Florida’s Best One-Way Car Rental Routes: Orlando to Miami

This Trip at a Glance

●       Pick up your rental car at Orlando International Airport.

●       Explore Orlando’s many theme parks.

●       Check out the home of NASCAR in Daytona Beach.

●       Watch a rocket launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

●       Take in the Deco District architecture in Miami.

●       Drop off your rental car at Miami International Airport.

Renowned theme parks, otherworldly space attractions and iconic beaches await you on your trip from Orlando to Miami. After flying into Orlando International Airport, getting your rental car and spending as long as you like at Walt Disney World® Resort, hit the road for more adventure. To help you get started, follow this one-way ticket to paradise.

Drive north from the airport or theme parks to downtown Orlando and the brick-lined streets of the hip Thornton Park neighborhood. Casual restaurants beckon with outdoor dining; if you go to Dexter’s, try the Cajun lime calamari. A block away, Anthony’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant is a favorite for outdoor ambiance and inexpensive pies. You and your kids might love cruising in a swan-shaped paddleboat for rent at Lake Eola. If a stroll is more your style, walk the 1-mile loop around the lake.

Next up is NASCAR. From downtown Orlando, go east about 40 miles along Interstate 4 until you reach Interstate 95 and Daytona Beach, Florida’s original city of speed, where you can tour the track at Daytona International Speedway. If auto racing isn’t your pace, check out the new beachfront Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach; the outdoor restaurant, Sessions, has stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Daytona International Speedway kicks off the NASCAR Cup Series each February and also hosts other races throughout the year.

From Daytona, it’s a roughly 260-mile straight shot south on I-95 to Miami, but you’ll want to detour east to see a few of the beach towns along the way. About 75 miles south of Daytona, burst into space explorations in Cape Canaveral at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, NASA’s launch center and astronaut hall of fame; you might even be lucky enough to time your visit with one of the many rocket launches throughout the year. It’s just a 20-mile drive westward from the space center to historic downtown Titusville, where Dixie Crossroads dishes up Southern comfort foods and is known for tasty Florida rock shrimp. Continue south on I-95 for 156 more miles to reach Palm Beach, where The Breakers fronts the ocean and is one of Florida’s — and the country’s — most historic resorts. Nearby, the Flagler Museum, a National Historic Landmark, offers a fascinating glimpse into Florida’s Gilded Age and railroad history.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida, includes artifacts from many of NASA’s space programs, including Apollo. It opens at 9 a.m. every day of the year.

Miami is less than two hours (about 70 miles) south of Palm Beach — but before hitting the sand, detour west 30 miles for a glimpse of wild Florida at Everglades Safari Park, where you can ride an airboat and spot alligators in their natural habitat. Tours depart every 30 minutes or so when the park is open — 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, no reservations needed.

If you’re ready to bed down in Miami, consider the classic Deco District hotels The Raleigh, with its iconic, curved swimming pool, or the National Hotel, where the public areas are stocked with reproductions of deco-era furniture. From either hotel,  you’re close to Lummus Park, a 74-acre public space right on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a classic South Beach spot for sunbathing and people watching, with beach volleyball courts and great photo opportunities of Deco District facades along Ocean Drive as a backdrop. For a unique dining experience near downtown Miami, book a table at Seaspice Brasserie, with its excellent raw bar and hot-stone seafood dishes prepared tableside beneath gorgeous sunset views on the banks of the Miami River. And don’t miss a pilgrimage to Cafe Versailles, an iconic Little Havana address, for ropa vieja or paella.


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About the Author

Terry Ward is a Tampa-based freelance writer who loves nothing more than enjoying a strong cafecito and a cheap and tasty Cuban sandwich on a trip around Florida. You can see more of her work on her website, Terry-Ward.com.