Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jacksonville-Miami Road Trip

See Florida's eastern coast with this two-day trip.

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Day 1: Jacksonville- Merritt Island

Start your beachy road trip in the city of Jacksonville situated on the banks of the St. Johns River, not far from the Jacksonville Beaches on the coast. Waterways abound in Jacksonville, and it is Florida's biggest city so get out and about and explore the many bars, restaurants and entertainment options. To begin the trip, head out of the city on the I-95. There are a few State Parks not far from Jacksonville, one of which is the Matanzas State Forest which protects the last remaining salt marsh in the surrounding Research Reserve. Adjoining Faver-Dykes State Park borders Pellicer Creek which is popular for birdwatching.

by Guillame Capron Flickr Creative Commons

Continue south, hitting many coastal communities as you go. The most famous of these is Daytona Beach, not too far out of Jacksonville. Take a break and hit the beach. Surfers frequent the waves here, and from May to October, you might spot a sea turtle. The city has several historic attractions too if the beach is too much fun! Further down the coast is New Smyrna Beach, consistently voted one of the 'best beaches' and considered a great fishing spot.

 Sea Turtle
by davidd Flickr Creative Commons

The coast along here is a fascinating jumble of lagoons and islands, and the Canaveral National Seashore is a great way to see it. Get off the I-95 onto Stuckway Road and follow signs- you can swim in the ocean or fish the lagoon, and stroll the woods or shore on this untouched section of unique coast.

Canaveral National Seashore
by TruffShuff Flickr Creative Commons

Merritt island is a centre for intergalactic activity- close to  the NASA shuttle landing facility and of course Cape Canaveral! There are several RV parks on the island and in the surrounding area to park up for the night. You can visit the parks and conservation areas on the island or mainland, including the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Kennedy Space Centre is open every day except Christmas and you can visit the centre, watch imax space films and take tours of the various interesting space program places.

Day 2: Merritt Island- Miami

From Merritt Island, get back on the I-95 to continue down the coast- again there are many beachside communities just off the interstate, and all are great to visit. Palm Bay and Vero Beach will give you a multitude of options for restaurants and cafes with a view of the ocean,  and further down Fort Pierce has a variety of galleries and museums, and even a Manatee Observation and Education Centre! Nature areas along the way include the Savannas Preserve State Park and Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

 Fort Pierce Inlet
by Jeff Muceus Flickr Creative Commons

The coast becomes more built up towards the bottom of Florida, with the interstate passing behind and through Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale. See the cruise ships in Fort Lauderdale, a major cruise port all year round. This city is also known as the Venice of the USA due to its canal systems!

 Fort Lauderdale
by Roger Wollstadt Flickr Creative Commons

Miami is a beachy party city right down at the bottom of Florida. One of the stunners in the area is the Everglades-to explore, get onto the I-75 also known as Alligator Alley! The National Park is accessible all year round. You can hike by yourself, or take a guided tour to see the alligators and other wildlife. Airboat tours are a popular way of seeing the Glades.

 Everglades National Park
by Thierry Flickr Creative Commons

by John Spade Flickr Creative Commons

Park up at Miami and try some of the many eating places and dancing places!

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Author: Phil Wright+

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