Road Trip in Florida
The people of Florida are so diverse that visiting the Sunshine State is almost like visiting a smaller version of America. And, unsurprisingly, there are nearly as many different things to do in FL as there are people to meet.
Florida's peninsular shape may make it an “out of the way" route, but it is a must-see state on any American road trip. Before visiting, brush up on the road rules and investigate the destinations that make it so unique.
Driving in Florida—Laws & Licensing
Florida's terrain is mostly flat, or, in some areas, very marshy. Its major roadways can be very busy, and the state has an outsize number of senior drivers.
For the most part, driving through the state is typically easy, but—as with every state—FL has a number of specific driving laws to study up on.
FL Driving Laws
Florida's driver's manual includes a number of road rules unique to the Sunshine State.
Florida Speed Limits
While speed limits vary by location, Florida has a general outline of the speeds it requires motorists to travel.
- School zones: 20 MPH.
- Residential, business, or municipal areas: 30 MPH.
- Most streets and highways: 55 MPH.
- Most rural interstates: 70 MPH.
Florida also requires minimum speeds. On highways with 70 MPH limits, the minimum speed is 50 MPH.
The FL driver's guide, in general, recommends staying within the flow of traffic, but below the speed limit. Those needing to drive slower should stay in the right-hand lane.
Seat Belts & Car Seats
Florida requires all drivers and front-seat passengers to wear a seatbelt. Seatbelts will also have to be worn by any passenger under 18 years old.
Car seat requirements in Florida are as follows:
- Passengers from infants up to 4 years old must be fastened in a car seat.
- Passengers 4 through 5 years old must be seated in either:
- A separate carrier.
- An integrated child seat.
- A booster seat.
- Passengers under 18 years old must wear a seatbelt.
Riding Motorcycles in Florida
You must be at least 16 years old to ride a motorcycle in Florida, and wear a DOT-approved helmet if you're 21 years old and under.
It is also required for riders over that age to wear a helmet UNLESS he or she has a motorcycle insurance policy with medical benefits totaling at least $10,000 to cover injuries suffered in a crash.
FL School Bus Laws
It is illegal in Florida to pass a school bus when the bus is displaying a stop signal. If the bus is on a two-way street, drivers going in both directions must stop for the bus.
You may only pass a stopped school bus if you are traveling on the opposite side of a highway with a raised barrier or unpaved median that is a minimum of 5 feet wide.
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Out-of-State Licenses in Florida
If you're simply visiting the Sunshine State, you will be permitted to drive provided you have your valid out-of-state license in your possession.
Major Florida Roadways
There are a number of major highways in Florida that will help you get around the elongated state. Some of the most prominent include:
- Interstate 75—The longest highway in Florida, its zigzagging route can take you to a number of interesting FL destinations. Starting in Miami in the south, the road cuts westward across the state along the infamous “alligator alley," which runs through the Everglades, before turning north again and hitting a number of Gulf Coast towns, such as Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Tampa Bay. Eventually, the highway moves back eastward, exiting the state at the Georgia state line, near Valdosta, GA.
- US Highway 1/Interstate 95—The famous highway finishes its East Coast journey in Florida, terminating in Miami. Taking it northward from there will lead you to another gorgeous southern city—Savannah, Georgia. Along the way, US Highway 1/Interstate 95 can lead you to other FL destination cities like Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, and Jacksonville.
- Interstate 4—Running approximately northeast to southwest, this interstate highway connects two major destinations, taking you directly from Tampa to Daytona Beach. Along the way, Interstate 4 takes you to the hot spot of Orlando.
- Interstate 10—This interstate is situated entirely in Northern Florida, running from Jacksonville in the east toward Mobile, Alabama in the west. Continuing westward will eventually take you to New Orleans. Within Florida, Interstate 10 has connections for roads leading to Pensacola and the state capital of Tallahassee, among others.
As one of America's largest states, Florida has a lot to offer. It not only houses one of the world's most frequently visited cities, but a number of destinations appealing to anyone who likes beaches, nightlife, live music, delicious food, shopping, family-friendly locations, fast cars, nature, and history, to name a few. Whew!
Two words: Disney. World. A place so fun even Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks declare that visiting is the first thing they want to do after securing an NFL championship.
But it's not just Disney World making this family-friendly city one of the planet's most visited places. Orlando is also home to:
- Universal Studios.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- Epcot Center.
- Sea World.
- Discovery Cove—a place to swim with the dolphins.
—not to mention the city itself, which boasts a beautiful waterfront and bustling downtown.
A place only worth visiting if you enjoy warm weather, food both high-scale and authentic, live music, unique culture, shopping, a vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and beautiful people.
Sitting at the southeastern edge of the peninsula, Miami also offers a number of art museums, sculpture gardens, and natural parks to explore. A city offering the best of everything, for everyone.
For nature lovers who don't mind the buzzing of mosquitos, the Everglades is a unique place to explore. Everglades National Park includes hiking trails with tantalizing monikers like “Shark Valley" and “Flamingo," and, of course, ample opportunity to befriend an alligator. Take in the views—which include examples of every type of major natural habitat—by foot or by boat.
If you like your beach scene to move a little faster than the typical lounge chair-filled vacation, you might like Daytona Beach. The city, on Florida's Atlantic coast, not only offers a large boardwalk jammed with games, rides, and food, but is home of the famous Daytona International Speedway, which hosts the Daytona 500 along with a number of smaller races.
Florida Beaches & the Florida Keys
With one of the country's longest coastlines, Florida offers beautiful beach destinations, such as Sanibel, Clearwater, Delray, and Naples, among many, many others. But this travel guide would be remiss to not focus on perhaps the best beaches this very sandy state has to offer: the Florida Keys.
Driving across long stretches of an ocean-skimming bridge to get to this island chain is an adventure in itself, and once you're there, the sand seems just a bit smoother and the water a bit bluer.
Key West is perhaps the most famous of the archipelago, with its truly unique, laid back culture, beautiful state parks, and fun nightlife, but the rest of the Keys—and Florida's coastline in general—are great places for swimming and scuba diving among some of the world's best coral reefs, or just relaxing in the sun.
History buffs shouldn't miss the chance to check out the city claiming to be the oldest in America. Filled with the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture designed by its original settlers, St. Augustine is a quiet coastal town on Florida's Atlantic side with a number of historical attractions to explore. Despite its age, the town is still lively... perhaps that's because it is the rumored location of the Fountain of Youth.