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  • Lifeguard stand at the ready along a stretch of South Beach in Miami Beach
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    Enjoying the Culture of Miami & Fort Lauderdale

  • Relaxing on the beach and strolling a pier in Key West, Florida
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    Kicking Back in the Florida Keys

  • Toothy view of an alligator in the Florida Everglades
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    Discovering Nature in The Everglades

  • The Sanibel Island Lighthouse, a landmark since the 1880s on Sanibel Island
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    Beachfront Fun on the Southwest Gulf Coast

  • Colorful mural in the Ybor City cultural and entertainment district in Tampa
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    A Taste of Central Florida in Tampa

Sandy beach and calm ocean views in Key West, Florida
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Chasing the Sun through South Florida

  • Route distance:
    1123.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

A southern Florida road trip offers more than just sights – it opens the door to a much-loved way of life. If you're not careful, you might not leave.

Whether you're taking ample time to traverse the Sunshine State's southern half or you're in a race to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and set over the Gulf of Mexico, Florida's peninsula offers an array of sights, sounds, flavors and experiences. The state's well-connected network of highways and roads means four-wheeled travelers will be comfortable and accommodated while traversing the state by car.

01
Lifeguard stand at the ready along a stretch of South Beach in Miami Beach
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Enjoying the Culture of Miami & Fort Lauderdale

Known internationally as one of the USA’s most culturally rich, cosmopolitan cities, Miami is in many ways a world unto itself, filled with a brighter, more frenetic energy than the rest of the state that draws jet-setters from all points of the world. After flying into Miami International Airport (MIA), rent a car and fill your itinerary with stark Art Deco architecture, world-class nightlife and pristine stretches of beach. Once the moon is up, locals and visitors dance the night away in boutique hotel bars and local nightclubs. Well-heeled shoppers indulge in retail therapy along the no-cars-allowed stretch of Lincoln Road and amid the luxury shops of Collins Avenue.

Just 16 kilometers inland, locals and visitors alike savor the flavors of Little Havana, the epicenter of Cuban culture in Miami. Leisurely chess and domino matches and strong, sweet cortaditos are the order of the day each afternoon along Calle Ocho, a classic stretch of road lined with historic sites. Take a side trip north on Interstate 95; a 40-minute drive leads to Las Olas Boulevard, a mixed-use shopping district in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, bustling with shops, restaurants and plazas offering live entertainment under the sun or stars.

256 km
3 hours by car
02
Relaxing on the beach and strolling a pier in Key West, Florida
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Kicking Back in the Florida Keys

To experience the ultimate in casual Florida living, a trip south to the Florida Keys is a must. Iconic cultural references ranging from author Ernest Hemingway to musician Jimmy Buffett linger in the air here. From Miami, Highway 1 offers an eye-popping drive primarily along – and over – the water, passing through the tip of Florida's mainland and taking drivers through Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon, along the Seven Mile Bridge and finally to Key West, where a buoy marks the Southernmost Point of the Continental USA.

In Key West, beachcombers delight in visits to the Key West Aquarium, in operation since the 1940s, and the beachfront playground and fishing pier of Higgs Beach, which offers a vast array of water sports rentals. Those interested in a more deeply textured visit can linger at the African Cemetery, learning more about the coastline's anthropological past. To end each day, crowds gather at Mallory Square and watch the sun set over the water.

283 km
4 hours by car
03
Toothy view of an alligator in the Florida Everglades
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Discovering Nature in The Everglades

About four hours from Key West via Highway 1 is Florida's most unique experience for nature lovers: Everglades National Park. A stop at the Shark Valley Visitor Center provides a perfect introduction to the park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the USA. Visitors can encounter the area via walking tours across a comprehensive boardwalk system or on guided tram tours with experienced park personnel who provide insights about the local flora and fauna. Guests can also bike their way through portions of the swampy expanse; rentals are available at the visitor center.

For serious outdoor enthusiasts, an array of extended hiking and backcountry camping excursions are available, and experienced canoe and kayak operators can spend a week or more paddling the 160-kilometer Wilderness Waterway, getting their fill of peace and quiet amid the park's nine habitats. The quintessential way to make a memory in the Everglades, though, is with an airboat tour through the mangrove tunnels or grassy waters in and around the park.

117 km
1.5 hours by car
04
The Sanibel Island Lighthouse, a landmark since the 1880s on Sanibel Island
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Beachfront Fun on the Southwest Gulf Coast

Due northwest from Everglades National Park on Highway 41 is Naples, the starting point for your ascent through the southernmost cities of Florida's Gulf Coast. There are no ocean waves – only the gentle ebb and flow of the Gulf of Mexico's blue-green waters against the shore. Known as Florida's "Paradise Coast," Naples and Marco Island are dotted with hotels, resorts and golf courses providing perfect getaways on the waterfront. Or, choose the laid-back Fort Myers area, where Sanibel and Captiva islands offer quaint, quiet beach escapes – perfect for some relaxation before your final stop.

267 km
3 hours by car
05
Colorful mural in the Ybor City cultural and entertainment district in Tampa
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A Taste of Central Florida in Tampa

Continue north for a stop in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area, known for its sprawling residential base, beautiful beaches and a growing culinary scene. From St. Petersburg, a 30-minute drive inland across Tampa Bay leads to Tampa, a casual bayfront city that hosts plenty of sporting events and is a favorite among boaters. Its vibrant neighborhood restaurant scene offers flavorful cocktails alongside hearty portions of steak and seafood, and the neighboring cigar mecca Ybor City draws visitors to its tobacco shops and Cuban restaurants. Spend some time here before flying home from Tampa International Airport (TPA). Or, sign up for one last adventure: An hour's drive north on State Road 589 reaches Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, known for its retro water slides and live mermaid shows reminiscent of vintage water parks from the 1950s. What better way to end a tour of the sunniest state than with one last splash from the past?

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
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