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From Sarasota to Orlando: A Journey Through Florida’s Best

Experience the ultimate road trip adventure from Sarasota to Orlando, a journey through Florida’s finest destinations. This itinerary will take you on a spectacular ride, showcasing hidden gems and popular attractions in the Sunshine State.

Starting from Sarasota, a city known for its stunning beaches, cultural attractions, and vibrant arts scene, you’ll explore the hidden gems of this coastal paradise. From there, you’ll venture to the Everglades, Miami, the Florida Keys, and Orlando, home to world-renowned theme parks.

Whether you’re a nature buff, a foodie, a history enthusiast, or a thrill-seeker, Florida offers something for everyone. This road trip itinerary will take you on a journey of a lifetime, from the Gulf Coast’s tranquil beaches to the lively city of Miami and the theme park capital of the world, Orlando.

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida road trips offer a unique opportunity to explore the state’s hidden gems and popular attractions.
  • From Sarasota to Orlando, this road trip itinerary showcases the best places to visit in Florida.
  • Experience the cultural attractions of Sarasota, the natural beauty of the Everglades, the vibrant culture of Miami, the tropical paradise of the Florida Keys, and the theme park magic of Orlando.
  • Embrace the diverse beauty and excitement of the Sunshine State on this unforgettable journey.
  • Remember to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and comfortable walking shoes for this adventure.

Exploring Sarasota’s Hidden Gems

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota is a city that boasts of breathtaking beaches, cultural landmarks, and a lively arts scene. It’s an ideal destination for travelers seeking a mix of relaxation and adventure. Here are some of Sarasota’s top attractions that should be on your Florida travel guide:

Ringling Museum of Art

If you’re an art enthusiast, then the Ringling Museum of Art is a must-visit for you. The museum showcases an extensive collection of Baroque art, including works by Rubens, as well as American art. The art museum is located on the grounds of the Ringling Estate, the former home of the circus magnate John Ringling.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Another hidden treasure in Sarasota is the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This 15-acre garden is located on the waterfront and boasts a vast collection of orchids, bromeliads, and other rare plants. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, enjoy a picnic, and take in the stunning views of Sarasota Bay.

Siesta Key Beach

Considered one of the best beaches in the United States, Siesta Key Beach is a must-visit when in Sarasota. Its crystal-clear waters and soft, white sand make it a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and taking long walks along the shore. Visitors can also find restaurants and shops nearby.

“Sarasota is one of my favorite destinations in Florida. It has something for everyone, from the beach to the arts. The Ringling Museum of Art is a must-visit, and the Selby Gardens are a hidden gem!” – Jane, Travel Blogger

These are just a few of the many Sarasota attractions that make this city such a special place. Plan your visit to Sarasota and discover its hidden gems.

Embracing Nature in the Everglades

Continuing our Florida road trip south from Sarasota, the Everglades National Park is a must-visit destination. As one of the best places to visit in Florida, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a natural wonder. Prepare yourself for a unique ecosystem and an unforgettable experience where you can witness breathtaking wildlife and serene landscapes.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take an airboat ride as you explore the vast wetlands of the Everglades. Glide across the shallow waters and spot alligators in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for other wildlife such as the Florida panther, manatees, and the elusive Florida Everglades mink.

Exploring the Everglades

Activity Details
Airboat Tours Take an airboat tour and explore the wetlands to spot alligators and other wildlife
Shark Valley Experience a 15-mile bike ride or tram tour through Shark Valley to see alligators, birds, and other wildlife
Anhinga Trail Take a leisurely stroll along the Anhinga Trail and see a variety of birds, turtles, and alligators up close

There are many ways to experience the Everglades during your Florida vacation itinerary. From airboat tours to hiking and biking trails, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this natural paradise.

Be sure to stop at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center during your visit to learn about the park’s history, ecology, and conservation efforts. The visitor center also offers information on ranger-led tours and educational programs.

The Everglades National Park is the perfect destination for those looking to connect with nature and explore one of Florida’s best-kept secrets. So, include it in your road trip itinerary from Sarasota to Orlando, and make unforgettable memories in the Sunshine State!

Discovering the Magic of Miami

As you continue your Florida road trip, make sure to include a stop in Miami, one of the best places to visit in Florida. Known for its vibrant culture, stunning beaches, and world-class cuisine, Miami offers a unique experience that should not be missed.

Exploring Miami’s Iconic Neighborhoods

A great way to start your Miami adventure is by exploring some of the city’s iconic neighborhoods. Miami Beach is a must-visit destination, with its beautiful Art Deco architecture and vibrant nightlife. Take a stroll along Ocean Drive, visit the famous Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, and relax on the pristine beaches.

Another neighborhood to visit is the trendy Wynwood Arts District, home to some of the best galleries, cafes, and street art in Miami. Get lost in the vibrant murals and enjoy the eclectic atmosphere of this creative community.

For those looking to experience the Cuban culture, a visit to Little Havana is a must. Indulge in authentic Cuban cuisine, visit the historic Tower Theater, and immerse yourself in the Cuban music and dance scene.

Visiting the Famous Wynwood Walls

If you are an art lover, the Wynwood Walls is a must-visit destination in Miami. This open-air street art museum features some of the most stunning murals from world-renowned artists. Take a walking tour and learn about the history of the neighborhood and the inspiration behind the stunning artwork.

Indulging in Authentic Cuban Cuisine

When in Miami, trying the authentic Cuban cuisine is a must. Little Havana is the perfect place to experience the flavors and culture of Cuba. Indulge in classic dishes like the Cuban sandwich, ropa vieja, and fried plantains. Don’t forget to end your meal with a strong and sweet cup of Cuban coffee.

Relaxing on the Beaches of Miami

No trip to Miami would be complete without a day spent lounging on one of its stunning beaches. Miami Beach and South Beach are some of the most popular destinations, with their turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. For a more secluded experience, head to the beautiful Key Biscayne or the tranquil Matheson Hammock Park Beach.

Make sure to add Miami to your Florida vacation itinerary and discover the magic of this vibrant city. From its iconic neighborhoods to its stunning beaches, Miami offers something for everyone.

Unwinding in the Florida Keys

After exploring the vibrant city of Miami, it’s time to head south to the enchanting paradise of the Florida Keys. This chain of tropical islands offers a laid-back atmosphere and breathtaking scenery, making it the perfect destination to relax and unwind before continuing your road trip.

Begin your journey in Key Largo, known for its world-class diving and snorkeling opportunities. Swim alongside colorful schools of fish and explore stunning coral reefs in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Continue your journey to Islamorada, a picturesque village with a rich history of fishing and seafood. Visit the History of Diving Museum and learn about the fascinating evolution of underwater exploration.

Next, make a stop in Marathon, home of the famous Seven Mile Bridge. Take a scenic bike ride or walk across this architectural marvel, enjoying panoramic views of the turquoise waters below.

At the end of the bridge, you’ll find yourself in the charming town of Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. Explore the iconic neighborhoods, including the quirky and colorful houses of the Old Town, and indulge in the famous key lime pie at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe.

Take a sunset sail and watch the sky transform into hues of pink and orange over the horizon. Or simply unwind on the tranquil shores of Smathers Beach, taking in the warm sunshine and gentle sea breeze.

Top Road Trip Destinations in the Florida Keys

Destination Highlights
Key Largo John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, African Queen Canal Cruise
Islamorada History of Diving Museum, Theater of the Sea, Morada Bay Beach Cafe
Marathon Seven Mile Bridge, Dolphin Research Center, Turtle Hospital
Key West Mallory Square, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, the Florida Keys has something for everyone. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the breathtaking views on this unforgettable leg of your Florida road trip.

Exploring Orlando’s Theme Park Magic

Orlando is Florida’s crown jewel and known for its world-class theme parks. A trip to Orlando guarantees an adventure-filled experience like no other place on earth. Get ready to immerse yourself in magical worlds and thrilling rides at Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando.

Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited vacation resort in the world, receiving over 52 million guests annually. This iconic theme park is home to four magical theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom – each with its unique attractions, shows, and events.

Theme Park Attractions Not-to-Miss Rides
Magic Kingdom Classic Disney attractions, Disney characters meet and greet, and parades Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World
Epcot World Showcase, Future World, cultural experiences. Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space
Hollywood Studios Movie-themed attractions, Star Wars experiences, shows Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Land
Animal Kingdom Wildlife experiences, shows, and exhibits Avatar Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids

Pro Tip: FastPass+ allows you to reserve a spot in line for your favorite attractions before even arriving at the park. Plan ahead to make the most of your day at Walt Disney World Resort.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort is another popular theme park in Orlando, known for its thrilling rides based on blockbuster movies and TV shows, such as Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Despicable Me. The resort has two theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – each with its unique attractions, shows, and experiences.

Theme Park Attractions Not-to-Miss Rides
Universal Studios Florida Movie-themed attractions, shows, and experiences Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride
Islands of Adventure Movie-themed attractions, shows, and experiences Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man, Jurassic Park River Adventure

Pro Tip: Purchase a park-to-park ticket to access both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on the same day. Don’t miss the Hogwarts Express ride that connects both Harry Potter-themed lands in each park.

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando is a marine theme park that offers a combination of animal experiences, shows, and thrill rides. The park is home to different marine animals, such as dolphins, sea lions, orcas, and sharks.

Attractions Not-to-Miss Shows Not-to-Miss Rides
Dolphin Days, One Ocean, Sea Lion High Orca Encounter, Dolphin Days, Sea Lion High Mako, Kraken Unleashed, Infinity Falls

Pro Tip: Buy a Quick Queue pass to skip the lines and enjoy more time with the animals and rides.

This Orlando theme park experience is a must-do for all visitors to Florida. Make sure to plan your itinerary in advance and get ready for an adventure-filled experience like no other.

Reliving History in St. Augustine

As part of this Florida road trip, make sure to stop in St. Augustine, one of the best places to visit in Florida to relive history. This charming city boasts a rich history, making it an ideal road trip destination in Florida.

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the United States, and its streets are lined with historic buildings that provide a glimpse into the city’s past. The city has a Spanish colonial feel and offers a range of activities for visitors, including:

  • Exploring the historic streets
  • Visiting the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish fort
  • Immersing yourself in art, culture, and history at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum

St. Augustine is also a great place to shop for unique souvenirs and enjoy authentic Spanish and Cuban cuisine. So why not add St. Augustine to your Florida vacation itinerary and discover the charm and history of this fascinating city.

Enjoying Nature in Ocala National Forest

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Florida’s Ocala National Forest. Located just north of Orlando, this vast wilderness offers a wealth of outdoor activities and serene landscapes, making it the perfect destination for nature lovers.

Explore the forest’s diverse ecosystems, which range from lush pine forests to crystal-clear springs and shimmering lakes. Take a hike along one of the many trails, such as the popular Juniper Springs Trail, which winds its way through verdant forests and past idyllic waterfalls.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, rent a canoe or kayak and paddle along the forest’s rivers and waterways, stopping to swim in the refreshing springs or look for native wildlife, such as the endangered Florida Panther or the playful river otter.

The Best Places to Visit in Ocala National Forest

Destination Description
Juniper Springs Trail A scenic hiking trail that winds past stunning waterfalls and through lush forests.
Silver Glen Springs A pristine swimming area with crystal-clear waters and vibrant aquatic life.
Alexander Springs A popular spot for swimming, canoeing, and picnicking, with stunning views of the surrounding forests and springs.
The Yearling Trail A historic trail that leads to the site of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Yearling,” which is based on a family that lived in the forest in the late 1800s.

Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Ocala National Forest is a must-visit destination on your Florida road trip. Take in the breathtaking natural scenery, enjoy a picnic on the banks of a river, or simply relax and unwind in the tranquility of this pristine wilderness.

Relaxing on the Gulf Coast

Finish your Florida road trip on a relaxing note on the Gulf Coast’s beautiful beaches. With endless stretches of white sand and turquoise waters, the Gulf Coast is the perfect place to unwind and soak up the sun.

Clearwater Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and powdery sands, is a must-visit destination on the Gulf Coast. Take a dip in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, watch the dolphins play in the distance, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the beach’s boardwalk.

Anna Maria Island, located just south of Tampa Bay, is a charming island paradise offering some of Florida’s most beautiful and tranquil beaches. Relax on the unspoiled shores, enjoy water activities like paddleboarding and kayaking, and take a scenic bike ride along the island’s palm-lined streets.

If you’re looking for a quieter and more secluded destination, head to Sanibel Island. Known for its pristine beaches and abundant wildlife, Sanibel Island is the perfect place to spot dolphins, manatees, and exotic birds. With over 15 miles of bike paths, it’s also an ideal destination for a leisurely bike ride to explore the island’s natural wonders.

Table: Gulf Coast Beach Comparison

Location Water Conditions Activities Atmosphere
Clearwater Beach Crystal-clear waters, calm waves Swimming, water sports, boardwalk Vibrant, bustling, family-friendly
Anna Maria Island Warm waters, gentle waves Paddleboarding, kayaking, biking Relaxed, laid-back, quiet
Sanibel Island Clear waters, some seagrass Wildlife-spotting, shelling, biking Peaceful, natural, secluded

Whether you choose to visit Clearwater Beach, Anna Maria Island, or Sanibel Island, the Gulf Coast’s beautiful beaches will provide the perfect backdrop to end your Florida road trip on a relaxing and rejuvenating note.


This road trip from Sarasota to Orlando is a beautiful journey through the best that Florida has to offer. From the stunning beaches of Sarasota to the bustling city life of Miami, and the excitement of Orlando’s theme parks, this travel itinerary provides an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique ecosystem of the Everglades, explore the rich history of St. Augustine, or unwind on the tranquil shores of the Gulf Coast’s beaches.

Florida is a state with a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. This road trip allows you to explore the best of all worlds, from the hidden gems to the popular attractions. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Florida is waiting for you!


What are the best attractions to visit in Sarasota?

Some of the must-visit attractions in Sarasota include the Ringling Museum of Art, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and the beautiful Siesta Key Beach.

What can I see and do in the Everglades National Park?

In the Everglades National Park, you can explore the unique ecosystem, spot wildlife, and take an airboat ride to see alligators in their natural habitat.

What are some popular neighborhoods and attractions in Miami?

Miami offers a vibrant cultural scene. Explore Miami Beach, visit the Wynwood Walls, and don’t miss the chance to indulge in authentic Cuban cuisine in Little Havana.

What can I expect in the Florida Keys?

The Florida Keys are known for their laid-back atmosphere and breathtaking scenery. Visit Key West for vibrant nightlife, charming boutiques, and beautiful beaches.

Which theme parks should I visit in Orlando?

Orlando is home to world-renowned theme parks like Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando. Get ready for magical worlds and exhilarating rides.

What are some must-see attractions in St. Augustine?

In St. Augustine, explore the historic streets, visit the Castillo de San Marcos, and dive into the rich history of the nation’s oldest city.

What can I do in Ocala National Forest?

Ocala National Forest offers pristine wilderness where you can hike trails, canoe in crystal-clear springs, and spot native wildlife in their natural habitat.

Which beaches should I visit on the Gulf Coast?

Enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast, such as Clearwater Beach, Anna Maria Island, or Sanibel Island, and relax on the tranquil shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Is this road trip suitable for families?

Absolutely! This road trip offers a diverse range of attractions and activities suitable for families, including theme parks, beaches, and cultural attractions.

Can I customize the itinerary to suit my preferences?

Of course! This suggested itinerary is flexible, and you can customize it to include additional destinations or skip some based on your preferences and interests.

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