Are you ready for the ultimate road trip adventure? Look no further than the sunshine state of Florida! With its stunning beaches, vibrant cities and endless attractions, Florida offers an abundance of exciting experiences for every traveller.
From exploring the magical world of Disney to diving into crystal-clear springs or indulging in delicious Cuban cuisine in Miami, a road trip through Florida promises to be an unforgettable journey.
We went on a family trip across the Sunshine State in May of 2013. We had wanted to explore somewhere new and so Sukh suggested Florida. All I wanted was beautiful beaches, to relax by the pool and good food. After all, we had a seven-year-old and a three-year-old, so I wanted something easy.
Florida seemed appealing as we’re huge fans of the States. We’ve been to LA and Las Vegas a few times, and Hawaii was our honeymoon destination. We had never been to the East Coast so I started looking into it.
Must-See Destinations in Florida
Key West was a quick addition to our shortlist, as was Clearwater. We weren’t keen on doing any of the theme parks this time round. The kids were too young and we wanted to undertake a costly trip like that when they could appreciate it. (We did the big Orlando vacation four years later).
As we went through the options of the beautiful beaches, towns and cities on offer, we added places we felt were a must. We knew nothing of these areas and had never even heard of some of them. Before now, I had thought Venice and Naples were only places in Italy.There was Sanibel Island, St Petersburg, Fort Myers. We looked up each place that had some appeal for us – whether it was a beautiful beach, known for it’s food, or whether there were family-friendly activities.
One of the places Sukh was keen on visiting was Tampa and that was solely because he wanted to drop in to Hulk Hogan’s Beach restaurant. As a wrestling fan, this was a must-see, must-do for him. So it went on to our shortlist.
Planning our road trip
We could have booked a road trip adventure with a travel operator but we wanted the independence to explore how and when we wanted. If there was a place we particularly liked, we wanted to have the option to hang around a day or two longer. So we set about creating our own route.
Once we were done scribbling notes and looking at what we could do at each location, it was time to book our flights.Flying into Miami was the cheapest option for us. No matter what route we eventually decided to take around the state, it would start from there.
We had to be meticulous with our planning. We needed to know how long we wanted to stay in each location, what we wanted to do there, what time we would need to set off for a new town, how long the drive would be and where we wanted to stay. After looking at a map of Florida, we came up a route.
We would start in Miami and drive all the way up to Orlando, back down to Tampa, then onto St Petes, moving onto Clearwater, driving down to Fort Myers followed by Sanibel Island.
Venice would be our next stop, then Naples, driving down to Key West and then back to Miami to catch our flight home.
Flexibility of a road trip adventure
We decided the only way to really give ourselves flexibility as well as make the planning simpler, was to only book our first and last hotels. We booked our first night in Miami after we landed and decided we would head to Orlando very early in the morning.
As we were also flying out of Miami, we booked a different hotel for the last couple of nights.
Between those pre-booked hotels, we were on our own. We had no idea where we would be resting our head from one night to another. All we knew is the area we would be in.It was a huge risk with two young kids in tow but it was exciting. It was the US after all, there would be so many motels we could choose from and what was there to worry about? As long as we had fuel in the tank, food in our bellies and money, we would make this an adventure to remember.
There are plenty of things to do in Florida, which I will share in a later post. I’m here to be your guide through the stages of planning, ensuring that you make the most out of your time in this diverse and captivating destination. So buckle up and get ready for an incredible adventure along the open roads of Florida!
Step 1: Setting the Stage
Decide on Dates and Duration for your big road trip adventure
Begin by determining the dates for your road trip. How long do you want your road trip to be? This depends on how much time you have available and what places in Florida you’d like to visit. It’s important to strike a balance between exploring multiple destinations without feeling rushed or exhausted from driving long distances every day.
Consider The Weather
The weather in Florida can vary throughout the year. If you prefer warm temperatures and sunshine, plan your road trip during the spring or Autumn when it’s not too hot or humid. Keep in mind that summer months tend to be crowded with tourists, so if you’re looking for a quieter experience, consider visiting during off-peak seasons like late fall or early spring.
Research Festivals and Events
Florida is known for its vibrant festivals and events that cater to different interests such as art, music, food, sports and more. Check out what events are happening during your preferred travel dates and see if any catch your interest. Attending a festival can add an extra fun element to your road trip!
Choose Your Starting Point
Florida has several entry points, whether you’re flying in and renting a car or driving from a neighbouring state. Orlando and Miami are popular starting locations due to their airports and accessibility. Miami was the cheapest option for us on our road trip.
Establish Your Interests and Must-See Destinations
Florida is diverse, offering a range of attractions. Consider what interests you most: beaches, theme parks, nature reserves, cultural sites or a mix of everything. Highlight the must-visit places on your itinerary.
Step 2: Crafting the Itinerary
Create a Flexible Route for your road trip adventure
Plan a rough route that covers your desired destinations but allows flexibility for spontaneous detours or extended stays in places you find particularly captivating. Florida’s major cities like Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville can serve as anchor points.
Explore Florida’s Diverse Regions
Divide your trip into segments to explore Florida’s different regions. Consider visiting the lively South Beach in Miami, the enchanting Everglades in the south, the theme parks of Orlando in Central Florida, and the historical charm of St. Augustine in the northeast.
Research Accommodations and Reservations
Book accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons to ensure availability and better rates. Options range from beachfront resorts, cosy bed and breakfasts, to budget-friendly motels and campgrounds.
We only booked our first and last hotels to give us flexibility but in hindsight, we should have booked something in advance for Memorial Day. We spent two hours just driving around Fort Myers looking for a place to stay.
Step 3: Essential Preparations
Check Vehicle Readiness
Before hitting the road, ensure your car or rental is in optimal condition. If you’re driving your own car, schedule a maintenance check, top up fluids, check tyre pressure and pack emergency supplies including a spare tire, jump cables and a first-aid kit. If you’re driving a rental, most of those checks will already be done for you but top up your fuel so you’re prepared.
Pack Smartly for your road trip adventure
Florida’s climate can vary, so pack clothing suitable for warm weather but also bring layers for cooler evenings. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and insect repellent. Additionally, pack a road trip playlist and snacks.
We were living out of suitcases, so we had to ensure we weren’t rummaging through our belongings night after night. As soon as we checked into our hotel for the night, I would organise what we needed for the next day to make things easier while on the road.
Understand Local Laws and Regulations
Familiarise yourself with Florida’s traffic laws, parking regulations, toll roads and speed limits to ensure a smooth driving experience. Make sure you have a GPS or install a navigation app on your phone in advance.
Step 4: Making the Most of Your road trip adventure
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Explore Florida’s breathtaking natural beauty by visiting the Everglades National Park, the Florida Keys, or the pristine beaches along the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Ocean.
Indulge in Theme Park Thrills
Discover Cultural and Historical Treasures
Enjoy Culinary Delights
Savour the diverse cuisine that Florida offers, from fresh seafood in coastal towns to Cuban sandwiches in Miami and Southern comfort food in the Panhandle. We love Thai food as a family and we ate some of the best Thai food in Florida.
Step 5: Be Flexible on your road trip adventure
While planning is essential, leave room for spontaneity. Sometimes, the best and most unforgettable moments happen by pure chance. You stumble upon something unexpectedly and it turns into a remarkable experience.
The allure of Florida is found in its remarkable versatility. Embrace the opportunity to adapt your plans by considering suggestions from locals or fellow travellers. Their insights might unveil hidden gems and enrich your experience.
Plan for Rest Days on your road trip adventure
Remember, road trips can be tiring, so it’s crucial to plan for rest days along the way. These are days when you take a break from driving and explore the area around your chosen pitstop. We had seven-year-old and a three-year-old, so we made
Going on a road trip in Florida means you’re in for a mix of cool scenery, exciting stuff to do and interesting cultural things. Plan your trip carefully but also be ready to change plans a bit. That way, you can really enjoy your journey through Florida. There are awesome beaches, busy cities and amazing natural sights to see. Florida is a place that will stay with you and make great memories. So, get in the car, buckle up, and be ready for an awesome road trip in Florida!