Florida's 5 best road trips
There's no denying Florida’s appeal, and its incessant sunshine and natural beauty make it particularly well suited for road-tripping. The narrow peninsula packs in the hedonistic pleasures, from white-sand beaches to fantasy-fueled amusement parks – with historical monuments, natural wonders and roadside attractions sprinkled liberally along the way. Here are the Sunshine State’s five best road trips.
Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.
North Florida Backwaters & Byways
Kickoff your trip with spectacular white-sand beaches along the Gulf Coast, then meander back roads and byways to discover northern Florida's hidden treasures. Along the way, you'll find crystal-clear springs that you can enjoy from an inner tube or glass-bottomed boat, come face-to-face with a Florida manatee, and end your trip with a classic roadside attraction starring the mermaids of Weeki Wachee. Other stops to include along the way include the otherwordly Wakulla Springs and the beautiful Ichetucknee Springs.
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 the oldest permanent settlement in the United States, family friendly attractions, the Latin flavor of Miami and – oh, yeah – 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 wrap in Miami Beach. Detours worth making include St Augustine, the oldest permanent settlement in the US; Canaveral National Seashore and the Space Coast, where if you time it right you can see a rocket shoot into space.
Overseas Highway to Key West
There's no better way – short of hopping on a plane – to enjoy such an utter feeling of escape from the mainland as 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 trek include John Pennekamp State Park, the USA’s first underwater park, the Indian & Lignumvitae Keys and the Seven Mile Bridge.
The enticing Everglades are what 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 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. Pitstops include kayaking in Flamingo, tram tours in Shark Valley and searching for Bigfoot in Ochopee.
Doing Disney and more
Let your inner child loose at Mickey's Magic Kingdom, but don't stop there; you'll find plenty more to entertain you in dizzying Orlando. On the east coast, NASA's Kennedy Space Center is a major attraction based on real-world wonder and is the start of this 288-mile road trip. End in Sanibel and Captive Islands.
This west-coast jaunt includes spectacular white-sand beaches with tons of attractions that are family friendly without being too kid-centric. Be sure to check out the historic buildings and wrought-iron balconies of Ybor City and the lovely beaches in Sarasota.
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