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One of the best parts about living in the Sunshine State is the opportunity to take some great Florida road trips. 

Whether you’re coming from Jacksonville, Orlando or Tampa, most roads lead to Southwest Florida’s white sand beaches, the Gulf of Mexico’s emerald-turquoise water and the area’s relaxing island lifestyle. If you’ve been in the mood for a road trip with your loved ones, or a change of scenery, some of the best Florida road trip destinations are in Southwest Florida. It’s a wonderland for nature enthusiasts and boaters. Foodies will appreciate the variety of culinary options. And the beaches are like a dream.

It’s no secret that Florida is home to a handful of other destinations like St. Augustine, theme parks in Orlando and Tampa, and cities on the east coast like Miami and West Palm Beach. The great thing about Southwest Florida’s location within the Sunshine State is that it’s nearly at the end of U.S. 41 and Interstate-75. You can start from pretty much anywhere in Florida and end your trip in Naples, Fort Myers or on Sanibel or Captiva Islands. Southwest Florida is a true vacation destination. Pack up the car, get your loved ones together, relax, recharge and create memories you’ll cherish forever.

In this Florida road trip planner, we’ll give you tips for the best Florida road trips and all of the reasons why Southwest Florida should be your final destination.

What is the Best Road Trip in America?

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Florida is hundreds of miles long with scenic roads and highways crisscrossing the state. You can get to Southwest Florida via U.S. 41, Interstate-75, State Road 29, State Road 17 and State Road 27. We have vacation rentals throughout Southwest Florida. Depending on what type of view, how much space you need and whether you’re bringing the family dog, Royal Shell has a variety of vacation homes we think you’ll love.

Florida road trips are ideal because there’s so much to see and do. Travel from Orlando and trade theme parks for white sand beaches and world-class shelling on Sanibel Island. Explore the island’s famous J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Get on island time on Captiva Island. See how Thomas Edison and Henry Ford lived in Fort Myers. Visit the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library in Cape Coral. Check out Bonita Springs’ oldest roadside attraction, the Everglades Wonder Gardens, built in 1936. Or walk the historic Naples Pier.

How Do I Plan My First Road Trip?

The first step in planning a road trip is deciding where your final destination will be. There are eight popular areas in Southwest Florida. You’ll be able to choose from Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, or its sister island, Captiva. 

How do I plan a road trip?

  1. Decide where to go
  2. What’s your route?
  3. Give your car a tune-up
  4. Bring snacks
  5. Bring things for the family pup
  6. Bring things to entertain yourself during the drive

If you’re still not sure which Southwest Florida city is for you, any of our Vacation Planning Advisers can help you make your final decision. We live, work and play here, and we know the area well.

Some people prefer to take back roads for a more scenic view. These routes tend to take more time to get to your destination, so you’ll want to factor that into your decision.

Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Top off the fluids, check the oil, lights and tires. Make sure a certified mechanic looks it over before you leave. 

Snacks are king on road trips. If you’re bringing a cooler, you’ll have even more options. Nuts, fruit, crackers and sandwiches are always a great choice. Don’t forget water, too!

We have a variety of pet-friendly vacation rentals. If you want to bring the family dog, that’s no problem! Make sure they have food and water bowls, food, a leash, toys, a bed, and anything else they’ll need. You want to make sure Fido has a memorable vacation, too!

Instead of focusing on ‘Are we there yet?’ preoccupy yourself with books, magazines, homework, crossword puzzles and anything else you like to do. It makes for a more enjoyable drive.

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Florida Road Trips from Orlando        

To get to Southwest Florida from Orlando, you have three options.

  1. Take back roads and go down the middle of the state via I-4 West to State Road 17 South to State Road 31 South in DeSoto County to I-75 South into Fort Myers.
  2. Go down near the west coast via I-4 West to I-75 South into Fort Myers.
  3. This route is similar to the first option, but it provides an opportunity for more scenic views. Take I-4 West to State Road 27 to State Road 64 to State Road 17 to I-75 South to Fort Myers.

Florida Road Trips from Tampa

To get to Southwest Florida from Tampa, you have two options 

  1. I-75 runs straight through Tampa and Fort Myers, so you can take the interstate all the way down to Southwest Florida. If you live closer to St. Petersburg or Clearwater, you’ll need to hop on I-275 to get to I-75.
  2. The second option takes you on back roads for about half of the drive and joins back up with I-75 to take you into Fort Myers. Take Selmon Expressway to I-75 to County Road 672 to South County Road 39 South to I-75 into Fort Myers. You’ll join back up with I-75 at Kings Highway.

Florida Gulf Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Whether you’re coming from Tampa, Orlando, Miami, West Palm Beach or anywhere else on the Atlantic Coast, or anywhere else in the Sunshine State, we’re happy you’ve decided to enjoy a vacation in Southwest Florida.

From state parks to white sand beaches, Southwest Florida is a paradise for nature lovers. On Sanibel Island, there isn’t even a traffic light. And Captiva Island will make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean with its easy, laidback, tropical pace. Visit for a short getaway or a longer rejuvenating vacation. The drive here is beautiful and you’ll return home feeling recharged and refreshed. Stay on one of the islands in a condo resort, beach bungalow or large single-family home. We have all types of accommodations for every type of vacation. Go bird watching at Ding Darling, enjoy all three meals of the day at eclectic world-class restaurants and end the day shelling on the beach, watching one of the islands’ famous sunsets.

Naples is home to upscale shopping, dining and rows of art galleries. The beaches dot the coast and you don’t want to miss the historic Naples Pier. Make sure you drive into the Everglades while you’re here, too. It’s a really unique part of Florida you won’t want to miss.

Fort Myers Beach is a small beach town. It’s perfect for a romantic couples getaway or a family vacation for guests who want to stay on the beach, but also want to have easy access to other parts of Southwest Florida. Sanibel and Captiva Islands have more of a remote feel, so keep that in mind when you’re selecting your destination.

Bonita Springs, Estero and Cape Coral are great family vacation spots. They’re not on the beach, but they have access to a variety of parks and each offers something different. Bonita has a charming downtown. Estero is small, but full of beautiful views and great shopping. Cape Coral has more miles of canals than Venice, Italy and it’s a boater’s paradise.

Fort Myers is one of Southwest Florida’s larger cities. You’ll find so many things to do for the entire family. Catch a Boston Red Sox or Minnesota Twins Spring Training game, visit Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s winter homes and enjoy art or music walks in the picturesque downtown River District.

Southwest Florida offers something for everyone, making it one of the best Florida road trips you can take within the Sunshine State.

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Florida Road Trip Planner for All Types of Occasions

If you live in the Sunshine State, there’s no need to plan road trips to other parts of the country until you’ve had a chance to experience road trips in Florida and take advantage of what’s already in your own backyard. 

Whether you’re traveling from Cocoa Beach, Jacksonville, Destin, Orlando or anywhere else in Florida, we hope you make Southwest Florida your final destination. Enjoy the scenic drive, stop at a state park or two (we love the Ocala National Forest in Central Florida) and breathe easy. 

This part of the state is truly paradise and we hope you come to see us soon!

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