My husband and I love America and have already been to Florida (Orlando) before to visit the theme parks. After our visit and a lot of interesting stories we wanted to explore Florida a bit more so decided to hire a car and drive around.
We were booked a Camaro and were hoping it would look just like Bumblebee from Transformers. What we did not realise was we went in their Spring Break ( Around the 14th of March) and according to the rental company that is their busiest time because all the newly passed students hire out cars to drive up and down the strip. We ended up with a Camaro however not the one we had booked. Either way it was nice and we got some money back so we didn’t mind.
It look a while to plan the trip and now we have been I feel we were a bit optimistic in what we could fit in within a short space of time (10 nights). Nevertheless we did it and had a wonderful time.
- Miami – This is where we started our journey. Initially we stayed at the top end of the beach because it was cheaper and we could access more travel links from there. We stayed at Holiday Inn Miami Ocean Front where we stayed for two nights. We did the tourist thing and went on Big Bus Tours . It was a perfect way to see a most of the sights like Biscayne Bay, millionaire mansions, coconut grove, little Havana and downtown Miami. The fact that is was hop on-hop off gave us the flexibility to get off when we wanted to explore an area in more detail.
- After a couple of days of sightseeing we picked up our hire car from Sixt car rental, which was round the corner from Holiday Inn, and drove to the Keys. We stayed at La Siesta Resort & Marina in Islamorada which was a good base for us to visit the surrounding keys. The resort provides complimentary bike hire which was great for cycling around the island. It is a perfect place to stay for a few nights especially with the ocean views and the well equipped suites.
Whilst there we went fly boarding with Florida Jet Packs. An experience I would recommend for those who like an adventure. The waters are warmer in the Keys so falling back in is not that bad.
We ate the best Key Lime Pie there ( of course) and drove to see the sunset view of the Old Seven Mile Bridge.
We did not manage to do the Conch Tour Train but we would have if we had more time and from the reviews it looked like a great tour.
- The next day we drove to Naples. On route we stopped at Everglades National Park and went on an airboat tour. We used Coopertown Airboats and the experience was great. We stayed at Doubletree Suites By Hilton which was by the riverfront and ideal because we only had one night here. We managed to get a glimpse of the luxury shops on the palm tree-lined avenues and visit the Pier.
- Our next stop was Clearwaters. After visiting Naples beach I could not wait to see the pearly white sands of Clearwaters. The water was glistening however the atmosphere was not as good as Naples beach. The beach had plenty of seagulls attacking any bit of food they came across.
The waters in the Gulf were not as warm as I was expecting.
Our accommodation here was at Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites. Sunset views from our suite were amazing.
In the evening we had a lovely meal by the river front at Cesare at the Beach.
We had a car so we could drive out however there were many restaurants within walking distance from the hotel.
- You cannot visit Florida and not go to a theme park? After having some breakfast, the next day we set off to go to Busch Garden in Tampa. We stayed at Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North. They tend to have offers including theme parks so it is worth checking them out.
I love rollercoasters and rides but they cannot be the ones that spin around like cups and saucers. Busch Gardens is African themed and has lovely sets and animal themed rides. We must have gone on the Falcon Fury about four times. We did get some quick passes because we only had a few hours here.
- The next day we headed to Kennedy Space Centre on our way to Delray beach to spend the night with some friends. On route to the Centre we stopped off at the famous pancake chain iHop. We over indulged in a load of carbs here. The portions were very generous and we could not finish our food. Everything apart from the chocolate pancakes tasted nice.
Our visit to the Space Centre was intuitive and we were blown away by how much effort goes into making every single element of a rocket. As part of the entrance we got to go on a rocket simulator. Just sitting facing upwards for the few minutes while in the simulator made us realise that all those who go to space are very brave and deserve all the awards they get. We also got to go on a coach trip to see the rocket launch site and equipment (big grey thing in the photos). It was fascinating to say the least and we did not even see a take off.
- We left the shopping till the end simply because the car we hired just about fitted the luggage we had. On our way back to Miami we paid a visit to Sawgrass Mills Outlet to shop and eat at our all time favourite American chain Cheesecake Factory. The portions in cheesecake factory are very generous and one of our favourite dishes are their chicken wings.
When visiting an outlet, especially abroad, always go and pay the visitor centre/information desk a visit because they offer discount booklets which enable you to enjoy up to 10% in many of the stores.
- Our final night we stayed at Shore Beach Club which was right on South Beach. We handed back our hire car and the rental company kindly dropped us back to our hotel. We were able to relax in this lovely hotel and on the beach before flying back home.
We covered a lot on our road trip and could have done with a couple of nights in some destinations because we were tired towards the end. It was however a great road trip and a brilliant way to see Florida.
Always remember to be fully stocked when going on American Road Trips. Unlike the U.K. where you have several service stops, when we drove around Florida you can go for a couple of hours on a long road with no cafes, no toilets and just rows of trees. Also take a toilet break when you can because with signs like ” Panther Traffic” on your route you don’t want to get out of the car.
Our next road trip would be Route 66, all along the West Coast. Have you done a road trip? Where did you get your inspiration from?
Hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you want more information drop me a comment or send me an email.