5 Florida road trip destinations to kick off summer

One place to check out in each of our neighbors.

Summer is in full swing, and you’re ready to hit the road! Not surprisingly, Florida remains a top destination for many summer getaways. To help you in planning your trip, check out these five destinations, which are a great mix of tried-and-true favorites and a few under-the-radar spots.

The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States. Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

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St. Augustine

As the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine overflows with many historic sites, such as the Oldest Wooden School House and Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. A visit to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum also is a must-see for those who love these historic structures. One way to see a lot is by taking an Old Town Trolley Tour, allowing you to hop off to see an attraction, then hop back on to travel to the next.


Port Canaveral and Cape Canaveral

Found on Florida’s Space Coast, these neighboring cities offer a lot of entertainment for your next road trip. Check out the history of one of America’s most popular movies at The Wizard of Oz Museum and the area’s space history at the Sands Space History Center. Golfers will love going across the river and hitting the links at The Savannahs Golf Club, while nature lovers can watch for wildlife at Manatee Sanctuary Park. When you’re ready to rest, head to a room at the Beachside Hotel & Suites, a vibrant hotel with retro vacation vibes.


St. Andrews State Park is a pristine wilderness of beaches, marshes and pinewood forests just outside Panama City Beach, Fla. CONTRIBUTED BY ST. ANDREWS STATE PARK

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Panama City Beach

This ever-popular beachfront destination never disappoints. From catching some rays on the white-sand beaches to shopping at Pier Park to dining at the area’s many seafood restaurants, you can do as little or as much as you want in Panama City Beach. On-the-water highlights include dolphin-watching tours, watersports such as kayaking and parasailing, and deep-sea fishing. On land, you can hit the trails at Gayle’s Trails, the Conservation Park and St. Andrews State Park.



Near the Florida/Alabama state line, Pensacola offers everything you could want from a beachfront destination: wonderful beachfront accommodations, top-notch dining, and plenty of things to do. One must-see attraction is the National Naval Aviation Museum, which details air history and technology (call before visiting). Also, catch the Blue Angels, who reside at Naval Air Station Pensacola during the summer, as they practice their amazing aerial routines in the skies above. If you can, watch from the water for an even better perspective.


Legoland in Winter Haven, Florida, on May 28, 2019. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

Lakeland & Winter Haven

In Central Florida, check out the many attractions of these neighboring cities. If the grandkids are traveling with you, they’ll love spending the day at LEGOLAND and Peppa Pig Theme Park. Fans of Frank Lloyd Wright will love checking out his work on the campus of Florida Southern College, which is home to 13 structures by the popular architect. And animal lovers will love how close they can get to a variety of African species at Safari Wilderness Ranch.


Road trip tips

When planning your road trip, Montrae Waiters, public and government relations consultant for AAA-The Auto Club Group in Georgia offers these tips:

B-E-T on a breakdown-free trip: Get a full vehicle inspection ahead of any long trip, but especially for components like a vehicle’s battery, engine and tires.

Beat the rush: Travel on off-peak times or days, or pick a hidden gem closer to home.

If traveling with kids, look for hotels with indoor swimming pools.