Road trips from Miami
The heart of economics and finance of South Florida, Miami makes a great base from which to explore the southernmost tip of Florida and a lot of other places. It also sits above another must-visit area: the Florida Keys. An easy drive around Biscayne Bay will take you on one of the most memorable roads anywhere: the Overseas Highway. So, road trips from Miami should be on your bucket list.
So when you’re tired of spending your days tanning at the best Miami beaches or drinking martinis at some waterfront bars, consider taking a road trip outside of the city. Believe it or not, sometimes one of the very best things to do in Miami is to step out of it and experience something different.
To lessen your burden, here is a list of the best road trips from Miami, Florida.
1. Hilton Head Island (HHI), SC
With a driving time of around 7 hours, HHI makes for a good option in the list of perfect long, scenic road trips from Miami. Hilton Head Island is a unique destination on the southernmost tip of South Carolina’s Atlantic coast. It is a heaven on earth for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts and hence attracting around 2.5 million tourists each year.
Many acres of protected wildlife and nature preserves, fun water adventures like dolphin cruises and fishing charters, and endless paved bike trails, superlative golf. Lastly, countless great restaurants, there is no reason not to explore this beautiful Low Country paradise.
Since beaches are the hot-spot here, Beach access points are also everywhere and generally consist of free public parking. If walking on a beach is your type of therapy, HHI has over 12 miles of pristine sand to explore on foot or by bike. If you want to go for a swim, Coligny, Islander, Driessen, and Folly Field Beaches are the ones with lifeguards. Coligny Beach Park will provide you with change rooms and outdoor showers, restrooms. Great seating areas, including shady gazebos with rockers, as well as sturdy swing chairs. And yes, it also provides free Wi-Fi.
The Harbour Town Lighthouse in Hilton Head’s most recognizable landmark. Many think it only serves as a navigation aid to boat traffic using the Harbour Town Marina and the Intracoastal Waterway but it’s also a first-rate museum. It displays historic photos and artifacts related to the island’s history, plus a special exhibit showcasing the role of the Coast Guard over the decades. The views from the top of the lighthouse are to die for.
Another museum, especially for nature lovers is the Coastal Discovery Museum. The property can be explored simply by following its network of well-marked nature trails, including three fun marsh boardwalks along the tidal Jarvis Creek. The museum is also the site of a popular weekly farmers market, plus a large annual art show.
Leading the pack when it comes to luxury accommodations in and around Hilton Head Island is exquisite. Montage Palmetto Bluff offers chic rooms and suites overlooking the river, along with eight restaurants and plenty of space to relax.
2. St. Augustine, FL
On Florida’s northeast coast, St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement and a hub of history.
Lightner Museum displays one of the country’s best collections of 19th-century decorative and fine arts. Some of the items in the eccentric collection include shrunken heads, mechanical musical instruments, a mummy, cigar labels, and curiosities such as human hair art.
St. Augustine’s oldest standing brick structure is all the tall spiral-striped St. Augustine lighthouse. The site is also home to one of the only field schools for underwater archaeology.
The 42 miles of beautiful beaches here are an irresistible draw. It’s perfect to try water activities like surfing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and boogie boarding.
Alligator Farm Zoological Park
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is perfect for a family day out. It is the only one of its kind with all living crocodile species in residence, there is also a “saltie” area, which is home to Australian salt-water crocodiles. Maximo, the park’s largest resident is also a part of them. It is also home to a variety of other animals, including exotic birds, several types of snakes, and five species of monkeys. Among its most popular attractions are the red-ruffed lemur and ring-tailed lemurs, both of which are endangered species.
This historic district is also home to the Colonial Quarter which is a living history museum that lets visitors step back in time and see what St. Augustine was like from the 16th through the 18th centuries. The major attraction here is the Spanish-fortified town that depicts 17th-century life, complete with a blacksmith shop and hourly musket drills. Pets are allowed here.
For some night adventure, you can take the moonlight cruises offered by The Freedom. You can also opt for Sunset cruises since they are especially beautiful, with the St. Augustine skyline silhouetted against the deepening colors.
3. Naples, FL
If you want a quick vacation in midst of your busy life, Naples in Florida is the place. From Miami, the road trip doesn’t take more than 2 hours, with the distance being only 127 mi making it a perfect example of quick road trips from Miami. Museums for adults and kids, a zoo, and boat excursions, Naples has got something for everyone.
White sand lapped by usually calm waters is backed by beautiful homes and lush vegetation, the beach at Naples is one of the finest along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Naples Pier is a popular place for a sunset stroll, or to do a bit of fishing. It’s a great area for walking or playing some volleyball.
5th Avenue South, the main downtown strip is lined with cafés and restaurants with patio seating, high-end boutiques, a famous ice-cream shop, and posh hotels. These are the best places to visit in Naples for nightlife.
A visit to Naples is incomplete without visiting the Gulf of Mexico and its azure blue waters. A boat tour is the best way to explore the area and enjoy all that the ocean has to offer. Naples Sightseeing Boat Tour is a popular tour. This 1.5-hour trip includes some parts of Naples’ finest mansions and Keewaydin Island and dolphin sightings.
For a fun family afternoon, head to the Naples Zoo. The zoo has a variety of animals in three major categories; birds, mammals, and reptiles. The animals range from tigers to alligators and the Primate Cruise. A 15-20 minute catamaran cruise past the animals is the main highlight.
If you’re a car buff, be sure to visit the Revs Institute, where you’ll see an amazing collection of automobiles. You’ll find a devoted exclusively to Porsche, another devoted to racing cars and the daredevils who drive them, and much more.
Lastly, for a relaxing walk among more than 1,000 tropical plants, visit the Naples Botanical Gardens. The Kapnick Brazilian Garden, the Buehler Enabling Garden, Lee Asian Water Garden, Kapnick Caribbean Garden, and the Smith River of Grass are some of the major highlights here.
4. Key Largo
The largest of the Florida Keys, located a little more than an hour’s drive from Miami and ideal for perfect day road trips, Key Largo is a part of a string of sun-soaked islands extending like a necklace from the bottom of Florida all the way to Key West.
With plenty of calm water and great sites, Key Largo is the perfect place to enjoy snorkeling. If you don’t want to snorkel alone, you can join a group. Key Largo Snorkeling Tours is a good option as it is equipped with all equipment, including masks, fins, and life vests. This is a 2.5-hour mini-adventure that will take you into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to snorkel in calm, clear, shallow water.
The Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, the Everglades, flats, backcountry are all great fishing spots. Extensive marinas provide all the services your boat will need. The tackle shops guide you about where the fish are biting and what to catch them on.
Another fun activity is boating to the sandbar off Islamorada. Boat rentals are widely available. Most people enjoy swimming, snorkeling, barbecuing, and generally just hanging out in the warm shallow waters here. If you are lucky, you may spot dolphins playing in your wake, or manatees lolling in the shallows.
Diving is another interesting activity here. The 13 main dive locations are on the Atlantic side of the island offering a huge range from extensive reefs teeming with colorful fish, challenging wrecks, historical underwater statues, and wall dives.
Relaxing is guaranteed at the Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection. The resort has the finest beaches in the Florida Keys, lined with cabanas and a large pool.
5. Jackson, MS
Road trips from Miami with a lot of stops? This one is you. On your way to Jackson, don’t forget to stop on your way at the Columbus Welcome Center, Rowan Oak, the former home of William Faulkner, and the former home of Eudora Welty.
Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and is home to several fantastic museums and historical places like the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, and The Oaks House Museum. On your way here you can stop at Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Hattiesburg.
Beginning with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, located inside LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. It teaches its visitors about the natural history of Mississippi through educational exhibits, specimen collections, and interactive habitats. It is home to 200 native species of aquatic life as well as a unique greenhouse named “The Swamp,” home to wetland flora. For some walking, you can enjoy the nature trails on the 300-acre grounds.
To explore some more animals, head to The Jackson Zoo. More than 200 species of animals from five continents, including endangered species, reside here. Animals range from chimpanzees, ostriches, an African fat-tailed gecko, Sumatran tiger, Amur Leopard, the muscular anaconda to tropical birds like macaws. For some more fun, there is a carousel and train ride available for a nominal fee.
Mississippi Children’s Museum is a must for families with kids. It explores various topics to encourage curiosity and inspire children. From teaching kids about health and nutrition to exploring the arts and personal expression through music, dance, and the visual arts, it has a lot to offer.
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Mississippi Museum of Art, Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum is also worth a visit.
Staying in downtown Jackson is a great option because here you’ll find four of the city’s top museums all within a short distance of each other.
6. St. Petersburg
From the cosmopolitan melting pot of coastal Miami to the quaint towns emanating Southern USA charm on the state’s northern peninsula, St. Petersburg is another good option for road trips from Miami.
Locally as St. Pete, the city is a chain of long, narrow islands with beaches and numerous marinas. It is home to the famous Salvador Dali Museum. The museum represents Dali’s entire artistic career, from his early work in Impressionism and Cubism to later experiments in more “Classical” styles. It has a total collection of more than 2,000 works of art. The Dali Museum Library and Center for the Avant-garde are also a part of it.
Fort DeSoto Park
Fort DeSoto Park, the largest park in Pinellas County is also located in St. Pete. The park offers various outdoor activities like hiking, biking, rollerblading, and walking, and also a beautiful swimming beach and two fishing piers. Being home to at least 328 species of birds, it is also a popular spot for bird-watchers. Camping is also popular here. There are 238 sites just a short stroll away from the beach, offering electricity, water, toilets, and showers. Reservations can be made in advance.
Clearwater Beach is often rated as one of the best beaches in Florida and even in the United States. Miles of pristine white sand is perfect for a relaxing walk. There are souvenir shops, restaurants, and other attractions.
St. Petersburg’s Museum of Fine Arts, home to over 20,000 works of art, is considered the premier art museum in the Tampa Bay area. The collection includes Greek, Roman, and Asian antiquities, African art, ancient art from the Americas, and European art.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is impressive from a distance but driving across it offers a unique experience. Views of the bridge are particularly beautiful at night when it is lit up.
For a guided historic tour of the city, check here.
7. Mobile, AL
Another one among the best options for family-friendly road trips from Miami, set along the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile is a historic city with beautiful old homes and a vibrant cultural scene. It is especially known for the oldest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country, a tradition it still celebrates in a lively fashion each year.
For a fun family day, Fort Conde offers fun activities like a colonial-themed photo gallery, a shooting gallery, and a photo set with colonial costumes and props. The fort gives tourists a glimpse of life in the fort during the 18th century.
The History Museum of Mobile is home to the 5,000-pound Civil War cannon, which once stood on the decks of the Confederate ship CSS Alabama. The Mary Jane Slayton Inge Gallery has a unique collection of miniature houses, which depict some of Mobile and Alabama’s finest mansions in detail. Viewing The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is a delight in itself.
Mobile Bay, on the Gulf of Mexico, has a number of lovely beaches and small towns. Dauphin Island bird sanctuary is an important site for bird migration. Also, the freshwater lake here is perfect for swimming, fishing, and relaxing on the beaches. Fairhope is ideal for outdoor activities such as biking, golfing, tennis and fishing off the Fairhope Pier.
Though the city is perfect for a day trip, if you want to stay in a beautifully restored historical building, check The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa out.
For an easy road trip from Miami to Mobile, check this map out.
For further information, check this detailed article out.
8. Tampa, FL
A well-connected network of highways and roads, makes the road trip from Miami to Tampa quite easy and relaxing.
The city of Tampa is the economic center of western Florida.
Its major attraction is Busch Gardens. It is African-themed family entertainment and adventure park featuring thrill rides, live music, performances, and a multitude of exotic animals. You can take a safari to see cute animals, the Serengeti Night Safari is one of the most popular options. Busch Gardens is best known for its roller coasters that are an extreme thrill experience, other rides include kiddie rides and water rides.
To see some more animals you can head to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. It is more than 2,000 animals in natural habitats. Popular members here include the African elephants, African penguins, Florida panthers, and the Bornean Orangutan. The zoo also offers safari a ride through the African habitat, as well as a mini-train ride, and a family-friendly roller coaster.
Since Florida is a hot place, you cannot miss Tampa’s most popular water park, Adventure Island.
To learn about the rich history of the Tampa Bay area, head to the Tampa Bay History Center. Highlights of the center include Seminoles, the multicultural influences of the last five centuries, the railroad and shipping era, and regional geography.
Lastly, for a pleasant walk head over to the Tampa Riverwalk. It provides fantastic views out over the Hillsborough River and has a wonderful collection of public art along its length ranging from murals to sculptures.
9. Atlanta, GA
On your road trip from Miami to Atlanta, you can stop at Charleston for some rest. Then head to the principal center of the American South.
One of the top things here is the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium. It features a wide variety of marine life, the largest in the ocean – whale sharks and some very interesting and interactive activities for visitors. The most famous one is the opportunity to dive or snorkel in the tank with the sharks. To be a part of this, you must carry your SCUBA diving certificate. The aquarium also has an acrylic tunnel to walk through and view fish swimming on all sides.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden offers a lovely space to spend some peaceful time at. Two of its major specialties are the Rose Garden and the special garden area for children.
The Atlanta History Center is a large complex that comprises the Atlanta History Museum, Centennial Olympic Games Museum, Swan House, Smith Family Farm, and the Kenan Research Center, along with a number of historic gardens.
The High Museum of Art is noteworthy both for its architecture and its extraordinary collections of art from the Renaissance to the present day. It is particularly known for its extensive collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art.
Check our article for a detailed analysis of things to do in Atlanta.
10. Montgomery, AL
Being one of the longest road trips from Miami, the drive will take around 11 hours but it’s worth it. In the center of the state on the east bank of the Alabama River, lies the capital of Alabama, Montgomery. Its history is one of its most remarkable features.
Considered by many as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, Montgomery is home to The Civil Rights Memorial. The memorial is surrounded by a curving black granite wall with the words “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” scrolled across.
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has a permanent collection of more than 4,000 works. The collection varies from examples of European art to African art to American. Its major attraction is the Weil Atrium Gallery, which houses glassworks from various celebrated glassblowers including Dale Chihuly and Tiffany Studios.
Montgomery Zoo is full of a wide variety of animals from all over the world. There are several opportunities to get up close to the animals. The most popular one is the giraffe exhibit, where you can hand-feed the graceful giraffes.
Old Alabama Town is a series of more than 50 historic homes and buildings in historic downtown Montgomery, which have been restored to their original state and are open to the public for touring.
For a detailed version readout things to do in Montgomery.