On your road trip from Orlando to Panama City, you can experience Florida like never before as you head to a couple of famous national parks where fierce and beautiful wildlife abounds. Visits to several unique cities have you snacking on Cubanos in Tampa, exploring history at the Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, and thrift shopping your way through Railroad Square in Tallahassee. There are also cool points of interest that take you on thrilling adventures at Universal Studios and in-depth explorations of the intriguing world of bats at the Lubee Bat Conservancy.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is an iconic, outdoor destination that is definitely worth the four-hour drive south from Orlando. At this exciting park, you can explore Florida's most extensive area of marshes, wetlands, and swamps on fun-filled kayaking or hiking adventures. Experience one of the park's most popular biking areas at Shark Valley; in the same area, you can hop on a guided two-hour tram tour for a memorable 15-mile journey through the River of Grass. If you're looking for a little more action, however, head to Gator Park for an afternoon airboat tour that's loaded with sightings of the Everglades' wildest animal inhabitants. Afterward, you can enjoy an interactive wildlife show and try a plate of alligator tail or alligator sausage at the on-site restaurant.
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is another beautiful location you will want to include on your road trip itinerary from Orlando to Panama City. The park is only 30 minutes from Everglades National Park. In this oceanic paradise, there is plenty to see and do as you head out to sea on a relaxing, guided cruise to the Boca Chita Key. Snorkel the Maritime Heritage Trail, a colorful coral-covered area with a few shipwrecks. Dry off before you head into the Dante Fascall Visitor Center for a sweet learning experience that features exhibits about Biscayne's four diverse ecosystems and several educational films. Fishing excursions are also available, along with canoe and kayak rentals, so you can enjoy the park's pristine shoreline and shallow bays from a different perspective.
Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park covers the largest area of old-growth hardwood forests in South Carolina and is only four hours north of Jacksonville. Here, you can delve into the mysteries of these eerie, bottomless trees on kayak or canoe expeditions on Cedar Creek and the Congaree River. You can also view the local wildlife on scenic hikes through the dense woods. Backcountry camping is available for the full outdoor experience, and you can learn about the park's history, explore nature exhibits, and watch an educational film at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. If you arrive during the early summer months, you may also catch an interesting phenomenon when the synchronous fireflies are in flight. Be aware that trail conditions vary due to annual flooding, so be sure to check their status before heading out.
Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs State Park offers rest, relaxation, and fun on unforgettable glass-bottom boat tours and self-guided visits to the Silver Springs Museum and Cracker Village. Some of the fantastic outdoor activities to enjoy include kayaking along the 5-mile river, hiking the park's diverse trail system, and camping under the stars.
Big Shoals State Park
At Big Shoals State Park, you will find Florida's largest amount of whitewater rapids, in addition to a number of adventurous trails that take you through breathtaking forests and along scenic limestone bluffs. There are also plenty of great mountain biking trails, lovely picnic areas, and birdwatching opportunities to enjoy.
Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
Lake Jackson Mounds State Park features six of the seven sacred earthen temple mounds that were built by ancient Native American tribes. Two of them are available for exploration, and you can also enjoy several walking trails through the woods, along with a variety of scenic picnic spots.
Universal Studios is a fantastic place to start your Orlando to Panama City RV road trip adventure. At this iconic park, you can explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, take a 3-D ride with Optimus Prime to save the universe, swoosh down awesome waterslides at Volcano Bay, and enjoy a wide array of fantastic shows, restaurants, and shops.
Lubee Bat Conservancy
The Lubee Bat Conservancy is just outside of Gainesville and houses some of the cutest and most unusual critters. Tours of the bat habitats feature educational talks and a viewing of bat-created art. They are available with prior notice and a donation.
Ray Charles Statue
Plan a stop in Greenville during your Orlando to Panama City road trip to pay homage to one of the greatest musicians of all time at the Ray Charles Statue. Here, you can snap a few pics of the famous bronze sculpture that honors Charles's early childhood connection to the small town. Then, enjoy a relaxing picnic next to the picturesque pond at Haffye Hays Park.
In Tampa, you will experience some of the most amazing sights, sounds, and flavors of Florida as you take a walk through Ybor City, check out a few live music events at the legendary Crowbar, and munch on classic Cubanos at Café Quiquiriqui. If you're thirsty, you can drink your way down the craft beer trail from Tarpon Springs to Dunedin, stopping in at local favorites like Big Storm and 3 Daughters Brewing. When you are ready for a little excitement, you can get your scream on at Busch Gardens, followed by a day of waterslide fun at Adventure Island across the street. Be sure to enjoy the Tampa Riverwalk, the Manatee Viewing Center, and Sparkman Wharf before you hit the road.
Cypress Campground & RV Park offers spacious campsites in a relaxing location close to a few fun attractions, grocery stores, and theaters. Some of the fantastic amenities you will have access to include a heated pool, free mini-golf, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, a bathhouse, and a dump station.
Jacksonville is one of Florida's coolest cities, with plenty of historic and fun places to explore. Kick off your time here with a day of fun in the sun at Shipwreck Island Water Park, where you can enjoy more than waterslides as you putt around the mini-golf course or zoom around in a sweet go-kart. In the evening, head to Black Sheep for a fabulous dinner, and then check out the Hopinger Bier Garden & Sausage House to sample a few of Jacksonville's best craft beers. Soak in some history at the Kingsley Plantation, Fort Caroline, and Beaches Museum before you stroll along the Southbank Riverwalk and snap a few pics of the colorful Friendship Fountain.
Tallahassee welcomes you to the state's most dedicated college town. Head on jaunts to some of its most savory eateries, eclectic shopping areas, and exciting museums while you're there. Begin your adventure at the Tallahassee Museum, where you can check out wild animals while zip-lining through the trees, learn about the history of Northern Florida, and grab a bite to eat at the Trail Break Café. If you are in the mood to do a little thrift shopping, check out Railroad Square. Here, you can also sip on some tasty beers at Proof Brewery, hit the largest rock climbing gym in the region, and get your caffeine fix at the Crumbox Gastgarden. You will also want to experience Gumby's Pizza, Monk's Bar and Grill, and Mr. Roboto's to round out the true foodie experience.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Orlando to Panama City, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Orlando or Panama City.