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How To Plan The Ultimate Orlando & Florida Keys Road Trip

How To Plan The Ultimate Orlando & Florida Keys Road Trip

An Orlando to Florida Keys road trip is an ultimate vacation adventure that combines the best of both worlds – theme park thrills in Orlando and laid-back island vibes in the Florida Keys. This epic journey will take you through the beautiful Sunshine State, offering a mix of picturesque beaches, vibrant cities, and breathtaking natural landscapes.

To help you plan the perfect trip, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on how to make the most of your Orlando and the Florida Keys road trip. So sit back, buckle up, and get ready to hit the road!

1. Choose Your Route

There are two main routes to choose from when planning your Orlando to Florida Keys road trip: the East Coast and West Coast. Each route offers unique experiences and attractions, so consider your interests and the time you have for your journey before deciding.

  • East Coast Route

The East Coast Route will take you along Florida’s Atlantic coastline, covering approximately 400 miles and taking about 9 hours and 30 minutes to drive.

Highlights along this route include the Kennedy Space Center, Fort Pierce, Jupiter Island, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Key Largo.

  • West Coast Route

The West Coast Route, on the other hand, will take you along Florida’s Gulf Coast, covering around 519 miles and taking about 8 hours and 30 minutes to drive.

This route will lead you through Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Naples, and the Everglades before joining the East Coast Route at Homestead.

Note: Both routes offer incredible scenery and attractions, so you won’t be disappointed with either choice. Consider doing a loop to experience both coasts during your road trip.

2. Plan Your Road Trip Itinerary

Once you’ve chosen your route, it’s time to plan your itinerary. To make the most of your Orlando and Florida Keys road trip, consider spending at least two weeks exploring the various attractions and destinations along the way. Here’s a suggested itinerary for the East Coast and West Coast Route:

East Coast Itinerary

  • Orlando
  • Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island
  • Fort Pierce
  • Jupiter Island
  • West Palm Beach
  • Boca Raton
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Miami
  • Everglades National Park
  • Key Largo
  • Islamorada
  • Marathon
  • Key West

West Coast Itinerary

  • Orlando
  • Tampa
  • St. Petersburg
  • Sarasota
  • Fort Myers
  • Naples
  • Big Cypress National Park
  • Everglades National Park
  • Homestead
  • Key Largo
  • Islamorada
  • Marathon
  • Key West

Remember to adjust your itinerary based on your available time and interests. Prioritize the destinations and attractions you’re most excited about, and be open to changing your plans as needed.

3. Book Your Accommodations

With your itinerary in place, it’s time to book your Orlando to Florida Keys road trip accommodations. Depending on your preferences and budget, you can choose from a wide range of accommodations, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and campgrounds.

To help you find the perfect places to stay, we’ve compiled a list of some top-rated accommodations along both the East Coast Route and West Coast Route:

East Coast Accommodations:

  • Orlando: Lake Buena Vista or International Drive
  • Clearwater Beach: South Clearwater Beach or Sand Key Park
  • Sanibel Island: Island Inn or Sheraton Sand Key
  • Naples: Old Naples or Marco Island
  • Fort Lauderdale: East Las Olas Boulevard or Fort Lauderdale Beach
  • Miami: Four Seasons Hotel Miami or Downtown Miami
  • Key Largo: Key Largo Resorts or Key Largo Cottages
  • Islamorada: Islander Resort or Sands of Islamorada
  • Key West: Andrews Inn & Garden Cottages or Old Town Key West

West Coast Accommodations:

  • Orlando: Lake Buena Vista or International Drive
  • Tampa: Busch Gardens or Downtown Tampa
  • St. Petersburg: Downtown St. Petersburg or St. Pete Beach
  • Sarasota: Downtown Sarasota or Lido Key
  • Fort Myers: Edison & Ford Winter Estates or Fort Myers Beach
  • Naples: Old Naples or Marco Island
  • Everglades City: Everglades Adventures or River Waterfront
  • Key Largo: Key Largo Resorts or Key Largo Cottages
  • Islamorada: Islander Resort or Sands of Islamorada
  • Key West: Andrews Inn & Garden Cottages or Old Town Key West

Note: Book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability and the best rates.

4. Pack For Your Road Trip

Packing for an Orlando and Florida Keys road trip can be tricky, as you’ll need to prepare for various activities and weather conditions. Here are some essential items to include in your packing list:

  • Comfortable clothing for warm weather and air-conditioned indoor spaces
  • Swimwear, beach towels, and sunscreen for beach days
  • Walking shoes or sandals for exploring cities and parks
  • Rain gear, such as a lightweight rain jacket or umbrella
  • Bug spray for outdoor activities, especially in the Everglades
  • Check your tires, brakes, fluid levels, and lights
  • Roadside assistance plan in place in case of emergencies
  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during your trip
  • Snacks and a cooler for storing food and drinks on the road
  • A first aid kit for minor injuries and emergencies
  • A GPS or smartphone with a reliable maps app for navigation
  • A phone mount for hands-free driving and easy access to directions
  • Chargers and power banks for electronic devices
  • Travel documents, such as your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance

Note: Remember to pack light and only bring what you’ll need for your trip. You can always purchase additional items along the way if necessary.

5. Plan Your Activities

With so many incredible destinations and attractions when driving from Orlando to Florida Keys road trip, planning your activities is essential to make the most of your time. Here are some must-see attractions and experiences to include in your itinerary:


Start Your Journey In Orlando

  • Visit world-famous theme parks, such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld
  • Enjoy shopping, dining, and entertainment on International Drive
  • Discover the vibrant arts and culture scene at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts or the Orlando Museum of Art

Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island

  • Explore the fascinating history and future of space exploration at NASA’s visitor complex.
  • Witness a rocket launch or meet an astronaut during special events.

Hutchinson Island

  • About a 2-hour drive from Orlando, visit an idyllic barrier island with unspoiled beaches and abundant marine life
  • High chances to see manatees, dolphins, whales, and turtles can often be spotted offshore
  • Explore the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center, home to nature trails, lagoons, and a stingray aquarium

Fort Pierce

  • Relax on the beautiful beaches or stroll along the waterfront at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
  • Learn about Florida’s marine life at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center

Jupiter Island

  • Visit the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum for stunning views and history
  • Relax on the pristine beaches or explore the lush nature trails at Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge

West Palm Beach

  • Enjoy the upscale dining and shopping options in downtown West Palm Beach
  • Visit the Palm Beach Zoo or Manatee Lagoon for a glimpse of Florida’s unique wildlife
  • Enjoy the lively atmosphere of Rosemary Square

Boca Raton

  • Stroll along the picturesque Mizner Park for shopping, dining, and entertainment
  • Explore the beautiful Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, a coastal and marine environmental experience

Fort Lauderdale

  • Relax on the stunning beaches or explore the vibrant Las Olas Boulevard for shopping, dining, and nightlife
  • Visit the Flamingo Gardens, a botanical garden and wildlife sanctuary, or take a water taxi to explore the city’s scenic waterways


  • Miami is a bustling metropolis known for its stunning beaches, Art Deco architecture, and vibrant nightlife
  • Soak up the sun on South Beach or take a stroll down the iconic Ocean Drive
  • Visit the famous Bayside Marketplace
  • Visit Little Havana for a taste of Cuban culture or explore the vibrant Wynwood Walls for a unique art experience

Everglades National Park

  • This vast subtropical wetland is home to wildlife
  • Discover the unique ecosystem of the Everglades on an airboat tour, spotting alligators, birds, lizards, and other wildlife along the way
  • Hike or bike the park’s many trails, or Kayak through the mangroves and marshes for an up-close look at this incredible wetland

Key Largo

  • known as the Dive Capital of the World
  • Explore, dive, or snorkel the spectacular coral reefs of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
  • Explore the history of the African Queen steamboat, made famous by the Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn film
  • Visit the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park


  • Enjoy the laid-back island vibes and beautiful beaches, perfect for relaxing and enjoying water activities
  • Visit the Theater of the Sea for an unforgettable dolphin encounter or paddle to Indian Key Historic State Park for a glimpse of Florida’s past


  • Relax on the beautiful Sombrero Beach or visit the Dolphin Research Center for an interactive experience
  • Don’t miss the famous Seven Mile Bridge, an engineering marvel that connects the islands of the Florida Keys

Key West

  • Unwind in the southernmost city of the continental USA, known for its idyllic beaches, vibrant nightlife, and rich history
  • Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • Head to Mallory Square for the nightly sunset festival

Final Thoughts

Now that you have the perfect guide to planning your ultimate road trip, all that is left is to pack up your bags, get inside the car, and hit the open road on an adventure that will stay with you for years to come!

A journey through Orlando to Florida Keys offers an unbeatable combination of fun, sun, and adventure. You’ll experience some of the most beautiful beaches in America, unforgettable theme park thrills, fantastic wildlife encounters, and delicious cuisine. Whether you’re a wild adventurer or a low-key traveller, an Orlando to the Florida Keys road trip has something for everyone. And remember, it’s not just about the destination – it’s about the journey! So don’t wait any longer.

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