Ah, Florida, America’s sunshine state. Flying to Florida is cheap, and once you’re there, there are tons of things for you to do, all within easy reach since you’re on a peninsula. Don’t underestimate the size of this state though – Florida top-to-bottom is nearly 600 miles, whereas, it’s only 400 miles from Edinburgh to London.
But this is one of the most fun states for road trips and long, scenic drives. I can’t claim to have even been on half of them, but the couple I have seen were heaps of fun for sure. If you’re longing for an escape from the queues at Disney, or need to get in the car to give your sunburn a break, here are some ideas.
This has to be one of the best drives in America. Or, at least Florida. Route 1 leaves Miami and drops you off the mainland coast of Florida and onto a causeway that connects a series of tiny islands (“keys”) that eventually lead you into Key West, the southernmost point in the state. You’re not much more than a lengthy swim to Cuba, though I wouldn’t suggest it. Key West has its own style and cultural flair and is probably my favourite stop in Florida. The drive, if you take your time and stop along the way, is a lot of fun too. At some points you’ll see not only the old roadway but the old railroad tracks – oddly, the railroad was the first way to get to Key West.
You might think by the name that this route traverses some ancient Indian trail, but in fact the name appears to be just a conjunction of the two cities it connects: Tampa and Miami. The Tamiami is noteworthy because it runs though several sections of swamp, making it a distinct possibility that an alligator or other animal who was there long before the road may attempt a crossing. We saw no animals (that were still alive), but I do find the fact that small patches of swamp appear and disappear out the window a very interesting aspect of Florida’s geography. Oh, and Tamiami has a lot of those incredibly-tacky roadside stalls and oversized billboards.
This drive isn’t perhaps as epic or long as the others, but it’s well worth it for the lush scenery – along much of the route from Route 1 all the way to Coral Gables, another city just outside Miami. The street used to have a trolley car running along it, and although it’s long gone, many of the trees that lined the street are still here, creating that wonderful arched effect that make this a very relaxed, scenic drive.
Posted : Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.