The Sunshine State is awash with scenic routes and breathtaking spots, which are best explored via road trips. Here are some of the best Florida road trips.
What are the best road trip routes in Florida?
Some of the best Florida road trips include Pensacola to Weeki Wachee, Miami to Key West, Tampa to Jacksonville, Naples to Miami, Sanibel Island to Lovers Key and Fort Myers to Palatka. These road trips are ideal for outdoor lovers across all niches.
With year-round sunshine, lush forests, miles of pristine beaches, historical landmarks, quaint small towns and exciting amusement parks, Florida offers endless opportunities for outdoor lovers.
And, the best way to explore all these amazing places, sites and spots in the Sunshine State is through a road trip.
But, with so many incredible road trip options, deciding where to go first can be a challenge. Fortunately, we are here to help. In this guide, we’ve identified the top 6 Florida road trips for outdoor lovers.
Pensacola to Weeki Wachee
The Pensacola to Weeki Wachee is the ideal road trip for those looking to explore hot springs, seafood cuisines and marine wildlife.
Spanning around 520 miles, this Florida road trip will take you through the northwestern part of the state, famous for its stunning beaches.
For this road trip, you will begin your journey at Gulf Shores, located in Baldwin County. You will then pass through a couple of beaches in the area such as Orange Beach, Panama City Beach and Miramar Beach.
These beaches are renowned for their oceanfront restaurants, where you can relax and unwind over fresh seafood and beer.
Make sure you sample some local delicacies served with oysters, Pensacola Snapper fish, stone crab and spiny lobsters.
From these beaches, you will then proceed to Madison. You can opt to spend the night here and then continue with your journey the following day.
Motels here are quite affordable.
From Madison, you should then make a stop at Gainesville, where you can explore some natural hot springs in the area such as Ichetucknee Springs, Ginnie Springs or Gilchrist Blue springs. You can ask the locals for recommendations.
Once you’ve had your fill of the hot springs in Gainesville, you can then proceed to Crystal River, where you will have an opportunity to swim with manatees. Your road trip will then terminate at Weeki Wachee.
Here you can visit the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where you can enjoy activities like riverboat cruises, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and lounging on the beach.
Miami to Key West
The Miami to Key West route is, without a doubt, one of the most scenic drives in the Sunshine State.
And, if you are going for this road trip during the summer months, there’s a high chance you will come across hundreds of other road-trippers on the way.
Whether you love exploring historical sites, sunbathing on the beach or spending time in nature, there’s something for everyone on this road trip. This is one of the best Florida road trips.
You will begin your trip in Miami.
Here, you can spend time relaxing on its world-famous beaches, eating or stocking up on some necessary supplies. Make sure you head over to Miami Beach for an hour or so while here.
If you love outdoor adventures, you should check out Oleta River State Park, where you can partake in activities like biking, hiking, or kayaking. You can also head over to the Everglades to see alligators.
It will be advisable to spend at least two days in Miami if you are not a local, to fully enjoy this wonderful city and its beautiful surroundings. In the evenings, you can bar-hop to experience its vibrant city life.
From Miami, you will then hit Highway 1. There are plenty of delightful sights and attractions along the way. Therefore, you will have lots of opportunities to shoot pictures or videos and stretch your legs, as you head to the Keys.
Along the way, you will pass through some of the most beautiful beaches and several stunning state parks like Bahia Honda State Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Rain Barrel Artisan Village, Turtle Hospital and Dolphin Research Center, just to name a few.
Once you arrive in Key West, you can explore some of its beaches and visit historical spots like the Hemingway Home and Museum, Truman Little White House, and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Tampa to Jacksonville
If you are a beer lover, then you should add this route to your Florida road trips list. It will take you through some of the best breweries in the state, where you will have an opportunity to sample and even buy some to take home.
Your road trip will kick off in the Tampa Bay Area.
This area has a thriving beer industry. It’s home to Cigar City Brewing – one of the most famous breweries in the entire state. Other breweries to check out here include Green Bench Brewing Company and Cycle Brewing.
While in Tampa, you should also visit the downtown district, Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa Bay History Center, Big Cat Rescue, historic Ybor City, Lettuce Lake Regional Park, Busch Gardens and Tampa River Walk.
From Tampa, you should then head to Orlando. Here, you should check out a local brewery known as Crooked Can.
Here, you can enjoy a beer or even grab lunch at the facility’s restaurant. Another brewery that you should visit in the area is Orange Blossom Brewing Company.
If you’ve finished exploring the breweries in Orlando, you should then proceed to Titusville, home to the Playalinda Brewing Company. Here, you will have an opportunity to explore the facility’s 100-year-old renovated hardware store and a brewpub built in a renovated lumberyard.
Your brewery tour will then end at Jacksonville, another brewery mecca of this state. Here, you should check out the Wicked Barley Brewing Company, with its outstanding range of beers.
Also, this brewery hosts numerous events and activities throughout the year such as holiday brunches.
While here, make sure you visit Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville Beach, which are among the best beach towns in the Sunshine State. Other things to do here include strolling the Jacksonville River, chilling on the beaches, hiking at Big Talbot Islands State Park, and visiting Amelia Island.
Naples to Miami
If your idea of a road trip entails immersing yourself in nature every mile of the way, then this drive from Naples to Miami through the Tamiami Trail will be a perfect fit for you.
Your road trip will start in Naples on the Gulf Coast.
From there, you will head southeast, cutting through several national parks like Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Preserve and Everglades National Park.
The Big Cypress National Park is renowned for its live alligators while the Everglades National Park has numerous activities to keep kids engaged – if you are traveling with them.
Other activities in the Everglades National Park include biking, hiking, tram tours, airboat rides and canoe tours. Whichever activity you choose, you will have an opportunity to explore the park’s diverse flora and fauna.
Popular activities at the Biscayne National Park include hiking the Point Jetty Trail, exploring the historic Stilstville, fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as visiting nearby keys like Boca Chita, Adams and Elliott.
Scenic nature parks and gardens await you in Miami.
Some of the most picturesque ones include Barnacle Historic State Park, Everglades National Park, Lion Country Safari, South Pointe Park, Oleta River State Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Sanibel Island to Lovers Key
The Sanibel Island to Lovers Key route is one of the best Florida road trips for those who only have time for a short road trip. Sanibel Island sits at the location where the Caloosahatchee River flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
While you are on this island, you can simply relax on one of its breathtaking beaches, head to the lighthouse and enjoy a meal at Lighthouse Cafe, collect seashells, or watch sunsets.
If you are a nature lover, then the island also has a couple of wildlife refuges, with the largest one being the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Here, you can bike, hike or even drive through the area as you explore the various species of wildlife.
From Sanibel Island, you will head downtown and the road will lead you to Fort Myers. Here, you can explore some of its quaint antique shops, historic buildings and amazing restaurants.
After you’ve finished your exploration of Fort Myers, you will then proceed to Lovers Key State Park.
This state park features two miles of pristine beaches surrounded by mangroves. You can then relax and sunbathe on the beach or go on a wildlife tour on a boat or kayak.
Manatees, various species of birds and dolphins are common sightings here.
Fort Myers to Palatka
The Fort Myers to Palatka drive is one of the best Florida road trips for a couple seeking a romantic getaway.
This route will take you through charming quaint towns, uncrowded beaches, and spectacular nature parks.
In Fort Myers, you should visit Fort Myers Beach, stretching from Bowditch Point Park all the way to Lovers Key State Park. Here, you should take a stroll on the Times Square pier, where you will find dozens of ice cream parlors, food stalls selling seafood, souvenir stands and picnic tables.
After you’ve had enough of Fort Myers, you should then drive northeast, and the road will lead you to Lake Okeechobee. This scenic lake is surrounded by miles of hiking trails. It also offers fishing opportunities.
Once you’ve finished your adventures at Lake Okeechobee, you will then continue northwards, through Highland Hammock State Park and past Osceola. You can then make a brief stopover and explore some theme parks in the area, including the famous World Disney World.
Silver Springs State Park is also located in this area. This expansive estate features nature trails, a lake, picnic areas, boats and a museum.
You can spend a couple of hours here enjoying the fresh air and soaking in the beautiful surroundings.
Your road trip will then come to a close at Palatka. This laid-back rural city is located close to several Atlantic beaches. Also, there’s the Ravine Gardens State Park, where you can spot different types of animals.
This city is also known for the Lightner Museum and Riverfront Park, as well as a couple of craft breweries.
- Florida has numerous scenic routes and spots for road trips
- These road trips are ideal for all types of outdoor enthusiasts
- You can explore islands, beaches, national parks, small towns and more
- Early spring or fall are the best times for Florida road trips