Road Trips are some of the best ways to see a new destination whether that’s just a few hours from home or internationally. There is no exception for Florida. This is going over the best road trip Florida can give you!
We spent a few weeks in Florida visiting friends and knew we wanted to go out and explore a bit more. We decided on a road trip and found this is the best road trip Florida.
We’ll cover the best road trip Florida, Florida road trip 1 week, day road trips in Florida, Florida road trip for adults, and more!
This trip can be started from any point and circled around. It’s a generally circular path around the entirety of Florida. If you fly into Miami, you can start there and work your way around. Personally, we started in Jacksonville and went straight down this list and back up to Jacksonville after flying back out. We completed this whole road trip in a week but could be done in less time or more depending on what you have!
And you may be wondering why this Itinerary doesn’t include two of the most popular destinations (Orlando & the Keys). It’s because they deserve their own vacations entirely. This is the best road trip Florida can give you while a week in Orlando is barely going to scratch the surface there. And a week in the keys will let you fully explore all the keys and waters! We also don’t mention Daytona Beach. Unless you are a big NASCAR fan or are looking to party for spring break, I would skip Daytona Beach altogether.
This post is all about the best road trip Florida can give you!
Best Road Trip Florida:
The beautiful city of St. Augustine should definitely be on your road trip through Florida. It can certainly be a far drive from Miami, but the sites are definitely worth it. This city lays claim to being the oldest city in America with roots back to the early 1500s. There is an old fort along the water that is a perfect spot to explore. They have a charming old town area to walk around and find some good eats. I personally love the beach here in St. Augustine. It’s peaceful and wide, perfect for walking along the ocean.
If you are planning a road trip through Florida you likely are going to be heading through Miami at some point. And for good reason, we loved our time in Miami! You are going to be getting big and grand city life when you are in Miami. Think fast cars, loud music, and great food. Of course, that’s not really our style, but we did make the best of our favorite parts.
South Beach is iconic with its golden sand beaches, high-rise buildings, and people galore. Luckily in January, it’s a bit different than spring. Start the day by driving up the coast on Florida State Road A1A. When we got into South Beach, we loved the vibe of rolling the windows down and just driving with some good music playing. There were palm trees and expensive cars and even more expensive boats (EVERYWHERE!). Driving from South Beach up to North Beach and back was a fun way to start our time in Miami. We then spent the day on South Beach. Keep an eye out for the art deco architecture and the colorful lifeguard towers.
Pro Tip: Parking in any big city can be outrageously expensive, especially in the top tourist destinations like South Beach. Download the free SpotHero app to find the best parking rates and availability. We have saved hundreds of dollars for parking in Miami, Chicago, and St. Louis.
We only spent one day in Miami but you could easily spend a few days here. There are a few museums like the Perez Art Museum and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. You can also head over to a few other beaches like Crandon Park on Key Biscayne (not the National Park) or up to Hollywood Beach. And of course, you have to try the food! We love eating in big cities because you have some of the best of the best. For budget eats, check out Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for the best mom & pop shops. And if you are looking for a bit more luxury – which, who isn’t in Miami? – check out the Condé Nast Traveler list of best places to eat in Miami.
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Florida National Parks
We have a big and mighty goal to see all 60+ National Parks on our bucket list and we loved that Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park are so close to each other. Although you can fit these two parks into one day (we did), we would recommend that you take a full day at each.
If you are a frequent visitor of National Parks, be sure to use your America the Beautiful Pass (an annual National Park entrance pass)!
Biscayne National Park
This national park is over 90% water so the best way to explore the full offers from the park is by boat. You can do that in a few different ways. Only authorized businesses are allowed to operate in the national park so be sure you check the NPS page for Biscayne National Park to check. You can book a boat tour of Biscayne National Park to take you to Boca Chica Key or Jones Lagoon. If budget is no option, you can also charter a boat for the day and explore the islands and snorkel spots at your own pace. And if you want to get a bit adventurous you can explore the national park by kayak or kiteboarding.
Whatever your method, just be ready to get in the water and bring some snorkel gear or dive gear because the best parts of this park are underwater. There are 6 shipwrecks and 500 species of coral fish. One of the most popular attractions here is the Boca Chica lighthouse which is a perfect spot for a lunch break.
If you aren’t able to get out on the water to see this park, you can still visit the Dante Fascell Visitor Center on the mainland. There are a few walking paths from there to a glimpse of the national park’s beauty. We liked the short movie they play explaining more about the park. And of course, we got our National Park stamp. This is also a great spot for a lunch break if you are doing a half-day at the park.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is certainly the more popular of the National Parks in Florida. Its biodiversity is extreme with everything from crocodiles and alligators (very rare that they live in the same place) to panthers. You can easily spend a whole day here hiking, visiting the visitor center, out on kayaks in the mangroves, or riding an airboat.
This park is huge, spanning 2,400 square miles so you will certainly need at least a full day to really see it. There are plenty of hikes and bike trails throughout the park. For shorter hikes, check out the Anhinga Trail (0.8 miles), Gumbo Limbo Trail (0.4 miles), Pineland Trail (0.4 miles), Mahogany Hammock Trail (0.5 miles), and Eco Pond Trail (0.5 miles). All these hikes are short and flat and often with paved or boarded trails. And come expecting to see tons of wildlife. We saw an alligator on Anhinga Trail and heard you can see turtles on Eco Pond Trail!
Don’t forget while you are in town to head over to Robert Is Here Fruit Stand in Homestead! They have delicious farm-fresh fruit, milkshakes, and smoothies. We got a fresh fruit milkshake and it was amazing.
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We only visited Fort Meyers for a night and didn’t get out to visit too much since we were pooped from the day before (with all the National Parks). However, since the drive from Everglades National Park to Tampa was quite far (and relatively boring), we were happy we stopped for the night in Fort Meyers.
If you get a chance to explore Fort Meyers, which we highly recommend because it looks so cute, be sure to check out Fort Meyers Beach or the historic downtown area.
Tampa has a ton to offer from big city life to small-town fun and even some gorgeous white sand beaches. When we visited Tampa, the Tampa Buccaneers were in the playoffs just before they won the championship. We weren’t able to go to the game (they were away) but we were able to go to a local bar and watch the game with some die-hard fans. It was awesome. If you are in town while they are playing or are able to plan around that, we would highly recommend doing so! That and the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)!
We liked walking around the Ybor district during the day and grabbing dinner here at night! The food is so good in this area. Be sure to check out the Tampa Bay Brewing Company. You can also head down to some of the beaches like David Island Beach or Picnic Island Beach.
Swimming with the manatees was an absolute dream for me! We both love animals and swimming with them up close and personal was so cool. We decided to go with a group Manatee Snorkeling tour to save on costs a bit. It was definitely worth it. American Pro Dive had a great tour guide, wet suits (which were needed), and even some hot cocoa for the ride back to shore.
Since manatees are in the springs of Florida from November – April, this isn’t a year-round activity. Although the water is relatively warm while you are swimming with them, the air outside is not. The coldest part for us was after we got out of the water. We had hot chocolate but wish we had more warm clothes!
If you are planning your road trip for a different time of year than the manatee season, we still recommend visiting the springs around Crystal River. They are gorgeous and so clear! They are great for SUP, kayaking, or even just swimming. Perfect for a hot Florida day.