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Taking a Florida Roadtrip

  1. Dec 11, 2013 #1
    This new years I'm taking a trip down the east coast of Florida. A few places I wanted to stop by were St. Augustine, Orlando, possibly Cape Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Key Largo. I wanted to visit all the good beaches, so possibly Daytona beach. But I don't want to miss anything really cool while I'm down there. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I shouldn't miss, and what I should see while I'm there? I don't plan to spend a bunch of money. It's really just a sightseeing trip. Is it worth it to travel down to the end of the Florida keys? It would be a few extra hours of driving, but I'm not sure when I'd ever get to go down there again. Thanks.
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  3. Dec 11, 2013 #2


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    My wife and I went there last year. We stayed in a nice B&B (Mermaid and the Alligator) for three days and wandered all over Key West. It was definitely worth the drive.
  4. Dec 11, 2013 #3


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    I've only been to Miami and Key West. I was shocked at Miami - bars on every window, jeez! And Key West was sooooo touristy. Nice chickens though.

    Can you get much into the Everglades? That would be amazing, I think!
  5. Dec 11, 2013 #4


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    Where are you starting from, originally?

    If you have time, use I-95 as little as you can. Take A1A (which runs along the barrier island) whenever you can, and US 1 when you can't. It's slow going. About 25 years ago it took me probably about ten hours to get from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale this way, without any major stops along the way. It would probably take longer now.

    If you want to glimpse the lifestyles of the rich and famous, take a swing through Palm Beach. When my retired parents were living in Ft. Lauderdale, our traditional Christmas Day excursion was up A1A to Palm Beach, and then a stop to visit friends in Lake Worth before heading home via US 1.

    The drive beyond Key Largo to Key West is very scenic. Key West is touristy, but it's worth a day if you can swing it. For historical sights, there's the Hemingway house and Harry Truman's "little White House". Watch the sunset. Do some bar-hopping on Duval St. if you're into that sort of thing.

    On the way back, if you have a lot of time, consider heading north through inland Florida which is very different from the coast: sugar cane fields to the south, cattle ranches to the north. From the Miami area, take US 27 to the Lake Okeechobee area, then go around the east side of the lake (I forgot the route number), then north through Yeehaw Junction and maybe stop at the Desert Inn:


    From there you can continue north to near Orlando and then turn eastward to I-95 and the coast. Or you can turn inland towards US 27 again.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  6. Dec 12, 2013 #5
    That's a little more expensive than I'm hoping for. Do you think it would be possible to get a cheap hotel in Miami, wake up early in the morning, go down and explore the keys all the way to the end, and be able to make it back to my hotel before, say, midnight? I'm trying to keep this trip under 1000 dollars.
    I heard parts of Miami are pretty bad. I don't want to end up in a gang part of town, so I need to do some research.

    Where exactly are the everglades? And what exactly IS an everglade? I'm looking at Google maps and I'm sort of planning my trip by looking at that. I see a lot of stretches of map that's just green, seemingly unexplored areas. Is that everglades? I'm kinda scared of the country.
    I want to drive down there on the coast, and I could come back up more towards the middle.

    Looking at Google, A1A is definitely what I want to take. I want to stop at Cape Canaveral and take a tour. Do they have tours there anymore? And following A1A down there, it looks like it takes a turn and doesn't go through that island-like-thing that the Kennedy Space Center is on. Is it not easily accessible?

    And why does it take so long taking A1A? Low speed limit? 10 hours seems pretty ridiculous.
    How is the parking there? I hate ending up in places where you can't park for free anywhere. I'd like to be able to park at some of the beaches there.
    Yeah, historical sights is one of the reasons I'm going. I heard there's a fort at the end of the keys.
    Yeah I wanna go to Lake Okeechobee, so I plan to take an inland route on the way back. Florida looks like a fish because of that lake (it looks like its eye), so I'd like to visit it.
    I hope I don't take the Yeehaw Junction and end up in Deliverance. That's one of my biggest fears. That Desert Inn looks kinda creepy.

    Thanks for the comments/suggestions.
  7. Dec 12, 2013 #6
    I strongly suggest you use the web to request free tourist materials, or maybe invest a few dollars in a Florida guide book. If you are a AAA member (or know one) get their Tour Guide for Florida. For places to stay and eat, check out TripAdvisor on the web. They cover all price ranges, and if you read between the lines you can get a lot of information. Depending upon what kind of mileage your vehicle gets, $1000 should give you about two weeks if you stay in YMCAs and youth hostels. It will give you about seven days for Motel 6s and Denny's. It will last you about three days for Best Westerns and decent restaurants.
  8. Dec 12, 2013 #7


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    Yep. http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

    Right, A1A has a gap there. You have to cross over the Intracoastal Waterway to US 1 to continue south. Eventually you come to an exit for "NASA Blvd." which goes straight east. Follow the signs for the visitor center/tours. You can't miss it.

    It's the "Main Street" for all those oceanside towns. Lots of condos, hotels, shops, parks, traffic lights. There are some open stretches where you can hit 50 mph, but pretty soon you come to the next town and have to slow down.

    It's been over eight years since I was down there (my mother moved from Ft. Laud. in '05), so all I remember is that "it varies." In the larger towns, you'll probably have to feed parking meters. In smaller towns, maybe not. On weekends it's harder to park because you have to compete with both the retired snowbirds and the local "natives" who have to work during the week.

    That's probably Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, about 70 miles past Key West. You have to get there by ferry or seaplane. I've never been there, but it sure sounds interesting!

    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013
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