Your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa will take you from the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf of Mexico. During this intra-Florida journey, you'll be able to see famous landmarks as well as varied terrain. Most of the trip is on Interstate 75 North, which runs through the Everglades on its way across the southern end of Florida.
All three National Parks in Florida are accessible during a Fort Lauderdale to Tampa RV road trip. Two of the parks are next to the route while the third is one of the most remote National Parks in the U.S. Each of these parks is a must-see for vacationers traveling through the area.
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is 18 miles into your Fort Lauderdale to Tampa road trip. It's located on the Florida Atlantic shoreline about 11 miles north of Miami. The 170,000-acre park incorporates protected and undeveloped acreages, including reefs off the beach. That's why it's considered a snorkeling and SCUBA diving paradise. Furthermore, the park protects several endangered species of wildlife.
Everglades National Park
There are three entrances to the Everglades National Park. Instead of turning west on I-75 N to cross the Florida peninsula, continue south for 34 miles to Homestead to find the best entrance to the 1.5 million-acre park. Of the three entrances to the Everglades, this is the only one with immediate access to the main part of the park. Boat rides, gator spotting, and an incredible view of the vast wetlands greet visitors using the Homestead entrance. The park is home to an incredible number of endangered species that you will not observe anywhere else in the world.
Dry Tortugas National Park
During your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, you have the opportunity to visit Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is made up of seven islands that lie 70 miles directly west of Key West. You can access the park from two directions. First, you can make the 329-mile drive to Key West from Miami by crossing the Overseas Highway that links Florida to the Florida Keys. Second, you can take a boat out of Tampa at the end of your road trip to Key West and join the boating expedition to the park. Either way, the journey gets you to the islands that make up Dry Tortugas National Park by way of boat out of Key West. The park is home to an impressive 19th-century fort, a lighthouse, numerous coral reefs, and exotic sea life. This park is so remote that only 63,000 people visit it per year. Visiting this park is a once-in-a-lifetime event that creates incredible memories for you and your family.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
For a quick diversion from your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, drive 62 miles south from Miami to find the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The park covers 25 miles of coastline and continues three miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The offshore reefs offer some of the best SCUBA diving and snorkeling in the country. The park, which was the first water park created in the U.S., includes an aquarium and a unique undersea statue of Christ.
Koreshan State Park
Koreshan State Park was once owned by a religious society. The park is located 124 miles into your road trip. Since the 145-acre park includes access to the Estero River, you'll want to add it to your itinerary. The society left several exotic buildings, eleven of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you wander the Victorian gardens, you find plants imported from Australia, Africa, and Asia. Fishing, boating, hiking, and canoeing are the favorite activities of locals who visit this park regularly.
Alafia River State Park
Located 25 miles southeast of Tampa, Alafia River State Park makes a great last stop on your road trip itinerary from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa. The park was once a phosphorous strip mine. Today, the state has converted the deep ditches and high angles into one of the premier “Epic” cross-country bicycle training sites in the world. The park also offers hiking trails, wildlife observation posts, horse trails, canoeing, and fishing.
There are so many points of interest you can add to your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa. Sandy beaches line the east and west coasts of Florida, and the Everglades stretch across the southern end of the peninsula. Other less known attractions await those inclined to experience all that Florida has to offer.
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Before you start your Fort Lauderdale to Tampa road trip, stop at the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. The house was designed by Frederic Clay Bartlett and constructed in 1920. Inside the house, you'll find a collection of art and personal values left by the family to the museum. The 36-acre property is on a barrier island that includes a beach, dunes, mangrove wetlands, and a freshwater slough.
Sun Splash Water Park
Located 132 miles south of Tampa in Cape Coral, the Sun Splash Water Park is halfway along your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa. The water park offers a place to cool off and relax after the long journey. There are several water rides for the kids and a splash pool for those not yet old enough to accept the challenge of water slides. A boardwalk along Lake Kennedy is a walkway into nature. To use up pent up energy, a sand-floored volleyball park lets families play as a team in friendly competition with others.
The Tampa Theater
To finish your Fort Lauderdale to Tampa RV road trip, visit the Tampa Theater. Built in 1926, it was initially noted as one of the most elaborate theaters in the world. The interior resembles a Mediterranean garden decorated with gargoyles. Ninety-nine lightbulbs in the ceiling imitate the effect of stars, while a 1,400-pipe Wurlitzer organ overwhelms the audience during stage shows.
The cities of southern Florida draw images of sunshine, soft breezes, and calm seas. On your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, you can stop at the cities along the way and observe the environment for yourself.
Miami is the cultural, financial, and economic center of South Florida. The Miami Metropolitan Area houses over 6.1 million people of diverse cultures. Visitors are amazed by the mixed grab bag of shopping opportunities. Some of the more famous places to visit in Greater Miami include the Bayside Marketplace, Downtown Miami, South Beach, and Lincoln Road. Dump stations are in great supply throughout the metropolitan area. RV campgrounds with full hookups virtually surround the city.
Fort Myers, a city of over 87,000 people, is 141 miles into your Fort Lauderdale to Tampa road trip. The city sits astride I 75 N on the southwestern coast of Florida. Fort Meyers and Cape Coral anchor your trip as the midway point along your route. Some of the major attractions in Fort Myers include the residences of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The Imaginarium Science Center and Southwest Florida Museum of History are great stops with plenty of educational activities for the entire family. Dump stations are available almost everywhere you go in Fort Myers. Consider staying at Sun-N-Fun or Peace River Campground if you want a great local RV park with a dump station.
Sarasota, FL, lies seven miles west of I-75 N. The city is 214 miles into your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa. A city of 60,000 permanent residents, Sarasota is famous for its beaches, resorts, and cultural environments. Sarasota culture includes a variety of live theaters, botanical gardens, and street festivals. Since Sarasota is a major RV convention area, dump stations are located throughout the city. Multiple campgrounds are available for RVs of any size, and dump stations can be found throughout the area.
Traveling across the southern part of Florida during your road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa takes you through varied landscapes and cultures. The best way to enjoy the journey is with a recreational vehicle. If you don't have an RV, consider renting one in Fort Lauderdale or Tampa. Whichever direction you take, prepare for a road trip that generates memories that last a lifetime.