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  1. Default 5 night trip from Miami

    Hello all,

    We are a 50 ish married couple from England and arrive into Miami from our Carnival cruise ship in mid December. We have not visited before and have 5 nights to spend before we fly back. Would rather not stay in Miami for the duration as we would like to get out of the larger towns and see a little of your real country.
    We like good food and drink, sunbathing, shopping and some non-touristy sightseeing. We have a rental car booked and wondered if it would be best to head for the Keys and spend our time there or to travel around and try and take in a few different places? Would there be enough to see and do in the Keys for that length of time? We obviously don't want to spend the majority of time in the car but don't mind travelling if the destination is worth it.
    Would be grateful of your opinions, particularly where to eat good local food in unusual or traditional surroundings as our evening meals are a priority time for us. Money is not a particular issue, thankfully.
    Thanks for your advice in anticipation.

    Kevin & Helen.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default You Can See Quite a Lot in 5 Days

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    But I wouldn't spend all 5 days on the Keys. While the Keys are nice, they are all (pretty much) the same in the sense that they're all low lying islands that are highly developed. They are also fairly geographically restricted. They are a fair way from Miami over relatively slow roads, so you'd be spending a good deal of your time in traffic and not seeing anything like the diversity our country has to offer. I think you'd be much better served by taking a leisurely drive up through central Florida and southern Georgia with Charleston, SC or Savannah, GA a couple of our most gracious larger towns as your destination. You could then return via a more coastal route seeing even more. The drive from Miami to Savannah or Charleston could be done in a single day of hard driving, so by taking 5 days for the round trip, you'd be spending about 40% of your time driving and 60% (very roughly) visiting and enjoying sights.

    Along the way, things and places to consider stopping for include Okefenokee Swamp, St. Augustine, Cape Canaveral, the offshore islands of Georgia and South Carolina including Cumberland Island National Seashore, and either Cedar Key or the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf coast. As I say, such a trip will give you a much better sampling of that corner of America than just heading out to the Keys.


  3. Default

    Many thanks for that advice - it really does sound a better option and one i'm sure we would get more out of.
    Is there anyone that can give me more specifics on where to stop perhaps, nice hotels or any particularly good restaurants?
    Although the rough plan would be to 'get in the car and go', I always find myself planning in more detail. Maybe not a bad thing, particularly if you 'locals' if I may call you that, can advise the best places. I am convinced that nothing can beat local knowledge - much more reliable than trawling through the net!
    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Couldn't Agree With You More

    About the need for local advice. The problem is, I'm over 2000 miles form Miami, so I hardly count as a local. Fortunately, there are people in every area you'll be visiting who are intimately familiar with the local restaurant scene and those are the folks in the Welcome Centers at state lines (on the Interstates/Motorways) and in local tourist or information bureaus in most towns. Ask them. The key is to describe in detail what kind of dining experience you're looking for and to ask them where they'd eat if that's what they were looking for. My wife and I travel fairly extensively throughout the U.S. and have never been led astray using this system. Plus you get to talk to some of the 'locals' and savor that Southern Accent.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default A good book


    Like any place, Florida has a lot to offer, depending on your interests. The beaches on the west coast are different from the east coast, there are interesting art museums, a circus museum, historical areas, the space center, amusement parks, etc. While we each have our favorites (Cedar Key, Homasosa Springs wildlife park, Cape Canaveral, Key West, St. Augustine, Dali Museum and Sanibel Island are some of mine), I'd suggest a couple of hours spent with a good guidebook, especially one that ranks sights, restaurants and hotels with some kind of star or number system. Or you can do some advance planning online at various websites such as Frommers.

    Have a great cruise, and after-cruise,

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  6. #6


    There are a few suggestions that on the thread covering my planned trip which I feel wil be of interest to you.

  7. Default Ahh Florida

    I'm originally from Florida, and it seems like there is so much there I never got to see. I never spent much time in the Miami area, but the good definitely comes with the bad in South Florida. My advice would be to get as far away from Miami as fast as possible. It's not that it's a bad city or anything, it's just the congestion and nuisances really take away from a relaxing vacation.

    Key West is a fun town to spend a day in, but it is a very long drive from the mainland where you have to be on the same road twice (there and back). If you're in Key West you could consider jumping on the boat or plane and taking a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park.

    If you enjoy fishing, you could hire a guide in Islamorada and enjoy some of the best saltwater fishing in North America.

    I think someone from England would really enjoy the Everglades National Park as well. It is a good place to just get away since the Florida coastline is 99% developed.

    Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island have some nice coastal wildlife areas, and the Kennedy Space Center is a favorite amongst locals of Central Florida. If you don't have kids with you, then Kennedy Space Center beats the crap out of the usual Disney experience.

    I would tend to disagree with going much further north than Central Florida; because driving in Florida can be agonizingly boring -- most of I-95 and I-75 have no horizons beyond tall, ugly pine trees.

    If you do feel that you are up for that drive, then St. Augustine is a top destination along the Atlantic Coast. There is a lot of history and scenery in the area, and it is another local favorite.

    In conclusion, I would say that two "can't miss" destinations for you would be the Florida Keys and the Everglades. They are both very different from each other and you won't have those "more of the same" thoughts running through your head.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Denver, Colorado

    Default Miami is ok...but

    Hi KMiller53

    I'm originally from Miami and now live in Denver. I can say that Miami is nice but I wouldn't want to spend my vacation there. A day, maybe two, is enough to see the beaches, museums, etc.

    If you have your heart set on South Beach you can spend an afternoon walking the area and window shopping. Treat yourself to an overpriced meal at one of the many outdoor cafés and enjoy all the food the supermodels don’t eat.

    The same goes for Key West. It is a heck of a drive but it’s beautiful. I loved driving over the bridges and seeing the water stretching on forever. The thing about Key West is that once you’ve seen one cigar shop in Key West you’ve seen all cigar shops in Key West. Once you’ve had a drink in a Key West bar you’ve had a drink in all Key West bars. Sloppy Joe’s is as good as any to get a beer, buy an expensive Hemmingway or Captain Tony t-shirt and say you’ve been there. The real “old Florida” Key West went away in the 70s…earlier than that really.

    The Everglades are a definite must see. If you’re the adventurous sort you can visit Shark Valley, about 30 minutes west of Miami off Hwy 41 (SW 8th St). Contrary to its name you will not see sharks. But you will see alligators sunning themselves on the same footpaths where you walk.

    If you’re really brave you can rent a bicycle and pedal your way through the 14 or 15 mile path that winds through the sawgrass. This affords you the best chance to see wildlife. Great blue heron, gators, platypus, and dodo birds..ok ok ok…so I exaggerate...maybe you wont see that platypus or dodo :)

    Of course, you can always opt for the tram that takes you the distance, but where’s the fun in that?

    After pedaling seven miles through the sawgrass you will be rewarded with an observation tower that offers spectacular views of the river of grass. The climb to the top of the tower is a low gradient spherical incline. Once you reach the top you will realize the sweat expended on the bike ride was worth it.

    In my jaded, never-move-back-to-south-florida-if-you-payed-me-a-million-dollars opinion, that should be the extent of your visit in the area.

    That’s not to say there aren’t other worthwhile attractions. If you’re into kitsch, Coral Castle in South Miami is a definite stop. The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is a work of art and the Hialeah Race Track is magnificent…although I don’t know if it is still open. Last I heard there was talk of tearing it down.

    South Florida is wonderful, it was a great place to be raised. But like everything else it has changed and although it’s a nice place to see and visit, I would concentrate on the central and northern part of the state. It has plenty to offer.
    Last edited by Willyh; 10-16-2007 at 08:46 PM.

  9. #9


    I like the idea of renting the bike myself and following the route that you suggest. Is there any information on this online or could you point me in the right direction of where and how much?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Denver, Colorado


    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post
    I like the idea of renting the bike myself and following the route that you suggest. Is there any information on this online or could you point me in the right direction of where and how much?
    Hi Craig

    You can rent a bike in the tram office right on the park. If I remember correctly it costs around $7 per hour. You should be able to bike the entire path 2 to 3 hours.

    Here is a National Park Service link to the tram road.

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