Drivable Summer Trips for Floridians

Picture of Author: Kristen Eckblad

Author: Kristen Eckblad

Last Spring we shared 7 Cool Vacation Spots to Beat the Summer Heat, including cool summer getaways like Lake Tahoe, Seattle and Stowe, Vermont. In this blog we are featuring some amazing locations within driving distance of South Florida. Of course you can still fly if you want, but getting there can be half the fun. 🎵Holiday Road!

Cool Vacation Spots Within Driving Distance of South Florida

Crystal River, Florida

Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida
Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River

About an hour north of Tampa you’ll find Crystal River, a sleepy little Gulf town with a ton of character. Local activities include swimming with the manatees, scalloping and even scuba diving. Yes, the Rainbow River provides both scuba divers and snorkelers with a cool drift dive that is 72 degrees year round! Don’t miss Three Sisters Springs where you can swim, kayak and paddleboard in crystal clear turquoise waters, surrounded by a wildlife refuge. Scalloping is very popular July through September and the local restaurants will gladly prepare your catch for you. Accommodations are plentiful, but check out the Plantation on Crystal River and the Florida Cracker Riverside Resort in Homosassa.

The Florida Keys

7 Mile Bridge Florida Keys
The 7 Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys

One of the secrets of surviving the summer heat in Florida, is to get out on the water where the ocean breezes provide us with natural air conditioning. What better place is there than the Florida Keys to take advantage of this natural cooling effect? The Florida Keys are comprised of about 1,700 islands that are surrounded by water. Just get down there and check out the endless water based activities including deep sea and inshore fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding and pleasure cruising. Don’t have a boat? No worries, there are plenty of boat rentals available and endless charter opportunities. Drive the Overseas Highway from Key Largo to Key West and experience all the Keys has to offer, and some of the most scenic views in all of America.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Wild horses Outer Banks North Carolina
Don’t miss the wild horses in North Carolina’s Outer Banks

The beaches of North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks are steeped in history. The Outer Banks are home to America’s first colony, the Wright Brother’s first flight and our first National Seashore. Whether you are a history buff, outdoor adventurer or admirer of architecture, there are plenty of things to do in the Outer Banks, aka. OBX. A good home base is the Sanderling Resort in Duck, NC.

Some popular destinations include the Wright Brothers Museum, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and our country’s largest brick lighthouse at Cape Hatteras. For water sports enthusiasts, there is a never ending supply of stand-up paddleboarding, surfing, kite-surfing, sailing and fishing. There is also plenty of land based activities include hiking, biking and golf. Of course the wildlife here is also plentiful, so pick a park and explore your interests. Don’t miss the wild horses of Corolla on the far northern shore!

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Baby Black Bear in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Another way to escape the heat is to gain altitude and the Great Smoky Mountains are the closest and best option for Floridians. There is a reason this is the most visited national park in the country. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most biodiverse park in the country with over 19,000 species documented. Elevations range from 800 feet to over 6,600 feet, providing for dramatic climate and habitat changes throughout the park. Wildlife encounters are plentiful with over 65 species of mammals including black bears, white tailed deer and groundhogs. Birdwatchers will enjoy over 200 species of birds in the park.

Historic Coastal Driving Tour – Florida, Georgia and South Carolina

Again, getting there can be half the fun. Why not experience several historic American cities in one amazing drive up the southeastern coast? Your first stop after leaving South Florida will be the historic beach town of Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast. Next you’ll want to stop at St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. Crossing into Georgia, you should consider visiting Jekyll Island on your way to Savannah where you’ll experience the museums and iconic squares of this storied historic city. Finally, your amazing road trip will end in Charleston, South Carolina, where you’ll want to pick one of the town’s historic inns or seaside resorts to rest for a few days before heading back home.

For more cool summer get-aways check out our 7 Cool Vacation Spots to Beat the Summer Heat

Blog Author:
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