Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1

    Default I want to see the REAL Florida...

    I have 4 days in late June '07 to drive my rental car around Florida. I'm starting in Fort Lauderdale and the only other requirement is to catch the space shuttle launch in Titusville.
    I will do the Keys some other trip so we can count that out.
    I'm interested more in natural features, meaning no theme parks or touristy restaurants. I want must-see natural landscape stuff (Everglades and gators?). How about Sanibel beach near Fort Myers to find shells? Is that cool?
    I also want to see/do stuff that is typical "South". Being from Oregon I love the differences in our culture that exist, from the Florida accent to the food, I want to experience THAT.
    Tell me a good restaurant that the locals love in any given city where you eat real hush puppies, catfish, and... well, whatever else you eat down there that I miss up here.

    I'm thinking of driving from Fort Laud/Miami to Fort Myers via US-41, north to Tampa area, northeast to Orlando then on to Titusville, then south back to Fort Laud. Feedback?


    Jason from Portland, OR

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Is there an "UNREAL" part too?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB1971 View Post
    I have 4 days in late June '07 to drive my rental car around Florida.
    Four days will let you see and experience a few choice places in Florida. A query to see "the REAL Florida" always makes me wonder if there is an "UNREAL" section that I have never found, hiding out there some place. I will give you my picks of places that I have always found interesting....

    Appliachicola is found just inland of Cape St. George in the panhandle -- It gets hammered every couple of years by storm surges, but there are some very cool little restaurants along the beach.

    The Lake Cypress Fish Camp in St. Cloud is about as authentic as it gets -- do not dangle your feet in the lake at dusk -- unless you are in the market for a new set of artificial feet.

    Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park -- one of the deepest freshwater springs in the world -- in fact, divers have been working for years to trace the spring to the source -- no luck so far.

    There is a little Tiki bar in Homestead -- I can't find the notes (I had a hard drive crash recently) but it is very cool and without pretension.

    Hope that gets you started.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some More Natural Florida

    So, do you have passes for STS-118? I don't see that they're announcing the launch time yet, but hope for just prior to dawn. It is a show. Other than the Everglades and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, work your way up the center of the state around Lake Okeechobee and through the karst terrain of central Florida. As you do so, ask people in small towns to recommend the best local pulled pork barbecues. These tend to be in little, out-of-the way restaurants (not to say dives) and may only be open 1 or 2 days a week, but when you find one, they are worth it. Oh and be ready for "tea" to mean "sweet tea", a heavily sugared ice tea.

    Unfortunately, the highways you list would take you through some heavily populated areas of both coasts. I think you'd better serve your stated purpose by taking roads like US-27, US-98 and US-19 northward and then work over to say Cedar Key for a taste of the Gulf Coast. You could then circle back through Gainesville for a stop at the Florida Museum of Natural History before heading back down through Titusville to Fort Lauderdale.


  4. #4


    Thanks for the advice guys... I think I'll drive from FT Lauderdale to Sanibel, then NE up the interior of the state past Orlando to Ocala NF, then see the NASA launch and drive down the eastern coast back to Ft Lauderdale.
    I can't wait!!

  5. Default A southern Floridian's tips

    Hey man, I was born and raised in South Florida. 4 days is really not much time to see all of the 'real' Florida, but you should be able to see a good majority of it since we are thoroughly urbanized (sprawl is the true face of this place). I must say, it's funny that you are coming down to S. Florida at the same time I'm taking a road trip to Portland, Oregon, eh?

    Anyway, kicking your trip off in Lauderdale means you need to begin the vacation in the glades. That's a given, the place is a sanctuary of natural florida landscape abound with native wildlife (except for an invasion of boa's and pythons, which are turning up all over S. FL). If you can, desperately try to get on an airboat ride. That is really the only way to navigate the swamplands without any barriers. It's loud, very loud, but it is a true floridian experience.

    I know you said you aren't gonna go, but if you change your mind about the keys.... They are not as spectacular as you would imagine, unless you are into fishing. Hit the 7-mile bridge and stop by Pigeon Key so that you can see some very nice historical housing and walk the original 7-mile (as seen in the movie True Lies with that one chick and that one steroid Cali governor). Key West is a true journey that eats up a LOT of time just to walk around on a an island so dirty that they need to import beach sand. Friendly people, however, and one of the few keys that's somewhat populated. The reason it takes so long to drive there is that the highway is mostly 2 very small lanes, traffic laws are heavily enforced and you often get stuck behind a slow truck for hours at a time. With a 4 day window of time, I'd suggest Key West only if you really like to party and surround yourself with tourists.... If that's not your bag, stop at Pigeon Key and turn around.

    Sanibel and the surrounding areas are excellent choices for your time frame, due to their locality. Everything there is pretty much self-explanatory.

    If you're not into touristy areas, why oh why in the heck would you go to Orlando? I've been there many many many many many times and i still get lost, but it is VERY touristy. Extremely. But it is exciting, for that very reason. If you go, you have to visit international drive. Trust me.

    As for restuarants, you'll find excellent sea food along the beaches, just look for palm/thatched roof businesses. R.J. Gators is a big chain, but it's damn good and they have damn good gator tail. Ya can't come to florida and not eat some gator. Yeah... That's all i got for now...

    oh yeah, and don't get too hyped about the shuttle launches. Our weather hardly predictable, they usually end up delaying them a few times before the weather is permissable.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-15-2007 at 08:23 PM. Reason: continuation of previous post

  6. #6


    Gator is edible?!?!? See, this is exactly the type of local knowledge I need! Cool!!

    I'm skipping the Keys this time for exactly the reason you mentioned... time. I'll hit them next time.

    Note that I said "Past" Orlando, not really keen on wallowing in tourists.

    The NASA launch... I'll make sure to have a backup plan if it gets delayed, but for now I want to make sure I plan to be in the area just in case everything goes as planned.

    Thanks for the help Timeless!!! Have fun here in Portland, I love it here!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Tastes like chicken....

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB1971 View Post
    Gator is edible?!?!? See, this is exactly the type of local knowledge I need! Cool!!
    Edible? Yes. Delicious is another thing entirely.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Fried Gator is Really good!

    Mark - if the thought of gator eeks you out then don't even think about a true Cajun Restaurant in South Louisiana. They have fine edibles such as quail, crawfish, frog legs, gator and just about anything else that moves down there. However, I will admit that you can cook almost anything in a good roux with cajun spices and it will taste good.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Must be the preparation

    Quote Originally Posted by lhuff View Post
    They have fine edibles such as quail, crawfish, frog legs, gator
    I have eaten all of the above, from time to time. Fried gator just doesn't very appealing to me. About the only foods I really have never cared for are the various forms of organ meats and tripe...


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise

    Default Check Out Hollywood Beach

    One of our favorite places is Hollywood Beach, located between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach. One of the greatest boardwalks you'll find anywhere along with lots of little shops and bars.

    The last time we went, 2000, there was a great motel called the Beach House right on A1A across from the intercoastal and a block from the beach.

    Also on US-1, there is a a great bbq place called Ernie's that is worth checking out.

Similar Threads

  1. 1st road trip in Florida - need suggestions
    By imported_Cindy in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 06-05-2015, 10:11 AM
  2. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-22-2006, 02:39 PM
  3. Florida - California - Las Vegas - Mt. Rushmore
    By Patsy in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 02-09-2006, 11:48 PM
  4. Cleveland to Florida
    By gr8testdiva in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-24-2005, 08:29 AM
  5. New York - Florida
    By Charlie McCormick in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-25-2005, 08:28 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts