How to Take the Ultimate Florida Road Trip
Lapped by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, the southeastern US state of Florida is best known for its Disney parks and glittering cities. However, what many travelers overlook is the incredible natural beauty and diverse attractions that can be found along the state’s highways and byways. If you’re looking to experience the true essence of Florida, a road trip is the way to go. Here’s how to take the ultimate Florida road trip:
1. Plan your Route
- Start in Miami: Begin your road trip in the vibrant city of Miami. Spend a few days exploring the iconic South Beach, indulging in delicious Cuban cuisine in Little Havana, and checking out the world-class art collections in the Wynwood district.
- Visit the Everglades: Head west from Miami and make a stop at Everglades National Park. Take an airboat ride through the mangrove swamps, spot alligators in their natural habitat, and immerse yourself in the unique ecosystem of the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.
- Explore the Florida Keys: Continue driving south and make your way to the Florida Keys. This string of tropical islands offers stunning beaches, excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities, and the chance to drive along the iconic Overseas Highway. Don’t miss Key West, known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning sunsets.
- Discover the Gulf Coast: Now it’s time to head north along the Gulf Coast. Stop at Naples to enjoy its luxurious resorts and pristine beaches. Continue to Sarasota, known for its vibrant cultural scene and beautiful barrier islands. Further north, visit the charming city of St. Petersburg, home to the renowned Salvador Dali Museum.
- Experience the Emerald Coast: Continue your road trip to the northwest corner of the state, where you’ll find the stunning Emerald Coast. With its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, this stretch of coastline is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Don’t forget to visit the popular beach towns of Destin and Fort Walton Beach.
2. Embrace the Outdoors
Florida is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, so make sure to embrace the outdoors during your road trip:
- Go hiking and wildlife spotting in the Everglades. Keep an eye out for unique species like the Florida panther and manatees.
- Snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters of the Florida Keys. Explore vibrant coral reefs and swim alongside colorful marine life.
- Take a kayak or paddleboard tour in the mangrove forests of the Gulf Coast. Discover hidden coves and enjoy the serene beauty of the coastal wetlands.
- Relax on the stunning beaches of the Emerald Coast. Whether you prefer sunbathing or water activities, there’s something for everyone.
3. Immerse Yourself in Florida’s Culture
Florida is a melting pot of cultures, and its vibrant heritage can be experienced throughout the state:
- Explore the art and history museums in Miami, which showcase both contemporary and traditional works.
- Indulge in the Latin flavors of Cuban cuisine in Miami’s Little Havana.
- Visit the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, where the famous writer lived and wrote some of his most iconic works.
- Discover the arts scene in Sarasota, with its numerous theaters, galleries, and performing arts venues.
- Experience the lively music and nightlife in the beach towns along the Gulf Coast.
4. Sample the Local Cuisine
A road trip through Florida wouldn’t be complete without trying some of the state’s delicious culinary specialties:
- Indulge in fresh seafood along the Gulf Coast. From oysters and shrimp to fish tacos and crab cakes, there’s something to satisfy every seafood lover.
- Taste the famous key lime pie in the Florida Keys. This tangy and sweet dessert is a must-try.
- Try the diverse flavors of Miami’s food scene, from authentic Cuban dishes to fusion creations.
- Sip on a refreshing mojito or rum cocktail while watching the sunset in Key West.
- Sample the hearty Southern cuisine in the charming towns along the way. Don’t miss Florida’s famous stone crab claws.