If you need a summer vacation idea or are looking for spring break next year, you’re going to need to consider Florida. As a native Floridian, I still find new beaches to visit and new activities to try. One of my favorite ways to explore Florida is with a road trip down the Gulf Coast, across Alligator Alley, and all the way to Key West. From beautiful blue-green water, snorkeling destinations, and the nightlife of Miami Beach, this is a great list to help you plan a fun vacation for all ages!
Once your car is ready for the road, let’s go! You could fly into Orlando to start and stop at a theme park or two before getting ready for beaches and sunshine. Drive west to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Clearwater Beach is one of my favorite spots, and Dunedin is a great small town to eat and drink.
1. The Gulf Coast. Explore Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, and Siesta Key. The white sand of Siesta Key has consistently helped rank this beach as one of the best in the world. There are delicious restaurants in walking distance, and this is a popular tourist destination.
2. Southwest Florida. After exploring the beaches north of southwest Florida, it’s time to head south to Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Naples. This area is known for shelling and Sanibel Island offers an Old Florida feel. Naples has ritzy areas to walk through and go boating!
3. Miami. Drive east on Alligator Alley to hit Miami Beach. See what the hype is all about on the beaches of Atlantic Ocean! Watch the sunrise after staying up all night enjoying the nightlife. You can also Explore Palm Beaches in Florida.
4. The Upper Keys. Head south and fall in love with the Florida Keys. Go snorkeling at Pennekamp State Park and sample key lime pie at one of the roadside stops. There are delicious seafood restaurants in Key Largo, Islamorada, and Marathon. Some of my favorites include Lorelai, the Islamorada Fish Company (it’s a chain, but this is a beautiful location!), and The Island Fish Co.
5. Key West. If you’ve never been to Florida, you might not realize just how FAR Key West can be! It’s several hours south but it is SO worth the trip. The blue waters surrounding the 7 Mile Bridge will remind you just how beautiful Florida can be. When you make it to Key West, enjoy the restaurants and outdoor activities. Head to the lighthouse, the Hemingway House, or Fort Zachary State Park. I love Key West in December! There’s small rocky beaches in the Keys — nothing like the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast!