Florida is a beautiful state filled with stunning destinations. From nature lovers to beach bums, there’s something for everyone in the Sunshine State.
Before you begin your road trip, make sure you have adequate auto insurance coverage. Driving without insurance in Florida is not a good idea. You will end up paying a fine or worse if you are caught with a lapse in coverage.
This article will cover how to take the best road trip through Florida, from the must-see destinations to the importance of insurance coverage for your journey.
Importance of Auto Insurance for Your Trip
Auto insurance is a must for any vehicle but is especially crucial when taking a road trip in Florida. Double-check and make sure your premium is paid so you don’t have a lapse in auto insurance coverage. Don’t forget to pack your proof of insurance, either on paper or electronic on your phone.
Proper auto insurance is essential, and you must have minimum coverage. If there is an accident, you will have to pay for any damage to your vehicle, plus any damage done to other vehicles. You also might be sued if you cannot pay out of pocket for the damages.
If you are caught driving without insurance in Florida, you will pay a fine between $150 and $500. Your insurance rates will also increase after the penalty, so it will also cost you after having a lapse in coverage. The state will also suspend your license, registration, and license plate.
What You Need for Your Road Trip
Packing for your Florida road trip can be easy if you know what to bring and have a list. Planning for a comfortable road trip is a great way to make memories with family and friends.
If you are traveling during hurricane season (June to November), then you need a plan in place if a hurricane hits your area. Pay attention to the weather forecasts and make sure you have plenty of fuel, snacks, and bottled water just in case of an emergency.
The good news with hurricanes is there is usually plenty of warning, so you can get out of town once the weather forecasts a possible hurricane. Don’t wait until the last minute to make a plan or evacuate if necessary.
If you have ever traveled to Florida in the summer and early fall, you know there are many afternoon rain showers. An umbrella or poncho for those rain popup showers is helpful.
The sun can be brutal in Florida, so you will need plenty of sunscreen and sunglasses. If you are visiting one of the beautiful Florida beaches, you will need a beach umbrella or beach tent and chairs. Don’t forget beach toys for the kids.
Coolers will help keep your food and drinks chilled in the car or at the beach. Many people are not used to the Florida heat and humidity during the summer, so lots of water is a necessity.
In the summer months, you will need your swimsuit, plenty of shorts, t-shirts, and other comfortable clothes. In the winter months, it can still be warm during the day, but a jacket or pants is helpful in the evenings. If you are visiting a theme park or somewhere outdoors, make sure you have comfortable shoes.
The Biggest Cities to Visit in Florida
The Sunshine State has a number of large cities that are full of fun activities. Jacksonville is the biggest city in Florida and is located in the northeast part of the state.
Miami in South Florida is second, followed by Tampa in the west. Coming in fourth is Orlando, right in the middle of Florida, with St. Petersburg, which is near Tampa, at fifth. Number six is Hialeah, which is a suburb of Miami.
Port St. Lucie is located in Palm Beach County and comes in seventh. The eighth-largest city is Cape Coral in Southwest Florida. The last two in the top 10 are Tallahassee, the state capitol, and Fort Lauderdale, in the southeast near Miami.
Places to Stop on a Florida Road Trip
Florida has something for everyone. From gorgeous beaches to theme parks, you will find numerous tourist attractions in the Sunshine State. For those seeking a romantic getaway or those on a family-friendly vacation, you will find many activities for a great trip.
Beaches in Florida
The great thing about visiting Florida beaches is that you can try the Atlantic beaches and the Gulf of Mexico beaches for different experiences. The Florida beaches can be a romantic vacation or a family-friendly trip with lots of activities for the kids.
Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach are both must-sees and boast some of the best beaches in the state. Siesta Key has powdery sand beaches. Sanibel Island and Marco Island are also western Florida beaches that don’t disappoint.
Pensacola Beach is located in the Panhandle in the westernmost part of Florida. Panama City Beach and Destin are also located in the Panhandle and both have beautiful beaches.
The Atlantic beaches like Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Palm Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and the surrounding areas near these beaches are also worth a visit. You will find better waves for surfing on this side of the state.
The Florida Keys between Miami and Key West also have some quiet beaches. St. George Island and Apalachicola are near Tallahassee and could make a good trip if you are in that area of the state.
If you want to enjoy a drive along the beaches on the East Coast, take the A1A highway. This road lasts hundreds of miles and provides many views of the beaches along the way.
Trips for Nature Lovers
Florida provides many options for the outdoorsy and nature lovers, from bike riding and running trails to outdoor kayaking and paddle boarding.
Weeki Wachee is a must-see for mermaid lovers. Nearby Crystal River is a great place to spot manatees.
Everglades National Park is located in the southern part of Florida with access to three main areas. There are a variety of different ecosystems and many different tours depending on what you want to see.
Dry Tortugas is 70 miles from Key West and accessible by a seaplane or boat ride. You can find activities for snorkeling, beaches, or a visit to Fort Jefferson.
Bok Tower Garden is a bird sanctuary and landscaped garden between Tampa and Orlando. It is open 365 days a year so you can visit the singing tower, gardens, and mansion.
There are many other botanical gardens, trails, and state parks that are also worth a visit in Florida. Check out the available options in the area you are traveling or staying.
Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., and there you will find castles and other historic sites. It is also known as a haunted city for those who are looking for a spooky experience. If you are looking for the fountain of youth, you will find it in St. Augustine.
Ybor City in Tampa has many historical buildings because of its history in the cigar industry. The Columbia is a must-see restaurant in Ybor City and is known for its Cuban sandwiches and flamenco shows.
For Ernest Hemingway fans, you can visit his home in Key West. The cats that live here are descendants of his first polydactyl cats with six toes. It is rumored that Hemingway spent time at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West while writing in the 1930s.
For race car driving fans, add a visit to the Daytona Speedway on your list. There are also museums and state parks across the state that will satisfy the history buffs.
Miami and South Beach have a nightlife well known across the U.S. You will find bars, nightclubs, and restaurants for any nightlife lover.
Many other large cities like Jacksonville, Tampa, St. Pete, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale also have nightclubs and bars that come alive at night.
Key West is the southernmost point of the continental U.S. and is home to some of the best sunrises and sunsets you can find. Key West is also known for its inclusive nightlife and unique bars.
If you drive from Miami to Key West, you will get picturesque views from the Seven Mile Bridge. Mallory Square is a lively place to catch a sunset there.
Florida Theme Parks and Aquariums
If theme parks are your forte, then a visit to Orlando is a must. Orlando has Walt Disney World Resort, Sea World, and Universal Studios Florida. Other family-friendly attractions are LEGOLand and Discovery Cove as well as other smaller water parks.
Many Orlando hotels are family friendly and have pools and amenities designed with families in mind. They also have transportation available to many of the theme parks located nearby.
Tampa has Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa for family-friendly fun. These attractions are less than an hour from the beaches of Clearwater and St. Pete if you want to take a day trip from your beach vacation.
Space Coast at Cape Canaveral
Florida is also home to the Space Coast at Cape Canaveral. You can visit Kennedy Space Center and get a glimpse of the history of aerospace. If you are lucky, you might catch a space launch.
Florida Food and Drinks
For the foodies, Florida has numerous outstanding restaurants with a variety of different cuisines. While in Tampa, try the Cuban food. Don’t forget the key lime pie when you visit Key West.
Florida is also home to a number of local breweries and wineries. Some cities may even have a brewery tour so you can hit a few spots in one day.
Your Florida Road Trip
A road trip to Florida will result in many memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy your time in the Sunshine State and make plans to come back to try new destinations.
Melissa Morris writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. She is a travel enthusiast who lives in Tampa, Florida.