OUR COLOURFUL FLORIDA FAMILY ROAD TRIP – 10 DAY TRAVEL GUIDE
I’m so excited to share Our Colourful Florida Family Road Trip – 10 Day Travel Guide but I must tell you first that it comes with a big fat WARNING: it’s full of colour, beautiful decor and jaw-droppingly beautiful places that will make you want to visit ASAP and will give you so many Instagrammable shots that you won’t know what to post first! We already can’t wait to go back as we had such a memory-making adventure.
Read on if you dare for our Florida Road Trip Travel Guide…
Firstly, a quick one just to let you know that we found much cheaper flights to Tampa than Orlando, Miami and other Florida airports so it’s always worth checking them all. We also saved a packet by flying on New Year’s Eve so if you’re not fussy about dates, have a think about when other people might not want to travel as you may snag a great deal!
DAY 1 & 2: CLEARWATER & ST PETERSBURG
We picked up a rental car from the airport at Tampa then drove for 40 minutes to the absolutely stunning Belle-View Inn, Clearwater and I’m not joking when I say that I wanted to bring half the decor home with me! The cute hamper deliveries each morning were a lovely touch and if you’re a golf lover this is the place for you.
John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is a really great place to go to eat, amble, shop and get boat tours for fishing, dolphin watching or pirate adventures (the girls were desperate for a ride on the boat with a huge sharks head at the front!). The boardwalk has lots of fun eateries and the streets further behind are full of little gift and surf shops.
We enjoyed the most incredible sunset at Clearwater Beach on New Year’s Day and walked to the pier where the girls loved the gift market and street entertainers.
If you’re an art lover you’d appreciate St Petes, where incredible art murals pop up on the side of buildings everywhere you look. The Dali Museum is well worth a visit even if just to appreciate the architecture from the outside. We had a lovely walk from there to a restaurant on the water’s edge and we found a couple of playparks along the way.
PIN FOR LATER
DAY 3 & 4: NAPLES VIA SARASOTA, SIESTA KEY & MATLACHE
The longest drive of our trip was from Clearwater to Naples at around 3 hours in total but we broke up the journey with various stops throughout the day. The girls loved our early morning stop at Sarasota Circus Park (plus it’s free fun!) and we had scheduled in a visit to The Ringling Circus Museum, Sarasota but it was being refurbished. The grounds there are supposed to be beautiful, as is Ca’ d’Zan, the former palace to The Ringlings.
Next stop was Siesta Key which has a really chilled out holiday vibe, with lots of colourful buildings, cafes, shops and beach houses to rent. If we were after a vacation where we stayed in the same place we’d definitely consider Siesta Key. The sand is so incredibly white and the long stretch of beach meant there was plenty of space for the kids to run around. We were there on 2nd January and really enjoyed reading the messages on the Christmas trees on the beach.
Matlacha was our stop for lunch, regularly named ‘Florida’s Coastal Hippie Town’. We now refer to it as ‘The Rainbow Town’ because of the brightly painted houses and if you check out this Pinterest link you’ll immediately see what we mean!
Our final drive was to our hotel ‘Trianon Bonita Bay’ just outside of Naples, where not too far away was a fabulous restaurant called The Hampton Social which I’d highly recommend on account of its very cool Hamptons style decor (NEED that ‘Rose all day’ sign for our kitchen!), exciting menu and great live music. The girls loved their cheese quesadillas and our sprouts starter was so delicious that my hubby has found a similar recipe to recreate it at home!
The following day we enjoyed a chill out at the Naples Sun N Fun Lagoon water park which kept the girls entertained for hours. There are three different pools to suit all ages, a lazy river and a number of slides. With a play park next door and free parking, it’s the perfect place to have a family day.
No trip to Naples, known as the ‘crown jewel’ of Southwest Florida, is complete without a visit to the rather swanky Fifth Avenue, which is lined with beautiful boutiques, hotels and eateries. We went for dinner at family-friendly Yabba and loved being there at night time with all the twinkly lights in the trees and beautiful Christmas decorations.
Tin City is another must stop when in Naples. Quite similar to John’s Pass, it’s a boardwalk with restaurants, shops and boat trips and a beautiful place to watch the sun go down.
DAY 5 & 6: MIAMI VIA MARCO ISLAND & THE EVERGLADES
One of our all time favourite experiences ever was spent on a boat from Marco Island not far from Naples; we booked the 9am Cape Romano Shelling Tour before driving via The Everglades to Miami and WOW, just WOW. We used Florida Adventures and Rentals and we couldn’t recommend them enough. We had a private island to ourselves to collect exotic seashells followed by a boat ride through the Ten Thousand Islands to the infamous dome houses. On the way, dolphins followed our boat and spectacularly jumped behind the wake! This trip really was incredible and if we could relive it again we would in a heartbeat.
Apparently the nearer to Miami you are the more alligators you see (no idea how true this is) so after leaving Marco Island we waited until we reached Everglades Safari Park near the end of the The Everglades before stopping. The airboat ride was brilliant and we did spot some alligators but the highlight was getting to hold a baby one afterwards! Not all places offer this so if it’s something you definitely want to do perhaps double check first.
After a short drive from the Everglades park we reached Miami and stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Brickell, Downtown Miami. The family room was fantastic, there’s parking on site and there’s a free tram service within walking distance so we were ordering dinner at Bayside Marketplace within half an hour. Apparently Brickell is the best area for rooftop bars and restaurants although we didn’t visit any – maybe next time!
We fell in love with Miami and loved how varied our next day was. First stop was Miami South Beach, home to the surfers, Nikki Beach Club and those beautiful rainbow coloured lifeguard beach huts you see in all the pictures. The girls loved running around in the sand early morning (the benefits of jet lag!).
We then stopped on Ocean Drive to appreciate the Art Deco buildings and palm trees. WOW!
Wynwood Walls, described as ‘the greatest street art ever seen in one place’ really didn’t disappoint and neither did our awesome brunch in the opposite Wynwood Diner. Aside from the food being totally delicious, the decor is beautiful, there’s a super cute outdoor space and even the restrooms are funky!
The afternoon was spent on Thriller Miami from Bayside Marketplace, a speedboat adventure around the celebrity mansions on the islands. The girls were desperate for Will Smith to be in his front garden so they could wave to him! Bayside Marketplace is a lovely place to amble around, with plenty of shops and restaurants to choose from.
I dread to think how much sugar we consumed at The Sugar Factory (adjoining Hotel Victor on Ocean Drive) for dinner but where else have you ever seen rainbow coloured burgers that come with a rubber duck on the plate?! The cocktails and ice cream sundaes are utterly nuts but what an experience and probably the craziest dinner the girls have ever had. The location was perfect for us to appreciate the beautiful Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive at night too.
DAY 7 & 8: MIAMI TO FORT LAUDERDALE & CAPE CANAVERAL VIA PALM BEACH
The next day on the way out of Miami to Fort Lauderdale we stopped at The Dreamer Miami for THE BEST smoothies and the most instagrammable decor! Check out that flamingo wallpaper! They girls loved counting all the plastic flamingo amongst the plants.
In Fort Lauderdale we took a visit to Roccos taco restaurant where they make guacamole to your taste at the table and time at The Victoria Park Hotel pool was the perfect way to spend a chill out day. We also had a few cheeky hours at Sawgrass Mills where we got some bargains at Levis, Kate Spade, American Eagle and The Lego Store. The Rainforest Cafe is there too if you’re after dining options with the kids.
From Fort Lauderdale to Cape Canaveral we went via Palm Beach for breakfast at The Colony Hotel, another dream for anyone who appreciates beautiful bold decor (particularly that of the pink variety!), and it was honestly the nicest breakfast we’ve ever had. It’s very pricey to stay there (hence why we just had brekkie!) but perfect for a romantic break or girls weekend.
The Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is so worth a visit! Much more to inspire young children than we expected and we loved it too. Lots of education, lots of interaction and you get to touch a piece of the moon!
DAY 9 & 10: ORLANDO – DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
If you love animals then you’d love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you can literally wake up to giraffes and zebra roaming around outside your balcony! The pools are brilliant for families; they have a shallow walk-in end, slides and you can help yourself to buoyancy jackets too.
In the UK we were under the impression that we couldn’t book a 1 day Disney park pass, but the day before we checked in we noticed that we could via our official Disney App. Off to Animal Kingdom we went, eeeeeek! The free hotel shuttle bus took us to the park and as Disney hotel guests get access an hour before official opening we managed to walk straight onto the safari experience without queuing. The shows are spectacular and we got to meet lots of the characters too.
It’s safe to say we adored Florida and it was such an adventure doing the road trip as opposed to staying in Orlando for the full 10 days – we’ll save the rest of the parks for when the girls are older.
I hope our ‘Colourful Florida Family Road Trip – 10 Day Travel Guide’ has been useful.
Thanks so much to all you peeps who recommended places to go on our trip. If there’s anywhere you think we missed please comment below as we’ll definitely be returning and it’ll help anyone else planning their trip.
Until next time,