The Ultimate Florida Road Trip in 10 Days
Florida is perfect state for road tripping, with lots of different things to do on the itinerary. This 10-day Florida road trip has it all; nature, night life, the beach, theme parks and science. We drove this road trip personally back in October of 2014.
Florida Road Trip
Day 1: Arrive at Miami
Day 2: Drive from Miami to Key West (264 kilometers/164 miles, about 3 hours and 10 minutes, with toll roads)
Day 3: Drive from Key West to Florida City (203 kilometers/126 miles, about 2.5 hours)
Day 4: Drive from Florida City to Bowling Green (396 kilometers/246 miles, about 4.5 hours)
Day 5: Drive from Bowling Green to Orlando (100 kilometers/62 miles, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, toll roads)
Day 6 + 7: Explore Disney World
Day 8: Explore Universal Studios
Day 9: Drive from Orlando to Titusville (113 kilometers/70 miles, about 1.5 hours)
Day 10: Drive from Titusville to Miami (340 kilometers/211 miles, about 3.5 hours, toll roads)
Day to Day Itinerary
So read further to see all the highlights on this Florida road trip.
Day 1: Miami
We arrived during the night on Miami Airport, so took the morning off to acclimate. In the afternoon we went to the beach, had ice cream and did a tour through Miami with Duck Tours. We loved this. The tour was engaging and fun for us as well as for our 4-year old. The tour was on water and on land, since the tour is with an amphibious vehicle.
There’s plenty to see and do in Miami to fill a whole day or you can be at the beach a whole day. It’s all a possibility.
Day 2: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
We drove to the Keys from Miami, and stopped at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. We were at this park over 4 hours, since we played at the beach and in the water and then did a glass bottom boat tour from more than 2 hours. It’s a beautiful park and there’s plenty to explore, mostly in and on the water. It’s also a good spot for diving. The glass bottom boat tour was a little bit to long for our son. However he did like that we could see the corals, fish and sights. There are corals, mangroves, sunken boats and statues to see in the ocean. One of the statues in the ocean is Christ Of The Deep. Paul and I loved the tour. The tour was more than 2 hours.
Day 2 + 3: Key West
After spending most of the day at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, drive the Overseas highway all the way to Key West. Make sure you arrive in Key West before the sun goes down. After checking in to your hotel, head to Mallory Square. There’s a Sunset Celebration here. The atmosphere is fantastic and it truly is one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. There’s lots of entertainment on the boulevard, such as jugglers and so on. On the day we were there, the Zombie Bike Ride was also happening, which happens once a year. Enter Duval Street for some evening vibes and food.
The next day explore Key West further. We started at the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.A. Then make your way to the Key West Lighthouse and the Hemmingway Home and Museum. We only climbed the stairs in the lighthouse, since we didn’t think our 4-year old son would be interested in a house from a famous writer he didn’t know. To keep a child interested and not disruptive on a tour he can’t understand (we’re Dutch and at that time Yuri didn’t understand English yet).
Day 3: Overseas Highway
In the afternoon drive the whole Overseas Highway. It’s beautiful to see the ocean and each island has its own attractions. We stopped at a playground, to have lunch and so that Yuri could play a bit. Then we stopped at a bake shop to have the famous key lime pie.
The Overseas Highway is also seen as the Florida Scenic Highway. Not everywhere on the road you can see the ocean, but on a few spots you can and then the views are mesmerizing.
Day 4: Everglades National Park
We had a whole afternoon at Everglades National Park. We stopped at two visitor centers, namely the Royal Palm Visitor Center and the Shark Valley Visitor Center. At the first visitor center we hiked the Gumbo Limbo Trail and the Anhinga Trail. We didn’t see a lot of alligators, since it was raining, and apparently they don’t show themselves much when it rains. We did see a lot of birds.
At the second visitor center we took the Shark Valley Tram Tours. We stopped at the Shark Valley Observation Tower and climbed up. On top are perfect views on the surrounding landscape. During the tour the ranger driving the tram gives explanation on what you see, where and what to look at. The tour takes about 2 hours, we saw some alligators and lots of birds. Our son found it boring, we however loved the tour.
In total we spend some 6 hours at the National Park.
Day 5 till 7: Walt Disney World Resort
It was our first time at Disney World and we loved it. We arrived on day 5 in the morning at the resort. We went to the Magic Kingdom Park on that day and the day after. On the last day we went to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park.
Our son loved the water park the most. In 3 days you could also try to see all the parks of Disney World, but to us this was perfect.
Day 8: Universal Islands of Adventure
We loved Universal Islands of Adventure and spend some 8 hours at the park. You can also opt to buy tickets for both parks. Then you also get to the ride the Harry Potter train.
If you ask me which park I like best, Disney or Universal? I can honestly say I don’t know. I enjoyed both of them equally.
Day 9: Kennedy Space Center
In the morning drive from Orlando to Titusville. You’re going to need a whole day to visit the Kennedy Space Center. It’s simply fantastic, even if you’re not a big space fan. We had 7 hours at the space center and loved every minute of it.
Day 10: Beach Day
We drove from Titusville to Miami Airport and on our way stopped at one of the many beaches at the East coast of Florida. Our flight home left in the evening, so we only had an hour on the beach. But if your flight leaves the net day, you could make it half a day on the beach.
Where to Eat
We had breakfast at most of our hotels in the morning. They almost all had a complimentary breakfast buffet. AT Disney the breakfast wasn’t included, but we did get our breakfast at our Disney hotel. Our second hotel in Orlando also didn’t have breakfast included, but we went to a breakfast buffet at a restaurant nearby. I just don’t know which one anymore.
Lunch was almost all days a picnic somewhere at a picnic table. There are some beautiful places in Florida were you can sit at a picnic table and enjoy your lunch.
At Disney we had lunch at The Lunching Pad at Rockettown Plaza and at The Friar’s Nook. At the last one they had good hot dogs.
Lunch at the Kennedy Space Center was at Sonny’s BBQ on the park.
The key lime pie we loved so much on the Florida Keys road trip part was from Sweet Savannah’s of the Florida Keys in Marathon on the Overseas Highway.
I don’t know all the places we had dinner at anymore, they were all at restaurants. Most however I still know.
We had dinner a few times at fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s at Duval Street in Key West, Denny’s at Cheney Hwy in Titusville and the McDonald’s at the Miami Airport.
In Homestead we had a delicious dinner at Canton Restaurant on NE 8th street. At Miami Airport Paul had dinner from Island Chicken Grill Airport.
At Disney we had dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom, which was seriously delicious. We also, twice, had dinner at the restaurant in our hotel.
Where to Stay
We stayed at 4 Best Westerns during our trip, at all of them we stayed one night. The first was Best Western Key Ambassador Resort, which is now Hampton Inn Key West. It’s on South Roosevelt Boulevard, it was one of the few hotels in Key West that accepted families. Lots of hotels are adult only. The hotel has a swimming pool. The second Best Western was in Florida City, the Best Western Gateway to the Keys. It has a swimming pool and is relatively close to Everglades National Park. In Bowling Green we stayed at the Best Western Heritage Inn & Suites, which has a swimming pool and is along highway 17. The last Best Western we stayed at on this road trip is in Titusville, the Best Western Space Shuttle Inn. It has a swimming pool and is not far away from the Kennedy Space Center.
In Miami we stayed 2 nights at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Windham Miami Airport West. We arrived late at night and had pre-booked this hotel. There’s a swimming pool and breakfast buffet.
At Disney World we stayed at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. It has several swimming pools, an arcade hall, entertainment, a large restaurant and fun props in theme with the hotel.
In Orlando we stayed at Orlando’s Sunshine Resort on Del Verde Way, which is now Bluegreen Vacations Orlando Sunshine Resort. The apartments are spacious with a living room, kitchen, balcony and washing machine and dryer. There’s a swimming pool and it’s really close to the Universal Resort.
When to Visit
This Florida road trip can be driven all year long. We drove it in October and had one day of rain, the other days we had beautiful sunny weather.
Florida has warm temperatures during the whole year. They’re a bit lower during the Winter months of December, January and February. The Summer is long from May to October. It can be humid. There can be downpours in July and August especially. It can be cloudy on some days. The lowest average temperature is in January with 14°C/57°F and the highest average temperature is 31°C/88°F in August.
Looking at the weather March April, September and October are the best months to visit.
The Atlantic Hurricane season is from June till November.
October was a fantastic month to visit to us, since the whole month there are Halloween events. As Dutch people we hadn’t realized us Halloween was a whole month event, we thought it was only on October 31st. But Key West has events the whole month. Lots of houses were decorated for Halloween and Disney had Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party.
Hiring a Car and Airport
We arrived and left from Miami International Airport. We rented a car from Alamo at Miami Airport.
- Book your Disney hotel early. We just drove to the hotel and booked at the counter, but we were in luck, since the hotel was already at 99% capacity, due to Halloween events.
- Try to plan your day at Everglades National Park on a dry day. You’ll see more alligators that way.
There are many Florida road trips possible. We think ours was fantastic.
If you’re less of a fan of theme parks shorten your stay there or skip them all together.
Day 1: Arrive at Miami. Explore Miami.
Day 2: Drive from Miami to Key Largo. A whole day to explore the state park.
Day 3: Drive from Key Largo to Key West.
Day 4: Explore Key West.
Day 5: Drive from Key West to Florida City.
Day 6: Drive from Florida City to Bowling Green. Explore Everglades National Park.
Day 7: Drive from Bowling Green to Orlando. Explore Disney World.
Day 8: Explore Universal Studios.
Day 9: Drive from Orlando to Titusville. Explore Kennedy Space Center.
Day 10: Drive from Titusville to Miami.
Day 1 till 5: As above.
Day 6: Explore Everglades National Park.
Day 7: Drive from Florida City to Titusville.
Day 8: Explore Kennedy Space Center.
Day 9: Drive from Titusville to Ft. Lauderdale. Beach Day.
Day 10: Drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami.
Day 1 till 5: Same as the original route.
Day 6: Explore Disney World.
Day 7+8: Explore Universal Studios.
Day 9+10: Same as the original route.
That Concludes Our Florida Road Trip
Hope you get to enjoy this beautiful, diverse road trip.
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Great informative post about different places and things to do in Florida! I have friends living near Tampa and hoping to go and visit at some stage and do a road trip as well especially after reading your road trip guide. Thanks!
Great information, I’d love to do a road trip like this at some point. Looks like it covered a lot of ground all the sites look amazing!
For all the times I have been in Florida, I have missed some of the things on your list. Driving down to Key West, however, was awesome.
This really was an ultimate road trip! Looks like so much fun and something I will definitely save for a future trip to Florida. Thanks for sharing your awesome experience!
YES! Love all the state and national park sites on this post… We explored quite a few in the northern part of Florida and they were wonderful!
I have been to Florida, but I would love to visit the Keys. This is a helpful guide to covering the best places in Florida. Thank you for the tips!
I’ve been to Florida many times and have never done a road trip. I will definitely need to incorprate some of these awesome stops into my next visit to Florida!
At Lifestyle Crossroads
Great itinerary for a family trip. I’m sure Disney or Universal are both not to be missed, but I’d be also interested to visit the Kennedy Space Center. Thanks for your tips!
Florida offers to much to do. I have been to a few of your suggested stops along the way like Key West, Miami, and the Everglades. I’ll have to check out some of your other recommendations next time I am in Florida.
My fav pic is Christ of the Deep.It must have been cool to see the underwater statues … Thanks for sharing the itinerary 😊
Adventures from where you want to be
Love the post, we loved Florida, we loved going over the Bob Graham Sunshine skyway Bridge, the bridge was about 4 miles long, we dont have anything like it in Australia.
Such a fun trip. I love everything you mentioned, especially sunset in the Keys. There’s so much to enjoy along your itinerary. Glad you threw in at least one beach day too! Great post.