Road trips are an American pastime. Few states are as well-suited to it as Florida. Unlike western states, Florida is barely above sea level –– so there are no enormous mountains or areas of wide open space to traverse. Any trip by automobile has its risks, though. If you are injured by another driver while road-tripping in Florida, you may want to speak with a Lakeland car accident attorney.
With 65,000 square miles of land mass –– and two time zones –– Florida is a lot bigger than most eastern states. Besides a variety of weather and cultures, it offers a greater diversity of diversions. For one, it boasts 1,200 miles of coastline –– with the Gulf of Mexico on the Western side and the Atlantic Ocean on the Eastern. A complete guide to road-tripping through Florida would be a very thick book, but here are some highlights.
The cliche in Florida that “the further North you go the more Southern it gets” reveals itself along the Northern Gulf Coast. Nicknamed the “Redneck Riviera,” it offers Southern charm, small restaurants, and skyscraper condos. You can travel I-10 the 200 miles from Pensacola to Tallahassee or opt for the slower, coastal FL 20.
While Panama City Beach is famed for its nightlife and Spring Break revelry, smaller towns like Fort Walton Beach provide pleasant reminders of the state’s past. Nearby St. Andrew’s Bay boasts the world’s largest population of bottle-nose dolphins, where boat tours let you see them up close and personal.
Continuing along the I-10 to the East, you can visit state capital, Tallahassee. Political junkies will enjoy a very walkable tour of the House and Senate buildings, while football fans will want to check out SEC champs, the Florida State Seminoles.
Along the Gulf coast, Naples offers some of the best beaches in Florida, plus everything from high-end shopping to top-rated restaurants. Nearby Marco Island offers both natural attractions and well-appointed resorts.
From here you can venture into the Everglades via I-75 South, taking exit 101 on County Road 951 and heading to Marco Island, you’ll take a left at the intersection of US-41 South. The sign for Collier-Seminole State Park lets you know that you’ve entered the Everglades. Just keep an eye out. At night, panthers and alligators often cross the road. For a different sort of wildlife, consider a few days enjoying the Southernmost point in the United States.
Heading South along the US-1 from Miami, expect to spend four hours traveling this highway into the Keys. At the halfway point, Marathon Key boasts cheaper food and lodging than Key West as well as the Dolphin Research Center and The Turtle Hospital –– where you can spend time with sea turtles in recovery.
In Key West, the home of famed writer Ernest Hemingway can be toured. You can also opt for the Duval Crawl ––venturing into numerous bars lining the street. Just 90 miles from Cuba, Key West’s relaxed island vibe is different from anywhere else in the state. Many visitors have decided to become a local.
Back on dry land, Miami Beach is famous around the world and for good reason. The Art Deco district offers tours that take visitors back to the style’s heyday in the 1930s.
Visitors hoping to get out of their comfort zone can imbibe at nightclubs that serve drinks until dawn or lose their inhibitions at Haulover Beach, Florida’s best known nude beach.
Taking I-95 N will speed travelers to Ft. Lauderdale and to Palm Beach. Or, you can conclude your road trip with a visit to two world famous landmarks. More than just a home to history, including the Apollo launches, today Cape Canaveral offers visitors the chance to watch manned and unmanned SpaceX rockets take off. Further north, St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in the United States. Any of these attractions will not only round out a road trip but offer diversions that can last for days.