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Trip to Florida, Georgia & South Carolina. Your feedback wanted!

Trip to Florida, Georgia & South Carolina. Your feedback wanted!

Jan 21st, 2011, 03:00 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168

The only place you can snorkel on this trip is the Keys, and then mostly (only?)in Key Largo, the closest to Miami.

So, a couple of days in Miami/Miami Beach. There is a lot to do there.

Then three days in the the Keys, one an overnight in Key West.

Then up the Florida Turnpike to Cape Canaveral and St Augustine (where I find a lot less to do than many people) and Orlando for however long you have/want. I wouldn't spend the money to take anyone less than 6 to Disney World, but Disney gets rich off people who make other decisions.

Still have time? Cross the state (boring and lots of traffic) and visit Sarasota and Anna Maria or Siesta Key. The West Coast is different, isn't it?

Then to Sanibel and Captiva, though you should spend most of your time (two days?) on Sanibel. It is a great spot for shelling, and the Darling Nature Reserve has incredible birds and the odd alligator.

The Evergldes is a drive-through on the way back to Miami on US 41. You don't seen anything on the interstate, but you can get off 41 to go to Everglades City and Chokoluskee. If you decide to do this, let me know and I'll give you some local recommendations. Finally, stop at Turner River and see more alligators than you ever dreamed of, though you will see them beside the road in the ditches all the way to Miami.

Be careful where you stay and even drive near the Miami Airport.
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 03:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 70,501
Well, I disagreed with the others when I first read your post - and even mapped out the first week to check the drive times. I like lazy, "take time to enjoy places" vacations, but I also like driving vacations. The one modification I would make was to go to Asheville NC instead of "Great Smokey Mountains". Personally, I'd enjoy the mix of the mountains and Florida. Three weeks of "just Florida" is a lot of the same and if you are flying over from Europe I think you'd like the mix.

Your drive times were not bad at all in the first plan so although it may be "too much" driving for some, I think it's a doable plan.

I do like the suggestion of Ding Darling. I do agree with not so much time in the Everglades. An airboat ride and driving across Alligator Alley to get from east coast to west coast would be more than enough for me. I took the 3 day cruise to the Bahamas and I wasn't a fan - especially considering how much time you are spending in Florida. I'd definitely add back the mountains vs taking a cruise.

If you still fly into Atlanta, you can drive to Asheville via 95/985/365/441 to north Georgia and then continue on via Franklin NC, Sylva, and I 40 into Asheville. You could spend the night in the Clayton/Dillard area and get out of the car and walk around a bit at Tallulah Gorge and Black Rock Mountain State Park. The drive through the mountains is lovely, but even better to get out and stretch your legs for a while and SEE them. It's 4 hours from Atlanta to Asheville and another 4 hours from Asheville to Charleston and very doable to do a driving vacation that goes through pretty countryside on the way to something you want to see. Definitely visit the Biltmore House and at least stop by the Grove Park Inn for a drink and see it if you spend the night elsewhere. Bacck south to the lowcountry to stop in Charleston and then on to Savannah. I agree that a day in each would give you a taste of the cities and they are so close to one another you can drive and see a lot in one day. I really like Jekyll Island and would suggest it for a stop to just relax, walk the beach, visit the "cottages" of the multi-millionaires that used it as their getaway from the NE. On to St Augustine and the Florida part of your trip.

Sorry to mix things up but I love the mountains AND the beach and think it's very doable to see and do both in a three week driving vacation. I drive a lot for work and spent 6 hours in the car yesterday. I enjoyed my stops but enjoyed the sights along the way too.
starrs is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 05:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,941
If it is to be Asheville as a destination, you can be there in 2 hours from Charlotte. Admittedly not the gorge, etc. but a LOT closer.
As always, I would spend more time in Charleston than Savannah, and the drive from Charleston to Savannah gets a stop at Beaufort--and Hunting Island, as has been mentioned, and since they like that type of thing.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 05:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 70,501
They had a full day in Atlanta so I thought they may want to "see" Atlanta. The drive from Atlanta through the North GA mountains is gorgeous and is a destination for many without continuing on to "the Smokies" or Asheville. Probably half of the people who live in my community have moved there from Florida or have their second home there with their primary residence in Florida. The Atlanta-Asheville drive is actually faster via SC but not very scenic. I don't find the Charlotte-Asheville drive particularly scenic.

Just suggesting ideas that would make a good road trip. There are lots of options - but I would definitely add in mountains one way or another. I've traveled Florida for business for 20 years and although there's a lot to see in Florida, I find the mountains a lot more to my liking.
starrs is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 76
How about flying into Jacksonville, then fly out of Miami. You can go to Savannah easily,(just a bit north), then start heading south - St.Augustine, Cape Can., Disney, Keys, back to Miami. I still don't get the west coast Sanibel, but seems you like to drive!
wopel is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 01:17 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 8

I reconsidered the trip, starting and ending in Miami. I included Savannah and Charleston. It is quite some driving, but for me reasonable for a roadtrip holiday (we have driven MUCH more in 3 weeks). Also, we have only one full driving day. I chose to have only 2 full days Miami, I think this will be enough. I added 1 day to Sanibel/Captiva. I think that's a nice base to explore south west florida and to relax on the beach. We will not book hotels in advance (maybe during the trip a few days only) so we are flexible. Please let me know your thoughts.

Date Location Distance Travel time
25-03-11 arrival miami
26-03-11 miami
27-03-11 miami
28-03-11 drive 200 mile 3.5 hours
29-03-11 space center 120 mile 2 hours
30-03-11 st. Augustine
31-03-11 drive 180 mile 3 hours
01-04-11 savannah
02-04-11 charleston 120 mile 2.5 hours
03-04-11 charleston/plantation
04-04-11 drive 400 mile 7 hours
05-04-11 orlando
06-04-11 orlando
07-04-11 sanibel/captiva 180 mile 4 hours
08-04-11 sanibel/captiva
09-04-11 sanibel/captiva
10-04-11 sanibel/captiva
11-04-11 everglades 200 mile 4 hours
12-04-11 keys 100 mile 2 hours
13-04-11 keys
14-04-11 keys
15-04-11 miami departure 160 mile 3.5 hours

LordBonez is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 02:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,941
right off the top of my head, for your departure, you cannot count on that drive time from Key West.
An open jaw flight just makes so much more sense for what you are now proposing to cut down your driving. Fly into Jax and out of Miami. it gives you 'days" in some places--like Charleston or Jekyl Island, etc. that you would spend driving.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,341
Whew! Even after revisions, I still think you are trying to cover too much territory in too little time.

Do you absolutely need 3-3½ days in Sanibel/Captiva, or could it be less time?

Do you absolutely have to visit Kennedy Space Center?

If you could cut out maybe 2-3 days, you could add them to St. Augustine and Charleston.

Vic's travels: http://my.flightmemory.com/vogilvie
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 4,934
Still too much, you'll only be dring through Charleston, Savannah & St. Augustine & in ideal conditions a drive out the Keys takes 4 hours....MIMIMUM, each way. In addition, if you have a flight out of Miami, you better already be in Miami, the night before. Personally, I'd fly into JAX & out of EYW, that way you aren't backtracking for half your trip. Cut out Charleston & the space center & then you may start to get in the neighborhood of 'doable'.
SAnParis2 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 11:03 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 8

Thanks for the replies. The reason I fly in and out of Miami is because I want a DIRECT flight from Amsterdam (I don't want a connection, with the little one). So the options are either Atlanta or Miami. I check the route from Atlanta to Miami and Miami to Miami, did not make much difference in driving time (since Atlanta to Charleston is 5 hours, and we can not really spend time in Atlanta due to time, I think Miami - Miami makes more sense).

I could skip 1 day Sanibel/Captiva. The reason I planned 4 days there is that I want to explore the area a bit (Naples, Ding Darling) and relax a bit. I could skip the space center, but I think it will be interesting to spend a few hours. So, I would not win THAT much time skipping it.

The assumption is to sleep in Key Largo after visiting the Everglades. Google Maps indicates 2 hours driving from Key Largo to Key West, but of course this should be a day with stops and sightseeing on some of the Keys.

The day we would skip in Sanibel could be added to the Savannah/Charleston area. We could also skip Charleston completely to have more time in Savannah/the rest.

What area of the Everglades should we visit? Now my plan is to do the Tamiami trail, make some stops and do an airboat tour. Is this a good choice or would the route to Flamingo be more interesting?

Thanks again for your comments!
LordBonez is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,020
Just got this e-mail today regarding Charleston. Thought it might be of help to you:

Giovanna is offline  
Feb 20th, 2011, 11:12 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,010
We just spent three weeks in southern Florida. From Ocean Reef on Key Largo, it took 1.5 hours to drive to Miami, past the airport, so the airport might be a bit shorter, but if I were catching a plane, I'd want to plan 1.5, and driving from Key West to the airport in Miami would take WAY more than I think you have planned.
Driving down the keys is most interesting, but takes a long time, slow speed limits, and Google maps gets it consistently a bit wrong in my comparison of what they put in my Google maps on the iPhone, and the time it actually took us, for several of our drives, both around southern Florida, and driving back up to the Hudson Valley. (hope that convoluted sentence makes some sense!)
We drove from Ocean Reef (top of Key Largo) to Key West, with a stop for a quick lunch at Lazy Days in Islamorada (delicious hog fish sandwich!) in about 4 hours.
Hope these recent comparisons help.

You are going to a lot of great places.

One of our discoveries was Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine Beach. It is a huge park, with miles of pristine beach, lovely dunes, and a salt marsh for bird watching, as well as an estuary for kayaking, etc.
Having been to St. Augustine three times, I had never even heard of this place, but I have a friend who is spending the month of Feb. there in her airstream, so we just HAD to go check it out!
taconictraveler is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 09:44 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 541
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...everglades.cfm is about our Bradenton (south of Tampa in Fl - about 2 hours from Orlando on the west coast) to Everglades trip. If you can't do the Everglades, at least try to fit in Fakahatchee. Also, I've heard snorkeling near Sanibel/Caya Costa http://www.floridastateparks.org/cayocosta/default.cfm.
bellhouse is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 57
Sorry I'm late to this discussion! In my opinion, you should stick to Florida for this trip. Orlando and Miami are well known "destinations", but the state has much more to explore.

The Sanibel/Captiva area is a lovely; take a day cruise from Captiva over to isolated Useppa Island to view artifacts from the remarkable Calusa civization. Also, spend time exploring Key West, and the lower keys; be sure to visit Mallory Square in Key West for the fantastical nightly "Sunset Celebration". Spend two nights and one full day in St Augustine to explore America's "Oldest City". The list goes on ...

I am partial to Charleston, but I think that the Charleston/Beaufort/Savannah area deserves a separate, longer visit. It's a BIG country!
kiawahvilla is offline  
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