American road trips are iconic, and the routes to and from Florida hold some of the most beautiful views in the USA.
If you’re considering a trip to Florida, discover it by car. To help you out, we’ve selected some of the best routes that promise an incredible journey whether you go alone, with family or with friends.
Discover the Overseas Highway
Miami to Key West
Begin your adventure on the road in enigmatic Miami, bypassing the Everglades and heading across the Overseas Highway to Key West. Leading you from the bright lights and famous beaches of the city to the string of islands that make up the Florida Keys, you’ll witness thriving Latin-American culture, stunning landscapes and some of nature’s most breath-taking views on your journey.
Once you’ve landed in Miami, we suggest spending a day taking it all in before you hit the road. Whether you prefer to soak up the sunshine on South Beach or experience the intriguing Art Deco Historic District, there’s something here for everyone.
Jump in your car when you’re ready to go, and head to Route 1 to begin your trip towards the Overseas Highway. You’ll pass the Everglades National Park as you get closer to the shore, and with a small detour you can reach the well-known Everglades Alligator Farm. If reptiles, swamps and airboats aren’t quite your thing however, you might prefer to just admire the Southern Glades as you drive by.
Carry on across the water until you reach Key Largo, the northernmost island in the Florida Keys. With your first taste of island life underway, we have a feeling you won’t be able to resist the turquoise sea. Go kayaking, swim with dolphins and don’t miss the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park where scuba diving, snorkelling and glass-bottom boat tours await!
If you continue your trip for half an hour, you’ll reach Islamorada. Crowned the ‘Village of Islands’, six of the Keys can be found here. A must for any visitor is feeding the tarpon from Robbie’s Marina – both adults and kids alike will love the experience.
Your next stop should be Marathon and, as you’ll be hungry after your travels, make sure to sample the local cuisine – Fish Tales Market and Butterfly CafÃ© both receive glowing reviews. A trip to the historic Pigeon Key Island will take you back in time, while you can learn about loggerhead turtles at The Turtle Hospital.
Finally, Key West will be on the horizon as you reach the end of the Overseas Highway. A true paradise on earth, the southernmost point of the Florida Keys is much livelier than the other islands, with its vibrant nightlife, festivals and parades taking place throughout the year. Still, nature remains the true allure of Key West and the sublime sunsets here will leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits.
Travel across the East Coast
Boston to Miami
Travel across America’s iconic East Coast, a journey that covers over 1,600 miles and will take a total of 26 hours to complete. Of course, you might want to set a week or more aside for this road trip – you’ll stop off in some incredible locations and pass through multiple states, including Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina and more.
Your route? Start at Boston and continue through to New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC before discovering the old city of Charleston. Savannah is up next with the nearby Sea Islands offering plenty of opportunities to relax after a long day on the road. Finally, your last stop before Miami will be the fantastic Cape Canaveral – home to the Kennedy Space Center.
Add Fenway Park, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Freedom Trial to your ‘to do’ list as soon as you land in Boston, a city rich in history. From here, the Big Apple is just under four hours away – so fill your car with snacks or enjoy some of Boston’s famous clam chowder before you begin your drive.
New York is packed with sights, and if you’ve never been before you might prefer to dedicate a few days to the city. Relax and take a stroll about Central Park, visit the Statue of Liberty, enjoy a fun-filled afternoon at Coney Island and don’t forget to go to the Empire State Building.
If you’re intrigued by politics, the financial world and American history, you’ll love the next two stops en route. You’ll pass through Philadelphia first, the home of the Liberty Bell Center and the Independence Hall – the place where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed! Washington DC meanwhile, is a further three hours on, and you’ll drive through the incredible city of Baltimore on your way.
Next up is South Carolina’s oldest city, Charleston. You’ll need to take Highway 12 to get here, and as soon as you reach it you’ll instantly admire the pretty architecture. It’s on the smaller side but full of charm – don’t forget to take a picture of the Ravenel Bridge or catch a show at Dock Street Theatre, it’s been there since 1809!
The final leg of your journey will lead you through Georgia and the coastal city of Savannah onto the chain of barrier islands known as Sea Islands. There are so many to choose from, including Amelia Island, the scenic Driftwood Beach and Jekyll Island, sitting nicely just before the state of Florida.
Cape Canaveral is your second-to-last stop, and every visitor needs to experience the Kennedy Space Center while they’re here. Brevard Zoo is a great place for kids too, and the Manatee Sanctuary Park offers a quiet, riverside location to enjoy a picnic in the sun. Afterwards? The busy city of Miami awaits, where you’ll end your journey along the beautiful East Coast!
The Florida Panhandle
Pensacola to Orlando
Even if you keep to mainland Florida, adventure can still easily be found. Starting in Pensacola, driving along the Florida Panhandle is a popular choice for those with a case of wanderlust, and the road will take you from Pensacola right across to Orlando.
The car journey’s 8 hours and 30 minutes, and the amazing sights will easily keep you all entertained. When you touch down in Pensacola International Airport, your first leg of the journey will last just over an hour, taking you along the charming Emerald Coast to the city of Destin. With its world-class harbours and white sands, it’s a truly beautiful area to visit. Known as the luckiest fishing village in the world, sampling the local seafood here is a must, particularly from one of the many beachfront restaurants! You can also enjoy a round of golf on the glorious greens here, or take your children to Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park if you’d like to spend a little more time in Destin.
Next up, it’s Panama City Beach. Make sure to pack your swimsuit, as this leg is home to 27 miles of clear sands and two State Parks – St. Andrews and Camp Helen – here you’ll be able to enjoy nature at its most beautiful. Swim with Dolphins, go snorkelling or even try parasailing – it’s the ideal place for water sports. Be sure to make the most of the sea, as you’ll be heading inland from now on!
Panama City Beach to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, will last two hours. Using Highway 98 to cross over the water, you can be at your new destination in just over two hours. A major college town, there are loads of quirky cafes and grills to explore and the city itself has a fascinating history – you can learn all about it at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. The 52-acre, outdoor Tallahassee Museum is pretty special too, there’s over 50 different flora and fauna within the grounds – don’t forget to say hello to the otters!
A road trip you’ll always remember, the final stretch to Orlando will take just under four hours, unless you’d rather take the scenic route along the coast and visit the Cedar Key which will add an extra 1 hour and ten minutes to your overall journey. Enjoy the breeze through your hair as you arrive in the city, and take your pick from the world-class theme parks dotted throughout the city, including Walt Disney World Florida, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld.
Experience Orlando to Miami
If you’re visiting Orlando, why not consider a road trip to Miami. A shorter route than the above, the journey down the coast will take just over five hours.
Pack the car, jump in the front seat and begin your journey by crossing the Indian River and the Banana River to Cape Canaveral. While you’ll need to come back on yourself to visit Vero Beach, we promise it’ll be worth the detour. The magical city was discovered way back in 1513 , but today it’s home to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. With so many spacecraft launched here, it’s no surprise it’s part of the Space Coast!
After a day spent learning about space, head back and continue south to Vero Beach. You’ll need to take Highway 95, passing through the beautiful forests of St. Sebastian State Park on your way. Vero Beach is a small city, with its golden beaches offering a lovely spot to rest, recharge and then continue on – straight to another stunning coastal city, West Palm Beach.
Fort Lauderdale is up next, and if you choose to stop before travelling a further 40 minutes to Miami, you’ll undercover a city famous for its art, culture and picture-perfect scenery. Take a leisurely stroll down the peaceful Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk, head to Millionaire’s Row to marvel at the huge yachts, and get close to alligators at Sawgrass Recreation Park.
Your journey comes to an end at lively Miami. During the day, visit Little Havana or shop on the luxurious Lincoln Road before spending your evening discovering the nightlife the city is so well known for!
From Orlando to the Gulf Coast
The ultimate road trip across central and southern Florida, the Orlando to the Gulf Coast route ensures you’ll experience sites of incredible natural beauty, vibrant urban life and the serene tranquillity of the Gulf Coast.
Once you’ve made the most of Orlando, sampling the famous Key Lime Pie and taking on the thrilling rides found in theme parks like Walt Disney World Florida and Universal Orlando, it’s time to take to the road. Combine the routes from Orlando to Miami and Miami to Key West for an unforgettable adventure.
Consisting of 459 miles, ten exciting stop-offs are on the horizon. Of course, if you fancy skipping one or two, or prefer to add your own points into the mix, go ahead – it’s simple to do. The route is as follows:
- Cape Canaveral
- Vero Beach
- West Palm Beach
- Fort Lauderdale
- Key Largo
- Key West
You’ll be bypassing the incredible Everglades too – definitely a place nature lovers might want to add to their agenda – and there are many smaller, less inhabited islands in the Florida Keys for those who aren’t afraid to venture away from the Overseas Highway!
Excited to hit the road and experience the best of the US by road? If you’re planning a trip to Florida, don’t forget to take a look at the many other guides on Secret Florida. Whether you’re stopping in Fort Lauderdale for two hours or spending three days in Miami, we’ll help you discover the very best places to visit, shop and dine.