This following route is covering the southern part of Florida including spending time in the three big cities: Miami, Orlando and Tampa. This trip took us two weeks and we had lots of time to explore every destination. This following map (Google maps) will show you the main destinations and the overall route.
Miami 3 nights (including the arrival day)
Vero Beach 1 night
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Orlando 3 nights
St. Petersburg 2 nights
Fort Myers Beach 2 nights
Florida City 1 night
Since our goal was to not being on the road a lot and focusing more on relaxing and being able to stop along the road, this is a small route compared to most of the other trips we did. We started off in Miami: the combination of history, Spanish influence, the big city and the beach is unique and makes Miami my favorite city in the US. You can find my favorite spots in Miami in the “Favorite places to go when I’m in Miami” blog post. We made our way up to Vero Beach, which is a nice little town with beautiful beaches all over the place. On our way to Orlando, we stopped at the Sebastian Inlet State Park and it was magical: for the first time I really saw “wild” Manatees and they were swimming right next to me. If you are into surfing, fishing or bird watching, this State Park is a hidden champion and you should definitely make a stop. We always try to avoid the interstates and rather stay on the highways alongside the ocean. This gives you the opportunity to just make a stop and jump into the water whenever there is a nice beach.
Since it’s kind of a tradition, we visited the Disney World in Orlando for one day. If you have never been, I would recommend staying there for a few days and visit all/more parks. We spent our first night in an official Disney World Hotel (yeah I’m a child, I know ;-), which gives you the opportunity to take a Shuttle into the parks and safes you money on parking. If you are a Harry Potter Fan, check out the Universal Studios; they are still on my bucket list. Orlando is also a great place to do some shopping in the various Premium Outlets. The best place in Orlando is the Discovery Cove, I’ve been there twice and would go again in a hear beat. There is a designated blog post, where you can find all the info on “Discovery Cove”.
After leaving Disney World behind, we made our way to the Golf Coast and stopped in Tampa to attend the opening football match of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since American Football is so much different than European football (soccer), it is always breathtaking to attend a sport event in the US, since it is a massive party. We did this trip in 2015 which was one of the hottest years in Florida. It was so hot, that the red tide was all over the upper Golf Coast. Red tide is a naturally-occurring microscopic alga which causes the fish to die. So it was not possible to go into the water or lay on the beach until we arrived in Fort Myers Beach (imagine the smell of thousands of dead fish).
Gladly the Red Tide didn’t make her way down to Fort Myers Beach / Estero Island and we were able to spend some hours on the Beach. The beaches are broad and the water is crystal clear. I was able to cross one thing from my bucket list: riding a Jet Ski. We did a 1.5 hour tour (which actually lasted over 2 hours) with Holiday Water Sports and I can totally recommend it, it was honestly one of the best parts about our trip. I’ve done a lot of research on Jet Ski tours and booked the Dolphin Tour with them. And boy, did it exceed all my expectations: not only was our guide the coolest guide, but he took us on an over 2 hour long ride where we saw wild dolphins swimming right next to us. So if you are in this area and want to ride jet skis and see dolphins and wild life, you should book a trip with them.
On our way back to Miami, we stopped in the Everglades. Since the temperatures were too hot, most of the trails were closed. We also only saw one alligator, but since this was not the main purpose of our trip (and we have been to the Everglades a few times before), it was not too bad.
Overall this trip was very relaxing and we were able to see wild Manatees and Dolphins to close to us for the first time. Even though the weather was not the best and we’ve been to most of the places before, it was an awesome and memorable trip.
If you have any questions or feedback please comment down below or contact me, I’m always looking forward to hearing other people’s experiences or answer questions. Make sure you check out the detailed blog posts as well, since this is just in general overview of the trip.