It’s hard to imagine a better place for a road trip than sunny Florida. And if you’re forced to choose one Florida road trip to make, you can’t do better than the Orlando to Miami drive.
You’ll get to explore everything from epic theme parks and tropical beaches to the Kennedy Space Center and Alligator Alley. This drive is a perfect blend of excitement, relaxation, and natural beauty – quintessential Florida.
So why not hit the open road and embark on an unforgettable journey from Orlando to Miami in 2023?
Here’s everything you need to know about this drive. Let’s go!
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Orlando to Miami Drive
Once you’ve chosen this part of Florida to road trip through, you’ll need to pick a route. There are a few that you can take, but here we’re going to talk about the 2 most scenic ones. Below we’ll explore the US-1/SR A1A route along the east coast of the peninsula, and the I-75 route, on the west coast.
We’ll look at what there is to see and do on each route, how long each takes, and the best time to go. Here are the details you need to start planning this epic road trip, whichever route you decide on.
Drive Time (no stops):
US-1/SR A1A (east): about 5 hours
I-75 (west): about 5 hours and 40 minutes
US- 1/SR A1A: 245 miles or 395 km
I-75: 373 miles or 600 km
Best Time to Drive from Orlando to Miami
Any time is a great time for the Orlando to Miami Drive. Florida’s temperatures are perfect for a road trip any time of year, thanks to its mild subtropical climate. And since Miami is such a safe destination for families, there’s no reason not to visit!
Whether you’re planning a summer escape or a winter getaway, you can usually count on warm weather and sunshine to follow you on your journey. Florida’s weather conditions tend to be ideal for making the most of a road trip experience. Plus, there’s always plenty to do in the sunshine state – whether you’re visiting Miami in January or in the middle of summer!
If you prefer a little less humidity, though, winter is a better choice for you. From January through April the average humidity drops about 10%, and the days tend to be a bit cooler.
If there is one time of year, though, that you might want to keep an eye on the weather when planning your trip, it’s hurricane season. This officially falls between June 1 and November 30, but in reality, varies widely from year to year.
The peak of Florida’s hurricane season is in August and September, and there is the possibility, albeit slight, of severe weather, heavy rain, and thunderstorms. The weather conditions during this time can be unpredictable and may lead to delays.
Of course, this tends to be the exception rather than the rule. Many travelers come and go from Florida during this time completely unaware that they visited during hurricane season. So just keep an eye on the weather reports, and you should have no worries.
Peak Travel Season from Orlando to Miami
The summer months are also the peak time to plan a family vacation with school-aged children. With school holidays comes heavier traffic on the roads and longer wait times at popular attractions.
It’s worth noting that prices for accommodations and tourist attractions tend to be higher during this period, too, so it’s recommended to plan and book in advance to get the best deals on hotels and activities.
Whichever time of year you’re traveling, it’s always best to start your day early. This way you can stay ahead of the traffic, as well as the heat.
Is it hard to drive from Orlando to Miami?
US-1 and I-75 are well-maintained roadways. Both routes offer a smooth driving experience with minimal traffic congestion outside of peak hours. It is worth noting, however, that Route 1 is a more well-known scenic coastal road. This means that it may have more traffic, especially during peak tourist seasons like school holidays.
Route 75 is also a scenic drive but is less well-known than Route 1, which runs from the Canadian border down the east coast of the United States. This results in fewer cars on the road, while still providing a fun-filled drive with lots to see and some amazing stops to make.
Both routes are well-equipped with service stations, food stops, and any other amenities you might need along your drive.
Is it better to fly or drive from Miami to Orlando?
If you are short on time and are eager to dive into the excitement of Miami, then you may decide to book a flight. You can get from Orlando to Miami in about 1 hour and 10 minutes, often for less than US$100.
However, if you have the time, I highly recommend driving. As fantastic as Miami is, it’s worth waiting for. The city is only a part of the fun when you’re in this part of Florida. The sights you’ll see and the activities you can take part in along either of these routes will be highlights of your trip.
If you plan to drive to Miami with your kids, make sure to consult my recommended toddler travel essentials to keep them happy and occupied during a long road trip. And don’t forget to pack plenty of chic Miami outfits for yourself!
Where should I stop between Orlando and Miami?
US-1 Route, East Coast
First up, let’s explore the east coast route along US-1. This route takes you down the Atlantic coastline and offers stunning ocean views and plenty of beachside stops and activities to indulge in. The US-1 is an incredibly scenic coastal road.
You may want to spend a part of your drive on the SR A1A, which runs parallel to much of the US-1 but will take you through the barrier islands of Florida. If you decide to spend some time on the SR A1A, you’ll see some of the state’s most picturesque coastal towns and beaches.
This road is lined with sandy beaches, often on both sides, with swaying palm trees, and stunning ocean vistas. It’s widely associated with beach culture and I suggest that you spend at least a little time on it. It will add a bit of time to your drive, but it will be time well spent.
You can actually spend a great deal of your Orlando to Miami drive on the SR A1A if you like. Its only caveat is that, as close as it is to the water, the road is vulnerable to things like high waves and storm surges. Traffic is often heavy on it, as well.
Feel free to go from the US-1 to the SR A1A and back, and be sure to listen to road condition warnings if there has been weather in the area.
The US-1 and the SR A1A are close enough that, whichever one you happen to be on, you can take in each of these only-in-Florida stops
I’d highly recommend making this your first stop out of Orlando. The KSC on Merritt Island has a rich history dating back to the early days of NASA. Since 1968, the center has been the main launch center for the US space program.
Today, it continues to be a hub for space exploration. Visitors get to explore interactive exhibits that showcase the history of space exploration and provide insight into the future of space travel. It’ll blow your mind.
The Heroes & Legends exhibit, for example, features the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. It pays tribute to the men and women who have actually been to space.
The Rocket Garden is a display of the rockets and capsules that were part of early space exploration. Plus. the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit showcases the history and technology behind the shuttle program.
If you’re interested in taking a behind-the-scenes tour, you have a few options. The KSC Bus Tour takes visitors to launch sites, the Vehicle Assembly Building, and other important areas of the center. The Explore Tour takes visitors to the launch control center and to the site where the Space Shuttle Atlantis was prepared for launch. While the Up-Close Tour provides an opportunity to view a launch pad up close.
The best time of day to visit the Kennedy Space Center is in the morning when there are fewer crowds and it’s a bit cooler. You can easily spend a full day exploring the exhibits and participating in tours, so plan accordingly. The Kennedy Space Center really is a fascinating place.
Even if you’re not a space geek, you’ll be amazed by the technology, history, and innovation on display.
Where to Stay
If you end up spending the day at the KSC you may not feel up to making the 40-minute drive to the next stop. The Courtyard By Marriott Titusville is just 8 miles down the road. It has a couple of casual on-site dining options, plus a pool and hot tub. And be sure to make your way up to the rooftop to check out the heart-stopping views.
➦ Cocoa Beach
About 40 minutes from the Space Center, this laid-back beach town is known for its surfing, fishing, and family-friendly atmosphere. You can enjoy all your favorite beach activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles. If you have young kids, be sure to pack all of your toddler beach gear!
If you’re looking for some adventure, you can even do some surfing, parasailing, and kayaking on Cocoa Beach. The town is also home to the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop, a must-stop for surfers and beach lovers. They have a wide selection of beachwear, surfboards, and other beach essentials, as well as souvenirs like t-shirts and hats.
Don’t miss Cocoa Beach Pier, where you’ll find restaurants, shops, and fishing opportunities. And you can’t leave without a stop at the Fat Donkey downtown, for ice cream.
Where to Stay
When you love it too much to leave, the Beach Place Guesthouse is a great place to spend the night. With a private beach, free parking, an outdoor fireplace, and an in-room kitchen… just don’t forget that you’re heading for Miami!
➦ Sebastian Inlet State Park
Located in the town of Melbourne Beach, the park is 50 minutes down the road from Cocoa Beach. It has stunning beaches, water activities, and some fantastic nature trails for hiking with the family. It’s a great spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the Florida sunshine after a long drive.
You may even get to see some wildlife while you’re here. Sebastian Park is home to sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees, to name a few local inhabitants. One of the best hiking trails is Hammock Trail, an easy 15-20 minute walk with lots of informational signs about the area’s wildlife. The park also has a museum that showcases the history and ecology of the area.
If you feel like jumping in the water, the park has great opportunities for swimming, surfing, and snorkeling. With so much to do, Sebastian Inlet State Park is the perfect stop on a road trip through Florida. There is a US$8/vehicle charge.
Where to Stay
If you’re ready for a break, the park is a great place to camp. If that’s not for you, overnight at SpringHill Suites Vero Beach on the mainland, just 20 minutes away. With the high standards typical of a Marriott property, you’ll have free parking, breakfast, even laundry, and a pool.
➦ Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
1.5 hours further down the road you’ll find this iconic landmark in the town of Jupiter. Built in 1860 and an important part of the area’s maritime history, the lighthouse stands tall at 108 feet. You can climb the 105 steps to the top for spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby Jupiter Inlet.
The museum has exhibits on the history of the lighthouse and the local area, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the region. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum is open daily, and guided tours are available if you’re interested in learning more about the lighthouse’s fascinating history.
While in the area, you can also visit the nearby Blowing Rocks Preserve. This nature conservancy is a stunning 73-acre beach and nature reserve on Jupiter Island, with limestone formations and rare sea life to see.
You can take guided nature walks, do some birdwatching, and observe sea turtles nesting during the summer months. The preserve’s shallow reef is home to a variety of marine life, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. Keep in mind, that the Preserve is open only from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where to stay
The Jupiter Waterfront Inn is the ideal stop. In a terrific location, you can enjoy the view from your own terrace out over the Atlantic Ocean and the Jupiter Inlet. Take a dip in the pool before you go to sleep!
➦ Delray Beach
Just 45 minutes further on, this pretty little coastal town is a great place to take a break from the road trip and enjoy some beach time. The downtown area is full of boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, and the Delray Beach Art Trail.
Art deco is everywhere in Delray – take a self-guided tour past the murals and art installations downtown, and call it a cultural experience! Some say it rivals the Art Deco District of Miami Beach, and even gives New York a run for its money.
If you find that the Art Trail is your thing, you might want to backtrack for about 25 minutes and check out the Art Night Out in West Palm Beach’s Northwood Village. It only happens on the last Friday of each month, so check your calendar before you head out.
In addition to its artsy downtown area, Delray Beach also offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, and surfing. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Wakodahatchee Wetlands, just 15 minutes to the west. You’ll find a nature preserve with a boardwalk trail that winds through a variety of wetland habitats.
Where to stay
Crane’s Beach House Boutique Hotel and Luxury Villas is just a short walk from downtown and a block off the beach. The hotel has tropical landscaping, 2 saline pools, and its own Tiki Bar. You can choose between rooms, suites, and villas. Crane’s also offers massage services to guests, poolside or in your room.
Your next stop is Miami, less than an hour away – enjoy!
I-75 Route, West Coast
The I-75 is another popular route for an Orlando to Miami road trip. This way takes you along the Gulf Coast and is a bit more of a relaxed drive. Starting from Orlando, you will take the I-4 towards Tampa, then the I-75 south, and then east to Miami.
This route takes about 5.5 hours of straight driving to cover a distance of 373 miles or 600 km. It’s a well-maintained road and offers plenty of amenities for travelers, including rest areas, gas stations, and food stops.
During peak travel times, however, such as school holidays and weekends, traffic can be heavy, particularly around cities like Tampa and Fort Myers. I’d recommend that you plan your trip accordingly and avoid peak travel times if you can. Getting an early morning start each day can help.
The I-75 is a beautiful drive, and like the US-1 it offers a lot of sights and activities along the way. Ideally, you’ll be able to stop at each of them, but if you can’t, take in as many as you have time for!
Located just off I-75 and about 1 hour and 35 minutes from Orlando, Tampa is an energetic city with plenty to see. You can stop in at Busch Gardens, a world-renowned amusement park with rides, live entertainment, and amazing – and ethical – wildlife encounters. Or take the Tampa Riverwalk, and be sure to check out nearby Zudar’s on Platt for some amazing food.
And of course, there is the Florida Aquarium – this is a great place for the kids to work off some energy at the Splash Pad. Tampa also has many fantastic places to eat, and you know the shopping is unbeatable. Put Hyde Park Village into Google Maps, and spend some time wandering around this charming outdoor shopping area.
Where to stay
The Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa North is a great place to spend the night if you decide you love it here. You’ll have a pool and gym, with a free breakfast buffet and even a theme park shuttle.
An hour from Tampa is this beautiful coastal town. Known for its absolutely beautiful beaches, Sarasota has a lot to see, so definitely try to make time for this stop. While you’re here, you can explore cultural attractions like the very unique Ringling Museum of Art, and the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion. This Mediterranean revival-style mansion was built by Jon Ringling of circus fame.
If you’d rather stick to a beaches-only itinerary, check out Siesta Key Village. The beach of the same name has been named one of the best beaches in the US, and there are hidden treasures galore to be found when you wander down Midnight Pass Road.
We celebrated my twins’ second birthday in Sarasota. There are so many things to do in Sarasota with kids. We can not wait to go back!
Where to stay
The Carlisle Inn Sarasota has everything you’ll need if you decide to stay. Enjoy the pool and the fitness center, and choose between the in-house restaurant or whipping something up for yourself in your own kitchenette.
➦ Cape Coral
An hour and 45 minutes from Sarasota, Cape Coral is located on a large peninsula with an extensive system of canals and waterfront areas to explore. You can take a fishing charter or eco-tour, or enjoy one of the many parks and nature preserves.
There are also several golf courses and some great shopping in the area. Cape Coral is an irresistible stop on your road trip due to its small-town feel and intoxicating waterfront lifestyle.
If you’ve got a little time to spare, you might also want to take a drive to Sanibel Island. About a 40-mile drive from Cape Coral, Sanibel Island is a subtropical barrier island and is a paradise for nature lovers. It’s home to several exquisite beaches, as well as the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It also has some great kayaking and snorkeling opportunities.
* There’s a US$9 fee to cross over to the island.
Where to stay
Cape Paradise B&B is the perfect place to overnight in the area. You’ll be able to enjoy the outdoor pool and hot tub, lounge on the terrace, or relax at the bar. If you have a lighthouse bucket list, the B&B is close to Sanibel Lighthouse.
Known for luxurious resorts, upscale shopping, and ritzy dining options, Naples is about an hour and 25 minutes south of Cape Coral. Make the most of a stop here by taking a stroll down 5th Avenue South. Do a little shopping at a few of the boutiques, and indulge in a fine meal to recharge. Or at least stop at the Mon”Key” Bread Factory for dessert. In fact, go there first!
Then, head to one of the beautiful beaches, such as Vanderbilt Beach or Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, and enjoy some sun, sand, and surf. If you have time, take a scenic drive along Gulf Shore Boulevard to enjoy the spectacular ocean views.
Where to stay
Home2 Suites by Hilton is a great hotel at a great price. The swimming pool, barbeque facilities, and sun terrace are all at your disposal, and you can even opt for a room with a kitchenette.
➦ The Everglades and Alligator Alley
The stretch of I-75 between Naples and Miami is known as Alligator Alley. You just can’t drive this route without stopping in the Everglades. Just pull over at any of the rest stops or boat ramps, and look for alligators, fish, and turtles. Birds are also plentiful in the area.
You could take a detour here and head south to the Everglades National Park, but Alligator Alley is such an epic experience that you won’t feel the need. And it’s free to explore!
Each rest stop is equipped with restrooms, vending machines, and picnic tables for your convenience. But do keep an eye out – alligators! You can even take a guided airboat tour to explore the park’s unique ecosystem and see alligators, birds, and other wildlife from the water.
The easiest way to do this is to plan ahead a bit and book a trip through a company like TripAdvisor. You can meet at the Sawgrass Recreation Park just north of the I-75 on Highway 27.
Where to stay
There are no accommodation options between Naples to Miami, along Alligator Alley, which is about 120 miles, or 193 km. If you’re not yet ready to end your road trip, you may want to spend the night in Fort Lauderdale.
If you decide to do that, The Tides Inn Hotel is a great stop, with bicycle rentals and kayaking, and the beach at your doorstep. Another hour and 10 minutes in the car, and you’re in Miami!
Or if you’re anxious to get there, Miami is less than an hour from the Sawgrass Recreation Park. Go for it!
Once you get to Miami, a plethora of fun restaurants will be waiting for you.
Orlando to Miami Bus
What if you don’t want to fly over all of the amazing scenery between Orlando and Miami, but you don’t want to drive? There are options for you!
The most economical one is to buy a ticket on the Greyhound or another public bus. This will generally cost less than US $40 one-way and takes around 4.5-5 hours. Of course, you don’t get in on the different stops along the way, but you’ll still end up in Miami! You can book one way or round trip and stay as long as you like.
There are also several possibilities from companies like TripAdvisor. You can hire a private van with a driver, so you just sit back and enjoy the ride. Some will even show you around Miami, or give you the option of taking a cruise on Biscayne Bay!
These can be great choices if you have a group going, and your car is just not big enough. Orlando to Miami drives like this tend to be round-trip, single-day trips, so you don’t even have to worry about a place to stay.
Orlando to Miami Train
Who doesn’t love to travel by train? You can book a ticket with Amtrak for anywhere from US $30 to around US $70.
Travel by rail tends to be slower than travel by road, and the trip takes on average about 6.5 hours. This can vary by +/- an hour or two. Again, you won’t be stopping along the way, but you can still enjoy the scenery without worrying about traffic.
Orlando to Miami Flight
Of course, the fastest way to make the trip is to fly. One-way tickets can be had for less than US $100, but that price can increase by 2 or 3x depending on the usual factors like the airline, advance booking time, etc. Flight time is normally around 1 hour and 20 minutes. Book a car rental from the airport in advance, and you’re all set!
Conclusion: Orlando to Miami Drive
It’s clear that both the US-1 route and the I-75 route from Orlando to Miami have their own unique advantages and drawbacks. The US-1 route offers stunning coastal views, numerous beach and outdoor activities, and charming small towns to explore. However, it can also be more congested and slower due to traffic, especially during rush hours and school holidays.
On the other hand, the I-75 route is a bit faster as it tends to have less traffic. It also has a variety of attractions and cities to visit along the way, but with fewer coastal views and somewhat less beach access. It does have Alligator Alley, though.
If you’re having a hard time deciding which route to take, an easy solution is to make a loop. Take the US-1 from Orlando to Miami, and the I-75 back to Orlando – and enjoy the best of both worlds!