Florida road trip from Miami to Orlando – top 5 must-see attractions, must-eats, and must-dos

Winter is when I spend most of my days out of Toronto and in tropical places chasing the sun & beaches. To me, a trip is not a getaway unless it’s done oversea(s); usually, the further the destination, the better. This winter, I received numerous pitches from the tourism board of Florida, so I gave the place a try. The only thing that was stopping me from visiting the Sunshine State any sooner was the easy accessibility, anyway.

Turns out, Florida is sunny spelled with a capital S, and fun with a capital F! It is a place I would go back again, perhaps a few times a year, also because of the easy accessibility.

South Beach, Miami
South Beach, Miami

A 3.5-hour flight brought us from Toronto to Miami, where we embarked on a week–long road trip with three things in mind: Sun, Beach and Food.

We spent four unforgettable days in Miami, and worked our way up to Orlando.

First Stop: Miami, FL (Miami deserves its own post)

Second Stop: Hollywood Beach

The boardwalk here stretches out for 2.5 miles along the Hollywood Beach, where endless white sand is freckled with loungers in cabanas and under parasols. For the ADD/ADHDs, skates, kangoo jumps, and bikes & trikes in all forms are available for rent.

Frozen Coronaritas @ Hollywood Beach

Frozen coronaritas and the beach seem to be the winning combo here, we quenched our thirsts with one of the jumbo-sized in mango flavour after a 30-minute dual trikke ride, and boy, it was refueling (and strong!).

frozen Coronarita Hollywood Beach, Florida
frozen Coronarita Hollywood Beach, Florida

Seafood @ GG’s Waterfront Bar & Grill

Travellers come to Florida with seafood in mind, and we were no exception. Located at just a short walk away from the Hollywood Beach, GG’s Waterfront Bar & Grill has a patio bar and outdoor seating providing stunning views of the ocean. Our seafood platter came with blue point & James R. oysters, jumbo shrimps, stone crab claws, clams and half a lobster. They were as impressive as the view.

GG’s Waterfront Bar & Grill seafood platter
GG’s Waterfront Bar & Grill seafood platter

Third Stop: Fort Lauderdale

Cocktails @ Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits, Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale

The Ritz Carlton here seems a bit humble comparing to its other locations, but the bar (Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits) sure lives up to the brand’s standard. The mixologists here tailor cocktails to your liking, and serve up exquisite vodka sours. The best part of this place for travellers who plan on the go (like us) is the individual outlets and USB ports under the table of each seat.

Ritz Carlton Bar, Fort Lauderdale
Ritz Carlton Bar, Fort Lauderdale

Breakfast & bottomless morning cocktails in Fort Lauderdale

The four-mile long stretch of publicly accessible coastline backed by a colorful array of luxury hotels, souvenir shops and sidewalk restaurants & cafes, makes Fort Lauderdale Beach an ideal place to jog. Before it turns too hot, that is. We rose before the sun and jogged until almost getting a heatstroke. Bottomless Mimosas and all you can drink Bloody Marys served at almost every breakfast joint washed away my regrets of getting sunburned.

I thought I had the best omelet in Miami before I tried the ones served at St. Barts Café, Fort Lauderdale. Eggs were fried to a perfect golden brown without the use of excessive oil, and the filling seemed plentiful even after a one-hour jog.

St. Barts Café breakfast
St. Barts Café breakfast

Escargot crepes @ La Bonne Crepe

If escargot is something you crave every now and then like us, La Bonne fills its crepe with enough escargots to end your craving once and for all. Don’t forget to complete your meal with a crepe suzette, soaked in Grand Marnier & orange sauce and served flambé!

Fourth Stop: West Palm Beach

Majestic palm trees with decorative lights line the roadways of this beautiful and growing city. West Palm Beach’s Cityplace is where you can enjoy world-class shopping and dining at over 80 purveyors. Mediterranean and Venetian architecture surrounding the open-air plaza are reminiscent of a European piazza.

CityPlace, West Palm Beach, Florida
CityPlace, West Palm Beach, Florida

CityPlace’s free trolley rides provide easy hop-on/hop-off shopping experience around downtown.

Fifth Stop: Orlando

As much as we wanted to stay, our journey had to end the next day; and we still had Orlando on the list. We continued on a late night drive from West Palm Beach to Orlando. It was past midnight, and our bodies were dying out of exhaustion, but every hotel we passed by looked like it could be either haunted or a crime scene, or both. Discovering Hyatt Regency Orlando was like seeing a mirage in a desert, we couldn’t be happier.

We checked off Universal Studio in Los Angeles and Osaka, and it was time to check off Universal Orlando.

Bloody Mary @ NBC Sports Grill & Brew Universal

At NBC Sports Grill & Brew Universal, guests dine on foosball tables while watching sports play on nearly 100 HD screens. We did not try the food, but the Bloody Mary was filling enough to call it breakfast.

Lining up at popular theme parks is always a good way to train your patients, and also a good way to prove that we did not have patience. After one ride, we decided it was time to find a decent place for food.

It was an afternoon during the Holidays. Our options were limited, but the Boheme Restaurant located in the Grand Bohemian Hotel wasn’t a bad choice. Mushroom & Crème Fraiche pizza is prepared with mozzarella, caramelized onions and chives, drizzled with white truffle oil and served on a tarte flambé crust. The Kabocha & Butternut Bisque is also a winter’s favourite: roasted winter squash mixed with curry, coconut milk and spice crème fraiche, with toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

Boheme Restaurant orlando
Boheme Restaurant

Read also: Miami’s Worthwhile Attractions, Hotels, Restaurants and Bars

(photos by Tanya: Florida Road Trip from Miami to Orlando)

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