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  1. #1

    Default Chasing Cars: Homestead (and Florida)

    Well, well... I've been back in the UK for a grand total of six days now, have a roadtrip coming up in a few weeks but I'm already getting restless. My mind has been ticking over and a couple of trips have sprung forward - one of which is the subject of this thread.

    Chasing Cars: Nascar Nextel Cup Finale at Homestead nr Miami

    This is the end of an era - the last race that both the Busch and Nextel names will be seen on a Nascar race, the last race that Jr will be running for DEI and, if rumours I am hearing here are true, the last race JPM will run for Chip before stepping up to a 'proper' team. Oh, and they should be crowning the champion of Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks too.

    All in all, there'll be a lot of interest. And sun. Which, in November, we will sure as hell not have much of back home in the UK. Something else not in the UK is a friend who I've not seen since September when I dropped her at the airport - she got herself married and never came back boo hoo!

    I've not booked any flights as of yet, so I'm not certain of the exact order of the trip yet, but it'll be pretty much a circular course so that's not really that much of an issue. I'll be looking to fly into Miami ideally but would be happy with Tampa or even Orlando if the price was right.

    This is (very roughly) what I have in mind at the moment and I would really welcome your feedback on whether it's do-able, on places I should add, places I shouln't bother with, etc:

    Fri 16th November: Fly into Miami and check in to hotel before heading out to have a look around the city.
    Sat 17th November: Have a look at Biscayne National Park and take the glass bottomed boat tour then head across to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Busch Series race (4.30pm). Find local motel or campground after race.
    Sun 18th November: Head back to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Nextel Cup race (3.30pm). Head into the Everglades National Park and find a campground for the night.
    Mon 19th November: Explore the Everglades National Park, experience a ride on an airboat, then head south to the Florida Keys. Watch the sunset at Mallory Square
    Tues 20th November: Leave the Florida Keys and head up the western side of Florida.
    Weds 21st November: Continue north, arriving in Sarasota midday or early afternoon. Look Katie up, drink some beer, talk about old times, crash on her floor!
    Thurs 22nd November: Late start, drive to Daytona and visit Daytona USA. Find hotel on beach.
    Fri 23rd November: Head south and visit Kennedy Space Center
    Sat 24th November: Head back to Miami and take overnight flight back to London.

    Is this feasible? Are the daily driving times manageable? Are there any glaring mistakes or ommissions? Specifically I'd welcome any input into the section between the Keys and Sarasota - I do not know so much about this area - any must-see attractions?

    I read on the Everglades National Park website that November is still wet season - what exactly will that mean for my visit to the park and the rest of the area?

    Any thoughts and suggestions very welcome! :)
    Last edited by UKCraig; 07-06-2007 at 12:01 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Sounds fun!

    Looks like a good trip! I have lived in Florida all my life and I haven't done very many of those things. I grew up not too far from Tampa and now go to school in Miami, so I have made that drive a few times. One thing about your drive is that it depends on which part of the keys you want to go; the road through the keys is over 100 miles long, so the difference between Key West (the last) and Key Largo (the first) Google puts as 2.5 hours. As for things to see between the keys and Sarasota I can't say there's much that's worth a stop. I have heard that the Coral Castle in Homestead is really cool; a man carved an entire castle out of coral over 28 years as a memorial to his fiancee who broke up with him on his wedding day. There are some nice beaches along the west coast but nothing that much better than you will get in Sarasota.
    Also, when driving from the Keys to Sarasota and from the Kennedy Space Center to the airport note the time you will be driving. The roads connecting the keys to Alligator Alley (US 75 that runs through the top of the everglades connecting the Miami area to the west coast) are US-1 and the Palmetto Expressway (826), two of the worst roads to drive in the area. And also getting back from KSC your choices are I-95 or the heavily-tolled Florida Turnpike. All of these roads are terrible, and rush hour traffic starts as early as 3 and goes until about 8, so if you get stuck on 1 or 826 going up to Sarasota in that time, or south from West Palm Beach to the airport in that time, it will increase you drive time a lot and give you a very negative experience. And be careful! Miami has led the country as worst drivers in America three years running I believe. Hardly anyone uses public transportation as the system isn't quite up to par with your Underground.
    Sounds like a good trip! November is a beautiful time in South Florida, the hurricanes will be over by then. Key Biscayne is very nice, the glass bottom boat should be fun. Also, check out South Beach when you get into Miami for the real feel of the area.

  3. #3

    Default Thanks for the tips

    I was thinking of 'doing' the Keys all the way to Key West. I'm a sucker for a tacky tourist photo and wanted a snap next to the buoy at the southernmost point in the US! :) As a local, would you say it was worth the drive given my rather limited time on the ground over there?

    Don't worry about the public transport system - whilst the UK goverment continually try to make us feel bad for using cars, I have learned to tune out to it all and will be making full use of the biggest gas-guzzler that I can get my hands on! On that subject, does the weather at that time of year lend itself to renting a convertible?

    I am definately going to check out South Beach - any more tips for 'must-see' places in the Miami area?

    Thanks :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default The tacky thing is....

    At that buoy -- some of the "people" are not real... Take a look at this photo in Chad's article -- see any dummies here?


  5. #5

    Default haha

    I'm not sure what the worst thing is - that the dummies are there at all or that I read that page and saw that photo a couple of days ago (it was the first time I'd heard of the marker) and hadn't realised the weren't all part of Chad's party :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Chad + Wife + Daughter

    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post
    I'm not sure what the worst thing is - that the dummies are there at all or that I read that page and saw that photo a couple of days ago (it was the first time I'd heard of the marker) and hadn't realised the weren't all part of Chad's party :)
    As far as I know, there are only three living people in that photo!


  7. #7

    Default Perfect sense

    Makes perfect sense when you see the size of their caravan in the other photo :)

    Re-reading that article got me thinking - might be nice (and probably a whole lot cheaper) to camp down there... there seem to be a couple of state parks offering oceanside camping. As soon as I get the dates finalised I reckon I should look at booking something.

    Just been looking online and, no matter how the dates work out, I'm gonna miss a meeting at Daytona and one at Sebring by around a week. grr!

  8. #8

    Default Just a thought...

    Would there be any merit in flying into Miami and then out of Orlando? ie I do the trip per the previous post up until the point I visit Kennedy then turn inland to Orlando instead of trolling all the way dwn the coast back to Miami. How much time is this likely to save and will I miss out on anything on the drive back to Miami?

  9. #9

    Default Game on!

    Have this evening found a well priced flight and have booked it!

    I'm flying LHR - MIA Fri 16th November and ORL - MIA - LHR Tues 27th November (with American Airlines) so I've actualy got a little more time than originally planned. I'm excited! Will welcome any thoughts you all may have but will most likely be back with some more questions/thoughts soon enough anyway... :)

  10. #10

    Default First question already!

    Right folks, I'm after your help already!

    Originally I was planning on finding a motel or hotel near Homestead Miami Speedway for the evening of the 17th and then heading into Everglades National Park and camping on the evening of the 18th. However I've been unable to track down anything in those areas, presumably dueto itbeing race weekend. I'm easy as to whether it's motel, hotel or campground but would really rather stay in that area rather than heading back up towards Miami.

    Any suggestions for places that might be able to help? Preferably with some sort of online reservation system as phoning is a pain given my current location...

    Fingers crossed!


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