1-Week Florida Road Trip: Miami to Atlantic Coast to Orlando

Days 1-2: Miami

Spend your first two days experiencing the highlights of Miami. Stay in South Beach, work up an appetite along Ocean Drive, and make sure you load up on energy for the legendary nightlife. Read “See the Best of Miami in Two Days” for more detail on two great, full days in Miami.

Days 3-5: The Atlantic Coast

[Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens] is well worth the drive, as the peaceful pathways and meditative museum are both rejuvenating and relaxing.Fort Lauderdale is less than an hour’s drive from Miami, so head up in the morning for some window-shopping on Las Olas Boulevard and a walk around the historic Old Fort Lauderdale. Then head to Palm Beach. There, you should continue your shopping excursion at the high-end boutiques of Worth Avenue; you may not be able to afford much, but the people-watching is fantastic. Grab lunch at the historic Testa’s, and then make your way to West Palm Beach and Dreher Park, where you can spend the afternoon at the Palm Beach Zoo and the South Florida Science Center & Aquarium. The Clematis Street entertainment district in downtown West Palm is ideal for dinner and drinks, and you can get a room at the cute and convenient Biba boutique hotel.

Inside the Kennedy Space Center.

At the Kennedy Space Center. Photo © Gina Pricope/123rf.

In the morning, head to the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens located 30-45 minutes away from West Palm. It is well worth the drive, as the peaceful pathways and meditative museum are both rejuvenating and relaxing. A nice bit of beach-bumming is in order at this point in your itinerary. Plan on spending a big chunk of the afternoon splayed out on the isolated and quiet white sands of Blind Creek Park near Fort Pierce. Afterward, take a leisurely drive north on State Road A1A to Vero Beach to spend the night at the hip, Gloria and Emilio Estefan-owned Costa d’Este.

Continue along State Road A1A for a scenic 90-minute drive along the Atlantic coast to Cocoa Beach, then keep heading north along A1A for another half-hour to get to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to gawk at rockets, space shuttles, and astronaut memorabilia and, if you’re lucky, maybe even see a launch. Grab lunch in Titusville at Dixie Crossroads and then keep heading north on A1A for another couple of hours to get to St. Augustine. After a few late-afternoon hours of exploring America’s oldest city on foot, you’ll appreciate the whimsical welcome you’ll get at the Pirate Haus Inn, one of several unique local lodgings in town.

Day 6: Orlando

Get up early and head back south toward Orlando. It’s about a two-hour drive via I-95 and I-4. Keep your day focused on the in-town areas and attractions like the Harry P. Leu Gardens, the Orlando Museum of Art, and the quaint downtown part of Winter Park. Although these areas don’t have a whole lot of marquee “sights,” they do offer up an incredibly interesting and urbane view of a city that most people associate with theme parks. The Alfond Inn in Winter Park is a great if pricey place to stay. It’s quiet and sophisticated, but only a 15-minute (or less) drive from some of the best drinking and dining in the metropolitan area.

Magic Kingdom castle at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Photo © Steve Kingsman/123rf.

Day 7: Walt Disney World

Top off your trip by spending your final day in Walt Disney World. Begin by exploring the fairy-tale fantasies of either the Magic Kingdom or the eco-minded Animal Kingdom, then take the Disney Monorail to Epcot Center and dig into the international food-and-drink possibilities in the World Showcase section.

Travel map showing Driving Distances in Florida.

Driving Distances in Florida


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Florida Road Trip.