continue on to Miami and snag a hotel close to the airport so you can get a good night’s sleep before your flight home the next day.

And that wraps up our one-week Florida road trip itinerary. I hope this helps you plan your perfect Florida vacation!

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Florida road trip itinerary - rock springs

The Perfect 2-Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary + Map

T his is the perfect Florida road trip itinerary! Having spent many years living in Florida and exploring the state extensively, I can confidently say that this road trip covers many of the must-see locations, with the option to include additional destinations if you have extra time. I recently took my husband, (who’s from Spain) on this journey, and he loved every place we visited. Even if you’re a Florida native, you’ll still enjoy this adventure!

Florida offers an ideal setting for a road trip, thanks to its abundant attractions and year-round sunshine. This itinerary is tailored for road trip enthusiasts of all kinds, whether you’re traveling as a couple, with family, on a girls’ getaway, or even as a solo adventurer.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary (5)

Table of Contents

2-Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary Overview

Day 1 + 2: miami, day 3, 4, + 5: florida keys, day 6 + 7: captiva island, day 8 + 9: sarasota, day 10, 11, + 12: orlando.

Day 13 + 14: Saint Augustine

Pack your bags.. it’s time for a road trip!

Note: Starting and Ending Point of the Florida Road Trip Itinerary

The starting and ending point of your Florida road trip itinerary will depend on a few factors.

  • The cost of renting a car in Miami and dropping it off in Orlando was only a $50 price difference. Almost all rental car companies will let you drop off in a different place. It made a lot more sense for us to just spend the $50 than to drive all the way back to Miami.
  • If you live in Florida, then starting either in Miami or Saint Augustine (whichever is closer to your city) would be best.

Miami is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and diverse range of attractions. There’s truly something for every kind of traveler! The peak tourist season is during the winter months, from December to April, when the weather is warm and dry. However, this is also when prices for accommodations and activities tend to be higher. If you prefer lower prices and can handle some rain, you can consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (May to June) or fall (September to November).

We flew into Miami International Airport and picked up our rental car, then drove to our hotel in South Beach. After check in, we grabbed lunch and started checking off our must-do things and must-visit places in Miami!

florida road trip

A perfect afternoon at Nikki Beach Miami

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - south beach

Sunrise on South Beach

Best things to do in miami:.

  • Spend a day at Nikki Beach in South Beach (this was one of our favorite things we did in Miami)
  • Explore Little Havana and eat authentic Cuban food
  • Visit Wynwood Arts District
  • Eat tacos at Taquiza in North Miami Beach (literally the best tacos I’ve ever had in my life)
  • Walk around and admire all the pastel art deco buildings
  • Grab a cocktail at one of the many bars, nightclubs, and lounges in areas like South Beach, Downtown Miami, and Brickell
  • Get brunch on Ocean Drive (we did this before heading to the Keys)

Where to Stay:

  • Casa Boutique Hotel ☆☆☆ ($$)
  • SLS South Beach Miami ☆☆☆☆ ($$$)
  • The Savoy Hotel & Beach Club ~ Miami Beach ☆☆☆☆ ($$$$)

florida road trip south beach

The art deco buildings are the cutest

florida road trip - taquiza miami

BEST tacos & blue corn tortilla chips ever at Taquiza

Make sure to get some good sleep on your last night in Miami because the next morning it’s time to grab some brunch and head down to Key West!

Driving time from Miami to Key West: approx. 3 hours, 32 mins.

On the morning of day 3, we woke up and headed straight to brunch. There are so many amazing brunch spots all over Miami, so you won’t have any difficulty finding one. Following your meal, it’s time to embark on the road trip journey to Key West! We suggest heading directly to Key West so that you can gradually make your way back to Miami while exploring the other Keys. This approach will considerably reduce the length of your next long drive, which will be on day 6.

A bit about The Florida Keys – they are a picturesque and unique chain of islands located at the southern tip of Florida, extending into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The Florida Keys are known for their stunning natural beauty, vibrant marine life, and laid-back atmosphere.

There are hundreds of keys in the Florida Keys, but the most famous ones (listed from north to south) are:

  • Big Pine Key

Related post (for couples): A romantic getaway in Key West

florida road trip

Smathers Beach - Key West

florida road trip

The Perry Hotel Key West is the perfect place to unwind

Must-do things in key west:.

  • Spend an afternoon at the beautiful Smathers Beach – this is a great place to take some photos!
  • Wander around Downtown Key West – we loved exploring downtown without a GPS.
  • Take a sunrise or sunset sailing tour – We planned to do this, but decided on taking a day trip to Bahia Honda. Next time, we definitely want to do the sailing tour. If you stay at The Perry Hotel they can arrange a sailing tour for you!
  • Eat at Lobster Shack Key West – If you’re into seafood, you must try this place.
  • Grab a drink at Green Parrot Bar – This bar was voted best bar in Key West and has happy hour & live music!
  • Visit the popular tourist spots – Southernmost Point Buoy, Southernmost House, Key West lighthouse, etc.
  • Try the Cuban food at Havana Cabana – we loved having lunch here and we thought the food was mouth-watering

The best place to stay:

  • The Perry Hotel Key West is dog-friendly, if you’re bringing your furry friend along on your road trip!
  • Stay here for 2 nights and then check out early and head to Bahia Honda State Park

Driving time from Key West to Bahia Honda State Park: approx. 45 mins. 

Havana Cabana Key West Food 2

Incredible Cuban food at Havana Cabana

The Perry Hotel Key West Pool

Early morning swims at The Perry Hotel

After the 45 minute drive from key west, you’ll arrive at bahia honda state park.

This state park is one of the most beautiful in all of the Florida Keys. The azure waters, pristine white sand, flourishing nature—it’s a dream come true. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Navigate your way there by clicking this link for Google Maps directions.
  • Entrance costs $8.00* per vehicle (+.50 cents per person). The limit is 8 people per vehicle.
  • Bahia Honda State Park offers a range of amenities, including camping, cabins, pavilions, picnic spots, showers, and restrooms.

We spent about 6 hours at the park. Our time mostly consisted of snorkeling, indulging in a picnic, soaking up the sunshine, and reveling in the breathtaking array of blue hues surrounding us. Camping is definitely on our agenda for the next visit!

Since we need to start making our way back north, it’s time to head to either Islamorada or Key Largo for the night. We recommend staying at Drop Anchor Resort in Islamorada, so we will use that as an example.

Driving time from Bahia Honda State Park to Drop Anchor Resort Islamorada: approx. 1 hour

Bahia Honda State Park Florida

Alll the shades of blue at Bahia Honda

bahia honda state park florida keys

A stunning place to spend an afternoon

Stay the night at drop anchor resort in islamorada.

This super cute pastel hotel right off the main road, is also perched right on the beach. They offer 12 different kinds of rooms, many of them with ocean views. There are quite a few restaurants close to the hotel. For those seeking underwater adventures, the nearby dive shop, Key Dives, offers both scuba diving and snorkeling experiences.

Rest well because after checkout in the morning, it’s time to set off on the longest drive of the whole Florida road trip itinerary!

Driving time from Drop Anchor Resort to Captiva Island: approx. 4 hours, 38 mins. 

Drop Anchor Islamorada

Drop Anchor Resort - Islamorada

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - Drop anchor resort islamorada

Drop Anchor Resort in Islamorada, FL

Don’t worry too much about the long drive because there are many things to do and see along the route –.

  • Stop at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo and take a glass bottom boat tour or go snorkeling. There are beautiful coral reefs and lots of marine life here!
  • Take an Everglades airboat tour (you can book this through lots of different companies or on GetYourGuide)
  • Visit the Naples Pier
  • Swim or take a looong walk on the sand at Fort Myers Beach

This is definitely one of our favorite places on the whole Florida road trip itinerary! Right when we arrived to Captiva Island, we absolutely fell in love. The peace and serenity that this island brings is unparalleled. We went straight to our hotel (South Seas Island Resort) and checked in. When we got to our room, we couldn’t believe our eyes *see photo belows*. The room was a dream!

Note: After the devastating hurricane in 2022, South Seas Island Resort has been rebuilt in many parts. Some of the hotel areas may not look the same as before.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - south seas island resort

Just... wow. Am I right?

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - south seas island resort 2

We had to make a little bed on the balcony because it was just so beautiful

There aren’t many places to stay on Captiva Island, but even if there were, we would still recommend South Seas Island Resort . We had an amazing stay and there were lots of things to do and many delicious food options.

Things to do on Captiva Island/South Seas Island Resort:

  • Kayaking with manatees and dolphins – This was the most exciting morning of our whole road trip! We set off from the South Seas coast around 9 am and in the first 10 minutes of kayaking we were surrounded by dolphins playing. Then we paddled a bit farther and saw a few manatees under the water – they were so cute!
  • Sunset dolphin boat tour – This was so much fun and we saw dolphins and manatees again, but this time more than 50 dolphins! Everyone on the boat was so excited and it was a great vibe 🙂
  • Enjoy lunch on the beach at Island Tacos – The cutest little food truck with amazing Mexican food. We loved the tacos and quesadillas.
  • Rent a golf cart and explore the island – Make a reservation ahead of time
  • Swim, relax, and drink a cocktail at the beautiful South Seas Island Resort ocean front pool
  • Have dinner at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill on Sanibel Island – The food is delicious and they have live music often. In our opinion, we could have eaten at this restaurant every day for a week haha.
  • Take a sunset walk on the beach – The sunsets are extra beautiful and colorful here!

Driving time from Captiva Island to Sarasota: approx. 2 hours, 15 mins. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - captiva island dolphin tour

Dolphin tour off Captiva Island

florida road trip

Ocean front pool at South Seas Island Resort

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - doc ford's rum bar and grill

Tropical dinner vibes at Doc Ford's

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - captiva island

Sunset walk on the beach

Sarasota is my hometown, so it will always hold a special place in my heart! It’s a vibrant city known for its cultural richness, beautiful beaches, and artistic flair. Nestled on the southwestern coast of Florida, Sarasota frequently wins the title of having one of the best beaches in the United States, Siesta Key Beach, renowned for its powdery white sands and clear turquoise waters.

Overall, Sarasota is a blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and a laid-back coastal lifestyle, making it an appealing must-visit destination.

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - siesta key

The sunsets at Siesta Key are some of the best we've ever seen

florida road trip

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

My parents still live in Sarasota, so we just stayed with them and didn’t have to get a hotel for this part of our trip! There are quite a few great hotel options in Sarasota though. I recommend staying either near Siesta Key or Lido Key area. Here are some choices:

  • The Sarasota Modern, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel ☆☆☆☆ ($$)
  • The Westin Sarasota ☆☆☆☆ ($$$)
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota ☆☆☆☆☆ ($$$$)

Best things to do in Sarasota:

  • Sunbathing and swimming at the #1 beach in the USA – Siesta Key! My husband (to remind you – he’s from Spain) had never seen a beach with sand so white and water so clear. Siesta really is amazing + the sand NEVER gets hot!
  • Visit the unique The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art – I have probably been here about 20 times in my life and it never gets old. Make sure to see the art museums, the circus museum, and the Ca’ d’Zan mansion.
  • Shopping and Lunch at St. Armands Circle – Eat at Cha Cha Coconuts (they have the best fried shrimp) and then get ice cream at Kilwins (my favorite flavor is the cake batter.. yummm).
  • Brunch with your feet in the sand at The Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island – This one is in Bradenton Beach area, but it’s worth the drive to eat here then explore Anna Maria Island!
  • Wander around the beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Downtown Sarasota

If you’re traveling as a couple, don’t miss 15 romantic things to do in Sarasota !

Driving time from Sarasota to Orlando: approx. 2 hours, 20 mins. 

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - top golf

We drove up to Brandon to play at TopGolf - so much fun!

florida road trip

Brunch with our feet in the sand at Sandbar Restaurant

Next up on the Florida road trip itinerary is Orlando! There are e n d l e s s things to do there. It is one of the most popular places to visit in all of the USA. People usually flock here for the theme parks, but there are many other fun activities and places to see. We opted for a mix of theme parks and a nearby incredible nature landscape – the springs!

For a 3-day Orlando adventure, especially if you’re a fan of theme parks, I suggest deciding between dedicating 2 days to either Universal or Disney. While you could opt for a day at each, it will mean missing out on the full experience of either park. In our case, we chose to immerse ourselves in the world of Universal. However, we did add a touch of Disney magic by spending one evening at Disney Springs for a dinner at Rainforest Cafe.

Kelly Park Rock Springs - Florida

Kelly Park Rock Springs - near Orlando

florida road trip

Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay

There are hundreds of hotels in Orlando! Depending on if you choose Universal or Disney, you will likely pick a hotel that’s close to the park or on park property. Often if you stay at the hotels on park property, they have guest benefits (like getting into the park early, fast passes, etc.)

We stayed at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Universal Orlando property and would recommend it to anyone and everyone! The hotel looks like it’s straight from Portofino in Italy, has incredible food, transport to the parks, guest benefits, and so much more. Read the post linked below for more details about this hotel and the Universal parks.

Related post: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel + Universal Orlando

Best things to do in Orlando:

  • Explore the Universal Orlando Parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay)
  • Visit the Disney Parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios + Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon)
  • Enjoy an evening at Disney Springs and eat at one of the many amazing themed restaurants
  • Stroll around I-Drive (International Drive)
  • Spend a day floating around Rock Springs Kelly Park (about 45 minutes away from Orlando). I go to Rock Springs every time I go to Orlando. There’s something so magical about it. Don’t forget a tube to float on!

Driving time Orlando to Saint Augustine: approx. 1 hour, 40 mins.

florida road trip

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando

Florida Road Trip Itinerary - islands of adventure

A fun day at Islands of Adventure

Day 13 + 14: saint augustine (last stop on your florida road trip itinerary).

Saint Augustine stands out as a unique stop on the road trip, often overlooked but has SO much to offer! Nestled on the northeast coast of Florida, it holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental US.

Thanks to its rich history, vibrant culture, and captivating architectural beauty, Saint Augustine is a true gem and a destination that shouldn’t be missed. And let’s not forget the allure of the beautiful St. Augustine Beach!

florida road trip - saint augustine beach

Sand dunes of Saint Augustine Beach

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Where to stay in saint augustine:.

For a central city stay, consider The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens or Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront—they’re both excellent options! If a beachfront retreat is more your style, Embassy Suites by Hilton St Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort is a solid choice.

Best things to do in Saint Augustine:

  • Wander on St. George Street – This pedestrian only street is lined with shops, restaurants, and attractions.
  • Get spooky with a night time haunted tour or pub crawl
  • Indulge in a homemade popsicle from The Hyppo – I am obsessed with this place! The watermelon hibiscus and pink grapefruit flavors are my absolute favorite!
  • Visit the historic Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
  • Have a picnic at Saint Augustine Beach

For those flying out of Orlando, make your way to the Orlando Airport on the morning of Day 15 and return your rental car.

If you find yourself with some additional time, extending your stay in the Keys, exploring the Clearwater/St. Pete area, or taking a detour to Cocoa Beach are all worthwhile options!

We hope you enjoyed this Florida road trip itinerary! Have a great time and don’t forget the snacks 🙂

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The Ultimate Florida Road Trip: 21 Spectacular Places you Must-See

This post may contain affiliate links. This just means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you for helping them promote their product or service. I don’t endorse any services I don’t personally use or recommend.

Florida might just be my favorite state. It’s definitely my favorite state for vanlife . It’s built for road trips and if you can get past “Florida man” there is loads of nature to explore. But planning our Florida road trip I was disappointed to see every single travel blog recommend the same (crappy) places.

You’re not going to find that here.

This Florida road trip guide is going to focus on nature, scenery, stunning drives, and of course, beaches. No Disneyworld or tourist-trap towns here.

Because Florida, undoubtedly, has some of the coolest natural attractions in the country and unfortunately few travelers know about them.

Let’s take a look at some of the more scenic and lesser known destinations that Florida has to offer.

Why Plan a Florida Road Trip?

There’s 3 reasons Florida makes for such a perfect road trip vacation destination.

1. Florida is huge.

You can drive South for 8 hours and you’ll still be in the same state. While you can blow through multiple states on a typical week-long road trip, Florida takes some time to see right. We spent 2 weeks bouncing around Florida’s beaches and I still felt it wasn’t enough.

2. Beaches.

From the still silky waters of the Gulf Coast to the crashing waves of the Atlantic, Florida has a beach for everyone.

3. Wildlife.

Florida road trip. alligator and white bird

Florida is teeming with wildlife. & unless you’re from the South it can feel as foreign as traveling to the other side of the world. 500 species of birds alone reside in Florida, not to mention alligators, crocodiles, beavers, foxes, panthers, manatees, even a colony of monkeys.

4. The weather.

Vanlife can be really hard sometimes. But it’s a lot less difficult when the weather is good. After all, road trips and sunshine go hand in hand. & if you’re looking to escape the crisp winters of the Northern US, a winter Florida road trip is the perfect getaway.

Tips for Planning Your Florida Road Trip

Here’s a few things you should know before you hit the open road.

Avoid Hurricane Season.

Although Florida has warm balmy weather pretty much year-round, it does get a hurricane or two. Plan your Florida road trip around hurricane season which typically falls from June to November.

Vanlife or RV Rental is the way to go.

Vanlife in Florida is a piece of cake. & if you want to explore the hidden gems on my road trip map below you’re going to have a hard time finding accommodation nearby. I highly recommend exploring Florida via van or RV.

Florida Road Trip. View out the van window

Fortunately, if you’re not converting your own DIY Campervan there are plenty of rental options for you.

RV Share is one of the cheapest options on the market for RV rentals & is available all over the US. Better yet? You’ll be renting from other RV owners & supporting individuals instead of mega-corporations.

320*100

Or if Vanlife is more your style you can always check out Jucy or Escape Vans for low-priced converted van rentals.

& if you are building your own campervan then be sure to avoid these pitfalls that made our DIY van build a lot harder.

For more tips be sure to check out our full Florida Van Life blog post on avoiding bugs, where to find free overnight parking, showers & more.

Your Ultimate Florida Road Trip

Now let’s dive into the lagoons and swamps of Florida. There are two essential components when planning a road trip.

The destinations and the roads we use to get there.

I wrote up a whole other blog post focused on the most scenic stretches of Florida backroads for your road trip. Instead, we’re going to focus on the must-see stops you absolutely cannot miss on your Florida road trip.

21 Stops You Absolutely Cannot Miss

Notice you’re not going to find Disneyworld, Miami Beach, or St. Augustine on this list. Because they aren’t the best places to visit in Florida. They are the most touristy places to visit. But that’s not what this list is about.

1. Amelia Island

If tranquillity is what you’re looking for this– is the place to start. Not technically an island in the traditional sense Amelia Island is a lovely serene stretch of Florida coastline & it bodes well for the rest of your journey down the East Coast.

Florida road trip. Standing on a boardwalk by beach

Hot Tip: I recommend driving through Fernandina Beach Town (a quaint alternative to St. Augustine) & then driving down the A1A until you reach a public boardwalk to the sand and enjoy a few hours on the beach.

2. Silver Glen Springs in Ocala National Forest

If I had to pick a favorite place in Florida, this is it. Ocala National Forest is a sprawling wooded area filled with turquoise lagoons and of course, the main attraction, manatees . For $6 a person you get a day pass to Silver Glen Springs. An undeveloped thermal-heated natural lagoon you can swim in, paddleboard, or kayak year-round. Leaping mullet fish, palm trees, and cormorants sunning on the shores give this lagoon an exotic tropical feel.

Florida road trip. Blue lagoon for swimming

If you’re interested in the Manatees, visit during the winter months (Nov-Jan) when they leave the cooler open water and head for the warmth of the lagoons. During our visit, a mama & her baby swam within 10 feet of us!!

Hot Tip: Bring a snorkel. The water is crystal clear but you’ll want to get a better peek at the manatees and their underwater world.

3. Blue Spring State Park

More Manatees!

florida road trip

I just couldn’t get enough of these floaty potatoes. If you didn’t see manatees during your visit to Silver Glen Springs you’re almost guaranteed to see them here. During the winter months, hundreds of manatees gather in the protected canals to graze. You can’t swim with them here but you can get a great view of them from the elevated walkways around the water’s edge.

Hot Tip: Rent a kayak & paddle over to the protected manatee area. Manatees are extremely curious and we had a group of 6 come for a visit. They circled around us, poked their noses out of the water, and bumped against our kayak. You’ll probably also see Ibis, Alligators, Great Herons, and tons of other wildlife if you explore further. Best $27 I’ve ever spent.

4. Vero Beach

& now it’s back to the beaches!

florida road trip

I loved Vero beach because it felt undeveloped and isolated. Sure, there are plenty of houses but the beach wasn’t crowded and for the most part bare of mega-hotels.

5. Blind Creek Nude Beach

Floridians love a nude beach. They are everywhere.

florida road trip

Blind Creek Nude Beach was hands down my favorite. People were friendly (not creepy), the beach was huge, the waves were tame, & the sand was soft.

Hot Tip: Don’t visit a nude beach (or any beach) right after a Florida rain. Sand Fleas will be thriving and you’ll be covered in bites in no time.

6. Lake Okeechobee

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Carter Andrews (@carterandrewsfishing)

This massive freshwater lake is known as Florida’s inland sea. Its placid waters reflect the blue sky & the lake is great for bird watching. There’s also some nice hiking trails to explore for the day.

7. Juno Beach

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Juno Beach Pier (@junobeachpier)

What can I say….another great beach stop on the East Coast. Juno is near West Palm Beach so it’s a great slightly less popular alternative for those trying to escape the crowds. The long pier extends way over the bright blue water and on a still day you have the chance to spot some fish in the waves.

Hot Tip: You do have to pay $1 to go on the pier.

8. Haulover Beach

Florida road trip. Nude beach near miami

Miami’s most popular ‘naturalist’ beach. & it’s stunningly gorgeous. The Miami skyline shoots out of the sand in the distance and it’s close enough to the city to make an easy getaway after breakfast.

9. Key Biscayne

My favorite part of the Miami area.

This little island connected by a large sea-bridge is gorgeous. We stealth camped in the main town center here so that we could watch the sunrise at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park –famous for its white lighthouse.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Bill Baggs Cape FL State Park (@bill_baggs_state_park)

Hot Tip: Be sure to catch the sunset at Crandon Park just across the bridge toward Key Biscayne. Get there early because you definitely won’t be alone.

10. Matheson Hammock Park

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Pure Florida™ (@pureflorida)

Looking for a more family friendly beach? This breezy man-made atoll is about as idyllic as it gets. & everyone should be fully clothed.

11. Biscayne National Park

Unfortunately, we didn’t actually make it here.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Biscayne National Park (@biscaynenps)

Jutting off the East Coast of Florida you might confuse it with the Keys. These little islands are not connected via land bridge however. So, you’ll have to hop on a boat. But the most beautiful destinations are often difficult to reach.

World class snorkeling, diving, fishing, and canoeing through the mangroves can keep you busy for weeks. It’s truly one of the best hidden gems of Florida and although difficult to reach on a road trip…so worth it.

12. The Florida Keys

The keys might as well be an entirely different state. Stretching 113 miles off the coast of Florida it’s a long beautiful drive. Key West is a quirky little tourist town with rocky shores and delicious pie. But there is a lot more to the keys than Key West.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

florida road trip

Kayak through mangroves looking for sea turtles and manatees, snorkel right off shore above nurse sharks, or join a boat trip to drop you directly on the reef. There is tons to do at this state park.

Hot Tip: Personally, I was underwhelmed by the rocky beach and the water clarity for snorkeling off-shore but it all depends on the time of year you go. I would highly recommend kayaking and taking a snorkel tour if that’s your cup of tea.

Super laid back and undeveloped. Worth a drive through at the very least.

Big Pine Key

Drive around this key to spot Key Deer. A teeny endangered species of deer that can only be found here.

florida road trip

Veterans Memorial Park

If you’re looking for an easily accessible soft sand beach…look no further. The keys aren’t actually renowed for their beaches but this one is quite nice.

Florida road trip. Van by the beach

Seven-mile Bridge

If you’re road-tripping down to the Florida Keys you’ll cross this bridge. It’s a 7-mile stretch of highway crossing wide-open ocean. It’s a little unsettling but very scenic.

florida road trip

13. Everglades

Did you come to Florida to see some gators?? This is the place to do it.

Florida road trip. Crocodile in the everglades

The wildlife here is incredible. You’ll have the opportunity to spot Crocodiles, Alligators, Roseate Spoonbills, and even Florida Panthers. The Everglades flood after hurricanes or storms throughout the year but if you time your visit right you can explore these trails & viewpoints.

  • Anhinga Wildlife Loop.
  • Coastal Prairie Trailhead.
  • Flamingo Beach.
  • Shark Valley Observation Center.

14. Chokoloskee

View this post on Instagram A post shared by 🇨🇴 Creator 🇺🇲 (@matthewhoyos)

Drive out to this tiny little teardrop-shaped island and you won’t find much. But it’s the best place to hire a fan boat to take you out through the marshes. Known as the 10,000 islands region it’s also one of the best places to spot the massive White Pelican.

Hot Tip: No need to hire in advance. Just head to the docks and there will be flyers and boat owners milling about.

15. Bowman’s Beach & Captiva Island

We’ve finally made it to the gulf coast on our Florida road trip. This means warmer waveless water. Even though I preferred the East Coast, most travelers gravitate to the Gulf side. Bowman’s Beach is one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast.

Florida road trip. Sunset on the beach

& it’s famous for seashell collecting! Millions of seashells roll up onto the beach and have created a unique landscape perfect for a day in the sand.

Hot Tip: You’ll have to pay for parking and there is no food around so be sure to bring snacks.

16. Sanibel Island

If you’re doing this road trip in an RV or converted van this is the perfect place for some beach camping. You can pull your vehicle right onto the sand at Causeway Islands Park and eat lunch or set up camp just feet from the ocean water.

florida road trip

& if you’re not sick of swimming, snorkeling, and lounging yet…the beaches here are pretty wonderful. I recommend Bailey’s Beach Park .

Hot Tip: If you are stealth camping overnight by the water, be sure to park above the high tide line. Unless you want to wake up with your wheels underwater that is.

17. Stump Pass Beach State Park

Florida has some amazing state parks. In fact, I would say that’s one of the most underrated things to do in Florida.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by BaldZ Photo (@baldzphoto)

This state park happens to be a beach. So, I hope you’re not sick of them quite yet. White sands covered in weird stumps, this secluded beach juts out into the warm gulf waters and is more than a mile-long.

18. Manasota Key

This is the island you’ll find Stump Pass Beach State Park, so you might as well explore it further. It’s got some killer beaches rimmed with tropical foliage and one of the can’t miss drives through Florida.

Florida road trip marshes

19. Myakka River State Park

There’s one big reason to visit here. Deep Hole. This huge wetland offers great opportunities to see loads of wildlife life like gators and birds, but this giant deep hole is the real attraction. Following a 2.2 mile hike, you’ll reach a 200 ft wide sinkhole absolutely brimming with alligators. If you’re looking for a good gator photo this is the place to be. The hike is mostly flat and if you’re lucky you might see a wild hog rooting around the prairie landscape

Florida road trip. Close up of an Alligator

You can also check out the canopy walkway while you’re here.

Hot Tip: They only give out 30 passes to hike Deep Hole per day. It’s free but first come, first serve. So, get to the ranger station by 8 AM.

20. St. Andrews State Park

View this post on Instagram A post shared by RosieTaylorPhotography (@rosietaylorphoto)

Frequently, hailed as one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast we couldn’t miss it. But unfortunately, thanks to the hurricane damage in the area, we had to. This state park boasts white shores, green water, and great kayaking.

21. Gulf Island National Seashore

For the final stop on your Florida road trip, I recommend the Gulf National Seashore. Definitely, at sunset. Overnight if you can. There are plenty of pull-outs great for stealth camping. This strip of soft white beach actually stretches all the way to Mississippi through Alabama if you want to keep chasing the sand.

florida road trip

Florida Road Trip Map

Here’s your Florida road trip map already labeled with all the destinations above.

Florida is hands down one of the best (& most overlooked) destinations for a road trip in the USA. If you’re a wildlife fanatic, a beach bum, hiking enthusiast, or looking for a faux tropical getaway, a Florida road trip is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Save this Post For Later!

florida road trip

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Planning a trip to florida - tripscholars.

[…] of Florida is unmatched by any state in the continental United States  In a single day, during a Florida road trip, you can drive from the rolling waves of the East Coast to the dense panther-filled jungles in […]

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Go Wander Wild

Wow, your pictures of Florida are stunning! They really make us want to pack our bags and go!

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Alexa Jordan

Great suggestions. So much about Florida to love besides theme parks.

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David Richardson

This was a great list! I agree with Alexa- there are a lot of theme parks that take all the attention. We are taking Red Coach buses around the state (at least these areas: https://www.redcoachusa.com/florida/ ) and have so much to see! I will definitely add your suggestions to our list.

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The Ultimate American Foodie Road Trip (Map Included)

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Florida Road Trip: The Ultimate 2-Week Florida Itinerary

Florida Road Trip: The Ultimate 2-Week Florida Itinerary

Last Updated on April 5, 2024

Planning an epic Florida road trip? Here’s our 2-week Florida itinerary including swimming with manatees, island hopping, and living it up in Miami.

There is no doubt that Florida is one of the best road trip destinations in the United States. The Sunshine State has endless miles of wide, sandy beaches, vibrant marine life and unique keys. Not just that, we also love the pristine nature it has to offer: from magical natural springs to wildlife-rich ecosystems. 

Alberto and I actually met in Florida 20 years ago, and we have since returned several times and traveled all over Florida. For those planning a Florida road trip, here is our recommended 2-week Florida itinerary, including the best places to stop, where to stay and where to eat in Florida.

Florida 2 weeks itinerary

Table of Contents

Recommended Two Weeks in Florida Itinerary 

Travel insurance for florida, how to get to florida, by car/camper, by day trips, best time to do a florida road trip, how much does a florida road trip cost, florida itinerary days 1 & 2: explore miami, recommended tours in miami, where to stay in miami, where to stay in key largo, recommended tours in key west, where to stay in key west, day trip to dry tortugas national park, recommended tours in the everglades, where to stay in the everglades, where to stay on marco island, recommended tours in sarasota, where to stay in sarasota, where to stay in ocala, florida itinerary days 12-14: tubing in the springs, florida itinerary day 15: drive to orlando, enjoy your florida road trip, florida road trip guide.

As we love nature way more than big cities, we have designed this Florida road trip around natural springs, mangroves and beaches. But there are SO many things to do in Florida – from theme parks to historical forts – so you’ll have to decide where your interest lies.

We’ll be giving a day-to-day breakdown of this Florida itinerary, please continue reading. We recommend a minimum of 2 weeks in Florida to see and experience the best of Florida at a comfortable pace. If you only have 1 week in Florida, we suggest focusing on Miami, the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park.

  • 2 Days in Miami – to check out the stunning Art Deco architecture at South Beach
  • 3 Days in Florida Keys – to explore some of the best coral reefs
  • 1 Day in Everglades National Park – to go wildlife watching including taking an airboat tour
  • 4 Days on the Paradise Coast – to explore the best beaches from Marco Island to Sarasota
  • 4 Days in Central Florida – to explore Florida’s stunning natural springs

It’s important to have travel insurance in Florida regardless of how long you’re traveling. You never know what will happen and travel insurance can protect you in case of an accident, flight delay or loss of luggage. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

Safety Wing  is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their  Nomad Insurance plan , which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date.

The good news is that Florida has plenty of well-connected airports. The most popular airports to fly into Florida are MIA (Miami), FLL (Fort Lauderdale) and MCO (Orlando) airports. We’ve found that flights to Fort Lauderdale are the cheapest.

In this Florida itinerary, we are driving from Miami to Orlando .Flying into Florida both from other parts of the US and internationally is quite affordable. You can fly from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale for as little as $300 return (5-hour flight). For the best fares, we always use Skyscanner as they’ve consistently given us the lowest prices.

Flying from Europe to Florida is surprisingly cheap. We took a direct flight from Paris to Fort Lauderdale with Norwegian Airlines (10hours) for $220 one way. You can also get great deals from London, Brussels, Porto, Copenhagen or Oslo.

Search for Cheap Flights to Florida

florida road trip - dry tortugas national park

How to Get Around Florida 

The best way to get around Florida is by car.  In our experience, Florida is one of the most affordable states for car hire. O ur last car rental in Florida cost us $180 for a week including full insurance, which is around $25 a day. Check the current rates here.

Alternatively, you can also do this Florida road trip on a campervan. You can hire a campervan on Outdoorsy for around $150/day. Traveling in a campervan can help you save a lot on accommodation and food. Search for a campervan here.

While driving in Miami can prove a little tricky, driving outside of the big cities is very easy. Compared to the rest of the world, gas prices in Florida are incredibly low. At the moment Florida gas prices sit at around US$2.50 per gallon (3.78L).

Book Your Car Rental!

renting a jeep for your florida road trip

If you prefer not to drive, it IS possible to visit popular spots in Florida such as the Everglades National Park on day trips. Our favorite site to book day tours is GetYourGuide . They consistently offer the best prices and have free cancellations and mobile vouchers.

Most day trips around Florida cost around US$60 and upwards. There are lots of boat trips and snorkel tours in Florida that are worth doing! Here are some of our recommended Florida day tours:

  • Miami Star Island Boat Tour
  • Everglades Airboat Tour
  • Key West Dolphin Eco Tour
  • Sunset Sail on a Schooner
  •   Crystal River: Snorkel with Manatees Tour

The great thing about Florida is that it is a year-round destination.  The coldest it gets in Florida is around 60°F (15°C) in January. July is the warmest month in Florida, when temperatures can rise to up to  90°F (32°C). 

Our favorite time to visit Florida is in fall between September to November. T he weather is perfect around 75°F (24°C), meaning you can still go swimming and enjoy the beaches and springs without getting fried by the heat.

Fall is also low season in Florida, before the snowbirds and Christmas arrivals have made their way down, so prices and crowds are considerably lower. High season is during winter between November and February, expect prices to be the highest then.

best florida road trip - snorkeling in dry tortugas

Luckily, Florida is one of the least expensive States in the US.  Hiring your own car is the most affordable way to experience the best of Florida. Expect to pay around around US$360 for a 2-week car rental and another $200 for gas. Check current car hire rates here.

Miami is notoriously an expensive place to stay where accommodation can set you back US$150 for a basic 3-star hotel. Accommodation in Central Florida and the Paradise Coast is a little cheaper than other states. In low season, you can get a budget hotel for US$60-80 per night and around $100-150 per night for a 4-star hotel.

Camping in state parks in Florida costs between US$30-50 per night . An exception to this rule is the Florida Keys, which costs between US$40-50 per night. There are many big-chain diners throughout the State where you can get a good meal for around $10 plus tax and tip.

two week florida itinerary - vintage car at ocean drive miami

My Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Miami is the best choice to start your road trip in Florida as its airport is a major hub. We recommend staying at South Beach as it is the hippest area of Miami, with a beautiful windswept beach and stylish art deco hotels. Check out my detailed 3-day Miami itinerary for the full details.

Over the next two days, cool off in the beautiful Venetian Pool in Coral Gables and take a wander around Little Havana , a vibrant Cuban neighborhood in Miami. For a different side to Miami, check out the Wynwood Walls art district , an amazing display of street art from artists all over the world. Spend a day chilling at Key Biscayne or take a sightseeing flight for a view of Miami from above .

South Beach is a very cool place to stay but it is notoriously expensive. A beer in a bar along South Beach can cost as much as $20 and a gigantic signature cocktail (enough for 2) can cost up to $40. For those on a budget, stay in Coral Gables or Brownsville near the airport.

miami beach - florida itinerary 2 weeks

Budget: Hudson House

It’s hard to find anything less than $100/night in Miami, so this stylish house is a rare find. We stayed here once after a long flight  (it’s near the airport) and it was a great place to rest up. Hudson House is made up of several double rooms (with shared bathrooms) and spacious living area. Check the rates.

Midrange: Biltmore Hotel

One of the iconic landmarks of Miami, the Biltmore Hotel is housed in a Spanish colonial building reminiscent of yesteryears. The plush decor and lush patio reflect its history, while the interior has been completely revamped in recent years. Check the rates here.

Luxury: 1 Hotel South Beach

Located in the heart of South Beach, this is one of the best hotels in Miami . The upscale property has oceanfront rooms and spacious apartments with spectacular views. It also has 2 swimming pools, including one adults-only rooftop poo. Check the rates here.

florida itinerary - south beach ocean drive

Florida Itinerary Day 3: Drive to Florida Keys

It is now time to pump your road trip playlist as you hit the road towards the Florida Keys ! The Keys are a coral cay archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida. To get there, you’ll be d riving along the U.S. Route 1, and this is one of the best road trips in the USA .

Make Key Largo your first stop in the Florida Keys. This cute beachside town is the largest town in the Keys with great beaches and seafood restaurants. Be sure to try the signature dishes of the Florida Keys: Key Lime Pie and Conch fritters (made from large sea snails).

Try local craft beer at Florida Brewing Company or go kayaking in the seagrass beds of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Divers can also take the afternoon to go diving at the Spiegal Grove wreck . Check out Globo Surf for the best snorkeling and dive sites in Florida. Scuba geeks should check out Jules Undersea Lodge ,  Florida’s only underwater hotel and one of the most unique hotels in the world .

driving the seven mile highway - best florida road trip

Budget: John Pennekamp State Park Campground

If you enjoy camping, stay overnight at the park’s campground which costs $43 USD a night including tax. There are also RV parking and facilities, as well as outdoor showers. Read reviews here.

Midrange: Gilbert’s Resort

One of the few affordable places on Key Largo, this is a popular motel with an on-site marina and boat dock, as well as its own private beach. Enjoy fishing off the dock, rent a boat or feast on fresh seafood at its Tiki Grill and Bar. Check the rates here.

Luxury: Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection By Hilton

With its own private beach, this five-star resort is ultra modern and slick, featuring an all-white design. It is surrounded by lush landscaping and nature trails, excellent for nature seekers looking for comfort. Check the rates here.

diving in key large - one of the places to stop on a florida road trip

Florida Itinerary Days 4 & 5: Visit Key West

Continue the next day along U.S. Route 1. The last stretch of the highway is also the most iconic route to the Florida Keys, the Seven Mile Bridge . 

En route to Key West, you will pass through many quirky towns, including Islamorada , where you can hand feed giant tarpon at Robbies. Also visit the turtle hospital in Marathon, where they are doing great work to rehabilitate wild turtles. These are definitely some of the best places to stop on a road trip in Florida.

We recommend spending 2 nights in Key West, the most famous town in the Florida Keys and the southernmost point of continental US. Visit the famous Ernest Hemingway House and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Don’t miss these   free things to do in Key West .

southernost point of usa - drive from miami to key west

Budget: Seashell Motel

There aren’t many budget hotels in Key West. This is the cheapest place with dorm beds and comfortable lounging areas in the lawn. It’s a 15-minute walk to Duval Street and other attractions. Check the rates here.

Midrange: Eden House

Locally owned and operated since 1975, this art deco hotel is located in the center of  Old Town Key West , within  walking distance  of  Duval Street . Eden House has got a quirky, retro Florida flair, with plenty of personality to boot. This is definitely our favorite hotel in Key West. Check the rates.

Luxury: Parrot Key Hotel & Villas

A short drive from historic Old Town Key West, this tastefully-designed hotel is perched on the beach and surrounded by lush gardens. This is definitely a special spot to stay at for those celebrating an occasion. There’s also a free shuttle to the Old Town. Check the rates here.

road trips from miami - key west bar

If you have some time to spare, we highly recommend a day trip to Dry Tortugas , Florida’s best kept secret. At 70 miles off the coast of Key West, it is one of America’s least visited national parks. Visit the historic Fort Jefferson or dive off the beach into a world of turtles, giant barracudas and parrot fish.

To get there, take the Yankee Freedom ferry. The 2.5-hour ferry ride is a magical trip over turquoise waters, and leaves you about 4-5 hours on the island. It includes a ranger-led tour of Ft. Jefferson and costs $195 per person for the day trip. Read here to plan your day trip.

visit dry tortugas on this florida itinerary

Florida Itinerary Day 6: Tour the Everglades 

You will need to set off early from the Florida Keys, as it takes approximately 3 hours to reach the Everglades National Park. On your way there,  we recommend making a stop at Bahia Honda State Park . This is where you’ll find the best beaches in the Florida Keys.

From Bahia Honda, drive towards the Anhinga Trail , the best short trail (0.8 miles round trip) to spot an alligator on foot in the Everglades. Near the Anhinga Trail is the Gumbo Limbo Trail , another short trail (0.4 miles round trip) through lush forest. If you have time, head over to Shark Valley Trail , a popular 15 mile round trip which can be completed on foot, by tram tour or bike. 

Continue towards the State Route 41 to get to Everglades National Park, one of the top national parks in US . An Everglades Airboat Tour is the best way to experience the Everglades as the vast percentage of the National Park is covered by swamplands and only accessible by boat. Read about our experience cruising the Everglades.

Note : The Everglades National Park has an entry cost of $30 per car, valid for 7 days.

florida road trip planner - airboat tour everglades

Budget: Port of the Islands Everglades Adventure Resort

This is the closest budget hotel to the Everglades. It’s a typical old-school Floridian hotel (thus the name!) with comfortable enough rooms and a swimming pool. Check the rates here.

Midrange: Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park

Located within the national park, this cool eco lodge is made up of luxury tents (pictured) with proper beds and sitting area. All of them look out to the water and make for a great base to get close to nature. This is glamping at its best! Check the rates here.

Luxury: Ivey House

This eco-friendly bed and breakfast is a 15-minute walk from the Museum of the Everglades. It provides canoe and kayak rentals and it has an outdoor pool as well as a tropical waterfall. Check the rates here.

fun trips in florida - staying in the everglades

Florida Itinerary Day 7: Visit Marco Island

Just 18 miles away from Everglades City is Marco Island , one of our favorite places in Florida and honestly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. We recommend staying the night here as there are way too  many fun things to do in Marco Island. But prices are high, so budget travelers can also stay at nearby Naples.

An essential activity is a  shelling tour to find some of the most unique shells in the USA. We also recommend seeing the sinking Cape Romano houses and finding tortoises that roam freely on Tigertail Beach. This is half way point of your Florida road trip, so give yourself some down time.

florida road trip 1 week - island life

Budget: Conty’s Motel

Located in Naples, this motel is a well-priced budget option with outdoor pool and old-school rooms. It’s in need of a revamp, but  the warmth and friendliness of the owners make up for it. Check the rates here.

Midrange: The BoatHouse

This motel has big comfortable rooms and a private dock as well as an outdoor pool. Guests can watch for dolphins and manatees or fish from the private dock. Check the rates here.

Luxury:  Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa

Definitely the best hotel on Marco Island, this Hilton hotel (pictured) has outdone itself with its luxurious suites and stunning panoramas in every corner. We stayed here once to celebrate a special occasion and it was definitely something special. Check the rates here.

best places to stop on a florida road trip - marco island

Florida Itinerary Days 8-10: Explore the Paradise Coast

From Marco Island, it is a short 30 minute drive to the beautiful beachside town of Naples . Dolphins are often spotted at Lowdermilk Beach Park in Naples. While we were there, a group of dolphins came within inches of a local fisherman which was amazing to witness.

A hop away from Naples is its forgotten little sister, Bonita Springs , possibly the best kept secret of the Paradise Coast. In our opinion, Bonita Springs is a better place to stay than Naples as it is more affordable and has a relaxed vibe. Don’t miss Cullum’s Bonita Trail while in Bonita Springs. Keep an eye out for rabbits and gopher turtles running around the trails.

Continue from Bonita Springs towards Sarasota where you’ll find Siesta Key Beach, lauded as the best beach in the USA. Spend 2 nights here as there are many things to do in Sarasota. See the Unconditional Surrender Statue and the stunning Ringling Museum of Art (normally $25 a person,  but free on Mondays!).

best road trips in florida - sarasota beach

Budget: Siesta Inn Motel Sarasota

One of the cheapest motels in Sarasota, Siesta Inn offers low prices and newly renovated, comfortable rooms. It doesn’t have many facilities, but it is a quiet spot for those seeking some tranquility. Check the rates.

Midrange: Regency Inn & Suites Sarasota 

All modern-style rooms at this midrange motel are large, spacious and well-equipped. There’s also an outdoor pool and plenty of parking spaces. Great value for money! Check the rates.

Luxury: Lido Beach Resort

The beachfront Lido Beach Resort has a huge stretch of private beach in the heart of Sarasota. It’s definitely worth splurging on this hotel if you’ve been slumming it so far. This resort (pictured) offers ocean-view rooms for reasonable prices. Check the rates.

fun trips from miami - sarasota

Florida Itinerary Day 11: Swim with Manatees 

Our #1 thing to do in Florida is to visit the numerous natural springs. We recommend spending 3 nights to see the best natural springs in Florida . Read my guide to swimming with manatees .

A 2-hour drive north from Sarasota is the Three Sisters Spring at Crystal River , the only place in Florida where you can swim with manatees year round. Join a snorkel tour with naturalist guide to learn more about the manatee and its natural habitat. Swimming with a manatee was one of the highlights of our Florida road trip!

In winter, it is possible to see manatees in Blue Springs as they migrate to warm themselves. From Crystal River, it is a 30-minute drive to one of the most picturesque springs in Florida, Rainbow Springs . In summer (until September 30) it is possible to complete a 2 hours tube run at Rainbow Springs , one of the best rated tube runs in Florida.

florida road trip

Budget: Howard Johnson by Wyndham Ocala FL

Featuring funky and vibrant colors, this budget hotel offers an excellent value for money with room rates as low as $60/night. Rooms are carpeted and plush, and splashed with bright orange and blue. Check the rates here.

Midrange: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson

Within a few minutes’ drive from the Paddock Mall, the midrange hotel has large and clean rooms. There is also an indoor pool, hot tub and fitness center. Check the rates here.

Luxury: Residence Inn Ocala

Located off Interstate 75, this hotel has huge suites that have cooking facilities. It features a heated outdoor pool, hot buffet breakfast and free evening receptions with drinks from Monday through Thursday. Check the rates here.

florida road trip

An hour’s drive north from Rainbow Springs is the famous Ginnie Springs , where you can go stand-up paddle boarding, tubing and kayaking all year round. 

You can do a day trip here from Ocala, or stay in the closest large town, Gainsville which is a 40-minute drive away. There is also camping available in Ginnie Springs, at $22.43 per adult per night although the toilet blocks tend to get very muddy. 

Tip : If you intend to do a lot of tubing in Florida, purchase your own tube in advance from a local Walmart or Publix.

road trips from miami - sup at florida springs

From Gainesville, head back down towards Orlando. Make a stop at Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest. This is one of the oldest recreation areas on the East Coast, constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

We recommend flying out of Orlando to save you the drive back to Miami. From Juniper Springs, it is a 1.5-hour drive to Orlando (or a 4-hour drive back to Miami).

Spend your final night at an airport hotel for some much needed rest and relaxation after two weeks of adventure!  La Quinta Inn at Orlando Airport is a good budget option, while Wingate by Wyndham is nearer to the airport but has slightly higher prices.

florida itinerary 1 week - florida springs

And that’s a wrap! I hope our Florida road trip planner has helped you plan your own adventure. In our opinion, this is the best Florida road trip you can do, mixing up nature, beaches and city sightseeing.

You can also do the same Florida itinerary in the reverse direction. Drive from Orlando to Key West, and end your Florida road trip with a bang there.

If you’re interested in exploring more of the US, check out other articles I’ve written:

  • California Road Trip Itinerary
  • Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
  • Nevada Road Trip Itinerary
  • Weekend in Seattle
  • Weekend in Los Angeles
  • Weekend in San Francisco
  • Weekend in Miami
  • Swimming with Manatees 

Have a blast on your Florida road trip!  Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. I make a small commission when you purchase something through my links, at NO extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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Florida 2 weeks

Nadia and Mike

Nadia and Mike are Travel Bloggers at Couple Travel the World . They left their corporate jobs in 2015 to pursue a life of travel and adventure. You can see more of their journey on their Instagram, @coupletraveltheworld .

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The Comments

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Isabella Miller

Loved the blog, Nellie. Florida seems like an amazing place. Might plan a trip there this year. Could you suggest some places where we could try local food.

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Komal Goyal

loved the blog. and loved the way you have detailed out everything that one needs to know while traveling to Florida. Just made my planning work very very easy.

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Tirupati packages

Awesome post Nadia and Mike!! I always dreaming of a florida road trip. So this post helpful for me.

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Alexa Jordan

2 weeks seems like so long, but reading everything you suggest makes it seem not long enough. Once Red Coach opens their bus routes again, I will definitely have to see some of these spots!

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Greg Nelson

This is a great itinerary. I agree with Alexa- riding with Red Coach is a great way to get around Florida. That way, you can see the state more.

' src=

Sarah in the UK

Thanks for all the tips, really useful! :)

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florida road trip

the ultimate ten day florida road trip

In early June we packed the car and headed south from North Carolina to Florida for a ten day adventure full of sun, sand, and surf in the Sunshine State! Our Florida road trip itinerary, with stops in The Keys, Key West, Miami, Orlando, St. Augustine and Jacksonville, can easily be adjusted for 1 week or 10 days. 

Read about where we went, what we did, and of course, what we ate, on our ten day Florida Road Trip !

florida road trip 1 week bahia honda key

I’m going to keep this intro short and sweet because you’re in for a long one today (we’re almost at 2,000 words, but I wanted to keep our Florida road trip all in one post so bear with me)!

AJ and I planned our first vacation in two years that didn’t involve a friend’s wedding ( we love friends and weddings but regular vacation is just plain great!).

When talking about vacation this year, we had been tossing around the idea of going out west to Yellowstone and the Tetons, but as we were sitting in a car dealership about to sign paperwork for a new car in April, we decided that an East Coast, driving distance option, may be a better idea for 2017.

So we took a week off from work, packed up our new Jeep, and headed south on I-77 from North Carolina to Florida on our ten day Florida road trip!

While we spent 10 days exploring Florida (one of those days was driving from Charlotte to Key West,) this itinerary can be easily modified to a Florida road trip for just 1 week by shortening your time in Key West or the Florida Keys, cutting out Miami or Orlando, or having a shorter driving distance than North Carolina to South Florida!

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP, DAY ONE: CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA TO KEY WEST, FLORIDA: 13 HOURS

The first day was definitely the roughest day driving to Florida because 886 miles of driving is a lot of driving.

AJ does not like to waste a vacation day traveling (I mean, who does?) so it was his idea for us to leave Thursday night after work and drive straight through to Florida.

He did a lot of the driving; I took the first leg of our East Coast road trip, Charlotte to Savannah, and then opted for some car sleeping, waking up just in time to experience Miami’s morning rush hour.

(We also learned in the middle of the night that there are a lack of 24 hour gas stations off of I-95 in Georgia. Who would have thought?)

The drive from Miami to Key West was smooth and we got to the Keys just in time for breakfast.

Our first stop in Florida was in Islamorada for some Bloodline fangirling (our Bloodline pit stop was not intentional, but we did finish the first season before our trip), then breakfast burritos and coffee at Midway Cafe .

florida keys road trip midway cafe islamorada

After breakfast, we took a beach break at Long Key State Park (which at the time we were unaware that Bloodline was also filmed there so more fangirling), for a little dip and some reading until a summer shower motivated us to get back in the car and knock out the last two hours of our Florida Keys road trip to Key West.

We got to Key West a little after lunch, spent the afternoon at the beach, checked into our hotel (and took a nice long, well deserved hotel nap) and then headed out to Duval Street for dinner and drinks.

seeing florida by car southernmost point in key west

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DAYS TWO AND THREE: KEY WEST

pina coladas in key west on a florida road trip 1 week

We also walked around (A LOT!), beached, napped, beached some more, and ate really well. Here’s a list of the Key West restaurants we visited!

The highlight of our time in Key West (besides taking cocktails in go cups everywhere obviously) was a kayak trip we did with Blue Planet Kayak Eco Tours .

AJ did a lot of research and we signed up for the Boca Chica Marine Life Kayak Tour, which took us through mangrove islands off of Stock Island (just north of Key West) and it was awesome.

Totally worth our two and a half hours and fifty dollars: we had a really knowledgable, informative guide and she took us to some really cool places and we saw some really cool stuff.

mangrove kayaking in key west after driving through florida

Shortly after pushing off of the dock, we paddled over a pod of manatees, which was worth my fifty dollars right there (ok, with some Googling, a group of manatees is actually called an aggregation), but we still had like two hours and twenty minutes to go.

We paddled through mangroves, saw conch, a nurse shark, sea urchins; I could go on, and on, and on about how great it was, but to save us some word count here, it was great.

Totally memorable and a trip highlight!

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DAY FOUR: KEY WEST TO BAHIA HONDA, 45 MINUTES

When we decided in the Spring drive from North Carolina to Florida, we knew we wanted to put a few days of camping on our itinerary.

After some research, website stalking, and a quick jump at a last minute camping cancellation, we booked three nights of tent camping in Bahia Honda State Park .

(The cancellation popped up online and we booked an hour later, then planned the rest of our trip around our camping reservation).

Every single thing we read about camping in Florida had Bahia Honda at the top of the list.

camping in Florida at bahia honda state park

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DAYS FIVE AND SIX: BAHIA HONDA

The Internet was right (thank you Internet!) and Bahia Honda is totally gorgeous.

We had a spacious, pretty private campsite (with hammock hooks!) right across from the ocean, and spent three days reading, fishing and recharging, basically unplugged.

fishing in bahia honda state park in the florida keys

Besides living at the beach and eating out of a cooler in Bahia Honda we did attempt a snorkel trip to Looe Key (apparently the National Marine Sanctuary there is one to behold), but the wind conditions and intermittent afternoon thunderstorms thwarted our snorkeling plans (we did get to see the private island Jay-Z bought for Beyonce though).

My one tip about summer camping in Florida: it’s hot (so there was a Home Depot stop in Marathon on our first afternoon for some air conditioning and battery powered fans).

campsite at bahia honda state park for our florida road trip 1 week

We had pretty perfect weather for our three days of camping (not ideal for snorkeling but otherwise we were super lucky!) but our last night it just. would. not. stop. raining.

So we skipped on camping dinner (and raccoon friends…a story that we will save for another day but AJ loves to tell) and went for dinner at No Name Pub in Big Pine Key.

We enjoyed fish dip and wings and pizza (people can’t stop raving about their pizza!) amongst locals and families and other tourists and fluttering dollar bills.

Some stories say that there is about $90,000 stapled to the walls!

no name pub in pine key florida, part of our florida road trip 1 week

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DAY SEVEN: BAHIA HONDA TO MIAMI BEACH, 3 HOURS

Welcome to Miami. Bienvenidos a Miami.

Before we got back to the mainland on our Florida road trip, we made another stop in Islamorada (we really couldn’t stay away and if I could do it all over again, I’d add a day or two in Islamorada to the itinerary) to stretch our legs and grab a flight at Florida Keys Brewing Company .

driving through florida florida keys brewing company

When we started planning our road trip to Florida, we know we wanted to do the big drive from Charlotte to Key West then slowly work our way up North back towards home.

I suggested a day in Miami early on in the planning process, and AJ said we should skip it.

I ended up winning and Miami made it’s way onto the itinerary, but AJ ended up being right.

I guess Miami is for some people, but it’s just not for me.

south beach strip of art deco hotels in miami florida road trip

Navigating South Beach and Ocean Drive is truly a feat of its own. The two pros I had for Miami: our hotel (we stayed in an classic Art Deco hotel a few blocks from the beach and our room was huge and it was the cheapest hotel we had our entire Florida road trip) and the food.

We gorged on sushi at a kind of off the beaten path place we found on Yelp, and had a delicious Cuban sandwich before we left at a Cuban diner recommended by the bell hop at the hotel.

driving through florida and eating sushi in miami

Ok, and any excuse to continuously show off that you know all of Will Smith’s lyrics also has to be a pro in my book. Party in the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach ’til the break of dawn.

If we drove through Florida again, I’d skip Miami and opt for another day on a quieter beach.

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DAY 8: MIAMI BEACH TO ORLANDO, THREE AND A HALF HOURS

But I pray I’m sent to my favorite place…ORLANDO! Orlando…I love you, Orlando! SeaWorld and Disney! And putt-putt golfing!

(please I hope you get this reference or we need to reevaluate our friendship).

Orlando ended up on the itinerary of our drive through Florida not because of SeaWorld and Disney and putt-putt golfing, but because AJ has college friends who live there so it made sense to stop.

So we skipped all of the Orlando stuff (the lines and the roller coasters and the characters and even the butter beer at Harry Potter World) and opted to hang out with friends and their dogs and their cats and eat some delicious food.

Cruising through the Magic Kingdom when it’s 100 degrees does not sound like fun to me (I’ve been to Disney World around Christmas and have strong feelings that December is the optimal time to go see Mickey Mouse because its temperate).

I am very anti humidity and pro air conditioning.

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DAY NINE: ORLANDO TO ST. AUGUSTINE, ONE HOUR AND 45 MINUTES

St. Augustine ended up on our Florida road trip itinerary because we didn’t want to drive straight home to Charlotte and we’ve been to Savannah a couple times before.

I feel like I didn’t get enough time in St. Augustine and would love to go back! And at a measly six hours from North Carolina, I feel like it’s totally doable for a weekend.

see florida by car stop in st. augustine florida

Maybe it’s the history nerd in me, but I had so much fun exploring America’s oldest city.

We went into St. Augustine with absolutely no plan (which is so unlike my total type A personality) and ended up having a great time!

We started our day with tour at St. Augustine Distillery (it’s free! it’s great! they have tastings!), which segwayed into cocktails and apps at The Ice Plant (the bar attached to the distillery).

The cocktails were really good and so were the chicken livers (yes I did just write that sentence).

road trip to florida: st augustine distillery and the ice plant

From the distillery, we meandered our way downtown, past Flagler College (it’s the architecture you think of when you think of St. Augustine), along the water, and then through the cute cobblestone streets of the old city.

We had such a hard time deciding what to eat for dinner and stumbled upon Catch 27, where we grabbed a seat on the patio just before they closed.

Dinner at Catch 27 was like the cherry on top of a nice, long vacation; it was so, so delicious. We went with our waiter’s recommendations and I had the blackened fish (local catch and I can’t remember what the catch of the day was!) served with housemade ricotta cavatelli pasta, pesto sherry cream sauce, heirloom carrots and braised kale and AJ had fish tacos (no one should be surprised with that order).

After dinner consisted of more wandering intermixed with beer and cocktail pit stops on our way back to our hotel.

FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DAY TEN: ST. AUGUSTINE TO CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA (WITH A PIT STOP IN JACKSONVILLE), SIX HOURS

AJ indulged me in some more St. Augustine wandering before we hit the road home.

intuition ale works jacksonville florida on our way home from our florida vacation and road trip

I know I’ve used a lot of words in the post and have particularly used the word delicious a lot, so sorry I’m not sorry, but we cooked the shrimp at home the next night and they were, spoiler alert, delicious, and we froze the fish for dinner the following week, also delicious.

Small world: AJ found this small fish market online and it had good reviews and wasn’t too far off the highway, and one of my friends from work is actually from Yulee, so that was fun to talk about Monday at lunch!

DID YOU LIKE THIS ROAD TRIP TO FLORIDA? CHECK OUT SOME OTHER ROAD TRIPS WE’VE TAKEN:

Our Honeymoon in Asheville

Best Restaurants in Hendersonville

Five Foodie Day Trips from Charlotte

Outer Banks Travel Guide

Western North Carolina Farm Tour

North Carolina Wine Country

START PLANNING YOUR ROAD TRIP TO FLORIDA BY SAVING OUR ITINERARY ON PINTEREST! 

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Dotted Globe

Ultimate Florida Road Trip Planner to See the Sunshine State

Welcome to our Florida Road Trip Planner.

Florida, popularly known as the Sunshine State, is one of the most popular states to visit in the USA. 

Florida is famous for its pristine sandy beaches and relaxed lifestyle. 

Water activities like boating, fishing and snorkeling abound here. 

From the vibrant cities of Miami and Orlando to the numerous theme parks, Florida makes the perfect road trip destination for everyone from couples to families. 

But that’s not all that Florida’s about: here you will also find never-ending swamps of the Everglades, mysterious attractions such as the Coral Castle, and one of the least visited and most remote national parks in the country – the Dry Tortugas! 

And there’s the Panhandle. Enjoy a sunrise at Grayton Beach, explore historic Fort Pickens, or see the amazing restored aircrafts at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. 

Looking for the best Florida road trip itinerary for your next vacation? 

Explore our amazing Florida itinerary recommendations to see the art deco architecture in Miami, people watch at South Beach, eat a Cuban sandwich in Key West, and camp on a beautiful beach in this ultimate Florida road trip itinerary planner.

Dotted Globe contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full  Disclosure  here. Thank you!

2 Weeks in Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Many people dream of a Florida road trip.

With its beautiful beaches, warm weather and plenty to see and do the Sunshine State is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

If you’re looking to take a road trip across Florida, we’ve compiled some helpful tips that will make your journey easier and more enjoyable!

This ultimate Florida road trip itinerary takes visitors on our favorite scenic routes in Florida.

Begin your trip in Miami and explore the vibrant city before exploring the Florida Keys.

Take an airboat tour to see the gators in Everglades, then explore the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The Tampa Miami scenic drive has been called one of America’s most beautiful drives and has many unique attractions.

Visit the theme parks in Orlando and see central Florida.

Then you have two options:

Visit the East Coast – This route includes stops in Jacksonville, St Augustine, and Amelia Island.

Road trip the Panhandle – From Seaside to Pensacola, this route offers sandy beaches as well as historic sites like Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island.

Here are some of the best attractions to see on a 15 days in Florida road trip including beaches, amusement parks, natural areas, road trips, cultural attractions, and more. 

Miami – 3 Days

Miami is the best place to start our ultimate Florida Road Trip.

This is a city of diversity and culture.

Also Read: 3 Days in Miami Itinerary

Miami is known for its great food, beautiful beaches, and nightlife.

The city has several miles of coastline that tourists can explore!

We recommend spending 2 to 3 days to explore the highlights of Miami.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in Miami.

South Beach

Noted for its beautiful beaches, popular oceanfront hotels and nightclubs, South Beach is one of the best vacation spots in the country.

From great food and restaurants to entertainment and nightlife, there are plenty of ways for you to have a memorable time in South Beach.

Art Deco Historic District

The Art Deco Historic District in Miami is one of the most well known places to explore art deco style buildings.

The buildings were built with unique designs that feature an assortment of colors and styles.

You can explore all of these on a guided tour.

The Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District is also well-known for its oceanfront villas and wide variety of historic, cultural, and entertainment attractions.

Little Havana

Little Havana is well known for its Cuban population and culture.

You can find plenty of Cuban restaurants and businesses in the area as well as a rich cultural history.

The Little Havana neighborhood hosts a number of Latin American culture events, including festivals, concerts, and more.

Wynwood Walls murals

Wynwood is a neighborhood in Miami, Florida.

The outdoor art gallery at Wynwood is the perfect place to go if you want to be immersed in art.

Here you will find a variety of thought provoking street art and murals.

Over the past few years, it has rapidly grown into one of the Instagram hot spots in Miami.

Florida Keys road trip – 3 Days

The Florida Keys are a chain that stretches from the southernmost point of mainland Florida to Key West, and offer an opportunity for visitors to experience all the best things this part of Florida has to offer.

From sandy beaches to colorful reefs, from sea turtle nesting grounds to coral gardens, the Florida Keys have something for everyone.

Drive down scenic Highway 1 – also known as the Overseas Highway – for a memorable experience!

Here are essential stops along the way.

Coral Castle

The Coral Castle Museum is located in Homestead, Florida.

It was built by Edward Leedskalnin and his only tools were simple and handmade.

It took him 28 years to complete this amazing structure, but how he did it remains a mystery.

There are many theories about how he moved 3 million pounds of coral stone without any modern tools or equipment.

Some say that Leedskalnin harnessed magnetic forces and used them as an energy source; others say he had help from extraterrestrials who came down with their spaceship; while some even believe that he knew ancient secrets of the pyramids.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is one of the last remaining wildernesses on the Eastern Seaboard.

Located in Miami, this park touches five different counties and has a variety of ecosystems for visitors to explore.

The park includes mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds and rare pine rocklands that are representative of Florida’s diverse natural environment.

Visitors can enjoy paddling through bay waters or hiking trails with views of birds nesting on high trees as well as alligators hiding beneath lily pads.

Biscayne National Park offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation such as biking, fishing, kayaking and canoeing.

Key Largo is a great water sports and fishing adventure destination.

Visitors can rent paddle boards or kayaks, go scuba diving or snorkeling, and even swim with dolphins in Key Largo.

The area has many beaches, where you can enjoy sunbathing or swimming in the warm waters.

You can also explore some of the old buildings, including museums and churches in Key Largo.

Islamorada is known for its beautiful clear water and white sand beaches.

The pretty coastal town is home to a wide variety of wildlife such as dolphins, manatees, stingrays and sharks just to name a few!

You will also find several art galleries and artist communities such as The Rain Barrel Village in Islamorada.

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park is a state park and popular tourist destination in the Florida Keys.

The park offers lodging, an interpretive center, a boat ramp and dock, fishing pier, picnic pavilion with grills and restrooms open year-round.

The Bahia Honda Bridge trail and Calusa Beach are the top attractions here.

The southernmost city in the United States of America, Key West attracts more tourists than any other city in Florida.

The island of Key West is home to many attractions including its famous Hemingway House, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, a butterfly garden, and Ernest’s favorite bar Sloppy Joe’s.

You’ll find yourself surrounded by history as well as culture with each step you take on these beautiful island streets.

Most of the Key West attractions are located within walking distance of each other in Old Town, making it easy to see the city in a day.

Don’t forget to shop for Caribbean themed souvenirs and eat the iconic key lime pie while visiting Key West.

Also Read: Best Things to do in Key West with Kids

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located an easy day-trip from Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote destination that is accessible by boat or seaplane.

The park is known for its wildlife and natural beauty, as well as the history that surrounds it.

The islands are home to Historic Fort Jefferson, located on Garden Key.

This 19th-century masonry fort was built by the United States Army to defend against pirates and other attacks.

Visitors can enjoy the idyllic white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and abundant sea life in their natural habitats on a visit to Dry Tortugas National Park.

Everglades National Park – 1 Day

Everglades National Park is one of the most unique and beautiful places in the United States.

The Everglades are a subtropical wilderness area that are home to many rare and endangered species of Florida wildlife.

Visitors can explore this wonderland by airboat or canoe to spot beautiful birds of prey, panthers, manatees, and crocodiles up close.

Everglades National Park also offers camping and hiking opportunities for visitors who are looking to explore this beautiful landscape.

The Flamingo Visitor Center of Everglades is located close to Homestead and can be easily seen on any Southern Florida road trip.

Florida Gulf Coast Road Trip – 2 Days

Florida’s Gulf Coast is an amazing place for a road trip.

The area from Everglades City to Naples is also known as the Paradise Coast.

After seeing the Keys and Everglades, take the Tamiami trail from Miami to the west coast of Florida.

Here are our favorite road trip stops on the Paradise Coast and Gulf Coast of Florida.

Tamiami Trail

The Tamiami Trail is a scenic highway running through the Everglades ​from Miami to Naples and Tampa.

The trail crosses many different ecosystems, which makes for an interesting tour.

Visitors can see mangroves, hardwood hammocks, cypress domes and prairies as they drive southbound on the trail.

Everglades City

Everglades City is a quiet and quaint city located on the southwest coast of Florida. 

This small town has an abundance of natural beauty, with its long shorelines and lush vegetation.

It offers visitors a chance to explore old Florida with its local fishing spots, boat tours, and scenic beaches in the Everglades region.

Big Cypress National Preserve

The Big Cypress Preserve, easily reached by the Tamiami Trail, has plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration.

The preserve is home to the world’s largest cypress forest and has a variety of trails  and boat tours.

Shark Valley Visitor Center, Everglades

Everglades Shark Valley Visitor Center is close to Fort Myers Beach.

The Shark Valley Visitor Center is a key part of the Everglades National Park.

This visitor center offers educational exhibits and ranger programs to help visitors understand both the natural history and cultural significance of this national park.

The Shark Valley Visitor Center has a variety of hiking trails that covers habitats for many types of animals including alligators, foxes, snakes and more.

Visitors can also see an observation tower to get a birds eye view of the fascinating Everglades landscape.

Marco Island

Marco Island is a large barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida, within Collier County.

It was created when a sandbar built up in the shallow bay near Naples and Captiva islands.

The island has been inhabited since prehistoric times by Native Americans.

Marco Island is a great place for those who want to relax and spend time in nature.

Popular activities include dolphin watching cruises, guided nature walks and kayaking in mangrove forests.

Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers is a town in Southwest Florida with many attractions for tourists.

Edison and Ford Winter Estates are two of the most well-known places in Florida.

These estates were built by Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford in their lifetime.

They offer guided tours, historical exhibits, and an outdoor aviary that is home to different types of birds.

Nearby Cape Coral is known for its miles of beautiful beaches, protected waters and abundant wildlife.

Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is a tropical paradise and home to the most stunning beaches in all of Florida.

It offers a unique combination of natural beauty, preserved wildlife habitats, and an abundance of recreational opportunities.

The island is made up of five miles of scenic, sugar-white sand that stretches from one end to the other.

One look and it’s easy to guess why this area is known as the Paradise Coast!

You’ll find plenty of things to do on this gorgeous little island, like fishing, shelling, birdwatching or just relaxing!

The Tampa Bay Area is a beautiful place to visit!

From pristine beaches, to amazing theme parks like Busch Gardens, Adventure Island and LEGOLAND Florida; it’s no wonder this region attracts millions of visitors every year.

The Tampa Bay Area has something for everyone – from visiting museums like the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts or taking a tour of Ybor City’s historic buildings.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a kayak tour around Egmont Key State Park or if you prefer a more relaxing day out, visit one of the beautiful beaches.

St. Petersburg

The beautiful city of St. Petersburg is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay in Florida’s West Coast region and is home to many attractions and historic architecture.

Explore the different neighborhoods around town on bike or see the famous Salvador Dali museum.

Visit one of the city’s spectacular beaches, stroll along The Pier which offers great views looking over Tampa Bay towards Clearwater Beach, and enjoy fresh seafood while you’re there!

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, Florida is home to some of the best beaches in the United States.

It has a long stretch of powdery white sand and clear blue water that will make you feel like you’re in paradise.

There are many restaurants and shops near the beach, the surf is calm, and the water temperature stays around 72 degrees year round – making it a hit with families.

Clearwater Beach offers many activities such as parasailing, jet ski rentals, fishing charters, boat tours.

Pier 60 is also famous for its sunset celebration every night.

Also Read: Best Beaches for Camping in the USA

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs is the perfect place for tourists to explore because of its Greek heritage and cuisine.

This quaint coastal town has an interesting story.

Tarpon Springs was founded by Greek immigrant sponge fishermen.

Some of the most popular things to do while visiting are eating at the Greek restaurants, shopping for sponges, and visiting the Historic Sponge Docks.

You can also take a Tampa Bay wildlife cruise to see manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and bald eagles as well as other wildlife like egrets, pelicans and herons.

Honeymoon Island State Park

The first thing that tourists notice when they arrive at Honeymoon Island State Park is the natural beauty of the white sandy beaches.

The park has more than six miles of shoreline and offers a variety of activities from fishing to swimming in the crystal clear water.

Visitors can also enjoy biking, boating, kayaking or bird watching on this beautiful island.   

In addition to its natural beauty, Honeymoon Island State Park features a number of historical sites including Fort Dade and an old lighthouse which are open for exploration by visitors.

Orlando – 3 Days

No one can visit Florida without seeing Orlando.

Orlando, Florida is a great tourist destination for people of all ages.

The city has many attractions and activities perfect for families such as theme parks like Disney World in Lake Buena Vista and Universal Orlando Resort, which offer fun rides and shows for the whole family.

Orlando also has other gems besides the theme parks.

The downtown has a thriving art scene, restaurants, and shopping.

Nearby parks such as Lake Eola Park are perfect for walking or biking, fishing and kayaking.

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is one of the most magical places on earth.

No matter what age you are, this destination will captivate you with its charm.

Its expansive complex houses four amusement parks and two water parks that offer endless entertainment. 

The Magic Kingdom is similar to most Disney parks that you would find worldwide, complete with Cinderella’s Castle and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Epcot is a futuristic theme park with mini “worlds” guests can visit. Disney’s Hollywood Studios has movie-related attractions, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an intriguing zoo.

Walt Disney World’s water parks include Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios in Orlando is one of the best theme parks in the world.

The amusement park offers many different attractions for all ages including thrill rides, live shows and restaurants.

At Universal Orlando resort, all of your favorite movie characters come alive.

Famous rides include Jurassic Park-The Ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man!

From Orlando, you have two options.

You can either see attractions along the Atlantic Coast or explore the Florida Panhandle.

Optional: Emerald Coast Road Trip – 3 Days

Tourists and visitors alike are drawn to the Florida Panhandle by its coastal beauty, unspoiled beaches and tropical climate. 

From Dauphin Island to Pensacola Beach, this area is home to some of the best natural attractions in Florida.

The area around Destin and Fort Walton Beach is known as the Emerald Coast for its stunning turquoise water.

Panama City Beach

A trip to Panama City Beach is like a breath of fresh air for the soul.

It’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for beach fun and relaxation, with plenty of activities that will keep you busy all day long!

Whether it’s watching dolphins in their natural habitat or indulging in some water sports, this gorgeous stretch of coastline makes for a great stop on the Florida road trip.

Destin is a beautiful coastal town in Northwest Florida.

It’s home to the world famous white sand beaches and emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. 

There are many tourist attractions to see while staying here, such as amusement parks, aquariums, museums, and beaches.

The city also has lots of shopping opportunities for visitors looking for souvenirs or gifts.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach is the world’s longest natural beach.

It spans from Santa Rosa Island to Navarre Beach, and can be enjoyed for activities like fishing, kayaking and surfing.

The Pensacola Bay guarantees a breathtaking view at all times of day with its beautiful sunsets that are best viewed from the Pensacola Lighthouse.

Optional: Florida Eastern Coast Road Trip – 3 Days

Continue your Florida road trip on the Atlantic Coast of the state.

Start all the way north in Jacksonville and Amelia Island and drive south along the coast till Miami.

Amelia Island

Amelia Island is a stunning beach getaway located in northern Florida.

The island, which includes the city of Fernandina Beach, has been a vacation spot since the early 1800s and attracts visitors from all over the world to experience its natural beauty.

Visitors have access to miles of stunning beaches that include white sand dunes with soft powdery shores and crystal clear water for swimming or boating excursions.

There are also many historical points of interest such as Fort Clinch State Park, lighthouses, and museums open to visitors who want to learn more about the history on this beautiful island.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville in North Florida is a fun destination to add to your Florida road trip.

Explore the rich history of Jacksonville and it’s surrounding areas at attractions like Fort Caroline National Memorial and Museum of Contemporary Art.

The beautiful Jacksonville beach and white sand dunes are just waiting to be explored in this coastal town, as are the eateries and cafes.

Historic St. Augustine

Historic St. Augustine, Florida is home to the oldest European settlement in the US and it has some of the best preserved Spanish colonial architecture in the country.

The city’s rich heritage dates back more than 400 years and is still evident today with its beautiful Spanish moss-draped oak trees lining cobblestone streets and old brick buildings that house some of Florida’s oldest restaurants and shops.

The city of St. Augustine has something for everyone whether you’re looking to indulge in the world-famous cuisine, explore the vast array of museums or simply relax on one of our pristine beaches overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is a popular tourist destination in Florida.

It is perfect for families looking to spend a fun weekend on the eastern coast of Florida.

Daytona Beach is home to world-famous beaches and several amusement parks, making it the perfect place for families to spend time together.

One of the most well-known attractions there is Daytona International Speedway, where you can watch races or even take a ride on one of their go-karts!

Canaveral National Seashore

The Canaveral National Seashore is a national park in the United States that stretches for more than 15 miles along Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

The seashore offers visitors beautiful views of both mangroves and pristine sand dunes while also providing opportunities to see endangered species such as sea turtles, dolphins, and loggerhead sea turtles.

Visitors can enjoy fishing, kayaking, hiking, or just relaxing on the beach with this national treasure.

Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center is one of the top attractions to visit on any Florida road trip.

The Space Center is a living museum, historic site and NASA launch complex.

It’s located in the Florida coastal area near Titusville, about 45 miles south of Orlando on Cape Canaveral.

Tourists are welcomed to explore the visitor complex with exhibits that tell the story of America’s space program from its earliest days through today’s missions.

You can see exhibits about the history of NASA programs, including manned missions to the Moon (Apollo 11), Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station.

Visitors can go up close with historic spacecraft like an Apollo Saturn V rocket or view moon rock.

The Rocket Garden includes replicas of Mercury-Redstone, Gemini-Titan II, Apollo-Saturn V as well as rockets from other countries.

Cape Canaveral

Cape Canaveral may be famously known as the Space Coast, but it also has many other attractions.

The Cape Canaveral Beaches are some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.

The beaches are also great for fishing, kayaking, surfing, and relaxing on warm days.

Small coastal towns in Florida such as Merritt Island, Vero Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and Cocoa Beach are perfect to add to your Florida road trip along the east coast.

Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce is located on Florida’s east coast, just north of West Palm Beach.

The city has been home to many different cultures and people throughout its history, including Native Americans, African-Americans and Europeans. 

Visitors love the quaint town with shops, restaurants and historical sites such as the Babcock Mansion Museum lining its streets.

West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach is a popular tourist destination with its pristine white sand beaches and the world’s most beautiful sunsets.

The city has many attractions for tourists to enjoy, such as shopping, dining and nightlife!

West Palm Beach also offers a variety of outdoor activities including kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding and water skiing.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is one of America’s most popular tourist destinations.

With its subtropical climate, 40 miles (64 km) of beaches, miles of canals, kelp forests, coral reefs, and mangroves, the seaside resort attracts a number of visitors every year.

The city attractions include Fort Lauderdale Beach, the Museum Of Discovery & Science, shopping, and restaurants.

The city’s eclectic mix of cultures and influences also makes for a thriving art scene. You will find graffiti, street art, sculpture, murals, and more in this coastal city.

That’s the end of the perfect Florida road trip.

Fly back from Miami with incredible memories, fresh tan, and amazing souvenirs.

3 Weeks in Florida Itinerary

If you have more time, then visit both the Emerald Coast as well as the East Coast of Florida.

After seeing Orlando, take the scenic coastal US Highway 98 all the way from Panama City Beach to Pensacola.

Then take the I-10 back to Jacksonville and explore the east coast all the way to Miami.

The Interstate passes through several of central Florida attractions such as Blue Springs State Park, Falling Waters State Park, and Tallahassee.

Also make time to explore day trips from Orlando such as Ocala Forest and Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

Central Florida has many natural springs and is perfect for planning a unique Florida Springs road trip around attractions such as Blue Springs and Ginnie Springs.

Falling Waters State Park

Falling Waters State Park is a beautiful park with many natural waterfalls and features to explore.

The park is situated on the Suwannee River which offers excellent fishing and other recreational activities like swimming or kayaking.

Visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, biking, or take a leisurely stroll through this lush green space.

Blue Springs State Park

The Blue Springs State Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Florida.

It’s located north of Orlando and has plenty of activities such as zip lining, kayaking, hikes, biking, fishing and swimming.

Blue Spring State Park is especially popular with hikers.

Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest is a beautiful, tranquil place to visit.

Nestled in Central Florida, this national forest encompasses over 190 species of animals and plants, and has several miles of trails. and plenty more to explore.  

The forest is home to the largest old-growth longleaf pine ecosystem left in North America.

It’s also home to some pretty unique creatures like white tailed deer, wild turkey and gopher tortoises!

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Panhandle, and was established to protect a variety of wildlife habitats.

There are many different animals that call this area home including alligators, bald eagles, otters, egrets, black-crowned night herons, white ibises and more!

Visitors can enjoy hiking, bird watching, photography or just relaxing on the beach at this beautiful location.

10 days in Florida Road Trip

If you have 10 days to visit Florida, then we recommend planning a trip around Miami, Orlando, and the Atlantic coast all the way from St. Augustine to Key West.

This Florida road trip will let you cover the major highlights of the Sunshine State including the Space Coast, South Beach, theme parks, and Florida Keys.

Begin in Miami and enjoy the attractions of this charming city.

Explore the Florida Keys on a fantastic road trip. Snorkel in Key Largo, see the Key West light, and tour the Dry Tortugas.

See the Everglades wildlife on an airboat tour.

Visit the theme parks in Orlando and explore attractions such as Cape Canaveral on a day trip.

Fly back from the Orlando International Airport.

A Week in Florida Road Trip Itinerary

With a week in hand, you can pick one coast of Florida to explore and keep the rest for future road trips in the Sunshine State.

For your first trip, Miami and Florida Keys make excellent options.

If you are driving from Texas or Louisiana, then plan a week long Florida Road trip along the panhandle.

For those driving from the Carolinas, or further up the coast – the drive from Jacksonville to Miami is a great vacation.

Getting cheap air tickets to Tampa? Explore the west coast and its stunning beaches.

4 Days in Florida Itinerary

If you have anywhere from 4 to 5 Days in Florida, then use the below Florida road trip ideas to plan your itinerary.

Miami Key West Drive

Miami Key West drive is one of the best Florida road trips.

After enjoying Miami Beach, take an airboat tour in the Everglades National Park.

Then road trip the scenic Seven Mile Bridge and Overseas Highway on your way to Key West.

Take a photo with the southernmost point, tour Hemingway House, and attend a sunset celebration in Mallory Square.

Take a day trip aboard Yankee Freedom III ferry to the Dry Tortugas from Key West.

Scenic Highway 98/30 A Road Trip

One of the best Florida road trips, this route will take you across the stunning beaches in the Panhandle.

The Florida Panhandle is the westernmost part of the state, extending from Pensacola to Apalachicola.

The region contains many natural resources and attractions, such as waterfalls at Wakulla Springs State Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore.

For those looking for more than just a beach vacation, take a trip up Highway 98 through Tallahassee where you can find museums like the Museum of Florida History.

West Coast road trip

The Florida West Coast Road Trip is an amazing adventure that you can do at any time of the year.

The trip will take you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of America.

The scenery ranges from beautiful beaches to natural wonders like the Everglades.

Orlando and Central Florida Road Trip

Planning a family adventure to Florida’s theme parks?

Base yourself in Orlando and plan a trip that combines theme parks with natural wonders.

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kissimmee;  experience the magic of Disney World, go behind the scenes at Universal!

This relaxing Florida road trip is perfect for those with toddlers or younger kids.

Florida Eastern Coastal Towns

The Florida East Coast is a beautiful and diverse landscape, with cities like Miami and St. Augustine on the Gulf of Mexico to Orlando in the middle.

From big city life in Miami to fishing villages such as Cocoa Beach, there is something for everyone.

Whether it’s beaches, theme parks or attractions like Kennedy Space Center, the east coast has you covered.

Plan this Florida road trip around attractions such as St. Augustine, Cocoa Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

We hope you liked our epic Florida road trip guide.

Did we miss any state parks or best beaches or fun trip stops in Florida? Let us know in the comments!

Best time to Visit Florida

Looking for a great time to plan a Florida road trip?

With a wide variety of attractions, beaches, and activities to choose from, Florida makes a great year round destination.

April to June or early November through February when holiday crowds are less intense is one of our favorite times to travel to Florida.

Temperatures range between 75°F and 88°F during these months with sea breezes that cool down the heat of summer days.

If you’re planning on visiting the state in the spring or summer months, make sure to bring your sunscreen!

More Florida Road Trip Ideas and Destinations

Explore our other Florida destination guides to plan an amazing Florida road trip.

Miami Key West Drive Itinerary

Best Things to do in Miami

Best Tours in Key West, Florida

Divergent Travelers

The Best Stops Along the Gulf Coast of Florida (Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary)

One of the most iconic road trip experiences you can have in the USA is to hop in your car and explore the best that the west coast of Florida has to offer. From world-class beaches, remote islands, trendy downtowns, lush state parks, mangrove forests and everything in between, this route offers something for everyone.

The overall purview of this route can be defined as a 660 mile stretch of road that starts in Pensacola, way up in the Florida Panhandle, and follows the Gulf coast all the way to Everglades City.

It includes iconic places like Panama City Beach, Crystal River, Tampa, St Petersburg, Sarasota, Fort Myers and so much more.

While it might only take you 9 hours to drive the route straight through, you could spend weeks diving into the best it has to offer. We took 9 days to highlight the best on offer along the St Petersburg to Fort Myers stretch of the drive.

Additionally, this guide will also offer some information on expanding your trip to include the Florida Panhandle, Crystal River, and Everglades City, should you want to add more days to your Florida road trip.

Ultimate West Coast Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Table of Contents

HOW TO USE THIS MAP:  Above you’ll find a map of our highlights in Key West, Florida. Click on the top left of the map to find separate layers marking the route and points of interest. You can hide and show different layers, or click icons on the map to see the names of places we mention in this travel guide. “Star” the map to save it to your own Google Maps, or open the map in a new window for a larger version.

The map above features all of the things to do, places to stay, and places to eat that are recommended in this guide.

St Petersburg Area

Our west coast Florida road trip started off in St Petersburg , a place that offers a perfect blend of culture, beach, and city life. The bulk of our time was spent digging into the downtown area and enjoying St Pete Beach, rather than traveling further afield.

That said, this area is fascinating and offers a variety of towns that each offer their own flare.

You could spend a week here and only scratch the surface. We’re offering you our highlights as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to venture further afield during your visit.

If you’d like to see video from our visit to the St Petersburg area, click here to watch our St Petersburg Instagram stories

St Pete Highlights & Activities

Fort desoto park.

Lina Stock at Fort Desoto in St Petersburg, Florida

Located not too far south of St Pete Beach is the largest park within Pinnellas County, Fort Desoto. The park spans more than 1,000 acres and offers 5 interconnected islands to explore.

It offers some spectacular beaches, mangroves, wetlands, and wildlife opportunities, among other natural environments to admire.

Most notably, it offers the chance to tour the decommissioned historic Fort Desoto. Constructed in the late 1800s, this fort has played a key strategic role through many conflicts and occupations of the land it sits on.

Be sure to check out the many cannons and wander to the top of the fort where you’ll be awarded with panoramic views over the ocean and Tampa Bay.

Speed Boat Adventures

Speed boat tour in St Pete, Florida

One of the coolest ways to get out on the water in St Petersburg is by joining a follow the leader style speed boat tour with Speed Boat Adventures .

You’ll get your own speed boat that can seat up to 3 people, meaning you get to be the captain and are in full control of the boat.

You’ll follow a guide who will take you through several bays, under bridges and past dolphins while narrating the trip through speakers installed in each boat.

We had so much fun speeding around, looking at the beaches, wildlife, and areas around Tampa, Clearwater, and St Petersburg. Being in control of your own boat without having to worry about navigating unfamiliar waters makes this a thrilling adventure.

Don Cesar Day Pass

Don Cesar hotel in St Pete Beach, Florida - West Coast road trip

The Don Cesar is the most iconic hotel in St Petersburg and its commanding presence sits right on a spectacular stretch of powdery white sand on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the perfect place to recharge and relax when traveling down the west coast of Florida.

If you’re not staying there it’s possible to purchase a day pass that will give you access to the pool area and beach. You’ll also be able to book spa appointments and enjoy a few other amenities during your visit. The day pass costs $75 per person and is available for purchase online or at the resort.

If you’d like to stay at the Don Cesar during your time in St Pete, consider booking the Life’s Reward Package. This includes a 2-night stay in a Dan-approved luxury suite with complimentary resort fees, complimentary Lionfish Larry valet parking and all of the Pink Palace perks.

You’ll also enjoy a daily $150 food and beverage credit to spoil yourself with coastal cocktails, beachside eats, fine dining, and a $250 recreation credit to treat yourself at the spa or go jet skiing on the Gulf of Mexico. You can book this package directly with the Don Cesar resort here , using the promo code REWARDS.

Bike Around Pass A Grille

Lina Stock biking around Pass A Grille in St Pete Beach, Florida

Some of the best stretches of beach in St Petersburg can be found around Pass A Grille and one of the best ways to explore them is by bike.

We rented bikes and cruised from the Don Cesar all the way to the end and back one afternoon. This gave us the freedom to stop whenever we wanted without worrying about parking, which can be a headache.

In doing this we were able to see several different places in the area and enjoy the different boardwalks too. Be sure to pack a beach towel so you can spend some time relaxing and playing in the waves too.

The James Museum

Lina Stock viewing art at The James Museum in St Petersburg, Florida

The James Museum is one of those museums that you’re not sure you’ll like and then it totally surprises you. We spent 2 hours here because the art is incredible. Not only is the detail unreal, but each piece tells the story of the people it features.

The work in this museum is mesmerizing, telling stories of the Native Americans and how they used the land across North America. Of course, the art also carries you through history, from before colonial times, during, and after, taking you on an emotional journey.

Personally, if you only have time for one museum when you visit St Petersburg, I’d recommend this one, even though there are others in town.

Dali Museum

The Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida

The Dali Museum is home to the largest collection of artist Salvador Dali’s work outside of Spain. A surrealist known for his technical skill and bizarre images; his work will take you on a bit of a magic carpet ride.

This museum offers large, tall ceiling galleries with ample room to observe and reflect on the pieces that are on display.

During our visit, we also had the opportunity to experience the temporary Van Gogh Alive exhibit. This display brought many of the works of the famed artist to a larger-than-life-size set to music from the era, as well as narrations from Van Gogh’s journals.

St Pete Pier

St Pete Pier at sunset

New to the St Petersburg landscape is the St Pete Pier. A place where people can come together to enjoy the water and culture of this area. One of the things we loved about the pier was that is mainly pedestrian, so you’re not competing for space with vehicles.

Locals utilize the pier for biking, walking, and rollerblading. It offers a few restaurants, a bar, a beach, and numerous grassy parks. We visited the pier in the evening, intent on exploring in the golden light and watching the sun go down.

Not only did we get a spectacular sunset, but we enjoyed watching dolphins swim in the waters right off the pier, too!

Participate in the Gulp Coast Challenge

A flight of beer from Green Bench Brewing in St Petersburg, Florida

If you like craft beer (who doesn’t?), then you’ll want to join in on the Gulp Coast Challenge during your visit to the west coast of Florida. Before you start, stop in at any craft brewery or tourism office to pick up your passport.

This book outlines all of the participating breweries and what you can expect to find there. Each offers a unique spin on beer and an opportunity to connect with local brewers. 

We personally enjoyed the varying atmosphere at each brewery we visited, with each one offering its own form of city oasis to enjoy.

Where to Eat in the St Pete Area

Mojito at Doc Ford's Rum Bar at St Pete Pier in Florida

  • IL Ritorno – This Italian restaurant features homemade pasta and traditional Italian dishes with a seafood flair. Everything we ordered here was delicious and we highly recommend you eat here during your visit to St Petersburg. It is a busy place, so be sure to make reservations.
  • The Society Table – Located at the Don Cesar hotel, this poolside café offers a variety of seafood dishes and sandwiches in a relaxed setting.
  • Snapper’s Sea Grill – If you’re looking for fresh-caught seafood, then you’ll want to put this place on your list! Affectionately known as the ‘Gem of St. Pete Beach Restaurants’, you really cannot go wrong.
  • Bodega – This place offers traditional Cuban dishes in a street setting and it is wildly popular. We suggest ordering the Cuban and a hibiscus soda Fresca.
  • Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille – This place is all about the atmosphere as it’s located on the water along St Pete Pier. Serving up some amazing seafood dishes, the signature Yucatan shrimp are to die for, you can order any type of rum-inspired drink, too.

Where to Stay in the St Pete Area

Upham Beach Inn in St Pete Beach, Florida

Accommodation options are really endless, from city life spaces to beachside getaways. We opted for a VRBO vacation rental versus a hotel during our stay in St Petersburg and were able to find the perfect balance by staying on St Pete’s Beach. We could walk to the beach and were only a short drive to downtown St Petersburg.

Our vacation rental was a super cute, newly remodeled studio in a complex that offered a great pool and free parking.

Sarasota Area – Florida Gulf Coast Road Trip

If you’re looking for a destination with a lot to do but that also offers diversity, Sarasota is a good one. The area offers a rich history paired with stunning beaches and a very upscale vibe.

Getting out of the city affords the chance to discover smaller communities like Venice, where you can search the beaches for shark teeth, or Englewood, where you can enjoy tasty food and a quieter atmosphere.

We loved that we were able to bounce easily between city life and nature here, which gives a fantastic balance for any road trip. Below you’ll find our highlights from 3 days in the area to get you started on your own planning.

If you’d like to see video from our visit to the Sarasota area, click here to watch our Sarasota Instagram stories

Sarasota Highlights & Activities

The ringling museum.

Lina Stock looking at a circus mural at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

The first thing we did when we arrived in Sarasota was head straight for the Ringling Museum ! This museum that is dedicated to the history of the circus sits on what was once the massive personal estate of John Ringling.

Give yourself several hours to visit, as the grounds feature the circus museum, personal residence of John Ringling known as the Ca’ d’Zan, a massive art museum, and several acres of lush gardens to explore.

Sunset on Siesta Key

Sunset on Siesta Key Beach in Florida

When the sun sets in Sarasota, the place to be is on Siesta Key . It is here that you’ll find miles of gorgeous white sand beaches that set the perfect stage for sunsets that melt into the water.

Sprinkle in some palm trees, colorful lifeguard stations, lapping ocean waves and you have the perfect place to end your day. We recommend getting there early, around 1 hour or more before sunset to ensure that you can find a nice location that is close to the water.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Lina Stock at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida- Gulf Coast road trip

You don’t have to be a plant aficionado to appreciate all that you can find in the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens . However, you will find yourself in awe at the stunning collection of orchids that it offers. This is the only botanical garden in the world that is dedicated to the display and study of epiphytes.

Being part of the Smithsonian Affiliate Network means this place is popular. If your schedule allows it, head to the gardens in the morning, right when they open. This will give you a chance to stay ahead of the crowds and the heat.

Mangrove Tunnel Kayaking on Lido Key

David Stock kayaking through a mangrove tunnel in Lido Key, Florida

To put a bit of adventure into your itinerary and get you out on the water, we’d highly recommend that you book a mangrove tunnel kayaking trip with Kayaking SRQ on Lido Key.

We spent 2 hours paddling the calm, protected waters on the Northside of Lido Key where we explored both open water and mangrove forests. The highlight, of course, is being able to paddle along a narrow and shallow channel tunnel within the mangrove trees.

Not only do you get an up-close look at some of the flora and fauna found along the west coast of Florida, but you’ll be led by a local guide that will offer some insight on what you are seeing both in the water and on land.

Search for Shark Teeth on Venice Beach

Shark teeth at Venice Beach, Florida- West Coast road trip

You cannot take a road trip along Florida’s Gulf coast without stopping in Venice to search for fossilized shark teeth on the beach! Before you head to the waters, start your day by stopping in at Shark Frenzy , a small shop located right in downtown Venice.

Here, you’ll want to rent or purchase a sifter and scoop. To increase your chances of good finds, you’ll need this stuff, trust us. The staff will show you how to use the tools and provide you with some insight on how to find areas that will provide a good opportunity for finding teeth.

Once on the beach, be sure to use sunscreen, wear UPF clothing, and stay hydrated. Looking for shark teeth is addicting, and you’ll find that hours have gone by without you even noticing. It’s easy to get burnt or dehydrated when you’re having so much fun mining teeth from the ocean.

We found more than 50 teeth the day we were in Venice and easily highlight this activity as one of our favorites out of 2 months spent road tripping through Florida.

Sarasota Ghost Tour

Discover Sarasota Tours SRQ trolly used for Ghost tours in Sarasota

If you like to hear tales of ghosts, then we’d recommend you join a ghost tour with Discover Sarasota Tours .

This 90-minute tour cruises around the city sharing all the fables, folklore, and ghost tales that Sarasota has to offer. It also includes complimentary beer or wine before your departure, so get there early!

We thought this tour was really fun as the hostess is very animated and personally connected to some of the stories that are shared about strange encounters in the city. We also liked the history aspect, shedding some light on how Sarasota was established.

Where to Eat in the Sarasota Area

Greek salad in Florida

  • Duval’s – Located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, this restaurant offers high-end seafood dishes with its own twist. Be sure to ask for a table outside to soak in the atmosphere of the city while you dine.
  • Blu Kouzina – If you want authentic Greek food, look no further. Eating at this restaurant will transport you to Greece with each bite. Be sure to order a Greek salad, it is to die for!
  • Sharky’s on the Pier – Who doesn’t love a beachside restaurant? Tropical drinks and seafood abound with fantastic views of Venice Beach.
  • Farlow’s on the Water – This place is a bit of a gem and a total hidden oasis. Located in Englewood, it’s worth the drive from Sarasota. Be sure to ask for a table on the water.

Where to Stay in the Sarasota Area

Vacation rental in Sarasota, Florida

Location is everything in Sarasota and you’ll have plenty of options from beachside to downtown. We chose to be just outside of the downtown, which was an ideal location for things both in the city and on the islands.

Sticking with our vacation rental theme we opted for another VRBO property and were able to score a super cool studio apartment in a historic Ringling building .

Fort Myers Area – Florida Gulf Coast Road Trip

Have you ever jived with a place even though you have never visited? This was Fort Myers for us. We’ve always known, somehow, that we would love this place and we totally did.

Why? Well, Fort Myers is a place that caters to outdoor and nature lovers. You can spend your time on the water, on remote islands, in state parks, hiking along trails, or paddling ancient waterways.

But not only that, it balances all of that with a social beach town and entertaining downtown area. You really can’t go wrong spending your time in the Fort Myers area.

We spent 4 days here, could easily spend a week or more, and are offering our highlights for you below.

If you’d like to see video from our visit to the Fort Myers area, click here to watch our Fort Myers Instagram stories

Fort Myers Highlights & Activities

Edison and ford winter estates.

Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida

The first place we stopped in Fort Myers was the Edison and Ford Winter Estates . Not only is it a lovely estate, but you have the chance to immerse yourself into the lifestyle of the famed inventors.

Thomas Edison purchased the property in 1885, when he decided to start relocating to southwest Florida for the winter. A visit includes the opportunity to tour the grounds, houses, and learn more about the people behind the inventions.

We both found this visit fascinating and insightful; it was an experience that humanized the lightbulb and automobile for us. The property is stunning, including huge gardens that overlook the water. It’s a fantastic place to spend a morning and make sure you don’t miss the museum.

Sunset Wildlife Cruise

White pelicans on Florida's Gulf Coast

One of the best ways to experience Fort Myers is by getting out on the water at sunset. It is at this time that you can see thousands of seabirds flying to the various islands in the area to roost for the night. This makes for good sightings and prime light for photography opportunities.

It’s also a great way to see dolphins, as they frequent the waters close to shore where they hunt for fish.

You have a lot of options for cruises, so choosing one comes down to your preferences. We decided on a pontoon-style boat as it offers more stability and room for photography. This is how we ended up with Adventures in Paradise .

The motorized pontoon offered plenty of space for people that wanted to have drinks and enjoy the view while others focused on photography. 

Jet Ski Dolphin Tour

Lina and David Stock on a jet ski tour in Fort Myers Beach, Florida

The morning we spent jet skiing with Wind and Water Sports was some of the most fun we’ve had on the water. Not only did we have the thrill of the jet ski, but this motorized eco-tour allowed us to cover a lot of ground and see a lot of wildlife.

There were times when pods of dolphins not only approached our jet skis but also played behind them while we cruised around. We saw giant rays playing in the water and hundreds of fish and bird species during our tour.

We were also able to access the historical midden area near Lovers Key State Park from the water, which is a challenge to access from land.

Our tour left directly from Fort Myers Beach and lasted 2 hours. David and I shared a jet ski and followed our guide, who had his own jet ski. While we didn’t book a private tour, we got one because nobody else had booked for that morning!

Lovers Key State Park

Lina Stock watching the sunset at Lovers Key State Park

The 712-acre Lovers Key State Park is one of the most beautiful state parks in Florida, offering a wide variety of activities, beaches, trails, and water access. You could easily spend a full day, if not more, exploring all it has to offer. For us, this park was where we were able to exhale and enjoy nature.

If you like to kayak, it’s possible to rent kayaks right in the park and then put in for some paddling on the Great Calusa Blueway. This is a great way to get on the water in a protected area and see Florida’s wildlife up close.

If you have time for nothing else, make a date to be here at sunset. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Florida to walk along the beach and see tall deadwood. Illuminated in the setting sun makes it an otherworldly experience.

Shelling on Sanibel & Captiva

Seashells washed up on the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida - Gulf Coast

Located just off the coast are the islands of Sanibel and Captiva . If you like to wander the beach looking for ocean treasures, this is the place for you.

With miles and miles of beaches that face the Gulf of Mexico and unique geography that both invites and traps, these islands offer mounds of shells that wash up on its shores every day in the tides.

Of course, you’ll want to get up early to not only beat the crowds but also have a chance for the good finds. Be prepared to pay for parking and bring something to collect shells with. Either a bucket or bag will do fine.

We went early in the morning and drove as far north on Captiva Island as we could. Here we found few people and thousands of shells. As the morning went on, we beach hopped our way back along the Gulf side before heading off to explore other areas of Sanibel Island.

JN Ding Darling Wildlife Drive

Birds at the J.N. 'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida

If you enjoy spending time in nature and seeing wildlife, as we do, then you’ll want to leave time to visit the 6,400-acre J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge . They offer a one-way drive that allows you to pull off anywhere along the way and observe what you see.

We enjoyed this drive so much we actually did it twice! Both times seeing many species of birds, alligators, and water critters. For the best light and wildlife spotting, go when they first open in the morning or later in the evening, when it’s cooler and the animals are on the move.

Something worth noting, if you have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass, it lets you into this reserve like it would any of the national parks in the USA.

Day Trip to Cayo Costa

Man holding sand dollar at Cayo Costa near Fort Myers, Florida - West Coast

Our last morning in Fort Myers we wanted to get a bit off-grid, so we booked a day trip out to Cayo Costa , a place that rests 24 miles from Fort Myers and is only accessible by boat. What an adventure that turned out to be.

Not only was our boat the only one there, but we got to experience the thrill of riding out a Florida storm on a remote island. Shortly after we arrived a decent storm system rolled in that brought high winds and completely soaked us.

Lucky for us, it was fleeting, and we spent the remainder of our time searching for large shells and sand dollars in large waves right off the beach. It was both exhausting and rewarding, we actually found a sand dollar!

Leaving the beaches of Cayo Costa we made our way to North Captiva, where we enjoyed lunch at a small beachfront restaurant before making our way back to Fort Myers.

Day Trip to Everglades

American alligator in Everglades National Park, Florida

If you find yourself with an extra day in Fort Myers, you may want to consider booking a day trip to Everglades National Park and Everglades City. Personally, this area deserves its own set of 2 to 3 days, but if you don’t have that a day trip can be a great way to dip your toes in.

There is a variety of day trips available from Fort Myers that will offer you transportation and a selection of activities. The main ones offer kayaking, a swamp buggy experience, and/or an airboat ride.

Key West Express

Fort Zachary Beach in Key West, Florida

Additionally, if you’re in Fort Myers and have the desire to visit the Florida Keys, it is possible to book transport there on the Key West Express . This catamaran-type ferry will have you in Key West in as little as 3.5 hours.

You will then have the option to stay a few hours before returning, making it a day trip, or you can plan ahead and stay a few days in Key West before returning again to Fort Myers. This is a great option if you want to visit the West Coast of Florida and see a bit of Key West too.

Where to Eat in the Fort Myers Area

Calamari at a restaurant in Florida

  • Pinchers – while you can find this locally owned seafood chain in a couple of different Fort Myers locations, we walked over to the location next to the Edison & Ford Museum in the downtown area. They are located on the water, so ask for a patio seat and order the seafood tower!
  • Snug Harbor – this little place is located in the marina area of Fort Myers Beach, across the street from the more commercial Nervous Nellie’s. They offer a lot of outdoor seating and some creative dishes with a waterfront view.
  • Mr. Tequila – if you’re craving Mexican food in Fort Myers Beach, this is the place to go! They serve authentic Mexican dishes, have a great outdoor patio, and endless chips with salsa.
  • Salty Crab – for seafood on the beach, this place is a great option. We loved sitting at the picnic tables with our feet in the sand. They have a great menu, order the fish tacos! And an extensive drink menu to go with it.
  • Doc Ford’s Sanibel – after enjoying Doc Ford’s in St Petersburg, we had to try it again in Sanibel and it was just as excellent the second time around. Again, order the Yucatan Shrimp , it’s an amazing dish. We also loved the Cuban sandwich and Caprese salad.

Where to Stay in the Fort Myers Area

Vacation rental in Fort Myers Beach, Florida

If you want to be in the center of it all and within walking distance of things, then we would highly recommend you stay in Fort Meyers Beach. We were able to find a nice vacation rental right on the beach that offered free parking in an onsite lot.

Admittedly, it was loud in the evenings and into the night with people partying and loud music. If you’re a light sleeper, you might want to look at a different area.

It also possible to stay over on Sanibel, the mainland or a bit further down from the main area where all the bars and restaurants are. Depending on how you like to travel, this might be a better choice.

Expanding Your Florida West Coast Road Trip

The places highlighted above make up a small section of the wider west coast road trip route and if you find yourself with more time, you may want to expand on that to include more fabulous Florida vacation destinations.

We’ve personally explored more of the west coast and wanted to highlight a few areas that we really enjoyed, especially if you want to get off the beach and explore more of Florida’s natural side.

Everglades City

David Stock in Everglades National Park

If you continue heading south beyond Fort Myers, you’ll pass through Naples and eventually end in the small town of Everglades City. This is the end of the road on the west coast and your only option here is to turn back around and head north or head east towards the Atlantic Ocean.

But don’t let that deter you. We absolutely adored Everglades City, it’s funky and the official gateway to the west side of Everglades National Park. That leaves no shortage of things to do when you visit.

We’d recommend spending 2 to 3 days here, if you can, taking the time for a boat tour around the 10,000 islands, a kayak trip to see alligators up close, an airboat ride, and a swamp buggy adventure into the Big Cyprus National Preserve.

If you’d like to see video from our visit to Everglades City, click here to watch our Everglades City Instagram stories

Florida Panhandle

Beach in Destin, Florida

If you want to start at the furthest north part of this drive before continuing south, you’ll find yourself in the Florida Panhandle.

Starting in Pensacola, this section of the drive also traverses through Destin, Fort Walton, Panama City Beach , and the Forgotten Coast of Florida before taking a sharp turn south.

This area has spectacular beaches and crystal-clear water, but it also offers a completely different vibe than what you’ll find in the beach towns in south Florida. That alone makes it worth exploring, in our opinion.

Crystal River

Lina Stock at Three Sister Springs in Crystal River, Florida - Gulf Coast

Between the Forgotten Coast and Tampa is one of the most spectacular natural areas in Florida and the jewel of this area is Crystal River .

It is here that hundreds of manatees seek protection in the warm spring waters during the cold winter weather. It’s the only place in North America that you can swim with manatees .

But that’s not all this area offers, and you’ll find a different side to Florida here. Beautiful springs abound, rich indigenous history and plenty of wildlife make it both interesting and enjoyable.

What you won’t find are beaches. But instead, miles of undisturbed natural coastline offer thick mangrove forests and the ecosystems that come with them.

We fell in love with this area on our last visit and to date, is one of our favorite places in Florida. If you can add only a couple of days to your itinerary, add Crystal River. It fits in well as an addition to the St Petersburg to Fort Myers route we highlighted above.

If you’d like to see video from our visit to the Crystal River area, click here to watch our Crystal River Instagram stories

You might also like:

  • Essential Packing List for Florida
  • How to Plan A Road Trip in 10 Easy Steps
  • Ultimate USA Travel Guide
  • 38 Beach Essentials: The Ultimate Beach Packing List
  • Ultimate Florida Keys Road Trip Planner
Our Florida West Coast road trip was done in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA . All opinions, recommendations, and stories are 100% our own, as always.

Did you like this story? Share it!

Travel planning resources, about lina stock.

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

2 thoughts on “The Best Stops Along the Gulf Coast of Florida (Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary)”

NOTHING from Ft. Myers to Everglades City? Really??!!

I mean, you could go to Naples and Marco Island, but we opted not to. So rather than write about something we haven’t done, we opted to omit it. Cheers!

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10 Bucket List Road Trip Itineraries In Florida For The Adventurous Traveler

  • Florida offers more than just relaxing beaches - its true essence lies in its diverse landscapes, hidden natural gems, and thrilling outdoor activities.
  • Adventurous travelers will love road trips to Miami, the Everglades, Key West, Naples, Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach, Lake Okeechobee, Amelia Island, Orlando, and Palm Coast.
  • Each destination offers unique attractions and activities, from exploring vibrant neighborhoods and indulging in water sports to experiencing untamed nature and relaxing on tranquil beaches.

Although most people visit Florida because of its relaxing beach escape, this state offers much more. Adventurous travelers who want to know this Sunshine State beyond its popular sites often find that its true essence lies in its diverse landscapes, hidden natural gems, and thrilling outdoor activities. Thanks to its massive size, there are tons of amazing Florida day trips worth the drive . This is why there are endless opportunities for tourists to embark on exciting road trip itineraries that cater to their sense of adventure.

From spending quality time at the chasing falls and exploring lush forests to encountering unique wildlife and searching for amazing springs, visitors can create unforgettable experiences by delving into the heart of Florida's untamed beauty. Here are some of the best road trip itineraries in Florida for the most adventurous travelers.

Related: 10 Best Places To Visit In Florida This Spring

Explore Vibrant Miami

For adventurous travelers, a road trip to Miami is an exhilarating journey through a vibrant city that pulsates with energy and diversity. Being among the perfect beaches on Florida’s East Coast , tourists who hit the road towards Miami will enjoy its beaches, neighborhoods, and lively nightlife.

The drive offers scenic views of Florida's coastline, providing glimpses of the beautiful turquoise waters the state is renowned for.

Upon arrival, visitors should venture beyond the well-trodden path and immerse themselves in neighborhoods, including Wynwood and Little Havana.

  • Top Attractions: Miami Beach, Wynwood Walls, Little Havana, Art Deco Historic District
  • Activities : Beach lounging, exploring Wynwood's street art, and trying Cuban cuisine

Discover The Untamed Everglades

A road trip to the Everglades promises an encounter with untamed nature and unique ecosystems found nowhere else. Travel enthusiasts can traverse the Tamiami Trail , a highway that cuts through the heart of this vast wilderness.

Along the way, tourists should stop at various designated points to embark on exhilarating airboat rides. This allows them to glide over the sawgrass prairies and witness alligators and diverse bird species in their natural habitat.

For a more profound experience, visitors can opt for guided eco-tours led by knowledgeable naturalists who unveil the secrets of the Everglades' intricate ecosystem.

  • Top Attractions : Tamiami Trail, Airboat rides, Everglades National Park
  • Activities : Airboat tours, wildlife spotting, guided eco-tours, exploring the unique ecosystem

Related: 10 Incredible Things Miami, Florida, Is Known And Famous For

Experience The Tranquility Of Key West

A road trip to Key West offers a tranquil escape for adventurous souls seeking a serene yet captivating getaway. The drive along the Overseas Highway is a scenic marvel, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.

While here, travelers can relish water-based activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding in the crystal-clear waters. A visit to Mallory Square to witness the iconic sunset celebration is a must, followed by a stroll down Duval Street, where lively bars, art galleries, and local boutiques await.

  • Top Attractions : Overseas Highway, Mallory Square, Duval Street, Key West Historic Seaport
  • Activities : Snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, watching sunset celebrations

Indulge In Elegance In Naples

The journey to Naples unfolds through picturesque coastal landscapes, leading tourists to a city known for its upscale ambiance and pristine beaches. Naples boasts world-class dining, exclusive shopping, and art galleries that showcase a rich cultural scene.

Travel enthusiasts can explore the stunning Naples Botanical Garden , indulge in rounds of golf at renowned courses, and take strolls along the historic Naples Pier. The combination of refined relaxation and cultural indulgence makes this road trip an elegant adventure for discerning travelers.

  • Top Attractions : Naples Botanical Garden, Naples Pier, Art galleries, Upscale shopping
  • Activities : Exploring botanical gardens, golfing, strolling along the pier, enjoying cultural attractions

Related: 14 Best Things To Do In Delray Beach, Florida

Cross The Scenic Sanibel Causeway

One of the best beaches in Florida with the clearest water , Sanibel Island provides a serene retreat for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts. As visitors drive across the iconic Sanibel Causeway, the anticipation of reaching a tranquil haven filled with pristine beaches and abundant wildlife builds.

Sanibel's unique shell-covered shores offer an exceptional opportunity for beachcombing and discovering intricate seashell treasures.

Exploring the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge allows travelers to spot native bird species, dolphins, and manatees in their natural habitat.

  • Top Attractions : Sanibel Causeway, Sanibel Island Beaches, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Activities : Beachcombing, wildlife watching, cycling along bike paths, exploring the wildlife refuge

Visit The Iconic Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach presents a classic Florida beach experience with relaxation and recreational activities. As travelers make their way to the Gulf of Mexico, they'll find Fort Myers, one of the few places in Florida that feels like the Caribbean .

The iconic Fort Myers Beach Pier offers a perfect vantage point for watching colorful sunsets and engaging in fishing.

Adventure seekers can indulge in water sports like jet skiing, parasailing, and paddleboarding. For a taste of local culture, the Times Square area is brimming with beachfront restaurants, shops, and live entertainment options.

  • Top Attractions : Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers Beach Pier, Times Square.
  • Activities : Relaxing on the beach, fishing off the pier, water sports, enjoying beachfront restaurants

Marvel At Majestic Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee takes travelers to the largest freshwater lake in Florida. The drive to the lake presents picturesque countryside vistas and glimpses of rural life. Once at Lake Okeechobee , visitors can explore its shores through hiking trails and bird-watching spots.

Adventurous souls can opt for airboat tours that glide across the lake's expansive waters, providing opportunities to spot alligators, turtles, and a variety of bird species. For fishing enthusiasts, Lake Okeechobee is renowned for its bass fishing tournaments.

  • Top Attractions : Lake Okeechobee, Hiking trails, Airboat tours
  • Activities : Hiking, bird watching, airboat tours, bass fishing, experiencing the lake's natural beauty

Related: 19 Best Beach Towns Along Florida's Gulf Coast

Unwind On Enchanting Amelia Island

With its blend of history, relaxation, and natural beauty, Amelia Island is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Florida in the fall . The historic district of Fernandina Beach transports tourists to a bygone era with its well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets.

Exploring Fort Clinch State Park provides opportunities for nature walks, bird watching, and immersion in Civil War history.

The pristine beaches invite strolls and relaxation, while horseback riding along the shoreline offers a unique perspective of the island's coastline.

  • Top Attractions : Fernandina Beach Historic District, Fort Clinch State Park, Amelia Island Beaches
  • Activities : Exploring historic district, nature walks, horseback riding, relaxing on the beach

Embark On Adventures In Orlando

A drive to Orlando sets the stage for the excitement ahead, with billboards and landmarks hinting at the city's theme park offerings. Once in Orlando, tourists can enjoy world-renowned theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld.

Beyond the theme parks, travelers can explore Orlando's diverse neighborhoods, each offering its own unique character and culinary scene. The city offers plenty of free things to do, which is why it's among vacation spots in Florida that won’t break the bank .

  • Top Attractions : Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, Orlando's diverse neighborhoods
  • Activities : Theme park experiences, adrenaline-pumping rides, exploring neighborhoods, enjoying diverse cuisine

Related: 10 Most Beautiful Small Towns In Florida You Should Visit

Relax In Serene Palm Coast

A road trip to Palm Coast promises a serene escape to a coastal haven known for its natural beauty and laid-back ambiance. Upon arrival, travelers can unwind on tranquil beaches, go kayaking along the Intracoastal Waterway, or explore hiking trails at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park .

Golf enthusiasts can tee off at world-class courses, while those seeking relaxation can indulge in spa treatments and waterfront dining. The Hammock Beach Resort offers luxury accommodations and access to pristine shores.

  • Top Attractions : Palm Coast Beaches, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Golf course
  • Activities : Kayaking, hiking, golfing, spa treatments, waterfront dining, luxury accommodations

10 Bucket List Road Trip Itineraries In Florida For The Adventurous Traveler

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23 Incredible Road Trips in the U.S.

Whether you’re looking for sweeping views of the pacific ocean or a multiday adventure through national parks, these road trips provide plenty of opportunities to explore the united states..

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A highway leading toward mountains

Glacier National Park is one of many scenic places you can visit on an American road trip.

Photo by Zack Frank / Shutterstock

In a country as large as the United States, there’s no shortage of destinations and detours to explore by car . Whether your idea of the perfect American road trip entails an epic, cross-country journey or a shorter jaunt through a few of its most iconic national parks , your options are as large and varied as the country itself.

Even if you don’t have the time to drive cross-country, there are plenty of road trip routes (ranging from three days to a week or longer): classic California itineraries , New England routes that shine especially well in the fall, scenic East Coast adventures, and a variety of Midwest journeys for folks farther from the coasts.

No matter your mode of transportation—be it van, RV, motorcycle, or four-door sedan—these are 21 of the best road trips in the nation to consider.

Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

Plan your next Route 66 trip around thirst-quenching stops.

Photo by Peek Creative Collective/Shutterstock

There are many ways to do a cross-country road trip in the USA, but these two itineraries will take you through some truly iconic American places.

1. Chicago to Los Angeles: A Whiskey Road Trip on Route 66

It doesn’t get more American than a 2,000-mile drive along the entirety of Route 66. There are endless ways to take this legendary trip (including an EV version —but to take your cross-country road trip to the next level, we recommend exploring another American pastime: whiskey.

Starting in Chicago and ending in L.A., you’ll stop by some of the leading craft distilleries in the United States, like Few Spirits in Chicago, Still 630 in St. Louis, and Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa. In between tastings, make time for detours to natural attractions, like the Grand Canyon, and quirky roadside curiosities, like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Just remember to drink responsibly—this is a road trip after all.

Plan your trip

The full itinerary: Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

People biking on a busy street

No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island, so you need to park before taking the ferry to this spot.

Photo from Shutterstock

2. Bangor, Maine, to Seattle, Washington: The Great Northern on U.S. Route 2

Covering both the U.S. and Canada, a cross-country trip along U.S. 2 is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the vast diversity and expansiveness of North America. This drive runs the entire top border of the U.S. and showcases otherworldly natural wonders like Acadia National Park in Maine, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, and Mackinac Island in Michigan. The route also passes through Canada, taking road-trippers through Ontario into Quebec—this route may focus on nature, but you won’t want to miss a stop in Montreal or Ottawa.

You’ll also get to explore Montana and Glacier National Park ( reservations may be required ) before passing the Columbia Plateau and ending in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city, Seattle. Don’t miss spending time in the Olympic Peninsula (home to Olympic National Park) for a peek at one of the most scenic places on the West Coast.

3. Dana Point to San Francisco: Driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The seemingly endless views of the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) are what road trip dreams are made of, and exactly what makes this California road trip so popular. However, with so many stops along the 655-mile stretch, we pulled together a list of the ones well worth pulling over to view. Don’t miss the perfect surfing waves in Santa Cruz, seasonal cuisine in Malibu, an afternoon a the boardwalk in Santa Monica, or a night in Big Sur as you drive between Dana Point (just south of Los Angeles) and San Francisco.

  • The full itinerary: The Best Stops for a Road Trip on the Pacific Coast Highway
  • The AFAR Guide to San Francisco

Wooden pier with shops on top juts out into the ocean

The seaside town of Monterey was the setting for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row .

Photo by Denise Lett/Shutterstock

4. Big Sur to Mono County: A Literary Road Trip Through Northern California

Yes, this itinerary requires you actually put down your book to drive, but seeing some of the pivotal places that shaped American authors will be so worth it. Follow in the footsteps of writers like Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan on this road trip that takes you through literary landmarks in Northern California, such as Caffe Trieste, a meeting place for Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and other bohemian writers and thinkers. This 12-stop itinerary is perfect if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area because you’ll be able to stay make these trips in one or two days.

The full itinerary: The California Road Trip All Book Lovers Should Take

Wide shot of a red canyon with a river running through it

Arizona may take its nickname from the Grand Canyon, but the state has far more natural wonders than just that one.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

5. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: An Iconic Arizona Road Trip

This 240-mile Arizona road trip takes travelers along some of the state’s most iconic highlights, including its most famous one, the Grand Canyon. A great itinerary for first-time visitors and returning travelers alike, it offers plenty of opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, and biking—as well as tasty food along the way. Hike the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or take in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on a hike to Cathedral Rock while exploring the Grand Canyon State.

  • The full itinerary: The Classic 5-Day Arizona Road Trip
  • Grand Canyon guide: The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon
  • Where to eat in Phoenix: A Chef’s Guide to the Best Restaurants
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Arizona ; The Best Airbnbs in Sedona

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah's Arches National Park

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah’s Arches National Park

Photo by tusharkoley / Shutterstock

6. Zion to Grand Canyon: A National Parks Road Trip in the Southwest

If you’re looking to visit as many national parks as possible in one road trip, this southwestern itinerary is for you. This journey through Utah and Arizona lets you hike Angel’s Landing in Zion, feel tiny under Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, explore Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon, and, of course, raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon remain on the rim, but take at least four days to venture within the canyon and take advantage of the trails and river rafting.

  • The full itinerary: The Ideal Road Trip Through U.S. National Parks
  • Utah’s 8 Best National Parks and Monuments
  • 10 Best National Parks and Monuments in Arizona
  • The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon

Couple sitting in front of a curving road

Stop and admire the winding roads of the San Juan Skyway.

Photo by Anh Luu/Shutterstock

7. San Juan Scenic Skyway Road Trip: An Adventure Through Southwestern Colorado

This Colorado trip takes you along the 232-mile loop of the San Juan Scenic Skyway, where you will see plenty of alpine forests, mining towns, and craggy peaks. And for anyone looking to enjoy refreshments after a long day of driving, this route features many opportunities to stop at some of the best breweries in Colorado , such as Ska Brewing Co. in Durango.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Southwestern Colorado Road Trip
  • Five Classic Colorado Road Trips To Take This Year

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

Courtesy of the Surf Hotel

8. Denver to Montrose: A 420-Mile Road Trip Through Colorado

Want to explore even more of the Centennial State? Head out on this weeklong road trip where you can fish for salmon in Colorado’s largest reservoir, visit numerous small towns, like Paonia and Crawford, with thriving art scenes along the Colorado Creative Corridor , and explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the nation.

  • The full itinerary: Art Stars, High-Altitude Wines, and a Remote National Park: The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Colorado
  • The AFAR Guide to Denver

Woman walking by a mural of a river and bridge

Portland may be Oregon’s largest city, but with a population of some 652,000 (or 2.5 million in the larger metropolitan area), it isn’t intimidatingly large.

Photo courtesy of Travel Portland

9. Portland to Astoria: An Oregon Coast Road Trip for Outdoor Lovers

If you love the outdoors, then this six-day road trip along the coast of Oregon is for you. After driving to Coos Bay from Portland, travelers will meander along Oregon’s dramatic, rocky coastline, discovering some quintessentially Pacific Northwest vistas along the way: evergreen forests, seaside dunes, and marine ecosystems. Between stops, there are ample opportunities to stretch your legs hiking, kayaking, or strolling around the region’s small towns—like the historic old town in Florence.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon road trip without a stop (or three) at a craft brewery, such as Fort George Brewery in Astoria, or cozy coffee shop, like Bread & Roses in Yachats.

  • The full itinerary: An Outdoor Lover’s Road Trip on the Oregon Coast
  • The AFAR Guide to Portland

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

Photo by photo.ua / Shutterstock

10. Seneca Falls, New York, to Nashville, Tennessee: Follow the Path of the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Starting in New York’s Finger Lakes region and ending at the State Capitol Building in Nashville, this road trip traces the route of the national women’s suffrage movement. Highlights include stops at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House ; Union Square in New York City, which was the site of the first suffrage march; and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

  • The full itinerary: Celebrate Women’s Suffrage on an Epic, Self-Guided Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Washington, D.C.

A long shot of a mountain-backed city, framed by flowers and trees

Asheville is one must-stop on a North Carolina road trip.

Courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com

11. Charlottesville to Asheville: A Scenic Road Trip Through Virginia and North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Beginning in the soft hilly meadows of the Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park down into the Blue Ridge Mountains, then into the Great Smoky Mountains, this five-day road trip is best done at a slower pace, which is perfect for admiring the dramatic outlooks and green plateaus. This eclectic itinerary features stops at an art museum, a dairy farm, and plenty of hiking trails.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
  • Where to stay: 12 Dreamy Blue Ridge Mountain Cabins You Can Rent on Airbnb and Vrbo
  • 8 U.S. National Park Road Trips to Take in Your Lifetime

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Courtesy of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

12. Albuquerque to Las Cruces: Discover New Mexico on This Three-Day Road Trip

This route steers you away from New Mexican tourist hot spots like Taos and Santa Fe and instead takes you on a three-day adventure with places that teach you about Pueblo history. You’ll stop at Indian Pueblo Kitchen (formerly known as Pueblo Harvest), a restaurant inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center that features Indigenous cuisine ; pick up peppers at Three Brothers in Hatch; and slide down the dunes in White Sands National Park.

  • The full itinerary: This New Mexico Road Trip Is the Perfect Introduction to the Land of Enchantment

Green tree near brown house during daytime

Historic Fort Martin Scott is one of the places travelers can visit to learn about Fredericksburg’s history.

Photo by Mark König/Unsplash

13. A Five-Day Scenic Road Trip Through Texas Hill Country

This Texas road trip starts and ends in San Antonio with stops in small towns like Bandera, Boerne, and consider a stop in Fredericksburg, which is one of AFAR’s best places to go in 2024 ). Over five days, you’ll find opportunities to stroll in a Japanese tea garden in San Antonio, relax along the Sabinal and Frio Rivers by inner tube, and eat as many tacos as you want. Seriously: You could eat tacos for every meal on this road trip and not get tired of them.

  • The full itinerary: Tree Houses, Tubing, and Tacos: The Ultimate Texas Hill Country Road Trip

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Photo by warnsweet / Shutterstock

14. A Weeklong Road Trip Through Alaska’s Most Majestic Sights

This weeklong drive in Alaska starts and ends in Anchorage. You travel along four scenic byways; explore Wrangell–St. Elias wilderness, the largest U.S. national park; catch sight of Denali, the tallest peak in North America; and enjoy the surprisingly stellar food scene of McCarthy, a one-road town with only a couple dozen residents.

  • The full itinerary: Glaciers, Mountain Peaks, and Organic Farms: The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip
  • Which Alaska National Parks Should You Visit?

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

Courtesy of Idaho Tourism

15. Boise to Sun Valley: Explore Idaho’s Scenic Byways

Even a short road trip can be packed with adventure, good food, and scenery, which is exactly what this trip from Boise to Sun Valley along Idaho’s Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway offers. Although the drive only takes six hours, we recommend taking a few days to explore all the stops and detours along the way. One can’t-miss spot is the Kirkham Hot Springs , where you can stand under a waterfall that will splash you with 135-degree mineral water year-round.

  • The full itinerary: The Little-Known Idaho Road Trip You Need to Drive
  • Things to do: The Best Outdoorsy Things to Do in Idaho

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Photo by Shutterstock/QZ

16. Duluth to Grand Portage State Park: A Scenic Minnesota Sampler

Although there are many appealing road trips throughout the Midwest, this 143-mile, three-hour circuit, which starts and ends in Duluth, Minnesota, is worth keeping in mind. Meandering north on MN-61 with this itinerary, you will enjoy prime views of Lake Superior and towns like Grand Marais, as well as Grand Portage State Park, home to waterfalls, hiking trails, and opportunities to learn about the Ojibwe community who occupy the land today. Once back in Duluth, enjoy a beer at Canal Park Brewing Company before checking into the waterfront Canal Park Lodge nearby.

  • The AFAR Guide to Minnesota

Overhead view of curvy Kancamagus Highway through fall forest

Wind your way through colorful foliage in New Hampshire.

Photo by Shutterstock

17. Kancamagus Highway: A Quintessential New England Drive

Yes, you can take a road trip in New England at any time of the year , but this region shows off its best colors in the fall, when locals and tourists alike head out into the country to view the changing colors of the trees. Join other admirers of fall foliage on this popular, 34.5-mile road trip along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway, colloquially known as the “Kanc,” for picturesque ponds, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.

  • Plan Your Fall Getaway With This Peak Foliage Prediction Map

Red boat beside a wooden dock in a cove

Ogunquit is home to the small, postcard-perfect harbor of Perkins Cove.

Photo courtesy of QualityHD / Shutterstock

18. Maine’s “Lobster Trail”: Travel Route 1 Along the Coast

Traveling Route 1, affectionately known as “the lobster trail,” along Maine’s jagged coastline is an exercise in indulgence. Sample lobster dishes in all forms—buttered, steamed, on a roll, or even in a decadent mac-and-cheese.

The trip starts in the quaint small town of Ogunquit , with its rare (for the area) 3.5 miles of white-sand beach. Make your first lobster of the journey count, steamed with a side of drawn butter at Barnacle Billy’s in picturesque Perkins Cove harbor. Stop at Big Daddy’s for a cone on your way to the shipbuilding center—and summer home of George H. W. Bush—Kennebunkport. Stay at the recently redesigned 150-year-old classic White Barn Inn , and consider a sailing trip for an afternoon. With lobsters cooked in ocean water, the legendary lobster roll at the Clam Shack is a must.

  • 8 Scenic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Year

Interior of Leah & Louise restaurant in Charlotte

Throughout North Carolina’s Piedmont region, innovative restaurants, shops, and restaurants like Leah & Louise in Charlotte, above, are creating a buzz.

Photo by Peter Taylor Photography

19. Raleigh to Charlotte: A 4-Day Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

North Carolina’s Piedmont region extends from the coastal plain to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and includes farmland and rolling wooded hills, especially on the 1-40 stretch near Hillsborough. Starting in Raleigh, drive the short distances to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte to see how these cities are innovating through art, food, and a celebration of the past. Take your time—four days should do—to experience downtown arts districts, James Beard Award–winning restaurants, and civil rights museums that speak truths. Plan your trip

  • A Road Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Scenic South Walton is part of the Emerald Coast of Florida.

20. Scenic Highway 30A: A Sunday Drive Through South Walton, Florida

Florida is full of places to cruise with the top down, but it’s hard to beat a Sunday (or any day) drive along Scenic Highway 30A through northwest Florida, home to a postcard-perfect stretch of seaside towns known as South Walton.

The roughly 28-mile route through South Walton County kisses the coast for nearly all its length, taking you through gorgeous residential Gulf-front communities like Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, and Blue Mountain Beach . Roll down the windows and let the emerald-hued views in.

Pull over to explore, too—maybe to admire the New Urbanism architecture in Alys Beach or to swim in the clear waters at Grayton Beach State Park . (The beach here has been lauded among the best in the world.)

  • The full itinerary: The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Two stand-up paddleboarders on the water at sunset

Stand-up paddleboarding is just one way to enjoy a Florida Keys sunset.

Shutterstock

21. The Florida Keys: An Island-Hopping Getaway

For a sunny road trip itinerary in Florida, skip Miami and head farther south. Beginning in Key Largo and ending in Key West, the Florida Keys Scenic Highway is often overlooked for more well-known routes up north, but it is well worth going out of your way to experience.

As the name suggests, this route is very scenic, so plan to spend at least a few days exploring it and numerous stops along the way. Some highlights include driving across the impressive Overseas Highway, stopping to admire art in the town of Islamorada, and enjoying the historic sites, food, and (of course) beaches in the city of Key West.

  • The full itinerary: How to Road Trip in the Lesser-Known Florida Keys

A brick building with an oversized guitar hanging off the side and a sign that says "Sun Studio"

Sun Studio in Memphis was the site of the famous Million Dollar recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Photo by f11photo on Shutterstock

22. Memphis to Bristol, Tennessee: A Music-Driven Adventure

If you have about a week to spare and a deep appreciation for music, take a road trip from one side of Tennessee to the other, starting in Memphis and ending in Bristol. The eastbound trip spans genres, including rock ( Graceland ), blues ( Beale Street) and, of course, country (did you really go to Tennessee if you didn’t go to Dollywood ?). Nashville serves as the halfway point on your journey—so consider penciling in an extra 48 hours to fully explore the state capital’s greatest hits.

  • The full itinerary: 5 Great American Road Trips For Music Fans

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

Photo by Alexsf.gr/Shutterstock

23. Arecibo to Condado, Puerto Rico: A Lesser-Known Side of a Well-Loved Island

In the minds of many, trips to Puerto Rico bring images of stunning beaches , delicious foods , and maybe a bioluminescent bay or two . But there’s plenty of history to be found here, too, as Puerto Rico was home to an Indigenous population known as the Taino, a heritage many Puerto Ricans embrace. That history can be explored via a road trip. Starting in the northern town of Arecibo, travel south to Ponce, then back north to Condado—along the way you’ll encounter petroglyphs, Indigenous sites, and breathtaking natural spots.

  • The full itinerary: A Puerto Rico Road Trip That Puts Indigenous Culture First

Additional road trip planning resources Picking the route for your road trip is only one part of your planning. From what snacks to pack to which podcasts to listen to, these additional resources will help you prepare for your next adventure:

  • Best road trip snacks
  • Road trip planning apps
  • Podcasts and audiobooks to download
  • What to pack for a road trip

This article originally appeared online in August 2020. It was most recently updated on April 4, 2024, to include current information. Additional reporting by Jessie Beck, Erika Owen, Ray Rogers, Terry Ward, and Sheryl Nance-Nash.

Northern Lights

florida road trip

San Francisco Giants' Six-Game Florida Road Trip Will Show Team's True Status

After getting a much-needed victory at home before an off day, the San Francisco Giants are starting their road trip that will give an idea about if they can contend or not.

  • Author: Brad Wakai

In this story:

The San Francisco Giants had one of the most under-the-radar offseasons after signing some of the biggest names who were available on the market.

Getting Korean phenom Jung Hoo Lee, the reigning NL Cy Young Winner Blake Snell, and one of the best third baseman in the game Matt Chapman, lifted up the profile of their roster to the point where there were expectations for them to compete for a playoff spot.

But things haven't quite gone to plan so far.

They sit with a 5-8 record and needed a strong performance on Wednesday to avoid being swept by the Washington Nationals .

Maybe that's what gets the Giants going after they took a much different approach on the base paths and got another great pitching performance from Jordan Hicks.

But heading into this six-game Florida road trip where they face the Tampa Bay Rays starting Friday and the Miami Marlins after that series is complete, this will truly give an idea about if they can contend or not.

The Rays are always formidable, but they don't quite have that magical aura around them like they've had in years past. They currently sit at 7-6 with offensive numbers around the middle of the league and pitching numbers much worse than their previous iterations.

Tampa Bay is gettable, and if the Giants are going to truly compete in a loaded National League, they need to show that they can win these types of games.

Following those three contests, they'll head south to take on the Marlins who have the worst record in the MLB entering Friday's action.

San Francisco needs to dominate this series, certainly winning it, but with the aim of sweeping.

Good teams beat the bad teams and are also able to compete with other good teams.

That's what the Giants have on this road trip as they get set to face the Rays in a matchup that is winnable before hitting Miami where they should leave victorious.

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Florida Gators

Gators Set to Face Arkansas in Last Regular Season Road Trip

Gators Set to Face Arkansas in Last Regular Season Road Trip

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In death, 3 decades after his trial verdict,…

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In death, 3 decades after his trial verdict, O.J. Simpson still reflects America’s racial divides

FILE – In this Oct. 3, 1995 file photo, attorney...

FILE – In this Oct. 3, 1995 file photo, attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. holds O.J. Simpson as the not guilty verdict is read in a Los Angeles courtroom during his trial in Los Angeles. Defense attorneys F. Lee Bailey, left, Robert Kardashian look on. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)

FILE – In this May 1, 1992 file photo, Rodney...

FILE – In this May 1, 1992 file photo, Rodney King makes a statement at a Los Angeles news conference, where he asked for an end to violence. For many people old enough to remember O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, his 1994 exoneration was a defining moment in their understanding of race, policing and justice. Nearly three decades later, it still reflects the different realities of white and Black Americans. Simpson, who died Wednesday, April 10, 2024, remains a symbol of racial divisions in American society because he is a reminder of how deeply inequities are felt, even as newer figures have come to symbolize the struggles around racism, policing and justice. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)

FILE – R. Kelly arrives at the Cook County Criminal...

FILE – R. Kelly arrives at the Cook County Criminal Court Building, in Chicago, June 13, 2008. For many people old enough to remember O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, his 1994 exoneration was a defining moment in their understanding of race, policing and justice. Nearly three decades later, it still reflects the different realities of white and Black Americans. Simpson, who died Wednesday, April 10, 2024, remains a symbol of racial divisions in American society because he is a reminder of how deeply inequities are felt, even as newer figures have come to symbolize the struggles around racism, policing and justice. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

FILE – Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at...

FILE – Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Sept. 24, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. For many people old enough to remember O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, his 1994 exoneration was a defining moment in their understanding of race, policing and justice. Nearly three decades later, it still reflects the different realities of white and Black Americans. Simpson, who died Wednesday, April 10, 2024, remains a symbol of racial divisions in American society because he is a reminder of how deeply inequities are felt, even as newer figures have come to symbolize the struggles around racism, policing and justice. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

By GRAHAM LEE BREWER and AARON MORRISON (Associated Press)

For many people old enough to remember O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, his 1995 exoneration was a defining moment in their understanding of race, policing and justice. Nearly three decades later, it still reflects the different realities of white and Black Americans.

Some people recall watching their Black co-workers and classmates erupting in jubilation at perceived retribution over institutional racism. Others remember their white counterparts shocked over what many felt was overwhelming evidence of guilt. Both reactions reflected different experiences with a criminal justice system that continues to disproportionately punish Black Americans.

Simpson, who died Wednesday , remains a symbol of racial divisions in American society because he is a reminder of how deeply the inequities are felt, even as newer figures have come to symbolize the struggles around racism, policing and justice.

“It wasn’t really about O.J. Simpson the man. It was about the rest of the society and how we responded to him,” said Justin Hansford, a Howard University law professor.

Simpson died of prostate cancer in Las Vegas, his family announced Thursday. He was 76.

His death comes just a few months before the 30th anniversary of the 1994 killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. Much like the trial, the public’s reaction to the verdict was largely shaped by race.

Today, criminal justice reforms that address racial inequities are less divisive. But that has been replaced by backlash against diversity, equity and inclusion programs, bans of books that address systemic racism, and restrictions around Black history lessons in public schools.

“The hard part is we’re going to keep cycling through this until we learn from our past,” said University of Pennsylvania sociologist and Africana Studies professor Camille Charles. “But there are people who don’t want us to learn from our past.”

During the trial, African Americans were four times as likely to presume Simpson was innocent or being set up by the police, said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt, who at the time was a young sociologist writing a book about the different ways Black and white Americans saw the trial.

“The case was about two different views of reality or two different takes on the reality of race in America at that point in history,” he said.

Simpson’s trial came on the heels of the 1992 acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, which was caught on video and exposed America’s deep trauma over police brutality. For many African Americans in 1995, Simpson’s acquittal represented a rebuke of institutional racism in the justice system. But many white Americans believed Simpson and his defense team played the race card to get away with the killings.

The difference could also be seen in the ways Black media outlets covered the trial compared to mainstream publications, Hunt said. Those outlets tended to raise questions about whether the justice system was really fair in terms of “what might be called the Black experience,” he said.

Polling in the last decade shows most people still believe Simpson committed the killings, including most African Americans, but the racial and historical dynamics at play in the trial made it about more than the deaths.

Hansford, the Howard University law professor who is Black and was 12 years old at the time of the Simpson verdict, said he remembers the differences in white and Black reactions even in liberal environments like Silver Spring, Maryland, the Washington suburb where he grew up.

“When he was acquitted, all the Black students celebrated and ran into the hallways, jumping up and down,” he said. “And the white teachers were crying.”

One of Hansford’s white teachers said something about Simpson that he didn’t agree with, and when he responded, the teacher rebuked him.

“It was one of the worst ways a teacher has ever talked to me,” Hansford said. “The O.J. Simpson trial created a situation where people were dug into their sides.”

The racial turmoil embedded in the court case was at the center of the 2016 Oscar-winning documentary “OJ: Made in America.” Instead of focusing on the killings and the evidence presented at trial, director Ezra Edelman placed the crimes within the context of the Civil Rights struggle, from which Simpson was largely insulated by the warm embrace of the white mainstream.

“All O.J. had to do to get recognized is to run a football,” Edelman told the AP in 2016 . “And almost concurrent to that you have a community of people whose only way to get recognized is to burn their community down during the (1965 Watts) riots. Those were the two tracks I was trying to home in on, knowing that they will intersect 30 years later.”

Simpson had married a white woman in a nation that had historically punished Black men who dared to explore mixed-race relationships. But Simpson also was a former football star, a wealthy Hollywood actor and brand spokesman whose money and privilege distinguished him from impoverished Black men that the criminal justice system punished.

“I’m not Black, I’m O.J.,” he liked to tell friends.

He had been admired as a one-of-a-kind celebrity whose transgressions, including a pattern of spousal abuse, were overlooked as incompatible with his All-American persona.

“He actually seemed to go to quite a bit of trouble to distance himself from Black folks,” but the Black support for him wasn’t about that, said Charles, the University of Pennsylvania sociologist. “I think it was about seeing the system work the way we were told it was supposed to.”

Even as systemic racism in criminal justice systems remains an issue, Charles thinks Black Americans have grown less likely to believe in a famous defendant’s innocence as a show of race solidarity.

“The one thing that has changed is that you didn’t see the same kind of getting behind (R&B singer) R. Kelly or Bill Cosby,” Charles said.

“There was much more open conflict about them, and many more Black people were willing to say publicly, ‘Nah, he did that.’ I think it also could represent a better understanding of celebrity and wealth,” she said.

Graham Lee Brewer reported from Oklahoma City, and Aaron Morrison from New York. They are members of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.

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    Florida road trip enthusiasts ready for a double dose of great driving fill 'er up and head to western Florida where two highways deliver completely different, but equally unforgettable, driving experiences. Interstate 10 is the fastest route between Jacksonville and Pensacola, but it takes a back seat to its more laid back predecessor, U.S ...

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    Florida is the perfect state for a road trip. There is so much to do with pristine beaches, crystal clear springs, metropolitan cities, amusement parks, Everglades National Park, and so much more! Keep reading to discover the perfect one-week Florida road trip itinerary. *Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

  16. The Perfect 2-Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary + Map

    2-Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary Overview. Note: Starting and Ending Point of the Florida Road Trip Itinerary. Day 1 + 2: Miami. Day 3, 4, + 5: Florida Keys. Day 6 + 7: Captiva Island. Day 8 + 9: Sarasota. Day 10, 11, + 12: Orlando.

  17. 14 Fantastic Florida Road Trips: Maps, Routes & Personal Review

    Miami - Miami Beach - Key West - Everglades Road Trip. One of the most popular southern Florida road trips packs in a city trip to Miami, time by the Atlantic at Miami Beach, a stopover in Key West, and an enthralling airboat tour of the Everglades. This coastal route is stuffed with art, architecture, culture, history, food, nature, and ...

  18. The Ultimate Florida Road Trip: 21 Spectacular Places you Must-See

    World class snorkeling, diving, fishing, and canoeing through the mangroves can keep you busy for weeks. It's truly one of the best hidden gems of Florida and although difficult to reach on a road trip…so worth it. 12. The Florida Keys. The keys might as well be an entirely different state.

  19. Florida Road Trip: The Ultimate 2-Week Florida Itinerary

    Best Time to Do a Florida Road Trip. The great thing about Florida is that it is a year-round destination. The coldest it gets in Florida is around 60°F (15°C) in January. July is the warmest month in Florida, when temperatures can rise to up to 90°F (32°C).

  20. the ultimate ten day florida road trip

    April 17, 2019. In early June we packed the car and headed south from North Carolina to Florida for a ten day adventure full of sun, sand, and surf in the Sunshine State! Our Florida road trip itinerary, with stops in The Keys, Key West, Miami, Orlando, St. Augustine and Jacksonville, can easily be adjusted for 1 week or 10 days.

  21. Ultimate Florida Road Trip Itinerary

    10 days in Florida Road Trip. If you have 10 days to visit Florida, then we recommend planning a trip around Miami, Orlando, and the Atlantic coast all the way from St. Augustine to Key West. This Florida road trip will let you cover the major highlights of the Sunshine State including the Space Coast, South Beach, theme parks, and Florida Keys.

  22. Ultimate West Coast Florida Road Trip Itinerary (Best Stops, Food & More)

    St Petersburg Area. Our west coast Florida road trip started off in St Petersburg, a place that offers a perfect blend of culture, beach, and city life. The bulk of our time was spent digging into the downtown area and enjoying St Pete Beach, rather than traveling further afield. That said, this area is fascinating and offers a variety of towns ...

  23. 10 Bucket List Road Trip Itineraries In Florida For The ...

    Florida offers more than just relaxing beaches - its true essence lies in its diverse landscapes, hidden natural gems, and thrilling outdoor activities. Adventurous travelers will love road trips ...

  24. Florida Road Trip

    Florida Road Trip is a TV show that explores the history, culture, and attractions of different cities and towns in Florida. Watch episodes, bonus content, and shop for merchandise on the official website.

  25. 23 Best Road Trips in the U.S. to Take in 2024

    The full itinerary: The Florida Road Trip You've Been Missing; Stand-up paddleboarding is just one way to enjoy a Florida Keys sunset. Shutterstock. 21. The Florida Keys: An Island-Hopping Getaway. For a sunny road trip itinerary in Florida, skip Miami and head farther south. Beginning in Key Largo and ending in Key West, the Florida Keys ...

  26. San Francisco Giants' Six-Game Florida Road Trip Will Show Team's True

    But heading into this six-game Florida road trip where they face the Tampa Bay Rays starting Friday and the Miami Marlins after that series is complete, this will truly give an idea about if they ...

  27. Gators Set to Face Arkansas in Last Regular Season Road Trip

    Kim would go on to give Florida their second point defeating Vanderbilt's Jake Klopper in three sets (3-6, 6-2, 6-0). Tanapatt Nirundorn (6-3, 3-6, 6-3) and Edengren (6-4, 7-5) would go on to secure the final two points needed for the Florida win. The Opponent The No. 34 Arkansas Razorbacks are coming off of a 4-1 win over No. 51 Rice in Houston.

  28. Dad, son killed on college trip in DUI crash, Florida officials say

    An incoming freshman at the University of Central Florida was on a road trip with his dad ahead of college orientation when an accused drunk driver killed them, according to Florida authorities.

  29. In death, 3 decades after his trial verdict, O.J. Simpson still

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