How many miles is Florida
Arrival in Miami and pick-up of the camper
When one speaks of Miami, one usually means the resort of Miami Beach and less the city of Miami. Miami with only 415,000 inhabitants is the largest financial hub in the USA after New York, has relatively little industry, therefore no smog problem, and lives primarily from tourism. Its geographical location and proximity to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Mexico make the Port of Miami the largest cruise port in the world.
Since a large portion of the population is from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other countries in Central and South America, you'll find most of the labels in English and Spanish. In the Little Havana, S.W. 8th Street (also called Calle Ocho) is where you'll find music, open-air markets, shops and restaurants that reflect Cuban culture. The architecture of the older houses has a strong Spanish influence, many more modern houses are influenced by the construction of the Caribbean.
The Miami skyline is dominated by the Bank of America Building, which is illuminated every evening. Downtown Brickell Avenue is known as Miami's Wall Street. Many international banks have their headquarters here in ultra-modern buildings. Brickell Avenue was the location of several films - in “True Lies”, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger landed in a plane on the roof of an office building. You can recognize the Atlantis Building - it can be seen in the opening credits of the television series "Miami Vice" - by a palm tree, a whirlpool and a red spiral staircase in the middle of the building. Another landmark of the city is the Bacardi Building, 2100 Biscayne Boulevard, whose blue exterior wall painting can be seen from afar. The Metro-Dade Cultural Center at 101 West Flagler Street is home to the Center Of Fine Arts, the Historical Museum Of Southern Florida, and the Main Library.
In Miami Beach there is one large hotel after the other. The so-called “Boardwalk” was built on the beach between 21st Street and Ocean Drive Street, a mile-long promenade directly on the Atlantic Ocean. One of the most interesting areas of South Miami Beach, or “Sobe” for short, is the Art Deco District, which is located between 5th and 23rd Streets, Collins Avenue, Ocean Drive and Lennox Court. Here you will find some of the best preserved buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. The Art Deco Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Drive, has many Art Deco-style souvenirs and books for sale. Guided tours through the district are offered from here on weekends. There are also bike tours departing from 1421 Washington Avenue.
Also worth a visit is the Ancient Spanish Monastery. The monastery is the oldest building in the western hemisphere - it was originally built in the 12th century in the Spanish province of Segovia, bought in 1925 by multimillionaire William Randolph Hearst, dismantled and boxed and only rebuilt in 1964.
Coconut Grove in southwest Miami is one of Miami's oldest neighborhoods; many houses here were built from the wood of stranded ships - by immigrants from the Caribbean. The many street cafes give Coconut Grove a very European flair today.
Five bridges, so-called causeways, connect Miami with the long, narrow island of Miami Beach. At the turn of the century there was nothing but wilderness, snakes and countless mosquitoes. Today this island is synonymous with relaxation. With beach, warmth and sun almost all year round, Miami Beach is a vacation paradise for many Americans from the colder states as well as many foreign visitors.
To find your way around Miami, you need to know that the city is divided into four parts, NE = Northeast, NW = Northwest, SE = Southeast and SW = Southwest, Flagler Street (east-west) and Miami Avenue (north-south ) form the separation. Streets run east-west, avenues run north-south, both have numbers, which can be confusing. Major arteries through the city are Interstate Highway I-95, which becomes US 1 in the south, and Highway SR 836 / Dolphin Expressway.
Guest at "Flipper"
Via the Rickenbacker Causeway you can reach the Miami Seaquarium, home of the television dolphin "Flipper". Performances of the orcas, sea lions and dolphins that live there take place several times a day. The Miami Seaquarium is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with last entry one and a half hours before closing.
Local recreation under the lighthouse
At the end of Key Biscayne Island is the Bill Bags Cape Florida State Recreation Area with the Cape Florida Lighthouse and other attractions.
Miami Beach - Cocoa Beach
Daily stage: approx. 210 miles / 336 km
Suggested route: Miami Beach - Fort Lauderdale - West Palm Beach - Cocoa Beach
Today we're heading north. Our suggestion is to take Exit 29A after 24 miles from I-95 North and turn right on E. Sunrise, then take Highway A1A to the left, as this is a very scenic route between Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. From Palm Beach take left Okeechobee Boulevard / SR 704 to I-95 North and after 132 miles then take Exit 201 right on FL-520 E / King Street to Cocoa Beach.
Fort Lauderdale is a popular seaside resort for Americans and tourists from around the world. Founded in 1838 by Major William Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale did not grow into a resort until after 1911. It is not only one of the leading seaside resorts, but also an important trading city. Port Everglades, about 2 miles south of the city, has one of the deepest ports south of Norfolk, Virginia.
Fort Lauderdale is known as the "Venice of America". Crossed by rivers, bays and canals, it is a city of islands in which the boat competes with the car as a means of transport. One tenth of the city is water. 165 miles (over 265 km) of navigable waters provide home to boats of all sizes. So leave your motorhome standing and take a "water taxi".
West Palm Beach is a commercial and industrial city that has not lost the character of a bathing and recreation area. Beach life is especially important at Palm Beach, which is at the northern end of an island about 13.5 miles (22 km) long. Henry Morrison Flagler had the railroad built on the east coast of Florida and was the first to recognize the potential of this lush, subtropical, palm-fringed area. He built the Royal Poinciana Hotel, which is a testament to the "Gilded Age" (golden age) of America. In addition to paintings and porcelain, Flagler's private railway compartment can also be viewed in the building. In addition to the beautiful beach and the elegant shops along Worth Avenue, the “most expensive shopping street in the world”, there is also the Royal Poincianalaza lifestyle resort.
Along the entire Atlantic coast of Florida three streets run more or less parallel: A1A, US 1 and I-95. You can also use Florida’s Turnpike (toll fee) as far as Fort Pierce. The A1A is a two-lane coastal road and runs through all beach towns; Very slow progress, but most interesting in terms of landscape. US 1 has a lot of business and through traffic, lots of traffic lights and allows access to many shopping centers. I-95 is a freeway like any other, a wide strip of concrete that runs through grassy landscape; a bit boring, but that's the fastest way to get ahead.
Cocoa Beach - St. Augustine Beach
Daily stage: approx. 125 miles / 200 km
Suggested route: Cocoa Beach - Daytona Beach - St. Augustine Beach
From Cocoa Beach, travel to the Kennedy Space Center today. From here manned space trips are carried out. A two-hour bus tour takes you past the buildings where the space shuttles are assembled. You'll see astronaut training machines and launch pads, as well as some spacecraft and rockets up close.
The Space Center is located in the Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge. As you leave the island, take a look at the canals that run to the left and right of the road. You will definitely spot alligators, because over 4,000 of these animals are said to live here. The park is, among other things, a wintering place for water birds. To see a little more of nature, you can visit the northern part of the park.
St. Augustine is the oldest permanent settlement in the United States. It played an important role in the country's early history. The Spaniard Ponce de Lèon discovered today's St. Augustine in 1513. To get to the Spanish Quarter, follow the signs for A1A North / Historic Center. You will pass the Light House Museum and the Alligator Farm. Cross the Bridge of Lions. The Spanish Quarter is an open-air museum that depicts homes and the 18th century lifestyle of the area.
Find out more about the city at the St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, 10 Castillo Drive. The Castillo De San Marcos Monument is located in the city center, at the intersection of Castillo Drive and Avenida Menendez (A1A). It is the symbol for 235 years of Spanish presence in Florida. The fortress is made of "Coquina", a natural stone made from mussel shells and sand, and is a unique example of a style of military architecture long gone. In 1565, St. Augustine and its fortress was the northernmost post in the Spanish Caribbean and an expression of the Spanish claim to Florida. It protected the Spanish ships returning to Europe through the canal from the Bahamas.
In the IMAX Theater at the Spaceport of the Kennedy Space Center you can watch the films "Magnificient Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3-D" and "Space Station 3-D"; Entrance fee. As the rush is quite high, buy tickets as soon as you arrive, before you even watch the rockets. A replica of the space shuttle can be viewed for free.
St. Augustine Beach - Orlando
Day's stage: approx. 125 miles / 190 km
Suggested route: St. Augustine Beach - Daytona Beach - Orlando
Daytona Beach is known for its 23 miles long beach, which can be driven at slow pace by car and motorcycle. When the weather is good, the beach becomes a fairground. Here you will find many stalls, surfers, kite surfers, sand yachts and more. The city is best known to tourists for two big events: Spring Break, the boisterous celebration of American students and Bike Week, one of the largest Harley-Davidson gatherings. Daytona is also known for the Daytona International Speedway race track, which consists of an oval with three banked bends and a road racing course inside. The former is used by the US racing series NASCAR, among others. the Daytona 500, on the latter of which the Daytona 24-hour race is held.
Orlando is named after Orlando Reeves, a soldier who was killed in battle in 1835 by a Seminole warrior's arrow. Until the end of the 19th century, the city lived on cattle breeding and cotton cultivation. Then the cultivation of citrus fruits took hold and with it the growth began. Today Orlando, with a population of around 250,000, is the most visited city in the USA with 59 million tourists most recently (2013), ahead of New York. In addition to all the entertainment options, you will find plenty of small and large shopping centers, where you can buy cheap casual fashion and souvenirs of all tastes to your heart's content.
In 1965, the marshland in southwest Orlando was turned into a gigantic fantasy world. Disney World is twice the size of Manhattan in an area. There is another attraction under the direction of Disney World, the Disney Hollywood Studios, because Hollywood has moved part of its studios to Orlando. Many TV series and action films are shot here.
Access to the various parts of Disney World is possible from both US 192 and I-4. Please pay attention to the large signs above the streets. Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, and Disney Hollywood Studios Theme Park opening times vary by season and day of the week.
To get an overview of the park area, you should do the following tour: Adventureland with the Caribbean pirates, Liberty Square with the haunted house, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland with the carousel of progress. At the Crystal Palace you can take a rest. Then go specifically to the attractions you have selected, as the waiting times are often a little longer due to the large number of visitors.
In the lagoon you have the opportunity to visit the different countries of the world. You can try the typical dishes of the individual states. In addition to the restaurants, there are also numerous cafeterias.
Orlando - Clearwater
Daily stage: approx. 105 miles / 170 km
Suggested route: Orlando - Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater
Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa are the commercial, financial and economic centers of the west coast of Florida. Tourism also plays a major role in beach resorts such as St. Petersburg Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach and Clearwater Beach.
One can walk through historic downtown St. Petersburg and take a look at Sunken Gardens, 1825 North 4th Street. This is a botanical complex with tropical and subtropical vegetation. St. Petersburg is also home to a few good museums.
The biggest tourist attraction in Tampa is Busch Gardens, 3000 Busch Boulevard. Busch Gardens, also known as "The Dark Continent", is an amusement park with seven different parts, all with the theme "Africa at the turn of the century". Here you will see the wilderness of the Serengeti and feel the adventure on the Congo River. Check out the Timbuktu Bazaar and a Broadway-like show at the Maroccan Palace Theater.
In addition to other museums, St. Petersburg also has a museum dedicated to the works of the Spanish painter Salvador Dali. The Salvador Dali Museum is located near the University of Florida campus at 1000 South 3rd Street.
Clearwater - Naples
Day's stage: approx. 170 miles / 272 km
Suggested route: Clearwater - Sarasota - Venice - Fort Myers - Naples
Continue on US 41 south via Sarasota, Venice and Fort Myers to Naples. In Sarasota, the Ringling Museum Of Art is located at 5401 Bay Shore Road. With his circus, the “Greatest Show on Earth”, John Ringling has amassed such wealth that he established a small empire here in Sarasota. He built a mansion with 30 rooms, modeled on the Italian Doge's Palace. In 1920 Ringling gave this house to his wife as a present. For his extensive art collection, Ringling built his own museum, which contains one of the largest collections of works by the painter Peter Paul Rubens. Ringling made Sarasota the cultural center of Florida.
As the name suggests, canals run through the heart of Venice. The first settlers came to the area in 1867 and the first post office was opened in 1888, an important event for a small town. In 1923 Venice was connected to both Miami and Tampa with the construction of the Tamiami Trail. In 1941 an important military base was developed here. The city is the winter seat of the Ringling Brothers And Barnum & Bailey Circus with the only "training school for clowns" in the world. Venice is also known as the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World", the capital of shark teeth. Enjoy the beautiful white sand beach and look for clams or shark teeth. Many restaurants offer fresh fish, mussels and seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.
Fort Myers is a very rapidly growing city on the Caloosahatchee River. The spacious streets and the beautiful palm trees that line many of the streets are particularly striking. There are more than 70 different types of palm trees in this city and a number of exotic flowers and tropical fruits. There are some beautifully restored houses around Main Street and Broadway. History can be seen at the Southwest Florida Museum of History, 2031 Jackson Street.
Known for its 41 miles (66 km) beach, fashionable boutiques and cozy restaurants, Naples was only accessible by water until 1885. The Naples Pier is a relic of that time. Stroll along 5th Avenue and 3rd Street. The nicest shops can be found between Broadway and 14th Avenues. A small wooden bridge takes you to the wonderful sandy beach, which is ideal for a walk. In Old Naples and on the Dockside Boardwalk there are many shops and restaurants as well as a beautiful view over Naples Bay.
If you feel like going on a shopping spree, the former buildings of the Kentucky Military Institute in the city center, which are now home to small shops and boutiques on the ground floor, are ideal. You can also find other nice shops on Venice Avenue. There are also several shopping centers along the Tamiami Trail.
A guest in the Inventor's House
In Fort Myers, in addition to Henry Ford's winter residence, be sure to check out the nearby Thomas A. Edison Winter Home at 2350 McGregor Boulevard. Not only the chemical laboratory and the museum of the inventor, but also the original furnishings of the house and the botanical garden with many unusual trees and bushes are worth seeing.
On the pirate islands off Fort Myers
In front of the city of Fort Myers are the islands of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. (It takes about 30 minutes to get to Sanibel Island from the city center; there is a toll on the Sanibel Causeway). In pirate times, the pirate José Gaspar kept his stolen, beautiful women prisoner here. The first permanent residents settled on Sanibel Island in 1833, coming from New York. Today there are large holiday resorts, shopping centers and a nature park on the islands. As soon as you get to the island, you will see the Chamber Of Commerce on the right, where you can get a detailed map of the island. At the eastern end of Periwinkle Way you come to the old Sanibel Island Lighthouse, which has shown the way for many ships since 1884.
Naples - Key West
Daily stage: approx. 300 miles / 480 km
Suggested route: Naples - Florida City - Key West
From Naples, turn right on US 41, Tamiami Trail, heading east.
In Collier County, you will come across the southern portion of Big Cypress National Preserve, where many cypress trees grow along the road. You will now drive approximately 80 miles through Everglades National Park. For many centuries the Everglades were inhabited by the Calusa Indians. Europeans first came to the area in 1513. Other Indian tribes also came later, although they were ultimately driven out completely by the whites. Today a few descendants of the Calusa have settled in the northern part of the park. They live mainly from tourism and are allowed to sell their handicraft products and cigarettes without VAT.
The Everglades wetland is actually a very slow moving river that is about 200 miles (over 320 km) long, about 50 miles (80 km) wide, and only about 0.5 feet (15 cm) deep. The water flows from the Kissimmee River Valley near Orlando through Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, and it takes up to a year to travel this distance. The mixture of fresh and salt water developed very interesting animal species. There are around 300 different species of birds and around 600 different species of fish. This area has been a nature reserve since 1947. However, short hunting seasons for alligators are allowed.
From Florida City it goes to the Florida Keys - all the way to Key West. The term "keys" comes from the Spanish word "cayos", which means "narrow islands". The route is called the Overseas Highway or "The Highway that goes to Sea". Around 113 miles (182 km) of road and 43 bridges had to be built to connect to all of the islands, which was the first time in 1938. In 1982 37 of these bridges were replaced by additional and more resilient ones.
The people born in Key West call themselves "Conchs" (pronounced "Konk"). Conch is a small mollusc, but it is tough and can be found on every menu in town. Conch shells of any size can be found in almost all souvenir shops. Many interesting or eccentric people have settled in Key West and so have artists. Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway were drawn to the island with its rich vegetation of palm trees, hibiscus, and bougainvillea. The abundant flora that is represented here includes 26 species of palm and 2 different species of banana trees. The highest natural elevation is 18 feet above sea level, which means you are just under 6 meters high. The land around Eisenhower Drive is not a natural mainland, but heaped up land, the island has simply become too small.
Especially in the evening, Old Town around Mallory Square Dock, Front Street and Duval Street comes to life. Street entertainers, vendors and palm readers try to do business with the many tourists. Don't miss the famous sunset from Sunset Pier. As you stroll down Duval Street, stop by Hemingway's favorite bar, Sloppy Joe. Enjoy a good meal in one of the many restaurants and a drink in one of the numerous bars, and stroll through the countless shops. Duval Street is sometimes referred to as the "longest street in the world," even though it is only 14 blocks long as it stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The Wreckers ’Museum, 322 Duval Street, was built in 1829 and is the oldest house in Key West. St. Pauls Church, first built in 1832, is the oldest church on the island. The current building dates from 1912.
With the exception of Hawaii, Key West is the southernmost point in the United States. There is the southernmost house, the southernmost hotel and the southernmost point of the US mainland, which is marked with a huge metal drum. They have given up putting up a sign because one after the other has been stolen.
From June onwards there are short, heavy rains almost every day. There are also a lot of mosquitoes. Some even spray their T-shirts so that the mosquitoes don't bite through their clothes. Don't forget to use strong sunscreen and bring a hat. You will pass small Indian settlements where "airboat rides" are offered. These boats drive you at great speed over the vast expanses of grass of the Everglades swamps, a very special experience. The Everglades Safari Park, 2600 Tamiami Trail, about 9 miles (14.5 km) behind Shark Valley, is also suitable for such trips is on the right.
To watch out for on the Overseas Highway (Florida Keys)
It is advised and is sometimes even required to drive with dipped headlights during the day for increased safety. The respective speed limit should be strictly adhered to here, as there are strict controls on this route. There are very few opportunities to overtake during the entire journey.
Activities in Key West
You have the option of taking a tour of the city on the open Conch Tour Train. Trains depart daily and at regular intervals from two stations, Mallory Square in Old Town and 3850 North Roosevelt Avenue (by the Welcome Center). With the little train you can get a good overview of this pretty city in 90 minutes. With the Old Time Trolley you can travel the same route and have the option of getting on and off at all stops. Or follow the pelican signs to guide you through historic Key West.
Visit the Little White House Museum, 111 Front Street, which is located in the Truman Annex. This is where Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, spent his vacations during his tenure. Also of interest is the Ernest Hemingway Home And Museum, 907 Whitehead Street. From Fury Dock you can take a snorkeling tour to coral reefs, there are around 600 different species of fish, or a sailing trip.
Key West - Miami (Miami Beach)
Daily stage: approx. 180 miles / 270 km
Suggested route: Key West - Florida City - Miami (Miami Beach)
Today it goes from Key West on the Overseas Highway (US 1) back north to the destination Miami. You can also plan a day or two at the end of this trip for the sights in Miami and Miami Beach. So you have the opportunity to leave the motorhome relaxed and to end the Florida camper trip under palm trees with a pleasant view of the Atlantic.
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