Summer’s almost here and after being cooped up for weeks, a road trip sounds fantastic! You don’t have to travel far to enjoy an unforgettable vacation. VW South Florida put together some ideas for fun summer Florida road trips. This trip takes you from your home here in sunny south Florida up the east coast, across northern central Florida and finally ends in a small town in northwestern Florida. Go ahead, launch Google Maps and take a virtual ride with us!
If you’re looking for natural wonders: crystal clear springs, coral reefs and caves, head up the east coast and hit Hobe Sound first! There you’ll find Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island, a barrier island with white sand beaches and limestone formations. You might even catch a glimpse of sea turtles. Guests of Blowing Rocks Preserve enjoy swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving – so pack your gear, or you’ll have to rent some when you arrive. You can also hike photo-worthy trails and learn about their conservation efforts at the education center.
Next stop on your trip up the coast would thrill any prospective astronomer: Merritt Island. Merritt Island is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a major tourist attraction. You could meet an astronaut, enjoy the automated thrills of the Shuttle Launch Experience or explore their interactive displays. You can train like an astronaut in their simulator and take a bus tour through restricted areas. There’s a rocket garden and even an IMAX Theater. If you’re not excited about space, you might prefer the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This wildlife conservation park is home to 21 endangered species and you’re sure to catch a few alligators.
Continue heading north along the coast and turn inland a bit to visit Ocala National Forest. Just an hour north of Orlando is a forest with more than 600 lakes, rivers and springs and the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. It’s ideal for hiking and camping and is known for all kinds of water activities. Here you can find Juniper Springs, off State Road 40 and Alexander Springs on Lake County Road 445. These crystal clear springs are a constant temperature of 72 degrees year round and snorkeling is allowed at both. At these springs, guests picnic, paddle, swim and bird watch. It would be a fun and relaxing stop during your memorable tour of Florida.
We’re not done yet! Just 45 minutes northwest of Ocala’s National Forest is Devil’s Den! The Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring in North Central Florida is a collapsed cave over an underground spring. It’s a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Many extinct animal fossils dating back to the Pleistocene Age have been found in this cave. They are now on display at The University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History. You must either snorkel or scuba dive to enter the cave, but once you’re beneath the surface, you’ll experience a beautiful new world. Devil’s Den offers lodging, an RV park, swimming pools and picnic areas so there’s plenty to do when you’re not in the caves.
If you’re looking for something a little more physically challenging, make a stop at Torreya State Park in Bristol. At this 13,735 acre Florida State Park, visitors can experience biking, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, tubing, paddling and picnicking. There is lodging available as well as campgrounds. This park features 150-foot high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River, hiking trails with beautiful views and a museum.
Another hour northwest, and you’ll reach Florida Caverns State Park. Enjoy an underground adventure with caverns filled with stalactites and stalagmites decorated with colored LED lighting. Entertaining and knowledgeable tour guides take you through winding pathways in colorfully lit caverns that are always a cool 65 degrees. You might encounter bats, mice, snakes and frogs but it’ll be worth it!
Finally, we come to the end of our northward trek through Florida. The final stop of our tour is just a half hour west of our previous stop. Falling Waters State Park is in a small town in northwestern Florida called Chipley. Falling Waters Sink is a 100 foot deep, 20 foot wide cylindrical pit. A small stream flows into it, dropping 73 feet to the bottom. It’s considered Florida’s highest waterfall. There’s a beautiful park with a small pond for fishing and swimming area. It’s a terrific place for picnics with gorgeous landscapes and helpful staff. Regroup and refresh in Chipley after a successful road trip.
If you’re contemplating a road trip this summer, you may want to upgrade your ride. Consider a new Volkswagen Atlas or Atlas Cross Sport. The 7-passenger and 5-passenger SUVs are loaded with convenience technology, comfortable seating and the some of the biggest available cargo spaces. Take a look at our current offers or visit a dealership near you.