ROAD TRIP

ROAD TRIP

Hit the road and see Florida coast to coast from the Gulf to the Atlantic, stopping in waterfront cities, funky towns and cool neighborhoods. 

Begin my trip

  • Days 1 & 2
  • Days 2 & 3
  • Days 4 & 5
  • Days 6 & 7

Lighthouse & Museum

Pensacola

Start your trip with a quick rundown of local Florida history and tour the Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once the original lighthouse keeper’s residence, the Richard C. Callaway Museum offers a glimpse into the area’s intriguing archaeological and Civil War history. Climb the 177 steps for a spectacular bird’s eye view of the Gulf and a memorable photo opportunity.

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Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum, Pensacola
Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum, Pensacola

Flora-Bama Lounge

Pensacola

Equal parts funky and rustic, the Flora-Bama Lounge is a popular beach honky-tonk known for its stellar music lineup. Even though it straddles two states (it occupies both Florida and Alabama, hence the name), it’s beloved by both music lovers and beach goers from around the world. Famous for attracting nationally-known acts in the country, rock, dance and beach music genres, you can count on incredible live music here every night of the week.

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Photo Credit: Michael Duncan
Performers at the Flora-Bama Lounge, Pensacola

Airboat Ride

Panama City Beach

Take a break from the beach and experience a jolt of adrenaline as you fly over shallow water on a high-octane airboat ride. Tour the backwaters of West Bay as well as rivers, creeks and salt marshes in search of native Florida wildlife. In addition to gators, you may spot bald eagles, osprey, herons, dolphins and more. Several area companies offer options including private and semi-private eco tours at sunset or at night for an otherworldly experience.

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Airboat Ride

Grand Marlin Restaurant

Panama City Beach

Quality seafood served in casual surroundings overlooking Grand Lagoon is the name of the game at the Grand Marlin Restaurant & Oyster Bar. Oyster lovers can sidle up to the shucked-to-order oyster bar or order them baked and prepared three ways. Menus are printed daily to take advantage of the local bounty. An extensive wine and beverage list is available, and shorts and flip-flops are always welcome.

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Grand Marlin Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Panama City Beach

Blueberry season

Florida's Sports Coast

Continue your trip down the Gulf Coast to Florida's Sports Coast. Don’t leave without tasting plump and sweet blueberries grown under the Florida sun. Better yet, visit one of the many pick-your-own blueberry farms during the spring harvest season. Will you be able to resist popping a few in your mouth as you pluck them right off the bush? If you don’t feel like working for the juicy berries, pay a little more to buy a container that’s already been filled.

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Picking blueberries, Pasco County

Big Storm Brewing Co.

Odessa

Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Big Storm Brewing Co. is on Success Drive, but it’s fitting given the award-winning brewer won the top prize in the Florida Beer Championships in 2016 for its Oktoberfest Marzen Lager. Stop in this Tampa Bay Ale Trail site for a pint of a seasonal brew. Play a game of corn hole as you drink a beer, shandy or ale featuring Florida-grown berries, Key limes or kumquats.

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Taps at Big Storm Brewing Co., Odessa

Busch Gardens

Tampa Bay

Nothing can fully prepare you for Falcon’s Fury, a new heart racing thrill ride in the Pantopia section of Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay. The ride slowly picks up speed on the ascent. Once at the top, expect to drop from 100 meters at a super speed of 96 kph face first at a 90-degree tilt. Don’t worry though, the specialized magnetic brakes take hold about the halfway point. Regardless, you’ll scream with excitement.

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Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Sparkman Wharf

Tampa Bay

Sparkman Wharf offers a lively reimagined take on a retail and entertainment plaza in Tampa Bay’s Channel District. Come see for yourself – make your first stop to the outdoor food hall, where inventive eateries are housed in clever, colorfully decorated shipping containers. Check out Boat Run Oyster Co. and Gallito, an original taqueria spot. Next check out the buzz at the Fermented Reality Biergarten for a good time paired with tasty brews.

Photo Credit: Keir Magoulas
Outdoor Food Park at Sparkman Wharf, Tampa Bay

Paddleboarding

St. Pete/Clearwater

No trip to the Gulf Coast is complete without getting out on the water. The St. Pete/Clearwater region provides unbeatable access to the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay and the maze of waterways in between. To explore like a local and get closer to nature, opt for a paddleboard tour – whether cruising along the Intracoastal, ducking into the mangrove tunnels of Weedon Island Preserve or splashing around a barrier island like Egmont Key.

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Drum Circle

Treasure Island

Every Sunday, the wide expanses of Treasure Island Beach host a drum circle, jam session and impromptu dance party. The local-favorite event starts about an hour before sunset and continues until 10 p.m. You don’t need to bring your own percussion, but beach blankets and chairs are recommended for when you’re not grooving to the beat. Find even more music on the beach at St. Pete/Clearwater’s beachfront bars and restaurants.

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Photo Credit: Steven P. Widoff
Drum Circle at Treasure Island Beach, St. Petersburg

Biking on Sanibel Island

Sanibel

Set your own pace to see all 40 kilometers of bicycle trails crisscrossing Sanibel Island. Ride on dedicated paths in wooded areas and past local shops and restaurants in Sanibel’s commercial center. See white sand beaches, bridges, a historic lighthouse and the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge. Rent your bike at one of several cycle shops on the island; the area’s resorts often offer complimentary bikes to their guests.

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Cycling on Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island

Sanibel Lighthouse

Sanibel

Since 1884, the Sanibel Island Lighthouse has served as a beacon for seafarers cruising the coast of Southwest Florida. Hop aboard a jetski, and plot your own course in San Carlos Bay and the Gulf of Mexico while keeping the 30-meter iron landmark in sight. An array of outfitters will supply everything you need for this fast-paced, unforgettable adventure.

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Photo Credit: Dennis Gingerich
Sanibel Island Lighthouse

Naples Zoo

Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades

At the Naples Zoo, kids – and the kid-at heart – can see wild tigers, African lions and even feed 20-foot tall giraffes. Stop by for a full day of fun activities beyond the animal exhibits, from the Primate Expedition Cruise and Safari Canyon shows to Meet the Keeper talks. With a focus on conservation and education, the Naples Zoo offers fun for every generation. Grab a bite to eat, and browse the gift shop for one of a kind souvenirs.

Learn more about Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, Florida
Naples Zoo

Lowdermilk Park

Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades

Before heading across the state, don't miss one more chance to take a dip in the Gulf. Lowdermilk Park in Naples offers access to a gorgeous stretch of Gulf beach – picture white sand and sparkling water – but there’s so much more. After a rousing game of volleyball, explore in a rented kayak or paddleboard, keeping an eye out for dolphins and manatees, then chill out with a burger and Italian ice from the concession. Two children’s playgrounds and free beach wheelchairs make the park perfect for all ages.

Learn more about Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, Florida
Lowdermilk Park

Water Taxi

Fort Lauderdale

What better way to get to know the city nicknamed the “Venice of America” than by cruising its beautiful waterways? Fort Lauderdale’s hop-on, hop-off Water Taxi makes it easy to hit the beach, shop and dine on Las Olas Boulevard, or head south to Hollywood. Along the way, take in gorgeous views of lush foliage, extravagant mansions and mega-yachts as friendly crew members share the inside scoop on the city.

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Photo Credit: Doug Castanedo
Water Taxi, Fort Lauderdale

5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill

Hollywood

Ready for a toes-in-the-sand, Jimmy Buffett-inspired cocktail? Take the Water Taxi’s Margaritaville Express route south to Hollywood’s Margaritaville Beach Resort (part of Buffett’s resort chain) and its 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill (named for the singer’s popular tune with Alan Jackson). Snack on fish tacos while listening to live music in this open-air hot spot, or rent a kayak or paddleboard to get out on the Intracoastal Waterway. A perfect ending to your Florida road trip adventure. 

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Photo Credit: Eileen Escarda
5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, Hollywood